Northamptonshire County Council leader Jim Harker says his authority has been proved right in its decision to loan Silverstone £13 million to help secure the future of the British Grand Prix.
The circuit signed a 17-year deal to host the race in December 2009 off the back of the loan to kick-start improvement works, including alterations to the track and the building of the Wing pit and paddock complex.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had handed the race to Donington Park, but investment promised by circuit boss Simon Gillett never materialised, and the race was nearly lost to the UK.
It was announced last month that Silverstone’s owners, the British Racing Drivers Club, had signed a £32 million agreement to lease development land around the circuit to commercial property firm MEPC.
And this deal means the BRDC can pay back the loan to the county council two years ahead of schedule.
Speaking at a full council meeting at County Hall, Councillor Harker (Con, Ise), said: “It is a fantastic journey we have been on.
“Four years ago, Bernie Ecclestone tried to pull the plug on the grand prix. We stuck our necks out and took a risk. The financial investment we put in had never been done before.
“We have had, and continue to get, opposition from the Liberal Democrats and Labour to this international sporting event.
“But the grand prix was secured for another 17 years, and all that investment was justified.
“The grand prix provides more than 9,000 extra hotel nights as far afield as Corby. It has protected 22,000 jobs, and we got our money back at a good rate of interest.”