Silverstone circuit has been awarded nearly half a million pounds by the Lottery to develop plans to exploit the race venue’s historic past.
Yesterday, Thursday circuit owners, The British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) and operators Silverstone Circuits Ltd announced a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £446,068 to develop their plans for a heritage trail and hub.
The circuit itself is also putting cash towards the £892,136 project to develop plans for the Silverstone Heritage Live proposals which will feature the BRDC archive, live interactive experiences and a heritage hub at the circuit entrance.
The grant paves the way for further bid to fund construction of the heritage project, and the circuit is aiming to apply for a £9.1million grant in November 2014.
Big names in the sport have also added their support for the project including David Coulthard MBE, Eddie Jordan, and Christabel Carlisle, who have pledged items for their collections to be displayed in the Heritage Hub.
BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt said: “We are very proud to have won this grant and are extremely excited about the project.
“The BRDC and Silverstone have played an important part in the history of British motor sport, and the Silverstone Heritage Hub will give us an opportunity to share this with motor sport fans from around the world.
“The experiences, memories and collections of the BRDC Members, fans and others associated with the sport provide a unique resource with which to tell the compelling story of Silverstone and British motor sport, and we believe the Heritage Centre will increase our visitor number by over 300,000 each year.”
Vanessa Harbar, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said: “We loved the BRDC’s vision for this exciting project, which will open up the magic of Silverstone to both motor enthusiasts and those with an interest in the wider history of the site.”
The grant for the circuit was announced at the same time as five other major projects worth £68million and include HMS Caroline, the last remaining warship from the first world war, and London’s Alexandra Palace.
Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, said it was a huge step towards underlining the importance of the circuit to future generations and widening its appeal.
He added: “Silverstone holds a unique place in the history of motorsport; having hosted the first ever World Championship Grand Prix in 1950.
“Silverstone holds special memories for me as I am proud to have won the British Grand Prix in 1969 and 1971.”
In 2007 the circuit drew up the Silverstone Masterplan to ensure its future and secure the prestigious F1 GP. After initial local objections over an enabling housing project, the plan is bearing fruit and has seen the construction of a new pit and paddock suite, and in September the Silverstone University Technical College is set to open to more 500 students of sports engineering and hospitality.