On Friday night, John and I sat together in front of the computer to work on some photographs, exchanging ideas about lighting and composition and clicking furiously away on the mouse. Then the familiar ping of an email coming in on John’s phone brought an invitation to Silverstone race track, home to some of the greatest events in British motor racing such as the 2014 British Touring Cars Championship and next year’s British Grand Prix.
Silverstone started life as a wartime airfield until the end of the Second World War when an ex-farmer was employed by the RAC to transform the airfield and farmland into a race track. On 2nd October 1948, 100,000 people flocked to see Luigi Villoresi in his Maserati beat 22 other drivers and mark the beginning of Silverstone’s racing history. The circuit puts two and four wheels through their paces as drivers battle it out for the thrill of the chase and the entertainment of the crowd.
The drive up to the Buckinghamshire / Northamptonshire border took about 2 hours and I stayed in my basket in the car for safety reasons. It’s so comfy in there with my blanket that I dozed off and it was a good job too because John’s friend (who had the tickets) got caught in traffic on the M1 following a dreadful pile-up. Unfortunately he was delayed by 2 hours but when he arrived, I woke up to the roar of the engines and the purring of the crowd. I felt a buzz in the atmosphere as the vibrations from the sounds all around me spread through my muttonchops. We were lucky enough to have a seat in the British Racing Drivers’ Club stand, surrounded by people who have achieved success in the sport or made a significant contribution to it. John spotted several celebrated individuals and got a close-up of Stirling Moss (not that I’m one to name-drop).
Unfortunately there was bad news on the day we were there (Sunday 27th July). A driver named Denis Welch from Staffordshire crashed in a 1960 Lotus 18 and sadly lost his life aged 69. Our condolences to family and friends, it’s a tragedy when an accident happens, especially when it ends in a fatality.
On a brighter note though, the blazing sunshine, the slick racing tyres and good-looking smiley people parading around near the track kept the crowds happy and the tarmac hot. There were a great many Grand Prix cars on display as you can see from the pictures, including several pre-WW2 machines, a collection of Maseratis, some rarely seen motorcycles from the 1950s, examples of American automobiles such as the Ford Mustang, as well as Lotuses and Williams from the modern era.