Racing ahead: the Silverstone Experience

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Jenson Button at the 2016 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. JAKE ARCHIBALD/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Alan Payling looks at a new attraction that could have operators in pole position when it comes to attracting business from motor racing fans

I must confess that I don’t know a lot about motor racing. But what I do know tells me that it is very popular. Also, I know that Great Britain takes the chequered flag when it comes to the world-beating skills of our racing drivers and the engineering prowess of the racing cars built in this country. [wlm_nonmember][…]

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When it comes to the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship, we lead the world with 18 titles won by 10 of our drivers. The UK’s constructors also lead the table, with nine companies winning 37 titles. We have also won 277 Grand Prix putting our drivers way ahead of our nearest rivals, Germany and Italy. It’s quite a record. And for people of a certain age, motor racing entered the language. At one time you couldn’t put your foot on an accelerator without someone saying: “And who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?” All too often, it was a copper.

For motor racing fans that want to soak up that heritage, the new attraction at the home of British motor racing, the Silverstone Experience, will remind visitors of our great achievements on the circuit. It will also be an opportunity to immerse themselves in a trackside, behind-the-scenes experience that will bring the world of motor racing very much to life.

Based at Silverstone, home to the Formula One British Grand Prix, a former World War II aircraft hangar will house the new attraction that opens in June. Firstly, this should not be confused with the other ‘experience’ at Silverstone where visitors can enjoy the thrill of driving high-powered cars. You know the sort of thing – someone buys you a gift voucher as a birthday present so you can drive round in an Aston Martin or a Ferrari (N.B. My birthday’s in May!)

This however is a completely new attraction and promises to be a memorable day out. It was described to me as an interactive and immersive experience providing motor racing fans with a real insight into all aspects of the history of motor racing that has taken place at Silverstone over the last 70 years. Additionally, visitors are promised a real feel for the world of motor racing.

There will certainly be memorabilia on display including historical artefacts. These will include Barry Sheen’s motorbike and five racing cars, some of which will be Formula One cars. However, visitors won’t just be visiting a museum. The interactive nature of the range of CGI displays will provide a heightened sense of reality as former champions of the race track – like Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell – talk about their experiences at Silverstone.

The cinema sounds particularly exciting, as it will take visitors on a lap of the Silverstone circuit – at speed – with a commentary from Murray Walker. For those with an interest in going behind the scenes at Silverstone, this sounds ideal and potentially, a popular excursion to offer. Given the location of Silverstone in the heart of England linked via the A43 to the M1 and the M40, operators will want to be looking at this opportunity to avoid being left behind on the grid.

Groups will also be able to visit on race days, which will add yet another dimension to the experience. This could be to see one of the many different forms of motor racing at Silverstone which includes Formula 3, classic car or motor bike races.

Due to the expected demand and to manage the flow of visitors, timed visits will be offered. The coach drop off is a couple of minutes’ walk away with good parking. There is also a cafe on site offering light bites and a variety of refreshments.

The organisers are very keen to get coach operators on board from the moment the experience opens, so familiarisation visits are on offer in late March for a sneak preview. Operators should get in touch as soon as possible to register their interest if they want to have a look. Also, I am told that the rate for coach operators will be better than the group rate.

Overall, it looks like this will be a world-beating attraction. But then, you wouldn’t expect anything less from the home of British motor racing, now would you? Finally, some numbers. The British Grand Prix is the second-best-attended sporting event in the UK, attracting 327,000 fans, while MORI found that 20% of the population were interested in motor racing. That’s a lot of potential passengers.

  • The Silverstone Experience, Silverstone Circuit, Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 8TN
    Familiarisation day registration:
    Paul Cummings 0771 266 4634
    Bookings: 03339 999 884, email [email protected]