The British Automobile Racing Club is one of the biggest motorsport organisations in the United Kingdom, with a rich and illustrious history that spans more than 100 years.
Today, the BARC is responsible for organising more than 35 championships and upwards of 60 race meetings each year – and the path to the present day as been an iconic one.
Formed in 1912 as The Cyclecar Club, the Club grew quickly as it organised events at Brooklands along with rallies and touring trials on open roads. In 1919, following World War One, the decline of cyclers led to a change of name to the Junior Car Club.
Immediate success followed with membership growing and regional centres being formed, all by 1921. In that same year the Junior Car Club organised the first long-distance race to be staged in Britain – a 200 mile encounter at Brooklands which was ultimately won by Henry Seagrave.
After the Second World War Brooklands as a venue was no more and the Junior Car Club amalgamated with the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club. Come 1949 the Club changed its name to the British Automobile Racing Club and took up residence at Goodwood circuit, its new home.
Involved in all manner of events such as the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Aintree and the reopening of Crystal Palace, the BARC continued to affirm its status as one of the leading motorsport organisations in the country in the years that followed.
Goodwood provided the backdrop to many important BARC promotions, with at least one International fixture taking place each year. Easter Monday International’s would often feature Formula 1 races whilst in the 1950’s, nine-hour sports car races were run, the first after-dark racing event to be ever organised in the UK.
When Goodwood closed its doors in 1966 it once again left the BARC without a home. Transforming from a bleak wartime airfield into a permanent motor racing venue, Thruxton Circuit opened its doors in 1968 and the Hampshire track became the new headquarters of the BARC from 1974 onwards.
As the Club became instrumental in introducing all manner of new championships, the stature of the organisation continued to grow exponentially virtue of active centres in South East, South West, Midlands, North West, Yorkshire, Wales and Ontario.
In addition, the BARC also set itself apart from the rest by operating three UK race tracks; Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire (from 2006 onwards), Pembrey Circuit in South Wales (from 1990 onwards) and Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire. Two hillclimb venues, Gurston Down and Harewood Hill, are also part of the Club’s impressive portfolio.
During the 1990’s the BARC played its part in a raft of major events taking place including the birth of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, BBC Top Gear’s World Electric Challenge and the first-ever FIA international Touring Car series in the same year.
Responsible for organising some of the highest international race meetings in Europe, the BARC has one of the best worldwide reputations for event organisation and promotion.
Since the turn of the millennium the BARC has continued to position itself at the forefront of British motorsport. In 2005 the Club purchased TOCA, the company that operates the prestigious British Touring Car Championship, whilst the number of high-profile and club championships continued to be added, giving drivers ample choice to race within the BARC.
Improvements to venues, including a Skid Pan and Hospitality Centre at Thruxton have ensured that the BARC and all that is associated for it to remain at the very pinnacle of the sport.
Broadening the geographical and operational spread of our existing activities and further enhancing the Club’s standing within the motorsport industry, the BARC will forever continue in its aim of being the best.