When Nakuru hosted Formula 1 Motor Racing

Nakuru Motor Racing circuit

From 1956 to the mid-1970s, Nakuru used to host a world-famous Formula 1 like motor-racing event at the present day Langalanga estate.

Langalanga is derived from a Maa(sai) word langa langa which means going round and round. This perfectly described the movement of the race cars around the circuit.

Before the motorsport came to Langalanga in Nakuru, it used to happen at another Langalanga in Gilgil. The place still carries the name from which the Nakuru circuit adopted the name. However, with the breakout of the emergency, and a fatal accident that happened during a race in 1952, the Gilgil racetrack was last used in 1952. Three years later, the Nakuru racetrack was set up.

Nakuru Formula 1
A programme for the first Nakuru Race Meeting held on the 5th February 1956. – Photo by Ian Kinghorn

The Nakuru motorsport circuit was opened on 5th February 1956. The track was 1.328 miles long and was located in the Lake View Estate area of Nakuru in fairly close proximity to the Lake Nakuru National Park, world-famous for its huge flamingo population. However, it was not so close as to cause any concern to the lake’s inhabitants and transients.

The racetrack bequeathed to the area several names. Apart from Langalanga, the area also has names like Racetrack and Racecourse with even a primary school named Racetrack Primary.

For almost 20 years, Nakuru was home to this exciting motorsport that was founded by veteran motor racing enthusiast Eric Cecil but owned by the Nakuru Town Council. It was run by the Nakuru Track Joint Committee and the race meetings were organized by the East African Motor Sports Club.

According to veteran photographer Ian Kinghorn, the Nakuru Racetrack fell into disuse as the number of available racing cars and circuit maintenance funds declined. Cars became fewer partly through natural attrition and partly through their owners moving overseas and seeking more secure harbours for their movable assets.

Some of the well-known names that took part in the event are Vic Preston (Snr), Peter Hughes, Mike Armstrong, Chris Little, John Manusus and John Heather-Hayes who designed the circuit.

With the housing pressure on the Nakuru Town Council, the council was forced to close down the motor circuit which moved to Embakasi in Nairobi.

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