Motor racing is coming to Newcastle, courtesy of a former driver and the entrepreneurial spirit of a local lad made good.
At exactly 7kms, the track resembles Spa-Francorchamps and contains elevations and sinuous curves inspired by famous tracks the world over. Totally unlike Spa, Geordie Raceway is devoid of trees. Or indeed much else for this track is to be built on the former Prudhoe muck stacks of yore. Questions there are many.
But let’s introduce the main protagonists; CEO and the man with the financial clout, Brendan Brennan-Band and his new sidekick, former occasional F1 driver, Maston Durrock.
Brendan first explains “We needed to generate some cash for the local economy as nowt has happened round here for ages. When we started looking into what was available, as in land, access, size and scale, we saw this and thought…” he pauses for a second or two, “this.” Both hands sweep across the desolate wasteland that Proudhoe muck stacks are.
His vision is exemplary. “Grandstanding here, there, the pits and garages there and the parking facilities for the punters will be just as impressive.” Mr Brennan-Band made his fortune in plant hire, washing machine repairs but initially in the world of the Post Office as a junior Sub-Post Master.
“Aye, selling stamps and that to the pensioners; well, ya gotta start somewhere and it’s where a met Maston, y’know (more on him momentarily) and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Now I’ve me fleet of plant and the best blokes in the business at digging and that, I had to look into racing. Now I’ve made a few bob, like and got me Roller,” he points over to the rather fetching teal blue Dawn, which in today’s freezing conditions, stands out resplendently. “A don’t go daft in it. That’s for Maston!” He chuckles.
Mr Durrock, dapper, slim, an erudite air to his demeanour steps forward now with insight on the track and some of his own background. Now 77 and with his final race only last month in Monaco (finished 17th) he explains his decision to quit. “I was bloody scared! You’d get to the first corner fully expecting some young varlet to push you off or being silly. Blocking tactics, wild overtaking, idiots, damn idiots. And the speeds! The speed, bloody awful…” looking wistfully to some far horizon he then offers more.
“But the job got me a few bob in the sky rocket, travelling the world in comfort and a few dolly birds. But the money and women have long gone so when I was collecting my pension I met Brendan who instantly recognised me.” It should be mentioned here that Durrock is the only man in history to enter a race dressed in nothing but his crash helmet and socks, citing a “heavy night and a hot, hot day” as he went on to win the 1981 Scarborough Grand Prix In record time. He didn’t claim pole but did set 13th fastest lap.
To the track.
“The first bend after starting is called Blimey! as that’s what you’ll say on reaching it at 175mph” states Maston. A tight right hander that leads into Broon, a feeling along with the local tipple. The flow goes rapidly uphill. “Like Donington’s Craner Curves but up instead of down, we had to call ‘em Muck Stack and the Whitley Esses because of the nearby resort.”
“Southern Softies is the straight which if you’re anything like a proper racing driver should be taken flat out as then it’s another hard right into Northern Angel. You’ll need to keep yer speed up through to Hadrian’s.” Brennan-Band interjects with “Aye, they’ll have to miss the Angel!” He’s referring to the mock Angel of the North recreation he’s planning. When asked won’t that be dangerous for a racetrack corner, he replies, “Nah, it’ll made from all the rubber belts from me washing machine business.”
A left for Keegan’s flows very swiftly into Shearer, two leviathans of local football. “We asked if they’d like there names on corners and both said aye,” states Brendan. “They’ll be tricky, like. To keep ya foot planted’ll take balls.” Quite.
The next, never ending right is the Tyne 130R, a combination of the famous Japanese turn only right here, instead of left but with exactly the same radius of 130 degrees. “This’ll sort the men from the boys…” says Durrock rather sagely.
Plunging downhill at a rate of knots into Black & White (that’s what your vision will go like) and similar to Laguna Seca’s terrifying Corkscrew, followed by the fiendishly technical Stephensons, before finally hitting Shovel Straight and the next of 63 planned GP laps. Or the pits for new boots and petrol.
Whereas Brennan-Band has the ideas, inspiration and the heavy machinery, it’s Durrock who proudly reveals his intentions to be first round the track when fully built in “the latest and best car”. When asked when that will be, the snow begins to fall more heavily and the pair make a hasty retreat to the Roller.
Could Geordie Raceway take over from the likes of Silverstone or Brands Hatch in the U.K. or those international tracks mentioned above? Once the Christmas festivities are over and 2020 is settled in, we’ll pop back and keep you posted.