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Silverstone (Towcester, Northamptonshire)

An image of Silverstone (Towcester, Northamptonshire)

Track Information

Silverstone is located on the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. It was built on the site of RAF Silverstone, a Royal Air Force bomber station. The circuit was first used for motorsport in 1947, and a year later the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) created a more complex racing circuit on the site, having taken out a lease on the airfield, The first British Grand Prix was held at Silverstone in the same year. In 1950, the first ever World Championship Grand Prix also took place. The British Racing Driver's Club took over the lease from the RAC in 1952, and the circuit is still owned by them to this day. The track has become the British home of many other major motorsport events including the Superbike World Championship, Le Mans Series and the British Touring Car Championship. The Formula 1 British Grand Prix has been held at Silverstone every year since 1987, with the venue contracted to host the event until 2026.

The track has five different circuits that are used, depending on the competition. The British Grand Prix uses the longest of these circuits, the Arena Layout circuit, which has a total length of 3.66 miles. This circuit is also used for the MotoGP, and replaces the previous circuit used for these competitions, the Bridge Grand Prix circuit - a shorter track with a distance of 3.19 miles. It was on this circuit that Nigel Mansell drove to victory in the British Grand Prix, running out of petrol after the race, causing a track invasion by fans.

The other three circuits are the National circuit, with a distance of 1.64 miles, the International Circuit (formerly known as the Southern circuit) at 1.96 miles, and the Stowe circuit, the shortest used at Silverstone at 1.15 miles in length which sits inside the International Circuit. The Stowe and International circuits are where most of the Silverstone experiences you'll find here on Experience Mad will take place (generally it's Single Seaters on Stowe and Supercars on the longer Southern/International Circuit).

The Stowe circuit is part of the original airfield and is situated within the Stowe complex. The building here caters for 100 people and includes a briefing room, as well as a roof terrace that overlooks the circuit. The circuit itself is challenging and includes a long back straight, which allows the driver to hit top speeds. Most types of corner are also included on the circuit, which starts with a sharp left-hand turn onto a long straight, and then another sharp left-hander. A short right, then left, brings you back onto the finishing straight. The length of the track means it is ideal for use by beginners and racing enthusiasts alike. Stowe also has an off-road stage that is used for testing vehicles and demonstrations.

It isn’t just cars that can be driven around the Silverstone track. People can also experience the thrill of riding 4x4, rally cars and being the passenger in white knuckle rides around the famous circuit.

Because of the history of the track and the various types of motorsport held there, Silverstone rightly claims to be the home of British motorsport which is why it is one of our most requested locations.

Facilities

Anyone taking part in an experience day at Silverstone is assured of the kind of top class facilities expected at any international Formula One Grand Prix racing circuit. A large and modern cafe is set inside the F1 circuit for a snack before or after your experience, with plush new buildings and pit style garages sited beside the Stowe circuit to provide a safe and dry vantage point for drivers awaiting their turn and spectators wanting a good view of the action.

Alongside the Stowe track sits the twists and turns of Silverstone’s rally track, complete with gravel and mud for perfect sliding. It is this that plays host to the Ford Fiesta Rally Car; perfectly matched to ride the slides and corners of the track with the greatest of ease. The rugged off road course is also nearby where you can tackle some challenging conditions in a Land Rover Defender.

Hosting the biggest events on the sporting calendar requires an infrastructure that stretches way beyond providing the tarmac needed to hit speeds approaching 200 miles per hour. Behind the television pictures that are beamed worldwide you'll find a small town - the Silverstone Six Hospitality Village as we call it - at work as the requirements of 21st century spectators are accommodated. The British Grand Prix is a three-day event - the jewel in the Silverstone crown - but with eight other competitive events hosted at the track, there are year-round events that require the highest standards of visitor facilities.

Silverstone: A Formula One history

Accelerate, brake, turn, screech - things get pretty hectic from the word ‘go’ at a Formula One venue; and any fan of the motorsport will agree that among the racing circuits in the UK, Silverstone is perhaps the most notorious of the bunch.

Not only is it home of the British Grand Prix, the high-speed circuit was also made famous for hosting the first ever F1 World Championship in 1950. The prestigious event made history by attracting the presence of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the first and only members of the royal family to have attended a British motor race.

Interestingly enough, Silverstone circuit wasn’t purposely made for racing; the grounds were actually a Royal Air Force bomber station, RAF Silverstone, built during World War II. It was only after the end of the war that the Royal Automobile Club signed a lease which granted them permission to change the airfield into a race track in 1948.

To date, the Silverstone circuit has seen over 60 years worth of racing action and has celebrated many victories belonging to legendary icons such as Giuseppe Farina (the Italian who won the first World Championship Grand Prix in 1950), Jim Clark (the inspirational Scotsman who rose to fame in the 60s for winning numerous Grand Prix competitions) and Michael Schumacher, the German who is labelled “the greatest driver the sport has ever seen" by the official F1 website.

Of course, there are too many classic races to recall at Silverstone, but one of the best moments in history includes the 1987 F1 World Championship when Nigel Mansell squeezed past rival Brazilian Driver, Nelson Piquet, to claim victory at the very last moment. The popular Brit was known to have kissed the spot where he overtook his opponent after the race.

Any F1 fanatic will tell you that unfortunate but particularly memorable events that occurred on the renowned circuit include the 1960 Grand Prix race when Brit driver, Graham Hill, missed out on a win (after taking the lead on lap 55 only to end up spinning off Copse corner due to a brakes failure); and then there’s the 1994 race when Schumacher was disqualified and given a two-race ban for breaking regulations at the British Grand Prix.

We may be used to seeing superstars such as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso whizzing past their rivals at Becketts corner these days, but there’s no denying that celebrated F1 drivers of the past have helped make a tremendous impact and will always be remembered as heroes at Silverstone circuit.

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