Blubell Hill circuit has played a big part in the careers of Formula One stars.

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Fifty years ago the army were given a training exercise to create a 400m go-kart track on Bluebell Hill, little would they realise it would become a breeding ground for future Formula One stars and a destination for the royals.

Buckmore Park has gone on to become a key leisure destination for adrenaline junkies in the county and for aspiring motorsport stars in the years since.

Current owner Bill Sisley took over the site in the mid 1980s and took the circuit to the next level in terms of competition with success including the likes of F1 stars Johnny Herbet, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton while there was even a visit from the late Princess Diana who brought young Princes William and Harry along for the day in 1992.

“When I was a young man I was told that only racing drivers could drive karts and there was no way you could make a living out of running a kart circuit. That was 50 years ago,” said Mr Sisley. “I thought this was nonsense then and I have proved that anyone can drive a kart, whether it be a four-year-old on a birthday party or a 86 year old grandmother.

“I don’t distinguish between an owner driver, a hire karter or a corporate guest, they are all customers to me. I think Buckmore has been such a commercial success for so many years because that’s always been our philosophy, karting for all.

“When I first came here the venue was totally dilapidated and was about to close. There was no infrastructure at all and in 1985 only 1,000 people came here all year. Last year over 150,000 actually took part at some kind of event here.

“Although competition karting is my passion and we have a 50 year sporting heritage, it now only represents 5 per cent of our business. It’s our educational and training side that is very important now working with local schools, colleges and universities and training young drivers aged between 6 and 16 by way of our clubs.

“Our adult clubs are also over-subscribed with over 3,500 members racing regularly, using our equipment. We are open seven days a week, all year around, day and night.

“The circuit is working closely with the local tourist associations and Visit Kent to promote the Kart circuit as a tourist attraction and long term, the aim is to become a motor based multi-activity centre for all ages from four upwards.”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary there is a special race meeting over the weekend of 19/20 October.

The weekend includes a series of race meetings, and displays including Herbet driving a restored 135cc Bill Sisley manufactured Cobra/Komet kart which he drove to win the British karting Championship in 1982.

There is also a demonstration by the current under-18 World Champion Henry Easthope, and a display British Historic Kart Club of machinery from 1961-1982.

The meeting starts with unofficial practice on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19, with racing starting on Sunday at 10.30am. Entrance for spectators is £5 per person. Pre-bookable tickets are £4. Under 14s free. No dogs allowed. For more details call 01634 661626 or email sales@buckmore.co.uk or visit www.buckmore.co.uk.

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