Motoring-Man's F1 Camping Experience v Le Mans & Have Your Say?
Obviously after writing about my negative experiences of camping at the Le Mans this year, I was keen to see what the official camp site was like at the British Grand Prix. I have through the last few blogs taken onboard the comments I received, and the requests to see if the ACO would be interested in a few ideas to improve the Le Mans experience. But it is always best to see if fans really enjoy a different type of experience, so I went to Silverstone!
We arrived at Silverstone on Thursday lunchtime, and was shocked by just how busy the place was! Hammer time Hamilton has had a great effect on the crowd numbers. I had booked our motorhome into Woodlands the official campsite at the British Grand Prix. The young man who processed us at the gate was well up to speed, and filled us in on all the in and outs of our stay. We took our recycling bags, wristbands and our guide and were shown to a section for live-in vehicles. We honestly thought we would be placed as it was busy, but no! We had a choice of about 50 pitches.
We had never stayed here before so we were keen to look around and of course take notes and compare the experience here to the official Le Mans camping. And this is where this weeks blog becomes tricky! I did not in anyway intend to highlight the inadequacy of camping at the 24 hours, but almost immediately it was clear that Woodlands was in a different century. Silverstone a few years back was ridiculed for it’s archaic facilities, but boy has it moved into a different league. It saddens me that after camping at thirty eight 24 hour races, I can only highlight in the following paragraphs how far it has lagged behind!
First stop for the wife; the loos! And boy what a lot of them in a modern clean purpose built building. Cleaned and serviced to a high standard every hour of the day. Disabled access and facilities looked good and the men were not using the womens' block! I think within 100 yards of my pitch there where approx 120 toilets and 60 showers in two blocks. Over the rest of the enormous camp there were hundreds. There was also an electronic token system for the showers when busy, to save queuing. On the outside under cover are dozens of sinks for washing up. Hard to see how they could be bettered!
A great simple idea next door to the main block was a small marque, with mirrors, tables and hairdryers for the ladies and I guess male grooming!!!!
It was boiling hot so we had a look around the entertainment area and had a German beer in the hot sun and an ice cold water proved free from a BWT. Now blogs are supposed to be fun and interesting but all I am going to end up doing is highlighting our underwhelming French experiences! And seeing as this is part of the objective I am going to stop right here! I am just highlight the 5 points from the last blog which I will put to the ACO.
1: No open fires: Well to be honest there is no where really in the UK where this is going to happen.
2: Security: Very high quality, well trained, friendly, fun and lots of them. When I was pitched up I was politely asked to not go over the pitch lines as they were looking to create a fire break. In the morning they came down the lanes in pairs to ask if there were any problems in the night and wether we were having a good time?
They enforced a no glass policy on site when away from your pitch. Even at midnight this was strictly enforced but not in a heavy handed way. Just constant mingling with the crowds.
I am not sure what the policy was at night, but after 1am friendly requests to turn down any loud music were certainly observed. People were still sat around in groups chatting and laughing to the early hours, which was good.
Police were also invited onto the site regularly each day and were greeted warmly by everyone I saw. It was interesting the police were running a "Smart Water Scheme". With dummy tents and belongings ready to catch out thieves!
I also noted that fire trucks and engines were present. Now I am not sure whether these were private and public or both. There was even an organised time to meet the fireman! I didn’t attend but I did however see just how useful they were when a group of campers had there very large paddling pool filled from the fire hose!
A thought that came up in previous comments was an area for yobs and one for fans! A bit “tongue in cheek” but there was a massive family camping area at Woodlands. Security for your family is important, and after my experiences I have to ask myself, would I advise my friends to take there precious kids camping at Le Mans? And the answer is no.
When we were leaving on Monday we saw loads of punters thanking security and giving them left over beers and food. I could not fault them!
3 & 4: No Fireworks: Every campsite along the road in had signs up with “No Fireworks”. Quite frankly I don’t think anybody really missed them.
4: Security searches: Now this one was quite interesting. In a booklet guide to the campsite, the first full page was dedicated to politely explaining why there was increased security. It was clear these were random and why they were happening.
Security at the circuit was casual to say the least, but at the gates there was a recorded message explaining why bag searches where being done. There was also sniffer dogs! I had a word with a dog handler and he advised me they were a great cheap option, better than humans but only for short working periods. Even dogs have unions! They were working forty minutes then an hours rest. Each dog has a speciality such as drugs, explosives and unexpectedly pyrotechnics “Fireworks”.
So once again I can only ask for your comments? Were you at both events? Have you been to F1 but put off going to le Mans? Was your Silverstone Woodlands experience a hit or a great big miss? I have had to remember that the points highlighted are only what I feel are relevant to what are two completely different events. The fact they had the equivalent of a mini Glastonbury with entertainment, shops, bars and food at what I considered fair prices is totally irrelevant. What I would say is I did enjoy the camping! Very much. And would I advise my friends to take there precious kids? An overwhelming yes! I hope soon I can say the same about Le Mans!
Keywords: formula One, le mans, le mans 24 hours, silverstone camping, tetre rouge le mans, woodlands Campsite
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