Silverstone Report 2015
3rd, 4th & 5th July
On the Thursday morning at 09:00 the four of us meet at a sunny Silverstone Circuit.
30 variously coloured Porsche cars were parked in the circuit’s lockable compound. With a value of £60K – £100K each it is no surprise that they required to be securely stored. All of the cars were top of the range Cayenne’s, Macan’s & Panameera’s and all were awaiting our drivers.
Nine of the cars were electric & diesel hybrids. We were warned that the hybrids were a little tricky to start. Having taken the Instructor five minutes to start it, I decided to have a go!!. Fifteen minutes later I had the car running. The next task was for all of us to learn how to start them. With the help of the manual and the scratching of four heads it only took twenty minutes to get it going.
Having mastered the hybrids, the next job was to check all the vehicles for any slight damage, (they were hired cars and to prevent Rotary getting blamed for any existing damage!) Then to number the cars for ease of identification. Come lunch time, it was time to check out the routes.
The sun was shining and it looked like we were in for a good weekend.
Friday morning at 08:30, Conrad and I thumbed a lift from the car park to the Silverstone Drive Centre, where we picked up a minibus and prepared for our first fifteen drivers to arrive at the car park gate. Soon they appeared, eager to see what cars they would be driving. The surprise was that the cars were not parked in their usual location but under lock and key.
A quick familiarisation trip around the 2015 routes, and the car keys were allocated to the drivers. As usual the low cloud base had prevented the early flights from arriving. Friday is always the quietest day of the weekend, but soon we were picking up passengers from the heliport and depositing them at their various hospitality suites around the circuit.
On the Saturday morning at 07:30, thirty people arrived, and again tasks were allocated, and our excellent “key keeper” Angie swung into action. There were a few more passengers and flights to service, kept the drivers busy. At 12:00 the Red Arrows made an appearance, (the helicopters stopped – not sure why!!). Imagine our surprise at midday when two breakdown trucks appeared in the Drive car park and started lifting vehicles to remove them off the circuit. Formula One Management staff stated that the Porsches did not have the correct car park pass and would have to be removed. A quick phone call to Silverstone Base resolved the problem and all continued as before.
Sunday morning at 06:00, with the threat of rain, fifty volunteers were looking forward to a busy day. Our three “key keepers”, Jenny, Julie & Angie, were on duty keeping us all in order. The flights started arriving thick and fast, and soon there were cars travelling to all parts of the inner circuit. At 12:00 the Blue Falcons parachute team made a spectacular jump, landing on the start & finish line in front of the Wing. Then a great noise was heard as a RAF Tornado gave a death defying display with barrel rolls, loop the loops and vertical climbs and drops.
All drivers were stood down during the displays and the Grand Prix, and went off to see the race either from the bank or on the television within the Drive Centre. As soon as the race was over, they were back in the cars, ready for the mad rush to return the very often merry passengers back to the Heliport.
Imagine the disruption caused when the main route to the Wing, the biggest and busiest hospitality suite, was closed due to a security incident. Some quick thinking, and an alternative route was identified, allowing disgruntled passengers to catch their flights.
At 18:00 most passengers had been returned to the Heliport to catch their flights. Those who had had a very good day of free hospitality and had wondered off were left to walk back to their flights.
This year appears to have been a success, with all our volunteers saying that they had had a great time and would love to come again if asked next year. Considering that some people had travelled a great distance to get to Silverstone – Plymouth, Somerset, Manchester, Gloucester, to help us that can’t be a bad thing.
As in previous years it was a long and tiring weekend, but I dare say if asked we will be back again next year.