My Survival Guide to camping at the British Grand Prix

The British Grand Prix is one of the biggest sporting events in the country but if you are camping you will need to plan your adventure, don’t get caught out.

This survival guide is a good starting point to plan your F1 experience.

My first camping experience at Silverstone was fantastic so much that I now go every year, if you can relate to me this will save you!

Location – 2014 British Grand Prix Silverstone.
Age – 27
Gender – Female
Attendees – Myself and my best friend Charlotte who had never camped before!
Camping Experience – Can deal with living in a tent but was never actively involved in the organising or tent pitching (Lasted 1 day at V Festival).
F1 Experience – Numerous Grand Prix’s hotels and day trips.
Supporting – Me – Lewis Hamilton, Charlotte – Jenson Button

The Camp sites;
I have always stayed at Woodlands Campsite but I have recently spoken to a few regular attendees who mentioned Hamilton Fields which is nice too. There are plenty more campsites in the area so its worth a google.

· Lively or Family?
Well if your choice is lively this isn’t as crazy as you think its not like a festival, yes people will be playing music and yes you will hear a few drunks screaming the name Alan at 2am in the morning but you will manage to get a relatively good nights sleep. Saturday night is always quiet as majority of campers will be waking up at around 6am to get to the track for the race. Friday and Sunday nights can get a bit loud although by Sunday evening you will find the majority of your camping neighbours have gone!
I spoke to a lady this year who choose family camping, unfortunately she said this isn’t much different to lively. She advised there were a few drunken parents talking loudly into the night.

· Woodlands
A main pro for this campsite is that its about a 10 min walk to the track if you are in the nearest field add an extra 10 minutes if you are in the field further away. There is a regular shuttle tracker/bus which can pick you up and take you straight to the entrance free of charge. Please note if you meet friends at the track you cannot take them back to your campsite, you must be wearing your Woodlands pass on entry if not they won’t let you in. Personally with 2 girls camping we felt very safe and secure.

· Hamilton Fields
Cannot comment but have been advised its nice, further away from the track compared to Woodlands.

If you have never camped before the links below gives you a good insite what you will need to bring (except the portable toilet that’s a bit extreme).

When to get there & When to leave.

You can camp from the Wednesday before the race where you will get very close to the track with no queue to get in but bear in mind you will be camping for a minimum of 4-5 days you will need to be prepared.
I tend to arrive to the campsite Friday around midday still manage to get very close to the track and the queue consists of about 5 cars so no waiting.
If you are arriving Saturday or Sunday be prepared to queue, best advice get there really early. In F1 world 6am is early, 8am is probably too late.

If you can help it don’t leave straight after the race on a Sunday. I have been stuck trying to get out of the circuit for 4 hours before. If possible leave on the Monday morning there will still be a small queue as you get closer to the exit but you are only looking at around 45 minutes worth. Leave before 9am or after 10am, everybody seems to leave just after 9am I would then expect 45 minutes to be extended!

Race day
If you are general admission you want to get there as early as possible between 7.30am-9am. Get there after and you will struggle to find a good spot.
Take some time on Friday or Saturday when its quieter to pick your spot too as the last thing you want to be doing at 7am on a Sunday morning is battling crowds trying to find your viewing area. You will be shocked how busy it gets on race day!

If you are lucky and rich enough to get a grandstand seat you can roll up at anytime.

What to look out for.

– Silverstone Radios, these little gems are for sale round the track they cost around £10 but during races they are brilliant as they keep you up to date with live commentary. I bought a radio from Amazon a few years ago but it was too quiet I couldn’t hear it over the cars.

– Event leaflets these are free and give you a full schedule of the weekends events, look out for these on entry to the track, don’t waste your phone battery by constantly checking the schedule online.

– Free earplugs pick these up with your leaflets, you may not need them but always worth taking just in case.

– If you forget a portable phone charger you can pay for a charger at woodlands camping, the price depends on how long you want to charge for.

The Weather!

The great British weather can provide you some sheer delights and disasters.
I have experienced downpours of rain to blazing hot sun in the same day – check the weather before you leave.

The toilets

I can only relate to Woodlands Camping where I have always camped and unfortunately the campsite facilities are not in male and female blocks. As the weekend goes on the toilets get worse even though they are cleaned on a regular basis with the sheer amount of people using them the cleaners cannot keep up.

My best advice for a nice toilet experience at Woodlands Campsite is to take the short walk to the shower block where the toilets are split between male and female. The Showers are kept clean you get 5 minutes for a shower and the water is always hot, the toilets are much more pleasant too.

Do not use the campsite toilets first thing in the morning it will smell of what people were drinking/eating the night before, there will be a huge queue and there is a 90% chance there will be no toilet roll.

Do not use the campsite toilets late at night, those staggering from the Petrol Heads Pub or beer tents will be using these for emergencies, need I say no more.

Toilets at the track are thankfully well kept although they tend to get really busy between races.
Plan your pee! Try and sneak out just before a race/qualifying finish or begin if you have a weak bladder. If you need to wee before the Grand Prix starts good luck as that is what everybody is trying to do for obvious reasons!
If you are in the F1 fan zone and queuing do not be surprised if a cleaner lady tells you to follow her, there are some ladies toilets which nobody knows exist and she will guide you. I have encountered this 2 years running she is like a toilet angel!

Handbag Heaven;

When I say handbag I mean rucksack or a seriously big bag! I have seen people at the track with tiny hand bags and I shudder to think how much money they are spending on food, drink and staying alive!
Here are some high priority checklist items I suggest you take with you to the track, if you are a weakling like me I would suggest some weight lifting a few weeks beforehand! Although it seems a lot I didn’t struggle too much with my bag;

– Tickets!
– Suncream
– Make up, including a compact mirror (you will either sweat or get drenched , the mirrors are limited in the toilets)
– Sunglasses or a hat (also good if you are experiencing a bad hair day)
– Toilet roll
– Hand wipes/Sanitiser
– Money (take your money out before you get to Silverstone)
– If you are lucky enough to look young for your age take your I.D
– If its hot still take a waterproof jacket you just don’t know with this weather, a jacket will keep you warmer than an umbrella too.
– Binoculars (if you are like me and want to see the screen)
– Your alcohol/drink for the day (Race day I managed to carry 4 beers to the track and bought 2 in the evening)
– Food of your choice, crisps, sausage rolls, maybe a left over bacon sandwich from breakfast.
– Your event leaflet will keep you updated with what’s going on.
– If you are general admission take a campchair.
– Portable phone charger (you can buy them for around £5 in Halfords)
– If you have any room left a little jumper to keep out than wind chill

What clothes to bring;
You need to be ready for anything so turning up in shorts and a T-Shirt will rarely work well for you at Silverstone the weather can be very unpredictable. Of the 6 British Grand Prix’s I have attend in my life there was only one where it was so hot it was unbearable and that was in 1999!
I don’t mean to rant here but do not wear flip flops or heels unless you are in hospitality. The campsite and the circuit you will be walking through mud, long grass, puddles and uneven surfaces. Yes heels and flip flops may look lovely but I consider them a hazard here you can still look the bomb but be safe with it!

– Walking boots or wellies if it rains, a pair of hunters do look good!
– If its definitely going to be warm wear converse type shoes, something with a thick sole standing on stones and pebbles all day in flimsy shoes can really hurt after a while.
– Again if its definitely going to be hot bring shorts.
– Skinny jeans, Jeggings always work well for me
– Vest tops as many as you can pack
– Favourite F1 shirt
– Light jumper x 2
– Towel
– Hoody this will be your life saver in the evening when the temperature drops
– A waterproof jacket (a cheap one from Primark will do the trick)
– Toothpaste & Toothbrush
– Shower cream
– Shampoo and Conditioner
– Plastic bag to store your dirty laundry
– Pants & Bras
– Socks, bring extra as you may want to wear these to bed it can get cold.
– Something warm to wear to bed, a nightshirt won’t do it. This is where a onesie may be useful.
– Hair bands – its can be windy and wet your hair will not be glamourous the whole time if you can pin it up or get a hat!
– Hairbrush

Food – There are no salads at Silverstone!
Campsite food and track food is expensive and you are normally looking at a £8 Burger or £8.50 Burrito! Do not be put off though as the food is tasty but if like me you can’t eat this food all the time it’s a good idea to look at other options.

– Eat well
Pack Fruit with you even if its just a couple of apples and bananas your body will be screaming for these after your 2nd day, I managed to attempt to make my Burrito slightly healthier by asking for it without cheese, sour cream and all that good stuff I know it sounds boring but sometimes your body just needs it.

– Save Money
Pack a cool bag with some bacon, sausages or burgers cook these up on a disposable BBQ in the morning, also bring a pan to heat up some water so you can enjoy a coffee or tea for that caffeine hit. This will already save you around £10.
There are some shops at the campsite which will sell the basics if you forget but they tend to be slightly more expensive than your local Sainsburys. If you forget your bacon do not panic.
There are some local pubs/shops nearby too I have not experienced these first hand but I am sure you can purchase some cheaper food there too.

– Alcohol
Bring your own! Its around £5 a pint everywhere and if you are looking to have 4 throughout the day that’s £20 down the drain! Plus during busy times the beer can be warm, a large queue and your favourite tipple is likely to run out.
Pop to your local supermarket beforehand and buy your favourite beer/tipple and take these to the track with you – no glass bottles they are really strict on glass on campsites and at the track.

– Bottled water
Just take as much water as you can possibly fit in your mode of transport, little bottles and big bottles.

Other Camping life savers!

– Dry Shampoo
– Beach look hair spray – there is no room for straighteners
– Lucozade or Red Bull you may need an extra caffeine boost come race day.

My last bit of advice is enjoy yourself, the Grand Prix is all about having fun and watching talented drivers race at 200 MPH. The fans at Sliverstone are friendly and sometimes drunk. You will laugh, you will potentially be hungover but you will love every minute! It gets better every year!