As a regular spectator at Silverstone for many years (from 1954 as a matter of fact, when, as a schoolboy, I watched Froilan Gonzales win the International Trophy in the Ferrari Squalo), I have seen the circuit develop from its rustic beginnings to the point where its facilities and its environment are generally very pleasant and acceptable. However, my recent visit to the Tourist Trophy meeting has made me wonder just where the paying spectator figures in the current scheme of things.
With my wife and two sons, I attend most of the major meetings at the circuit, with the exception of the Grand Prix, which as a £200 day out has priced itself out of our market. Our routine is to arrive at about 9am, park in the Brown Car Park, spend an enjoyable couple of hours in the pits and paddock area, and then drive down to Stowe to spectate from the South Grandstand.
However, on September 4 we arrived to discover that a security fence has been erected to prevent vehicle access to the areas close to the circuit. In addition, the entrances were manned by Securicor personnel. Quite apart from this rather forbidding welcome, we discovered that the perimeter road was now out of bounds.
Undaunted, and following our customary visit to the pits and paddock, we attempted to reach Stowe by driving on the dirt road round the outside of the wire. This failed when we encountered a locked barrier some 200 metres from the Stowe car park. We retraced our steps, drove out of the circuit altogether and eventually reached Stowe via normal public roads (all this despite the start-line commentator urging spectators so “drive round to Stowe, where you can see more than half the circuit”). When we finally sorted ourselves out and took our places in the stand we noted that the scoreboard had been removed.
Some years ago, the British Motor Racing Marshals Club stated in its literature that motor racing was for the benefit of:
in that order.
A modern version would read:
*sponsors, purchasers of hospitality facilities and general hangers-on
*the Press (witness the magnificent Jimmy Brown Centre which must have cost a bob or two)
No doubt we shall be told that at £10 a head the TT is excellent value for money. Absolutely right, and so it should be. But I am beginning to feel that such statements are also euphemisms for “keep out of our way, little man, we have a big business to run”.
Peter D Biggs, Letchworth, Hertfordshire.