Goodwood and Silverstone
When thinking about British motor racing, Goodwood and Silverstone quickly come to mind. These iconic locations were there right at the very beginning and their tracks are entwined with the history of the sport.
When Brooklands was damaged in the Second World War and finally abandoned in 1939, the British public had to live without racing for nearly ten years. But after waiting patiently, two good things came along at once.
The abundance of deserted airfields from WWII presented Britain with the perfect locations for a motor racing revival. Thus, Goodwood and Silverstone were born.
On 18th September 1948, Goodwood welcomed the world to its track for the UK’s very first post-war racing event. The response of the British public was overwhelming with over 15,000 spectators and 85 drivers descending on the venue.
Less than two weeks later, on 2nd October 1948, Silverstone held the first British Grand Prix. From then on, the event has barely left its original venue. For a short period in the 50s it alternated with Aintree and from 1963 to 1986 it took turns with Brands Hatch, but for the past 27 years the British Grand Prix has been back where it began: Silverstone.
They might share roots as WWII airfields, but Goodwood and Silverstone have since played very different parts in the motoring world.
After 18 years of racing, Goodwood reached the finishing line as a competitive venue and the track took on a new role within the sport. In March 1993 Goodwood held its first two-day Festival of Speed organised by Lord March. Despite being closed since 1966, an impressive crowd of 30,000 attended. This number has only grown each year and in 2014, Goodwood’s 21st Festival of Speed welcomed 200,000 fans over three days.
The main event of the Festival is the 1.16 mile Hill climb. For 15 years, not one of the 300 cars and motorcycles that thunder up the hill each day has beaten our very own MP4-13. In 1999 Nick Heidfeld thrashed the competition by soaring up the hill in 41.6 seconds.
50 years to the day when racing ended at the circuit, it was brought back to life in The Goodwood Revival. A crowd of 68,000, adorned in period dress, attended the event which is now held over three days each September and attracts more than 300,000 people. The Revival sees a celebration of vintage cars as they race on the old track.
The 3.8km circuit gets its name from the Goodwood Estate that was owned by the Dukes of Richmond for over 300 years. It was the 9th Duke who donated a piece of land to the RAF during WWII. Today, the 7 turns of Goodwood’s track hold the remarkable and humbling record as the only classic motor circuit in the world that is still in its original form. This is a record that the British public can be immensely proud of and makes for the perfect venue for celebrating our motor racing heritage.
Since it held the first British Grand Prix, Silverstone hasn’t stopped growing and developing. In 2011 The Silverstone Wing was opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent and includes 41 garages, a race control building, a podium, a media centre, cafes and restaurants and VIP spectator zones.
The facilities aren’t the only thing to have advanced over the years; the track itself has changed several times but today the New Grand Prix Circuit at Silverstone consists of 18 turns and 5.89km.
During the last 27 years, 12 of McLaren’s 14 British Grand Prix wins have been claimed at Silverstone. Five of these belong to Alain Prost who still holds the record for the most wins at the circuit.
In November 2014, McLaren’s MP4-29H/1X1 was revealed at Silverstone marking the first time McLaren has partnered with Honda since the 1992.
With around 250,000 fans visiting the venue and around 25,000 of them staying at the official Silverstone Woodlands campsite, the planning that takes place before a GP weekend is momentous. On top of this there is a post-race party to be organised (a must-go tradition for all F1 fans).
Its seemingly constant rejuvenation has made Silverstone the buzzing hub of modern motor racing in Britain. When it’s not powering up for the British Grand Prix, the biggest event in its calendar, Silverstone is humming away with track days, test drives, race meetings and VIP appearances. The extensive state of the art facilities combined with a long and rich history make it arguably one of the sports most prized locations.