Snetterton at 70: A history of motor racing in Norfolk

Start of the Forward Truss Formula 3 race at Snetterton in 1973

Start of the Forward Truss Formula 3 race at Snetterton. Date: April 1973. - Credit: Archant Library

It was the year The Archers began, Dennis the Menace made his debut and Winston Churchill returned to power as prime minister. 

But 1951 was an important year in Norfolk history as the Snetterton circuit opened to racers.  

Snetterton crowd on the hairpin bend at the Symonds Vauxhall Trophy meeting in 1959.

Snetterton crowd on the hairpin bend at the Symonds Vauxhall Trophy meeting in Norfolk. Date: July 26, 1959. - Credit: Archant Library

The Lombank Formula Three and Formule Libre won by Mike Keens in 1971

A large crowd lines the starting grid as the flag drops . . . and Snetterton's first major race of the season, the Lombank Formula Three and Formule Libre, is underway. For driver Mike Keens, left stationary on the grid with his arm raised, it was an in-auspicious start, but once away he fought his way through the field to win. Date: March 29 1971 - Credit: Archant Library

The race track - just off the A11 - hosted its first race in October 1951 when the Aston Martin Owners’ Club (AMOC) tore around a fast, 2.71-mile layout along RAF Snetterton Heath’s access roads and runways. 

In 1953 Snetterton's first motorcycle event was organised by an association of clubs in Norfolk and Suffolk called the Snetterton Combine.

By the mid-1960s the first changes to the circuit took place and in 1974 a new short course was created.

Clubman's formula sports car race at the Snetterton circuit in 1966

Clubman's formula sports car race at the Snetterton circuit. Date: March 1966. - Credit: Archant Library

Formula I cars in practise at Snetterton for that day's Lombard Trophy Race meeting in April 1962.

Formula I cars in practise at Snetterton for that day's Lombard Trophy Race meeting. Date: April 1962. - Credit: Archant Library

BOC Formula Ford race at Norfolk's Snetterton race track with Van Diemen cars in 1973

The BOC Formula Ford race at Norfolk's Snetterton race track - cars 103 and 101 are Van Diemen cars, manufactured near Snetterton. Date: July 1973. - Credit: Archant Library


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The shorter circuit proved a popular national racing venue and in 1980 Snetterton achieved a major milestone when it hosted the UK's first ever 24-hour race, the Willhire 24 Hour, which ran until 1994.

Please enjoy these old photos from the EDP archive of the Snetterton motor racing course in celebration of its 70th anniversary. 

Ayrton Senna with his car at Snetterton Race Circuit in 1983.

Ayrton Senna with his car at Snetterton Race Circuit in 1983. - Credit: Archant Library

Autumn race meeting at Snetterton in 1960

Drivers tackle one of the corners during an autumn race meeting at Snetterton. Date: October 1960. - Credit: Archant Library

Formula Ford race at Snetterton won by a Russell-Alexis driven by Alan Harness in 1968

The start of the Formula Ford race at Snetterton. Won by No. 24, a Russell-Alexis driven by Alan Harness. Date: July 1968 - Credit: Archant Library

Competitors at the start of the Autosports "Three Hour" Race at Snetterton in 1960.

Competitors at the start of the Autosports "Three Hour" Race at Snetterton. Date: September 17, 1960. - Credit: Archant Library

Archie Scott-Brown Memorial Trophy race at Snetterton with Jack Pearce, driving a Kincraft Ford in1965

Archie Scott-Brown Memorial Trophy race at Snetterton. In front, centre, is the driver, who won the race, Jack Pearce, driving a Kincraft Ford. Date: June 28, 1965 - Credit: Archant Library

August Trophy at Snetterton circuit just off the A11 in 1966. 

August Trophy at Snetterton circuit just off the A11. Date: 1966. - Credit: Archant Library

Non-supercharged sports cars at Snetterton, Norfolk in 1961

Non-supercharged sports cars about to commence a race at the Snetterton circuit. Date: July 1961. - Credit: Archant Library

Cars on the grid for the second heat of the Leston Championship Race at Snetterton on May 26, 1969

Cars on the grid for the second heat of the Leston Championship Race at Snetterton. Date: May 26, 1969 - Credit: Archant Library

Paddy Gaston Cooper Junior Race at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk off the A11 in March 1961.

Paddy Gaston Cooper Junior Race at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk off the A11. Date: March 1961. - Credit: Archant Library

The Archie Scott-Brown trophy race at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk in September 1969

The Archie Scott-Brown trophy race at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk. Date: September 1969 - Credit: Archant Library

J.R. Lewis in a Cooper during the Vanwell Trophey race at Snetterton in 1960

J.R. Lewis in a Cooper, who made a strong challenge to Mike McKee's lead during the Vanwell Trophey race at Snetterton. Date: August 1960 - Credit: Archant Library

Autumn race meeting at Snetterton in 1960

Drivers tackle one of the corners during an autumn race meeting at Snetterton. Date: October 1960. - Credit: Archant Library

Sir John Whitmore racing at Snetterton in 1962.

Sir John Whitmore racing at Snetterton. Date: October 1962. - Credit: Archant Library


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