Silverstone plans 50th anniversary celebrations

Drivers on the podium at last year's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. This year's race will be the 50th since Luigi Villoresi (pictured below) won the first ever event on October 2 1948
Drivers on the podium at last year's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. This year's race will be the 50th since Luigi Villoresi (pictured below) won the first ever event on October 2 1948

Aylesbury Vale racetrack Silverstone will host a special celebration for its 50th British Grand Prix this year.

There will be a number of events for fans including a Heritage Village, featuring memorable and historical moments charting the history of the famous circuit.

This year’s race (July 4-6) will be the 50th British Grand Prix since Luigi Villoresi (pictured inset) won the first ever event on October 2 1948, two years before the inauguration of the FIA Formula One World Championship in 1950.

During the Second World War many of Britain’s existing circuit layouts had become unusable, which lead the Royal Automobile Club to take out a one-year lease on the newly-redundant RAF Silverstone airfield site in 1948.

The original race track was created using the two longest runways as straights and large sections of the perimeter road, which were narrowed in parts by hay bales to funnel the cars through the corners.

The inaugural 65-lap Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix, run under the then-new Formula One regulations on the long 3.7-mile (5.9km) circuit in front of 100,000 spectators, was won by Italian Villoresi in a Maserati, with his team-mate Alberto Ascari in second ahead of British driver Bob Gerard.

From 28 drivers, 20 were British in that first ever race were British and, while an Italian took the honours that day, more British drivers have gone on to win their home race than any other nationality. Twelve British drivers have won their home Grand Prix over the years, 10 of whom have won at Silverstone, including the Vale’s very own Sir Jackie Stewart, who lives in Edlesborough.

Another Vale man has also twice tasted victory at what he considers his ‘home-from-home’ track. Aussie Mark Webber, who lives in Aston Clinton, enjoyed memorable victories ‘just down the road’ before retiring at the end of last season to race sports cars for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.

To commemorate the milestone there will also be iconic F1 cars from the 50 years on show.

Richard Phillips, managing director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said: “The British Grand Prix is the jewel in the crown of British motor sport and one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar; the drivers often comment that Silverstone is up there with circuits like Monaco, Monza and Spa as a race they really want to win. 2014 will be extra special with plenty of commemorative events and activities for fans to look forward to, as well as the race itself, which promises to be as exciting as ever as the teams fight to get the most out of their cars under the new regulations.”

Former F1 racer Martin Brundle, commenting about Silverstone and its 50th British Grand Prix at the Autosport International Show, said: “Classic events like Silverstone mean so much. It’s a really important race for British F1 drivers. Not having a British Grand Prix would be like not having a Monaco Grand Prix or Monza.

“It has a massive halo effect on everything we do, including helping to develop young drivers into Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, rally or Le Mans drivers. Look how important the British motor sport industry is to this country; we have this incredible business, history, heritage that is British motor sport, and the British Grand Prix is at the heart of it all.”