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Millbrook GM European Proving Grounds

October 18, 2011 Auto Manufacturer No Comments

European Proving Grounds

Millbrook is a 700 acre facility about 40 miles north of London with test tracks and testing facilities for aerospace, military, vehicle production, driver training (Aston Martin), and real-time online vehicle tracking. Here is link to the Millbrook website.

Construction began in 1968 for a smaller version of the Milford Michigan proving grounds at Millbrook on the site of a former airfield. The facility replicated many of the most successful features of the Milford site and benefited from the accumulated wisdom of more than 50 years operation at the Milford proving grounds.

An Invitation To Visit

Automobile manufacturer vehicle test facilities are spectacular places to visit. About six months ago I had an invitation to visit the General Motors Proving Grounds and Track at Millbrook England.

Every Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM has very strict procedures for visitors. OEM’s use the test facilities to test cars and trucks before they go into production and OEM’s do not want photographs or other sensitive or proprietary information leaving the property.

You sign in and the security guard puts a special lift-off tape over cell phone cameras. Regular cameras can be left at security to be retrieved on exit. If this procedure sounds extreme, then just remember that it is their facility and you are the person with the invitation to walk through a very exclusive door.

My group was there associated with an advanced vehicle safety technology. We spent time in a number of areas including the crash test facility and the different dynamic test tracks. Millbrook has many driving surfaces, specific testing areas, and a highly professional staff handling many engineering projects for a number of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to the automotive industry.

The 2 Mile Long High Speed, Constant Speed Circuit Is Unique

One unique test track at Millbrook is the two (2) mile long High / Constant Speed Circuit. The banked oval permits the vehicle to go through the full two mile loop at speeds in excess of 150 mph. One remarkable feature are the “Neutral Steer Speed” lanes around the two mile track where, essentially, the car has neutral forces at 40, 50, 60, 75, and 100 mph. Millbrook Test Track, website brochure

Neutral steer speed means that, if the car is handling properly, you can take your hands off the steering wheel and the car will steer itself around the circuit at speeds up to 100 mph. This is a very unique test feature sort of like the banked race track all the way around for two miles.

Neutral steer speed also is very significant for vehicle forces on the engine and chassis of the car. At speed the track angle forces are balanced with the centrifugal forces on the vehicle so that fluids are effectively flat or level in the engine and the differential assembly. Another way to think about the fluids is that as the car tips on the slope gravity would pull the fluids down. Moving through the two mile oval at speed causes the fluids to be thrown outwards so on the high banked track the car can run 100 mph and all of the fluids are effectively flat in the car. This is vitally important for proper long distance testing and there are five constant speed lanes at 40, 50, 60, 75, and 100 mph.

Some of the other handling circuits include steep hill upgrades and downgrades, city handling circuit, steering pad, a precisely level one mile straightaway, driveway ramps, truck slopes, textured pavements, Belgian Blocks, traction control pavement challenge, water troughs, an extreme maneuver area, and off-highway test area.

Millbrook operates 365 days per year and 24 hours per day. The Test Track booklet identifies 49 different testing on-highway and off-highway testing surfaces.

James Bond & Driver Training

With high security and unique features it becomes clear that Millbrook would be a great facility for some movie footage. James Bond has been here.

Aston Martin has a driver traing program that is conducted at the facility. If you get a new car be sure and ask for the invitation to the Millbrook driver training facility.

 

Great Facility and Great Staff

Millbrook is one of Europe’s leading locations for the development and demonstration of every type of land vehicle, from motorcycles and passenger cars to heavy commercial, military and off-road vehicles with their staff of 300.

It was a real pleasure to spend a day at Millbrook.

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