Anyone who knows a thing or two about Formula One motor racing will surely recognize Silverstone as a main staple of most racing calendars from year to year! It’s seen as the British staple of the World Grand Prix, and as such, it’s become a firm favorite with drivers and fans alike.
Silverstone is known to millions as the heart of motor racing for many people. Therefore, it’s unsurprising why so many people make the trip here from abroad each year. It has an incredible history behind it, and it’s in fact the epicenter of some of the biggest and most important racing movements in the world.
Have you ever been lucky enough to watch a race or two down at Silverstone? If not, there’s plenty of time for you to make that change. In the meantime, here’s a stack of facts about the track to keep in mind before you visit!
Originally built as an airfield in 1943, the original track used the two straights of runways as part of the race circuit.
The first motor races which took place there were hosted by a group of car enthusiasts – using bales of hay as markers! That was all the way back in 1947.
The RAC (Royal Automobile Club) selected Silverstone as a race track when other nearby facilities at Donnington Park and Crystal Palace were being used by the military for storage.
The RAC recognized the convenience of the location and ability to join the runways to build an accessible circuit for long-term racing.
In 1950, watched in person by the Queen, the first Formula One championship motor race took place at Silverstone.
The first Formula One race at Silverstone was won by an Italian driver, Giuseppe Farina, who drove an Alfa Romeo.
Jimmy Brown, retired as the official head of Silverstone after an incredible 40 years of dedicated service.
Chosen by the RAC, Brown was given only eight weeks to pull together the format and layout of the track, including pit stops and a small administration center, for the first ever F1 race.
In 1952, The RAC handed over the running of Silverstone to the British Racing Drivers Club.
1966 saw the formation of Silverstone Circuits Limited. This was another major development – as, in 1971, they bought 720 acres of ground around Silverstone from the Ministry of Defense.
Of all the Formula One race tracks, Silverstone is known as one of the fastest, due to long straights and stretches where drivers aim to race at maximum speeds.
A speed record was set in 1985 when Keke Rosberg reached a lap speed of 160 miles per hour – with a punctured tire! It’s safe to say it’s probably not worth trying that at home – he was a consummate professional!
Following much success with increasing numbers of spectators and increasing numbers of races Silverstone underwent many improvements to the track and facilities during the 70s and 80s.
One major change was made to increase accessibility to the track and ease the traffic flow – resulting in the opening of a four lane ‘feeder’ road to the circuit. This linked it directly to both the M1 and M40 in 2002.
It’s not just about F1 here – as cars, motorbikes, and bicycles race at Silverstone. Probably not all at the same time, mind!
The home of the British Race Drivers Club is based at Silverstone. Membership is by invitation only – it’s a very exclusive organization.
The BRDC was founded by J Dudley Benjafield in 1928.
In 2014, Silverstone’s management announced the construction of the ‘Wall of Fame’. This is a stone wall which you can buy a slot on – if you’re lucky enough to receive the invitation!
The Silverstone Formula One race for 2020 was held without spectators but was filmed live for television. It was the first of its kind, though Silverstone has plans to get back to normal for the 2021 race onwards.
In consideration of the constraints of many other Formula One race tracks, following the global spread of the coronavirus, Silverstone offered to host up to 12 other Grand Prix races.
In addition to the usual annual F1 Grand Prix race, Silverstone held a second race in honor of the 70th anniversary of Grand Prix racing in general! The anniversary race was won by Max Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton won the 2020 Grand Prix at Silverstone. This was Hamilton’s fourth win at Silverstone.
The motor racing team Racing Point F1 is based at Silverstone.
The race track at Silverstone is 5.891 kilometers, equivalent to 3.66 miles. It is currently the fourth longest circuit in formula one racing.
The world’s biggest ‘Classic Car Festival’ is held at Silverstone.
For his contribution to motor racing, the famous commentator Murray Walker was presented with a lifetime achievement award at Silverstone in 2018.Murray saw the first motor race held there back in 1948!
The winner of the 2019 British Motorcycle Grand Prix race at Silverstone was Alex Rins.
There was only 0.14 seconds between the winner and second place in the 2019 Motorcycle Grand Prix. This was one of the closest finishes on record!
There is a ‘helipad’ at Silverstone race track for anyone wishing to travel by helicopter.
Over a hundred medically trained staff work at Silverstone. They are stationed at a special medical facility near the Pits, almost in the center of the circuit.
2019 was a record breaking year for Silverstone when it was recorded that 351,000 spectators attended the Grand Prix. Two other circuits with record attendance were Australia with 324,100, and Mexico with 345,694.
An announcement was made in 2018 that Silverstone would become the home for Aston Martin’s new ‘Testing and Development Center’, where prototypes will be put through their paces.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Silverstone that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!