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Silverstone Festival to honour Ayrton Senna with unprecedented Formula 1 display

Words: Elliott Hughes | Photography: Silverstone Festival

The Silverstone Festival is honouring the life and career of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Ayrton Senna with an unprecedented display of race cars and automobilia on August 23-25, 2024. 

The 20-car exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of Senna’s fatal crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, where his car left the track at the notorious Tamburello corner on lap seven.

Organised with the full support of the Senna family, the collection begins with three karts Ayrton raced in his native Brazil during the late 1970s.

The Toleman was a midfield car that year, but that didn’t stop Senna from driving it to three podium finishes

The Toleman was a midfield car that year, but that didn’t stop Senna from driving it to three podium finishes

When Ayrton was 21, he moved to the UK to race single-seaters following his early successes in Brazilian karting. His arrival in Europe was heralded with two Formula Ford 1600 titles in 1981, and a pole position on his maiden visit to Silverstone – which, fittingly, became the place where he secured the most wins over the course of his career. 

Senna then graduated to Formula Ford 2000, and dominated both European and British Championships, taking 22 wins from 28 races. Both of his yellow-liveried Van Diemen Formula Ford 1600 and 2000 racers will be showcased at the Festival. 

The next car Ayrton campaigned as he continued his rise up the motor sport ladder was a Ralt RT3 in the British Formula 3 Championship. This car, which will also be on display, was driven to victory by the Brazilian in 12 of 20 races in 1983.

In 1984, Senna made his Formula 1 debut in a Toleman TG184. The Toleman was a midfield car that year, but that didn’t stop Ayrton from driving it to three podium finishes on his way to an impressive ninth-place finish in the World Championship. 

This very car will be on display, alongside the Lotus, Williams and McLaren Grand Prix racers that Senna piloted to a total of 41 career victories and three Drivers’ Championship titles. 

Enhancing the exhibition’s appeal, the Festival will showcase two rally cars Ayrton notably tested in Welsh forests for a magazine article – a Metro 6R4 and a Ford Sierra Cosworth. 

Senna will forever be associated with the Honda NSX, thanks to his role in developing the supercar for the Japanese manufacturer during his time at McLaren. Fittingly, an example he drove extensively will join the bevy of competition cars in the display. 

Ayrton’s car will lead a special NSX track parade at lunchtime on Friday August 23. Several of the Brazilian legend’s race cars will also take part in track celebrations throughout the course of the weekend, while the entire 20-car collection will be viewable in Silverstone’s International Paddock throughout the three-day Festival. 

Complementing the selection of cars is an an automobilia exhibition held by the Silverstone Museum. Many of these items have never been publicly displayed, and they include race-winning gloves, the steering wheel from Senna’s JPS Lotus 97T and several of his iconic day-glo yellow helmets.

“We are proud to be bringing together such a comprehensive display of cars raced by the great Ayrton Senna, encouraging motor sport fans to come together and celebrate one of the greatest talents our sport has seen,” said event director Nick Wigley. 

“Silverstone was a very special track for Senna, where he enjoyed so many of his wins, and we are honoured to be paying tribute to a true legend in a year of such significance.”

For tickets and more information about the Silverstone Festival, click here.

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