Hethel is a small village in Norfolk, England, near the historic market town of Wymondham, and approximately 10 miles (16 km) south of the city of Norwich and home of the Group Lotus.
The original purpose of the site when it was converted from agricultural use was as an airfield, constructed in 1942 for use by the USAAF, as a bomb squadron base from which to launch assaults across Europe during the second World War.
Hethel is the Home of Lotus
Colin Chapman bought the Hethel site and in 1966 Lotus manufacturing moved into a purpose-built factory unit built on the spot where the former technical site had been. Some of the old hangars around the site were initially used for ancilliary works.
The old runways were developed into a 2.5 mile test track to be used for testing the up-coming production cars and famous formula one cars, driven by some of the world's most famous drivers: Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Stirling Moss, Mario Andretti, Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna, Ronnie Peterson, Emerson Fittipaldi, Elio D'Angelis, Johnny Herbert, to name but a few.
Hethel Track Today
The Hethel Test Track is 2.2 miles in length and can be divided into 2 separate circuits - North and South. The total land occupied by the track and surrounding run-off areas covers approximately 30 acres of the 50 acre Group Lotus site.
The test track meets FIA specification, but is not formally FIA approved, as it is used for testing purposes only.
In use 6 days a week (Sundays are precluded due to noise restrictions), the track is used for testing by Lotus Engineering, Lotus Motorsport and the press, for driver training by Lotus Driving Academy and private events.
Having been renovated in 2011 the track combines a variety of technical aspects from a driving perspective; a series of bends, hairpin corners, straights and turning circle designed to put Lotus' high performance cars through their paces, providing an excellent venue for honing driving skills.
The track was officially re-opened on 21 June 2011 at an historic event where both current and historic Lotus cars were driven around the new track by Nigel Mansell, Jean Alesi, Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna, Greg and Leo Mansell, Johnny Mowlem and others as the Chapman family, members of staff, the press, Lotus dealers and VIP's watched on.