Last Saturday I arrived at the Silverstone circuit to the sound of 1950s racing cars echoing around the grandstands; cars that would normally be gathering dust in a museum now battling fiercely for position despite the fact that should one of their beautiful chrome wing mirrors get bashed it would be virtually irreplaceable. Yes, it is true, the Silverstone Classic is one of the best racing spectacles of the year.
Having never been before and with Amy (another Marmalade Ambassador) at Snetterton for the touring cars, I happily took up the honours of going to the Classic. Upon arrival I was greeted with a lift in one of the Ssangyong shuttle cars that transport media members around the circuit. ‘No thanks’ – on that sunny wind-free day I was walking (although later I would use it to return to the main festival area from The Wing, and what a lovely driver I had too).
A car lover’s dream
After a quick wander down to the first corner I headed over the old circuit where all the action was taking place. Upon your arrival you are greeted with hundreds of cars that belong to various manufacturer clubs: Lotus, BMW, Jaguar, Porsche, Mazda, Lamborghini to name just a few. It really is an extraordinary sight and their respective owners are more than happy to talk to you. There were also some proper rides and Jaguar had set up a drift zone for spectators too.
Crossing over the Wellington straight to get inside of the circuit are yet more car clubs, more rides and a market place with plenty of motoring art and merchandise to browse through. I’d never been on the inside of the track so I started meandering towards The Wing at the other side of the venue, taking in some of the fantastic views of the wonderful corners that Silverstone boasts. The track constricts at the middle so at one point I was looking gleefully left and right at cars zooming by in opposing directions.
Up close and personal
The long walk was worth it: I arrived at The Wing’s Media Centre to (slightly) cheaper food for lunch and a nice little view of the pit straight, plus TV screens showing the event, timing information and the German grand prix (well I wasn’t going to miss qualifying now). As the 2001 McLaren MP4-16A howled by, I finished my lunch and headed to the pits below. Both the National and International pits provide excellent up-close views of some truly stunning machinery. You could quite literally touch these cars if you wanted to. In a world where motorsport seems far less accessible, the Silverstone Classic is a refreshing event that I advise any motoring fan to go to.
The following 1970/1980s F1 and the Can-Am races were enthralling: I’d hopped over to the Copse corner grandstand (pretty much all the grandstands have free access) for the latter race and watching the cars at the limit of grip at such a vantage point was fantastic. In fact such was their enthrallment that before I knew it I had to start thinking about home time – the reality of work the next day was starting to sink in.