Days out for petrolheads in the UK

Every year in Britain there are a host of motorsport events that go beyond just race meetings, as well as plenty of car-themed attractions to visit. They range from exhibitions and festivals to museums and displays.

Here’s our list of some that you might find it worthwhile checking out – along with contact details and a brief description. Some are permanent while others take place for two or three days annually. Find each one located on the following Google map or scroll down for an alphabetical listing with further details.

Motorsport events and attractions in the UK


View Motorsport events in the UK in a larger map
Autosport International
Held annually in January, this is basically a huge trade fair for the motorsport industry that throws open its doors to the public during its final weekend. Always good for a few F1 stars and other famous racing types, it features live racing events, special features – and enough cars to make you dizzy. It also features The Karting Show, which does pretty much what it says on the tin.
Check out its website here
Brooklands Museum
Known as the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation, Brooklands was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit. These days the circuit is no more but the museum features a wide range of motoring and aviation exhibits including giant racing cars, motorcycles and bicycles as well as Hawker and Vickers/BAC aircraft and a Concorde. And now the The London Bus Museum is open too.
Check out its website here
Cholmondeley Pageant of Power
This three-day celebration of historic and contemporary speed and power on land, sea and air aims to bring a top-quality automotive event to the north-west of England. Visitors can enjoy the action on a three-mile track in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle where more than 120 cars and bikes spanning seven decades of motorsports were brought together to compete. Also on offer are powerboating and jet ski demonstrations, air displays and flypasts as well as a wealth of historic and modern vehicles.
Check out its website here
Coventry Transport Museum
This museum is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting products from Coventry – especially from nearly 600 companies making cycles, motorcars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles. Visitors can view the world’s largest collection of British road transport items and find out about their histories as well as seeing vehicles made by world-famous names. If you are visiting to view a particular exhibit the museum advises phoning in advance to check it is on display.
Check out its website here
The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition
Based at the Donington Park motor racing circuit, this is the collection of grand prix cars lovingly built up by the late Tom Wheatcroft, the largest of its kind in the world. It includes the largest collection of McLaren racing cars in the world, the only complete collection of Vanwalls, a 1936 twin-engined 500 bhp Alfa Romeo Bimotore with a top speed of 200mph, Jim Clark’s World Championship winning Lotus 25, and Stirling Moss’s Lotus from the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix.
Check out its website here
Goodwood Festival of Speed
Held annually early in July, the three-day Festival of Speed is one of the country’s most individual and popular events. A wide range of racing cars of all eras attempt the hillclimb course and the paddocks are open, allowing unrivalled access to the vehicles. Attended every year by a host of famous names, it can be quite a commitment of time and money to attend, but is also an unmissable experience.
Check out its website here
Goodwood Revival Meeting
Held annually towards the end of September, the three-day Revival Meeting is a unique event. As well as a historic race meeting on the Goodwood Circuit it is also like entering a film set where racers, spectators and a cast of actors dress in period costume to recreate the golden age of British racing. Can be totally immersive – and great fun.
Check out its website here
Haynes International Motor Museum
A museum dedicated to restoring, retaining and preserving motoring and motorcycling items of historical and cultural interest in England. According to its website, nearly every car is driven at least once a year and its vehicles are maintained in full working order. There are more than 400 cars and bikes dating from 1886 to the present day on display, making it the largest international motor museum in Britain.
Check out its website here
Heritage Motor Centre
Operated by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, the centre features a collection of important vehicles celebrating Britain’s motoring heritage. The collection originated with the British Leyland Motor Corporation but grew to incorporate vehicles from several other manufacturers. In 1980, while under the auspices of the Rover Group, it took up residence in a purpose-built centre at the former RAF Gaydon airfield where it still resides today, having since passed through thee hands of both BMW and Ford. It is home to more than 250 vehicles and an archive of more than two million photographs, business records, brochures and drawings.
Check out its website here
London Motorexpo
The British International Motor Show may be no more – but London is still due to have a motor show in 2012. The London Motorexpo will take place at Canary Wharf, with free entry and a long list of top-marque exhibitors. On show will be a display of the latest vehicles from many leading motor manufacturers.
Check out its website here.
London Transport Museum
Immerse yourself in the story of how Londoners have navigated their city – whether by horse or wherry, Hansom or omnibus, Tube train or bicycle. Learn the story of early London buses and find out about the growth of suburbia and the history of early motor vehicles. In addition to the museum’s premises in Covent Garden, visits to its depot in Acton are possible where its collection of more than 370,000 objects can be explored.
Check out its website here.
Mercedes Benz World at Brooklands
A place of pilgrimage for Mercedes-lovers, it includes an F1 exhibition plus the opportunity to test drive the latest models and put your driving skills to the test with a driving experience. Other attractions include the chance to encounter famous models like the Gullwing or Maybach, a cinema where you can learn about the history of the Mercedes-Benz brand and a simulator reproducing a production line. There’s also a restaurant with trackside views.
Check out its website here
Motorsport at the Palace
Crystal Palace in London has a distinguished history as a motorsport venue and was used more recently for sprint events organised by Sevenoaks and District Motor Club that recalled its glory years. When building work in the park put an end to these events the club worked with local agencies to seek a way to bring it back. That resulted in the first Motorsport at the Palace weekend on the May Bank Holiday of 2010 – an event so successful that it is due to become a regular fixture on the motorsport calendar.
Check out its website here
National Motor Museum
Based at Beaulieu, a grand country house in the New Forest, it features a collection of more than 250 vehicles covering all eras of motoring, including a number of record holders. Other exhibitions include the recreation of a 1930s garage and a dark ride entitled Wheels. It is also home to the National Motor Museum Trust, an organisation that aims to preserve and promote motoring history.
Check out its website here
The Science Museum
This national museum’s transport collection explores how we came to travel faster, further and higher than any other humans in history. As well as exhibits on space and marine travel you can visit the Making The Modern World gallery which traces exceptional objects which marked new departures in technology and science. They include Stevenson’s Rocket and the Raleigh Chopper as well as the Apollo 10 space capsule. Who could resist?
Check out its website here
The Shuttleworth Collection
Based at Old Warden Aerodrome in Bedfordshire, this consists of an impressive collection of vintage aircraft, cars and motorcycles displayed across eight hangars. Other attractions include a Swiss garden, a bird of prey centre and an adventure playground. Visitors can expect close-up views of restoration and maintenance, steam vehicles and a separate coachroom for horse-drawn carriages. According to its website, displays often include several veteran and vintage cars which have regularly completed the London to Brighton run. It is also a popular rally venue for car owners’ clubs.
Check out its website here.
Silverstone Classic
A weekend event held annually in July, the Silverstone Classic combines a historic racing meeting at the eponymous venue with air displays, a funfair, an outdoor rock concert and much more. It is extremely popular and attracts tens of thousands of people.
Check out its website here
Stondon Motor Museum
Best described as a labour of love, this quirky attraction is based around a collection of restored and renovated classics, displayed across five halls and containing more than 350 vehicles. Covering 100 years of motoring, it is one of the largest private vehicle collections in the country, and visitors can also enjoy a replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour. This is a ship whose voyages across the world facilitated crucial discoveries in the fields of navigation and natural history.
Check out its website here.
Whitewebbs Museum of Transport
Based just off the M25 in Enfield, north of London, this museum is housed in a converted pumping station owned and operated by the Enfield and District Veteran Vehicle Trust, which also stages the annual Enfield Pageant of Motoring. Exhibits include all kinds of vintage vehicles including cars, motorbikes, pedal cycles, steam-powered vehicles and even a Green Goddess veteran fire appliance. Opening hours are limited – see the museum’s website for details.
Check out its website here
 
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