• Formula 1’s best-ever sounding engine returns to its spiritual home
• Legendary Type 15 celebrates Silverstone’s 75th anniversary with special demo laps on Sunday
• Motorsport icon rekindles priceless magical memories
• Wide range of tickets on sale – kids under 16 go free!
Visitors to this summer’s Silverstone Festival (25-27 August) will be treated to the sensational sounds of BRM’s incredible V16 – widely hailed as the greatest sounding F1 engine of all time.
It will be the first time Silverstone has reverberated to the mind-blowing wail of BRM’s fearsome supercharged 1.5-litre power plant in public for more than a generation and is yet another highlight among the celebrations being organised over the action-packed end-of-summer Festival weekend to celebrate Silverstone’s milestone 75th birthday.
The history of the remarkable – if fantastically ambitious – BRM Type 15 and its radically complex, high-revving V16 engine is inextricably linked with Silverstone.
It was at Silverstone that the hugely over-hyped patriotic icon, funded by a legion of British industrialists in an attempt to break the then domination of continental teams, failed to make its much publicised debut in the 1950 British Grand Prix. British Racing Motor’s driving force, Raymond Mays, did manage to complete a few careful demonstration laps in front of King George VI though… but only after mechanics had worked through the night to ensure the prototype’s eagerly-anticipated first public appearance.
It was then at Silverstone three months later that two cars were entered into the non-Championship Daily Express Trophy race with yet more patriotic fanfare and even greater expectations.
Once again engine issues thwarted preparations and, although one Type 15 was airlifted into Silverstone on the morning of the race (see Bulletin below row three left – credit: BRDC/Silverstone Archive), its dream debut quickly turned into another embarrassing nightmare.
Having been allowed to start from the back of the grid, the ‘world-beating’ BRM barely moved when the flag dropped – a rear axle output shaft sheared and Britain’s great green hope had to be pushed ignominiously back to the pits by the team’s disconsolate and exhausted mechanics. The crowd booed at the debacle, the media let rip and national prestige was shattered.
Nearly a year later, a pair of BRM V16s did finally make their World Championship debut at Silverstone in the 1951 British Grand Prix. Again the troubled team arrived late, missing both practice and qualifying sessions but, despite suffering burns on hands and feet, drivers Reg Parnell and Peter Walker battled on courageously to finish fifth and seventh respectively. Parnell scored the V16s’ only two championship points, albeit having finished a race of high attrition a distant five laps behind the winning Ferrari.
The final time a V16 raced in period at Silverstone was a slightly happier occasion – Juan Manuel Fangio (photos below top and row two right) and Ken Wharton finishing second and third in a Formula Libre race staged alongside the British Grand Prix in 1953 (see lap chart below row three right – credit: BRDC/Silverstone Archive).
By then the Type 15 was competitive but, sadly, the rules for the premier FIA World Championship had been changed to F2 regulations, denying BRM the chance to prove the now sorted V16’s credentials on the global stage.
Now, 70 years after Fangio’s finale, Silverstone will once again echo to the unique sounds of a BRM engine for a few magical moments on Sunday afternoon at the Festival.
Honouring its remarkable history at the home of British motor racing, the Owen family’s Chassis IV (photos above and below rows four and five), the first of the three toolroom copy continuation models sanctioned by BRM and built by world renowned historic motorsport engineers Hall & Hall, will return to the hallowed Grand Prix track, providing visitors with an incredible soundtrack they will never forget.
“No one who hears one of these awe-inspiring BRM V16 engines will ever forget the experience – the remarkable noise never fails to raise the hairs on the back of your neck,” confirmed an excited Event Director, Nick Wigley.
“The car’s history is inescapably linked to Silverstone during the early 1950s and we are thrilled to be bringing that story back to life as part of our special 75th birthday celebrations at this year’s Festival.”
In hindsight, with more than 36,000 individual parts (4,000 of those in the engine alone!), the V16 was technically far too ambitious, too powerful for many of its components, and in many ways ahead of its time but, for all its highs and lows, it remains a true motorsport icon, remembered as much for its amazing soundtrack and incredible power as its very public on-track failures.
The creation of three continuation Type 15s is the realisation of a long held ambition for the descendants of Sir Alfred Owen, one of the main British industrialists behind the original project. The Owen family always wanted to bring back the incredible noise of the supercharged V16 to Britain’s race tracks, thus giving a new generation of BRM fans the chance to relive the iconic aural excitement all over again.
“The original Type 15 Mark 1 V16 is a significant piece of British motorsport history, and Chassis IV is a cornerstone of our ‘Re-Awakening’ of the BRM marque. The BRM story is a remarkable one, and we are honoured to hold it in trust for the nation and all those who made it happen in the first place,” said Nick Owen, grandson of Sir Alfred Owen.
“We are now delighted that its next outing will be at Silverstone Festival – a real opportunity for us to continue sharing the magical BRM story with fans old and new, and at a circuit that’s so closely linked to the V16’s extraordinary history.”
The V16 was of course only the beginning of the BRM story which peaked when Graham Hill became the first British Driver to win the F1 World Championship in a British car, racing a subsequent BRM P57 in 1962.
Furthering BRM’s strong credentials at Silverstone, Hill ignited his title bid by winning that year’s BRDC International Trophy at the Northamptonshire circuit in May. That trophy, together with the one Jackie Stewart won in the same race three years later also in a BRM, is currently on display at Silverstone Museum.
Admission to the award-winning museum is included in the price of Silverstone Festival tickets, giving visitors the chance to see even more BRM heritage as well as an insight into Silverstone’s own 75 year-long heritage.
Providing great value-for-money, all tickets also give access to a wealth of entertainment and fun-packed activities. These include the Foodie Fest, funfair rides, an incredible display of current F1 cars, Switch Live powered by myenergi, the Yokohama Shift & Drift Zone, trackside grandstands and live music from chart-topping bands on all three bank holiday evenings.
A wide-range of tickets for the Festival are available, including camping and VIP hospitality options. Full details can be found here.