Silverstone: a long history with endurance racing

Both the ELMS and the FIA WEC will contest the circuit that is the home of 'British motorsport' again this year.

Silverstone: a long history with endurance racing

The ‘home’ of British motorsport is undoubtedly Silverstone, a track with a long and storied past, based in the Midlands of England. It is the venue for the opening round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship where teams will start their fight for championship titles and honours, to be played out over eight rounds and four continents.

The start of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship race at Silverstone
The start of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship race at Silverstone

Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport

Opened as a World War Two airfield in 1943, near the leafy village of the same name which is situated approximately 75 miles north-west of London, the track was taken over by the Royal Automobile Club after the war. On 2ndOctober 1948, amid straw bales and ropes, Silverstone's first event took place, the RAC Grand Prix.

In 1951, the British Racing Drivers' Club took over the lease from the RAC and set about turning the temporary airfield track into something more permanent and more prestigious – an evolutionary process which has continued to the present day.

While Formula One Grand Prix racing has always been a feature of the track’s history, endurance sports car racing didn’t make its first true appearance at Silverstone until 1976 when the inaugural six-hour event was held.

Changes to regulations for sports car racing in the late 1970s paved the way for a golden era of Group C in the 80s, with the likes of Porsche, Lancia, Jaguar and Mercedes all vying for the World Sports Car Championship. The Silverstone 6-Hour and 1000km races became a cornerstone of this championship and the event was often used by the teams as a warm up to the all-important Le Mans 24Hour race, which followed it on the calendar. These events, run under the aegis of the FIA, went on until 1992.

In addition, and alongside, these endurance races for sportscars were also endurance Touring Car events, contested for the coveted Royal Automobile ClubTourist Trophy which, from 2013 onwards, will be awarded to the overall winner of the Silverstone round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

One of the most significant prizes in international motorsport, Tourist Trophy races have been held at Silverstone more times than at any other British circuit, starting in 1970. Notable names from the world of both touring and sportscar endurance racing who have lifted the trophy are Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Tom Walkinshaw and Enzo Calderari.

True endurance racing then took a break from appearing at Silverstone, only to return in 2004 with the launch of the Le Mans Endurance Series, the fore-runner to the ELMS. Since then, races have taken place every year except 2012 and are back in force this year on the 12-14 April with both the ELMS and the FIA WEC holding 3-hour and 6-hour events respectively.

FIA World Endurance Championship

shares
comments
Back to black as Strakka Racing unveils HPD ARX-03c

Previous article

Back to black as Strakka Racing unveils HPD ARX-03c

Next article

Porsche AG unveils the new 911 RSR

Porsche AG unveils the new 911 RSR
Load comments
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Prime

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year.

WEC
Jul 24, 2021
How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak Prime

How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak

The FIA World Endurance Championship's long-awaited return to Monza posed the sternest test yet for Toyota's new hypercar. Although the Japanese marque's GR010 Hybrid remains unbeaten, the victory for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi was far from plain sailing.

WEC
Jul 19, 2021
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Prime

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness.

Le Mans
Jun 23, 2021
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear Prime

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance.

WEC
Jun 14, 2021
Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota Prime

Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota

This weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the 100th world champion prototype start for Toyota. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago.

WEC
Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Prime

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Prime

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory.

WEC
May 4, 2021