Northampton

Silverstone's £20m museum set to open ahead of British GP

Racing driver suit
Image caption Martin Brundle's Benetton race suit will be on display at the museum

A new museum dedicated to motorsport is an "absolute labour of love", according to its CEO.

The Silverstone Experience will open just days before the British Grand Prix at the Northamptonshire circuit.

Displays include items such as Nigel Mansell's British Grand Prix-winning Williams from 1992 and Barry Sheene's 1979 Suzuki motorbike.

Sally Reynolds, CEO of the Silverstone Experience, said she would be "relieved" when it opened on 9 July.

She said they had been working on the attraction since 2011, with funding secured for the £20m site in 2016.

Image caption The museum will include a model of the original circuit design on the ceiling

The Heritage Lottery Fund provided about half of that money, while South Northamptonshire Council loaned the museum £3m.

The museum will offer circuit tours, while the latest technology will chart the stories of drivers and people who have had ties to the site.

Image caption One of the most valuable items is a display of five medals won by 1976 F1 World Champion James Hunt

A research centre encompassing an archive for the British Racing Drivers' Club and other motorsport collections will also be based there.

It will include a section that will recreate the "the sounds and smells of Silverstone Circuit", piping smells of rubber and engine oil, Ms Reynolds added.

Image caption The Silverstone Experience is housed in a former World War Two aircraft hangar

Prince Harry visited the site last year and is Royal patron of the museum.

It is housed in a World War Two hangar on the former aerodrome site and is expected to attract about 500,000 visitors a year.

Image caption A suit from Desiré Wilson, one of only five women to have competed in Formula 1, will be in the museum

However, this year's British Grand Prix could be the last at Silverstone.

The circuit's contract expires after this year's race and talks are "still progressing" between Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, and Formula 1.

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