Silverstone. Just the name suggests epic racing history. In 1948, Britain’s Royal Automobile Club went looking for a site to resume motor racing after the war. The former airfield at Silverstone was the site they leased, and they employed a farmer, James Brown, to build the track. As the 1950s began, the British Racing Driver Club took over the lease, and the early Grand Prix featured the first win for Ferrari, breaking the virtual lock that Alfa Romeo previously had on the podium. The sixties were special times at Silverstone as it represented what might be considered the era of British drivers. Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, and Jackie Stewart all roared around the circuit to the delight of British fans. In the following decades, Prost, Mansell, Senna, Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, all stood on Silverstone’s top step. A highlight was the 1987 British Grand Prix in which Mansell stormed back from a huge deficit to beat Piquet by 1.9 seconds. 2 wheeled MotoGP victors at the circuit included Roberts, Spencer, Mamola, and Gardner.
During our visit, skies were grey, and only a few track day activities were on the schedule. We wandered around the place unfettered. Even without the history, the vehicles laying about would impress. TVR, and Ferrari, and Lotus and Aston Martin were represented among other sporting marques. The circuit is also home to the Mercedes Benz Driving Experience, and we were envious of those taking part. A big Mercedes was parked near the gift shop and we were told that it takes special guests of the United Arab Emirates around the circuit at alarming speeds. We walked around the grandstands, looked at pit row, and wandered about taking it all in. It was amazing to stand in the same places and that we had seen in old race footage. The only improvement would have been attending an F1 race, or perhaps driving around the track. Perhaps we’ll be back….