Silverstone Experience : Review

As a child, my life was regularly influenced by motorsports. I have fond memories of weekends spent watching F1 races with my Dad cheering on my favourite Damon Hill. As a teenager, my Dad pursued his own racing career and winning the Ford XR3 Challenge with me going along to spectate and enjoy a racing weekend with him. In my late teens, I was then able to spend weekends marshalling with my Dad before being invited to marshall the annual F1 weekend at Silverstone for a couple of years before having children.

Nowadays the roles have changed, I spend weekends watching the F1 with my children and my son Lewis cheering on his idol Lewis Hamilton (no I didn’t name my son about LH! haha!). The F1 weekends at Silverstone have been replaced by Lewis and my husband going along on my Dad’s Guest Passes for the weekend and me watching from home. As yet I am to pursue a racing career.

Motorsport is in my blood.

At the beginning of the recent Half Term Holiday, I was trawling through Facebook and came across a sponsored advert for Silverstone Experience, a brand new visitors attraction opened up by the main entrance of Silverstone Track Entrance. I knew instantly I’d have to take the kids to see it, especially Lewis. So on the Friday of the holidays, we woke early, hit the road and made our way over to Northampton to have a look!

Silverstone Experience

First of all, from the car park, we were surprised just how big the building is, we knew this wasn’t going to be a quick visit and with an entrance fee of £38 for me and 2 kids we were going to certainly get our pennies worth.

Lewis Hamiltons Racing Car hanging in the reception of Silverstone Experience
Lewis Hamiltons Racing Car hanging in the reception of Silverstone Experience

Upon entering the building we were greeted by Lewis Hamiltons AMG Mercedes hanging over our heads, this caused a couple of giggles with the kids. From here we were greeted by admittance staff who issued us with wristbands before guiding the way to starting our Experience.

Welcome – Join The Grid

To get us ready for the visit we are guided through to a tunnel-shaped room, the room has a layout of a starting grid in it and projectors facing either wall beside you. Here starts a short video of motorsport through the decades from the 1940s through to today.

Learning the History of Silverstone

After the video, we leave at the far end of the room to begin our journey. The beginning of the attraction is very much based on Silverstone through the years, starting out with the Silverstone that was before the arrival of Silverstone that we know today. For example, the whole of Silverstone Circuit is based on the site of the old WWII Royal Air Force bomber station, RAF Silverstone and the current Wellington Straight is formed of one of the 3 runways. But before all that Silverstone was home to a Medieval Abbey and country estate. There is history to all the circuits straights and corners all of which are explained in the opening part of the experience.

Discovering Silverstone
Discovering Silverstone

In the time of RAF Silverstone’s existence, it was predominantly used for WWII so there various interactive experiences in this area suitable for children of any age to have a go with whilst parents do some reading. Leah enjoyed her chance at taking off in an aeroplane, following instructions on her climb and descent before safely landing again. Whilst Lewis enjoyed trying out the parcel dropping simulator delivering supplies during wartime.

Parcel Dropping in WWII
Parcel Dropping in WWII

The First Grand Prix

After learning about the history of the site before it became a circuit it was then time to discover how it became to hosting the worlds first Grand Prix, which we know to be the Formula 1 of today. Here we discovered how the idea came about, how they turned the location from Airfield to Race Track in the space of 4 months, how drivers were invited to come together to race and all the facts and figures of holding this prestigious event.

Stats from Grand Prix of 1948
Stats from Grand Prix of 1948

Lewis then got to try out another interactive area, trying his hands at building a successful 1948 racing car, deciding which parts would be substantial enough to compete with, withstand the pressures of racing but also be competitive to win races with. Lewis and I competed in this area, both building a car to see who’s would finish the race fastest, I didn’t win!

Lewis building a 1948s Racing Car
Lewis building a 1948s Racing Car

Afterwards, the kids then got to sit in one of the early day’s race cars before heading downstairs to discover the next part of the attraction.

Leah In A Racing Car
Leah In A Racing Car

F1 and Moto GP Technology

Upon going downstairs there was a couple of different ways to go but following the kids, I was lead into a brightly lit room all full of gadgets (no surprise why the kids wanted to go here first!). In this room, we were brought into the world of F1 (and MotoGP) today learning all about how different technologies involved in the sport.

  • Technology Area at Silverstone Experience
  • Learning About Tyre Compounds
  • Learning About Suspension
  • Learning About Gears

Here I found that even though the attraction does focus on other forms of motorsport including MotoGP it is very very highly focused on F1. There are different sections to this room focusing on different technologies of an F1 car such as tyres, brakes, gears, suspension and a very informative section about Building A Safer Car. Meanwhile, MotoGP has a very small section where you can build an interactive bike to try and compete in the rain of which Lewis, Leah and myself all failed!

Other Aspects of Motorsport

After leaving the technology area we were then taken through to an area which started off with the safety of drivers and others connected to the sport. This included the types of clothing that drivers, pit crew and marshals wear.

Next up there was a small area about track marshals, the flags that marshals use and the types of Marshals required to host a race event. Here the kids were delighted to discover that their Grandad (my Dad) is featured in a picture of pit-lane marshals.

Learning about the role of Pit Marshalls and finding the kids Grandad Chris
Learning about the role of Pit Marshalls and finding the kids Grandad Chris

Then we tested our knowledge of track flags, here I was surprised to discover my knowledge of flags is still perfect and the kids also know quite a lot about their flags too. Lewis also took the opportunity to wave a flag as his Grandad Chris does.

Lewis Waving White Flag at Silverstone Experience
Lewis Waving White Flag at Silverstone Experience

In this area there is also an interactive area featuring commentary, trying your hand at being an F1 or MotoGP commentator or having a go at being a pit lane mechanic.

1948 – 2018

The last area we entered inside Silverstone Experience was all focusing on the racing history of the circuit from the first-ever Grand Prix and 500cc race in 1948 and following the memorable events throughout the circuits years up to 2018.

  • Through The Eras Display - 1949
  • Through The Eras Display - 1961
  • Through The Eras Display - 1974
  • Through The Eras Display - 1979
  • Through The Eras Display - 1994
  • Through The Eras Display - 2017

Here there are various items on display too, from early day racing gear to drivers signing on sheets, trophies and the odd motor vehicle or two! Also through the era’s, there are interactive screens where you can discover race results, race programmes, photographs from events throughout the years.

  • 1960s Racing suit and helmet of Christabel Carlisle
  • British GP Signing On Sheet from 1992
  • Winning Constructors Trophy awarded to Mercedes from 2013
  • Lewis Hamiltons Race Suit and Helmet
  • David Coulthards Mercedes
  • Through The Eras Interactive Display

The Ultimate Lap

After all the excitement of the visit, you are about to sit your Ultimate Lap, make your way through to the special effects cinema and enjoy. Here you sit in a domed cinema style room and enjoy your “ultimate lap” from the seat of your car, witnessing up close momentous battles which happened at Silverstone throughout the era’s taking place around your vehicle on the track in front of you. It’s certainly a great experience and a fantastic way to finish off your visit.

Outdoor Heritage Track Trail

Before you finish off your visit be sure to make sure if you are able to go outside and experience the Outdoor Heritage Track Trail. This isn’t always available due to circuit event days but if it is open be sure to go out and see it.

The Outdoor Heritage Trail gives you the opportunity to see some of the race circuit up close and also watch some of the driving that may be happening that day. You also get to walk on some of the old race track that is no longer used, from Bridge Corner to Priory.

Lewis and Leah stood on the rumble strip at Bridge Corner Silverstone.
Lewis and Leah stood on the rumble strip at Bridge Corner Silverstone.

Be sure if you are planning a visit to the Silverstone Experience, make sure that the Heritage Trail will be available.

Verdict

All in all, we had such a fantastic day, I learnt a lot about Silverstone circuit that I had never considered before and a lot more about the sport that I love that I will cherish.

The kids had a great day too, Leah aged 7 didn’t take in as much as her older brother Lewis (aged 10) but there were plenty of interactive areas which she was able to play with whilst Lewis and I browsed and read signs and displays. Personally, if you have children much younger (of an age where they aren’t competent readers) I’d see them getting bored very quickly.

I’m sure as Lewis returns to Silverstone in July 2020 for the British F1 GP that a visit to return to Silverstone Experience will be rebooked so that he can take his Dad to see this great attraction for himself.

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**This is a NON-Gifted Review. I purchased my own tickets to Silverstone Experience and have not been asked to review our experience at all. I’m reviewing to share our day. All words and opinions are my own.

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