We made use of our national lottery day out vouchers to visit Silverstone Interactive Museum. Nestled in the heart of motorsport’s spiritual home in the United Kingdom, Silverstone Circuit, this museum promises to take motorsport enthusiasts on a ride through the history and evolution of racing. Does it live to our expectations, well, yes and no!
Now the Silverstone Circuit has a rich history, and don’t get me wrong, the museum does do a commendable job of capturing its essence with an impressive collection of exhibits that showcase iconic moments, legendary drivers, and the evolution of racing technology but it just does not go the extra level in my opinion.
As you first walk through the doors, you are greeted by Lewis Hamilton’s title-winning Mercedes suspended directly over you. Super cool start to the day I would say but the enthusiasm didn’t stay long. Once you are through admissions you are provided with wristbands. You then go upstairs to get to the museum. At the top of the stairs, there is an open area offering uninterrupted views across the racetrack, which is awesome.
You then walk into a dark room which has a video running with some iconic cars and F1 moments. It is designed as a mock-up grid but was a bit meh for me to be honest, probably, because I dont know enough about the history of F1. As the show finishes in about 2 minutes, the doors open and you get to enter the main museum.
Every corner and straight at Silverstone has a name. You’ll learn the names and the history behind them in the opening part of the Silverstone Museum, and how Silverstone became The Home of British Motor Racing. There was a lot of reading, which Ay was not interested in at all. There was a pond with interactive lights, instructing you to jump on the lily pads to find out facts about the priory, but nothing happened when we did that. Not sure if we were doing it wrong or if it was just not working, we moved on to the Scalextric ‘On Track’ exhibit. Here you can race cars around the two lane Grand Prix circuit. It was nice but lacked the wow factor!
RAF Silverstone comes next. This is where you will find out about the men and women who were stationed here during the war, see their real uniforms and understand how pilots learnt to fly Wellington bombers. There are three different hands-on activities including practising to shoot barrage balloons and having a go on the Link Trainer – a replica of the machine the RAF used to train pilots. This part was cool. Ay loved the shooting balloon game (though we couldn’t get it right). There was a flight simulator where you simulate flying an aeroplane. We have to work on our landing hahaha.
You them move on to the farm and village that gave the circuit its name and learn about the area around the track. There are some interactive bits for kids here but its mainly about the history. We moved on..
WINGS AND WHEELLS comes next. There is more history here as look at stunning trophies and programmes from motorsport’s past, and find out what happened in that first grand prix, but you can build your own racing car here on an interactive touch screen and then test it on the track straight away. This is where we spent most of our time upstairs as Ay tried to improve his cars. some went off track, some crashed, other raced to the end. He was in his spirit as he wanted the car to beat its personal best. The museum was not busy so we spent as long as he wished, but we wouldn’t have had the same experience if there were queues of people behind us.
It’s time to say goodbye to the history of Silverstone and its beginnings as a circuit, and get ready to find out what happens here on race day and more. You then go downstairs to get up close (well a little close) to iconic racing cars and bikes from over 70 years of racing at Silverstone, as well getting stuck in to the amazing tech behind the sport.
You get to see the huge effort that goes into putting on a race day.From race marshals to the medical centre, you hear first-hand accounts of what is needed to run a busy race day. You can listen to engineers and famous drivers including Sir Jackie Stewart, who will tell you all about safety at the circuit and the incredible technology that goes into racing. Its great but my six year old did not have the patience to listen to it. He spent most of his time putting together (and failing) his own racing bike. None of his bikes were worthy of being on the track.. hahaha.. may be he should have listened to all the technical bits and engineering principles 🙂
You can take a look at some of the most significant cars and motorcycles to have competed and won at Silverstone, including Mansell’s iconic “Red 5”, an E.R.A from the first ever Grand Prix and Barry Sheene’s 1979 Suzuki motorbike. You can also have a look at some of the race suits and helmets from the 1950s through to today. There is even a Lewis Hamilton’s suit, boots and lid, but there is not a lot of variety, I suspect mainly because the museum is more about Silverstone itself rather than formula one, but it does leave you desiring for me. There are original tickets, race programmes and trophies on display alongside the race cars.
While the experience had its highs, I could not help but feel disappointed by certain aspects, leaving me questioning whether the £25 admission fee was justified. Even if you can convert your ticket to an annual pass for FREE, there is not enough in there for me to keep visiting again and again. It was only after writing this review and delving into the museum’s website that I discovered an exciting show in the special-effects cinema called “The Ultimate Lap of Silverstone.” Regrettably, no one informed us and we unintentially missed out on what could have been a highlight of our visit. Why aren’t these things clearly signposted? AND how can you not experience sitting in any of the racing cars in a museum like this. I also think you should be allowed to go onto the racing track itself.
Despite my mixed feelings, I believe that with some adjustments, this museum has the potential to offer a truly memorable and worthwhile experience for motorsport enthusiasts of all ages. It has hands on interactive stuff for kids, which is commendable, but I would only recommend visiting the museum for older children, or if you’re a die-hard Formula 1 fan or simply curious about the sport’s illustrious past or Silverstone. The rest of you can skip it and use that money on something else.
You can enjoy the racing simulator experience for an extra 25£ per driver. I was not going to pay for it, but Ay decided he is going to use all his pocket money for it, so off we went. The simulator is designed for use by adults. I read on the website (after our visit) that you must be at least 140cm tall. However, Ay was allowed to go in and nobody objected. He struggled to get to the brakes but I helped him along and actually took over the simulator at one point.
Now when you are watching from outside, it looks like you are just sitting in a seat driving the steering wheel, and I was wondering if its worth 25£, but I changed my mind when I took control briefly. What you dont see from the outside is that when you are actually in the seat, it does move you around. I felt dizzy and sick and couldn’t cope with it for more than 3-4 minutes. lol, That’s the end of my racing career , but I was genuinely surprised by the realism it offered, akin to sitting in the driver’s seat of a genuine Formula 1 car. The attention to detail and the accurate representation of the circuit’s layout contributed to a genuinely immersive experience. Navigating tight corners to trying to master the perfect braking point left me with an even greater appreciation for the skill and bravery of professional racing drivers. if your kids are into this kind of thing and are over 135-140 cm, then its worth an experience. They may love it (like Ay), or hate it (like me).
Address: Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Towcester NN12 8TN, United Kingdom
Adults 25£ (Save 10% when you book in advance), Child (5-15) Ticket only £13.50 in advance. Under 5’s go free
Toilets and baby facilities on site
Café on site
The garden is open with outdoor seating available
Buggy friendly. Read Accessibility information HERE
Only Assistance Dogs allowed