Like so many of England's racing circuits, Silverstone started life as an aerodrome. When the Second World War ended in 1945, England's other two circuits, Donington Park and the legendary Brooklands, had fallen into disrepair. And so it was that the outer taxiways and interconnecting runways of Silverstone became adopted by the Royal Automobile Club as the home for the British Grand Prix in 1948. Due to its long runways, the circuit was known for being fast and challenging, and later in 1949 was developed with that same style and the shape was formed that remains the basis of the track to this day.
When the Formula One World Championship was incepted in 1950, Silverstone held the very first round, won by Guiseppe Farina in an Alfa Romeo. In 1951 the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) was handed the lease by the RAC, and huge modifications were made. The pits were moved to the straight between Woodcote and Copse, from the Farm straight where they had originally been, and a short circuit was built within the larger circuit, cutting from Becketts corner to Woodcote.
From 1955 the British Grand Prix swapped venues between Aintree and Silverstone, but with the advent of the 1960s, Aintree fell out of favour and the race was switched between Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
In 1971 the BRDC bought the entire 720 acre plot on which Silverstone sits and went about redeveloping the track. New pits were built and a chicane was erected at Woodcote which provided close finishes and great overtaking opportunities.
In the early eighties, Keke Rosberg lapped at an average speed of just over 160 mph, which at the time was the fastest in the World.
In 1987, with speeds at the circuit reaching astounding levels, the circuit was slowed for safety reasons, and a corner was built before Woodcote, and in 1992 a new complex of corners was created between Farm and Woodcote. Often criticised for its flat nature, it is however a flowing circuit with good viewing.
In recent years various upgrades have been made to the track's facilities. A racing school now exists at the circuit and with government funding a new bypass has been built, greatly improving access to the once notoriously out-of-the-way venue.