Porsche - History


The early years in the 40´s

Silverstone was opened as a World War Two airfield in 1943, near the leafy village of the same name. Once the war had ended in 1945 Britain was left with a number of redundant airfields but without a major race track Donington Park was still a military vehicle storage depot, Brooklands had been sold off, Crystal Palace was in a state of disrepair and Brands Hatch was still under-developed.

The Royal Automobile Club was interested in Silverstone as a potential site and approached the Air Ministry in 1948 and a lease was arranged. At this time the centre of Silverstone Circuit was a farm producing cereal crops and also a piggery so the RAC employed farmer James Wilson Brown to create the first Grand Prix circuit at the site and gave him just two months to build it.

The first events at Silverstone

On October 2nd, 1948, amid straw bales and ropes, Silverstone's first event took place, the RAC Grand Prix. The crowds came in there thousands, thrilled to see the return of Grand Prix racing after so many years of war austerity. The 3.67 mile course sent the 23 competing cars racing round part of the perimeter track, up the two former runways and back to the perimeter. This layout meant cars were racing towards each other head-on until they turned sharp left and returned to the perimeter. For this reason canvas screens were erected across the centre of the circuit to stop the drivers being distracted whilst the spectators were not allowed in the centre of the circuit because of the potential damage to growing crops.

The winner of the inaugural race at the Silverstone circuit was Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati, who recorded an average speed of 72 mph to claim the first prize of £500. A year later, after the hazardous runways were eliminated and a chicane was inserted at Club on the full perimeter road, Silverstone hosted a second major event in May 1949 – the Formula One Daily Express International Trophy – virtually a second Grand Prix, won by Alberto Ascari.

Another of Silverstone's most famous classics also began in August 1949, the Daily Express International Trophy for Formula One cars and for this meeting the Club chicane was dispensed with and the circuit took up a shape that was to last for a quarter of a century.

The Porsche Driving Experience started in 1974 with the launch of the 930 Turbo and has evolved and developed to provide exciting and informative courses to improve driving enjoyment. Porsche Driving Experience comprises a series of driving programmes designed to enable drivers to match their performance to that of the car. The experiences provide the opportunity for all drivers to refine their behind the wheel ability, knowledge and safety.

Opening of the Centre in 2008

The Porsche Driving Experience Centre opened its doors in July 2008 after six years of development and is situated at Silverstone Circuit, the home of British motorsport, in the heart of England. Located next to Hangar Straight, we are on the site of the WRC Rally of Great Britain special stage used in the late 1990’s.

Porsche vehicle development is relentless. Huge technical and mechanical advances, particularly over the last decade, have produced today’s hugely capable cars. Investing time in understanding these features can unlock even an experienced driver’s potential to enjoy a Porsche to the full.

Over the course of the past 35 years, much has changed – but much has stayed the same. The passion, for example, with which we work on improving every aspect of our training programme: from your driving skills to your enjoyment behind the wheel.