When offered weekend passes for the British Touring Car Championships at Silverstone, it wasn’t a hard decision. Even if it meant booking a hotel at the last minute.
The drive into the ‘heart’ of England was unremarkable and we arrived just after 8:30am. We met our host from Team Dynamics at the gate and made the long walk from the car park to the pit lane. Early on Saturday it’s quite clear no one is quite sure what is happening – including the ITV crew who are here to broadcast races tomorrow.
There is a full programme of events today including some ‘real’ races. The touring cars will have two free practice sessions in the morning. Later in the afternoon there is a qualifying session which will determine grid placement in the first proper race tomorrow.
Having toured the pits we make our way to a grassy bank at the end of the home straight to watch the first practice session. The noise is immense!
When the session ends we stop for a coffee and a bacon roll from one of the many burger vans. One roll sets me back £5.
Top tip: Food and drink is extremely expensive at Silverstone. Expect to spend £10-£11 for a burger, ~£4 for chips and £6.50+ for beer. If you’re on a budget, you can bring your own picnic.
Later on in the day we learn that grandstand access is unrestricted. If you have a paddock pass, you can take a seat in any of the open stands. We snag some decent seats on the Copse Corner bend which gives a great view of the Start/Finish line, home straight and the first bend where much of the action takes place during a race.
The racing is entertaining and we stay until the end of the touring car qualification. With places settled, we make our way back to the car and on to our hotel for the night.
The Paisley Pear in Brackley is just six miles from Silverstone racetrack, which will be handy for tomorrow. Operated by Marston Inns, you check in at the pub next door – if you can get someone’s attention. It takes a while to get anyone to acknowledge our presence.
We have been allocated an accessible room on the ground floor of the hotel. It looks much like a Travelodge – nothing special at all. And definitely not worth £130 as charged by Revolut (or even £119 after cash back). £50-£60 would have been fair, but that’s the price you pay for late bookings.
Top tip: If you book direct with Marston Inns, you will get 20% off your food bill in the restaurant next door.
We decide to eat in the pub restaurant, which appears to be very popular with locals. The staff aren’t keen on giving us a table, even though we are staying in the hotel. Not a great start.
We end up ordering three courses. The food is decent and very filling. The service is sullen and unwelcoming. Given that there is nowhere else to eat within walking distance of the hotel however, you don’t have a lot of choice.
Really we’re just here to crash. Race day tomorrow!