Monday, 17 January 2011

Little Bromley. RIP.

Just over two years ago Little Bromley had to be dismantled due to circumstances beyond my control. Some have seen some of the photographs taken of the circuit on the Slotforum, but as with most threads on there, once it falls of the first page it becomes history. So I thought as a fitting tribute to what could have been the most beautiful of model motor racing circuits, i've posted a larger selection of images in the hope that a more permanent memorial might be created. Little Bromley wasn't actually little. The room that it was built in measured fifty six feet long by thirty feet wide with a total track length of one hundred and twenty five feet, using Scalextric Sport track of four lanes.
Gentle contour and camber made driving the circuit a very enjoyable experience either mag or no mag. The main straight was thirty three feet long where the cars could be given full throttle, albeit for around two and half seconds. The lap record was just under eight seconds with a Scalextric GT40 which could be literally hammered around the track.

Being an endurance race fan, driver comfort was paramount, so the decision was made to allow seating so that drivers could do what they needed to do in a very relaxed manner. The seating shown above was mounted on staging of around eighteen inches allowing a good view of almost the whole of the circuit. One or two blind spots were built in to give a little realism and something of a challenge.

The original idea was to build a model motor racing circuit and not a race track, so scenery was planned from the beginning. But such was the size of the track, 880 square feet, that cost became a consideration. So an awful lot of improvisation was needed. Track borders were built from 6mm mdf and packed up to track level. Spray painted and textured they looked quite convincing particularly when white lining was added.
Lighting was built into buildings using golden white LEDs to give a period look and when all lit up it was quite a startling sight. This was an on going process but unfortunatley never got completed.

But with cars carrying light kits, head, tail and brake lamps allowing racing through the night, some interesting competition resulted.

In addtion to the lighting a further feature was the ability to add "weather". A cheap fogging machine was plumbed in under the track surface and at certain times this was switched on a for a few seconds. The resulting mist in combination with the car/track lighting was iresistable.

Night racing was enhanced by the ability to add an illuminated backdrop. This took the form or a series of LEDs placed all around the room facing upwards from the floor. A combination of red/blue enabled either a sunset or sunrise to be created.

The room had no windows but four largish skylights giving a very natural and soft light that enhanced photography.

Buildings were built from foamboard and cost little or nothing to make. All the advertising hoardings were drawn on PC, transfered to foamboard and supported with aluminium rods. All very cheap.

The pit buildings themselves were based upon the original buildings at Reims Gueux in Northern France. These buildings are still there and have in recent years been restored as a memorial to a time when motor racing was much more interesting.

Trees came from a local shop that specialised is selling cheap items with each tree costing a pound. Sprayed with varying shades of green, they were a fairly good scale size and enhanced the circuit to good effect.

The compulsory Dunlop bridge was drawn in Corel Draw,printed out and spray glued onto foamboard. The additional trees were taken from my secretarys garden, being a type of shrub/plant that dried out completely, but kept it's form. Again sprayed with green paint these were particularly effective.

The grandstand was built up from foamboard with the terracing being formed from basswood strip, which was coated in woodstain. This particular building took some effort to get it absolutetly level as where it was situated was far from flat.

Certain electronic devices were included in the track such as variable braking controls which were adjusted via a knob on the driver stations. One device that was stil under development when the track had to be dismantled was a virtual fuel tank. An electro-mechanical device, this was designed to allow the cars to speed up gradually as the "tank" emptied. Although the principal was ok, it never got tested in anger.

The atmosphere was enhanced by a sound system built into the trackside. A 5.1 sound system allowed the playback of samples of various car sounds, such as V8s flat 12s, straight 6s etc. Triggered by switches mounted in the track a very convincing soundtrack could be created.

The time keeping hut shown on the right of the picture below, is where it was all controlled from. Lap times and total distance covered could all be monitored by two PCs
The first race was planned to take place early in 2009 with the 6 hours of Little Bromley guaranteed to be a great event. Unfortunately the powers that be decided otherwise and the company that paid the rent on the building was forced into liquidation. It didn't take quite as long to destroy it as it did to build.
Maybe with good fortune I can start all over again, but I doubt it. Le Circuit du Petite Bromley was a one off and I doubt whether the likes of it shall be seen again. I still miss it.


  1. Hi Graham, Just thought I'd drop in for a quick look. That's probably the most beautiful slot track I've seen. Tremendous photos too. Hope you're doing ok. All the best,
    Tom Wysom.

  2. Graham The scratchbuild guild it's alive, it's alive!