Attractions industry news

11 Oct 2019

Silverstone Experience to open later this month following construction delays

The Silverstone Experience, a National Lottery Heritage Fund-backed project that will put the archive of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) on display to the public, will open in Northamptonshire, UK, on 25 October.

The £20m (US$24.6m, €22.3m) project has taken seven years to bring to fruition, with a grant of £9.1m (US$11.2m, €10.2m) from the National Lottery, as well as high profile support from the likes of HRH Prince Harry, former Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, and commentator Murray Walker.

Originally due to open in July 2019, the development was delayed in June when construction firm Shaylor Group went into administration.

Set in a refurbished Second World War RAF hangar at the famous Silverstone circuit, the experience will be literally hands-on for visitors, with 20 activities to try out, including changing a tyre on a F1 car, climbing into a replica 1940s grand prix car, and piloting a Wellington bomber on a recreated training machine.

Amongst the memorabilia on view will be Barry Sheene's 1979 Suzuki, leathers and helmet (complete with the modification of a hole through which he could smoke while wearing it), Nigel Mansell's 1992 British Grand Prix-winning Williams, a collection of BRDC gold stars won by James Hunt, and a grand prix signing-on sheet featuring the signatures of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Mansell and Damon Hill.

Restoration of the 4,000sq m (13,100sq ft) building was led by architect Jane Lock-Smith of Cube Design, with sports museum specialists Mather & Co responsible for the design of the exhibition and interactive features.

Silverstone Heritage, the charity behind the initiative, said that it hopes the new attraction and an associated schools programme will inspire the next generation of engineers by revealing the science behind the sport.

Paul Lee, senior project designer at Mather & Co, said the intention had been to bring out Silverstone's rich heritage and social community for all demographics, not just motorsport fans, in the designs and story-telling: He went on: "This is reflected in the focus on the beginnings of Silverstone and the surrounding areas before its days as an airfield, and the community which developed in the immediate area as a result of it becoming the home of the British Grand Prix.

"We have brought to life all elements of Silverstone's rich history, from its wartime Wellington bomber roots, to the local pub ‒ the hub of the community ‒ to the modern day Formula 1 factories and technology seen in the cars that now race here. The interactive commentary booth, pit wall and garage elements of the exhibition will give guests a chance to experience the thrill of motorsport first-hand."

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