Published: 18:29, 16 May 2021
| Updated: 09:41, 19 May 2021
A Kent kart circuit that faced an uncertain future will reopen at the end of next month, bosses have confirmed.
Buckmore Park - where Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button learnt their craft - has been closed for much of the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to concerns for its long-term survival.
Buckmore Park co-owner Rich Martell talks to kmtv
But now, it has been revealed the historic site at Maidstone Road in Chatham will begin taking bookings again from June 1.
The exact reopening date for the centre will be announced in about a week.
It is one of many enterprises back in business as the coronavirus lockdown is gradually lifted.
A spokesman said: "With the success of the vaccination programme and the Government’s timeline to lift restrictions we have the reassurance that we are returning to normal.
"The pandemic has been tough for all of us but we can very much see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"We have been working hard behind the scenes. We hope the wait will be worth it and we look forward to seeing you."
All gift cards that have not expired will be extended for the number of days the circuit been closed. This will be done automatically.
The centre will also allow customers to book into events online using gift cards.
Buckmore Park will shortly announce its events, particularly for adult, junior and owner drivers, but initially it will keep the range limited while it gets back up to speed.
If customers have a credit from a previous booking the circuit will allow them to use these against any events that it initially has.
Exclusive events can also be booked and options for these will soon be announced.
The centre will contact customers who have secured but postponed exclusive events to rearrange them and discuss options.
When the centre was worst-affected by the lockdowns, it cut its workforce from 50 to two - but it is now hiring for a range of positions.
Those interested should check Buckmore Park's social media posts, with a link about the roles available due to be added shortly.
The circuit is returning to its feet after its future was threatened just a couple of months ago.
In March, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council rejected a planning application to allow the centre to rent out its unused overflow car park to commercial tenants.
The aim was to generate much-needed income to pull the business through the pandemic crisis.
Buckmore Park developed after beginning as a track for boy scouts in 1963.
World-famous visitors have included former Formula 1 champion Damon Hill, in 2013, and Princes William and Harry as children in the early 1990s with their mother Princess Diana.
To read more about Buckmore Park's history, click here for an in-depth archive feature