Silverstone Museum

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Off to Silverstone Museum with John C today to look around. It’s a first visit for both of us and John had kindly invited me along to help spend his birthday voucher! Our first impressions were good ones! The museum building is partially interactive and there is plenty of variety displayed in a very large, purpose-built, well-lit space. Looking closer, whatever you’re thinking a typical ‘museum’ is like, Silverstone Museum is a little different, and contains pretty-much EVERYTHING a couple of car nuts (that’s us!) could wish for!

What we didn’t wish for today (where the local temperature was a surprisingly cool -3℃) was a notice informing us that the Museum’s heating was broken! That was almost certainly going to quicken our pace where downstairs at Reception, it also felt like -3℃ too! ☹️

After receiving our security wristbands, we headed up the short flight of stairs to the entrance. There was lots to see – a racing car simulator, a large Scalextric track and gazillions of exhibits charting the history of this iconic racing location. Everything was beautifully displayed with lots of detailed notes.

Before the actual racing car history began, there was a series of exhibits explaining the early history of Silverstone as an airfield and its role during WWII. Nicely done!! 👍

What followed was a comprehensive history of the circuit in chronological order, explaining its early life as a working Farm. This was followed by Silverstone’s evolution into a world-beating race circuit featuring many of the actual cars that graced the track, indispersed with TV interviews with some of the iconic racing heroes from the past, including Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss.

For us, the only challenge that got in the way of a relaxing wander around the exhibits was the multiple coach-loads of school kids who turned up just before us… and just after us! Noisy buggers! 😡

I’ve seen a lot of Museums in my life and this one was up there in the top five! What impressed us most of all was the level of detail beyond ‘just’ the racing cars. If you’ve ever wanted to get within touching distance of the famous Ford Cosworth engine, then, Silverstone Museum, is the place to go! 👍. OK, that’s a bit nerdy, but they’d gone to a lot of effort here – and it showed (even if you’re not obsessed with cars!)👍👍

With the school parties now moving on, things quietened down, and we took a break in the Café (note that they don’t accept good ol’ fashioned cash). That gave enough time for the rest of the school kids to finish their visit and leave. Twenty minutes later, a sense of calm had returned to the Museum and John and I decided to ‘start again’ and visit the parts we couldn’t get near, on our first lap because of the sprogs!

Our first stop was the multi-screen introductory presentation, showing off, in quick succession, many of the cars (and the stars that had played a large part in Silverstone’s history). In truth, the multiscreen affair was a bit out of sync making it difficult to know which screen to look at. It only lasted around 5 minutes and once the show was over, we continued retracing our steps from earlier. We were glad we did, because we nearly missed what was probably the best part of the Museum on our first pass – ‘The Ultimate Lap’ (I blame the kids!!!) 🥰

We entered through some large doors to be confronted with a large screen, where WE were the stars. A Pit Technician talked us through what to expect and we thought we were going to have a ‘first-person view’ of a trip around Silverstone. Instead, after the briefing, the film ended. We were encouraged to enter another room – this one was like an iMax cinema with a massive screen and cinema-style seats – and this is where it all came together! 👍

Then the fun began! We became a Driver on the Silverstone circuit watching racing heroes from the past complete a lap. In spite of the slightly cartoonish nature of the images, it all felt very real – even our seats vibrated in sympathy with the car engine and where I also found myself instinctively leaning into the bends. It was VERY enjoyable and a good way to end our visit.

All-in-all, I think it took us around two hours to get around. Disappointingly, the dedicated Scalelextric space was being used by a private group of school kids and the Racing Simulator seemed to be roped off and was therefore empty. Never mind! Maybe next time!

A trouble-free journey back to John’s to drop him off, grab a cuppa and fix his ‘text notifications’ not working, and then it was back to ours.

Camera Roll HERE

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