Record-breaking Napier Railton makes historic run at Farnborough

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One of the world's most famous aero engines - the 24-litre W12 Napier Lion of the 1920s and 1930s - will be a star of Farnborough 2004, but this time powering a racing car, rather than an aircraft.

The most powerful engine of its day, the Napier Lion will be seen - and memorably heard - at the start of each afternoon's air display as it powers the historic 1933 Napier-Railton racing and record-breaking car along the Farnborough runway.

Built and raced at Brooklands, the motor racing circuit located 10 miles (16km) east of Farnborough, just off the A3 towards London, the Napier Railton was commissioned by British racing driver John Cobb.

Emotional

It's no exaggeration to say that the car is the very embodiment of the engineering and emotional links between aviation and motoring.

In Cobb's hands the car set and still holds the outright lap record on the banked Brooklands circuit in Surrey - at 143.44mph - and twice gained the world 24h endurance record on the USA's Bonneville salt flats in 1935 and 1936, at the then-staggering average of more than 150mph.

Brooklands was the world's first purpose-built motor racing circuit and also the cradle of British aviation, where airliners such as the Vickers Viscount, Vickers Vanguard and VC10 were built and where many Vickers Wellington bombers and Hawker Hurricane fighters were designed and assembled during the Second World War.

More than 60% of the structure of each Concorde supersonic airliner was built at the historic site.

One example has returned, albeit in pieces, to the Brooklands Museum. Later this year the museum will complete the re-assembly of BAC Concorde G-BBDG (s/n 202).

This, the first British production Concorde, first flew in February 1974 and was used for much of the flight testing and certification prior to the aircraft entering service, becoming the world's first aircraft to carry 100 passengers at Mach 2.

Although never to enter airline service, Delta Golf was used for further development work and crew training following the start of commercial services in 1976 and it made its final flight on Christmas Eve 1981 after around 1,500h in the air.

A greater proportion of Concorde's airframe was manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) at Brooklands than at any other factory in Britain or France. In particular all of the forward and rear fuselages, the massive tail fins and rudders as well as many smaller components were constructed there.

The Brooklands Museum, a veritable feast for motoring and aviation enthusiasts alike, is a must for visitors to Farnborough.