Long-awaited £20m Silverstone Circuit museum ready to welcome the public

Silverstone Circuit. Photo: Getty Images
Silverstone Circuit. Photo: Getty Images

A long-awaited £20m museum dedicated to motorsport and the history of Silverstone Circuit will open to the public next week.

Visitors to The Silverstone Experience will be able to learn about the science behind the sport as well as seeing historic cars and bikes from the British Racing Drivers’ Club's archive from October 25.

The venture has faced controversy after being loaned millions of pounds from councils and the original opening before the British Grand Prix in July was delayed after a contractor went bust.

Sally Reynolds, chief executive of Silverstone Heritage, the charity behind the 'hands-on family attraction', hopes it will inspire the next generation of engineers.

“Creating a home to tell the historic story of Silverstone was first discussed by the BRDC as long ago as 1971, so I am immensely proud to see this seven-year long project come to fruition," she said.

"The talented and committed team of staff and suppliers behind the project have built an exceptional attraction that will inspire visitors with its incredible stories.”

The seven-year project has been supported by Prince Harry and stars from across motorsport, including world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, Formula 1 engineer Ross Brawn and commentator Murray Walker.

Silverstone Heritage was awarded a £9.1m grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund as well as loans from South Northamptonshire Council, Aylesbury Vale District Council and Buckinghamshire County Council for the scheme

Sir Peter Luff, chairman of heritage fund, said: “The National Lottery Heritage Fund has an incredible track record when it comes to funding projects that will inspire future generations of engineers and scientists across the UK.

"We’re delighted that our funding for The Silverstone Experience will continue to do just that, whilst also highlighting some of the incredible feats in British motorsporting heritage that this iconic venue is home to.”

On display will be Barry Sheene’s 1979 Suzuki, leathers and helmet – modified with a hole to allow him to smoke whilst wearing it – and Nigel Mansell’s 1992 British Grand Prix-winning Williams.

Unseen items including programmes and trophies from the BRDC archives have been given a new home as part of the project, which includes the creation of a state-of-the-art Collections and Research Centre.

Archive items on display for the launch include a driver scrapbook from the 1940s, a valuable collection of BRDC gold stars won by F1 champion James Hunt and a 1992 grand prix signing-on sheet featuring the signatures of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, and Damon Hill.

The 4000m2 re-purposed WWII hangar features over 20 hands-on activities from climbing into a replica 1940s grand prix car to learning how to pilot a Wellington Bomber in a recreated training machine.

For more information about The Silverstone Experience, including how to purchase tickets, visit www.silverstone-experience.co.uk.