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Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 10:05 UK
Millbrook Proving Ground celebrates fortieth birthday
Tracks
Millbrook consists of roads, tracks, buildings and countryside.

Millbrook Proving Ground is celebrating 40 years in the motoring industry.

The Bedfordshire site is Europe's leading location for the development, test and demonstration of every type of land vehicle including military.

It is also a regular location for TV shows Top Gear and Fifth Gear and featured in the James Bond film, Casino Royale.

The 400 employees at the track will celebrate its 40th birthday with a series of special events.

High Speed

Modelled on the Milford Proving Ground, in Michigan, USA, the 700 acre site was constructed in the 1960s by the Vauxhall Motors.

The two mile five lane high speed track came into use in 1969, and construction of other sections continued into the early 1970s.

Once opened, Millbrook acted as the testing site for many European GM models from, amongst others, the Vauxhall and Bedford companies.

James Bond

Top Gear stunt
Jeremy Clarkson drives a truck through a wall at Millbrook

Millbrook has a wide range of test tracks. The most prominent are the:

• Hill Route - divided into three sections or loops which contain progressively steeper gradients and tighter corners. This section was used for the James Bond film Casino Royale, which sees Bond flip his Aston Martin in mid air and roll it seven times - a stunt which earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

• Outer and Inner Handling (or City Course) circuits - extremely technical twisty circuits used for extreme testing of vehicle handling characteristics.

• High Speed Bowl - a two mile circular banked circuit used for high speed testing.

Top Gear

The BBC Top Gear team regularly test the latest supercars at Millbrook and carry out stunts.

Video: Top Gear Trucking Hell

The team tested three trucks to the limit with a series of challenges. Richard Hammond reached a top speed of 90 miles per hour on the two mile bowl track in a catering lorry.

James May reversed into his beloved grand piano after failing to make a hill start and Jeremy Clarkson had a rough ride driving through a brick wall at 56 mph.

Car
The high speed track tests vehicles to the limit

High Security

The proving ground maintains a high standard of security and secrecy to protect the commercial interests of its customers.

Public access is not generally permitted and the facility is hidden from view by belts of trees.

See our photos from Millbrook Proving Ground's day of celebration here.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Millbrook Proving Ground
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Top Gear smash pictures released
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