Shad does the Silverstone Circuit

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.

Shad gets dizzy at the Festival of Speed

My head must have been spinning all day thanks to the huge collection of super-fast and super-classy cars and bikes that went zooming past John and I last weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.  The Festival is an excuse to celebrate some of the world’s most beautiful and powerful cars in the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex.  John and I joined thousands of other visitors to the event as we made our way to the stands where we had a fabulous view of the cars roaring up the track (known in Goodwood circles as ‘the hill’).  The cars raced against time to the finish line in various classes which included vintage, rally and touring cars, with my favourites being the grand prix vehicles and the prototypes.  John said there must have been millions of pounds worth of cars there including Bentleys, Maserati’s, McLarens, Porsche, Ferrari’s, Lotus and Jaguar.


Amongst the crowds were a few famous figures in the racing world such as Lewis Hamilton who gave an interview outside the front of Goodwood House at the base of an ambitious sculpture designed to commemorate the span of Mercedes-Benz 120 years in motorsport.  This giant white monument reaches over the house and features a car on each arc, one is last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix winner driven by Lewis Hamilton and the other is the very first 1934 model silver racer.


We saw racing legend Stirling Moss (winner of the 1955 British Grand Prix) drive a classic silver post-war Mercedes which cruised serenely past the stands, bringing to life an era reflected by the 3 white vintage Mercedes and their drivers clad in old-fashioned helmets, white race suits and goggles.  In complete contrast, Austrian racing driver Patrick Friesacher took showing off to a whole new level when he wheel-span like his life depended on it in front of the crowd, pouring coloured smoke from his back tyres.  Then World Rally Champion Daniel Sordo decided to tear up the tarmac performing back-to-back donuts in a Hyundai i20.


We saw Damon Hill (winner of the 1993 Hungarian Grand Prix the first of 22 victories) hurtling up the hill in his Williams Renault FW18 and John managed to get an autograph from Sir Jackie Stewart (winner of 3 World Championships).  We also got a picture of Giacomo Agostini, Italian world champion motorcyle roadracer who has a record 122 Grand Prix wins and 15 worldd championship titles leading some people to credit him as the greatest motorcycle racer of all time.


Some of the contemporary prototype cars were so silent and smooth that you barely knew they were there, but the engines on most of the racing cars and bikes were so loud that it made my lobes vibrate and I had to stick my paws in my ears to muffle the noise.  Like when the Typhoon flew by – a military fighter plane designed to be agile and maneuverable in combat with other aircraft.  Towards the end of the day, as another plane (a Hunter) soared overhead, we made our way back to the car park and were smiled at by two lovely ladies dressed in American 1940’s costume sitting on the wing of a WWII plane.