The BRDC is a prestigious club whose exclusive membership is reserved for the most accomplished and most promising racing drivers from the UK. The BRDC also owns Silverstone and has a range of VIP hospitality options at the circuit for its members during the key events throughout the racing calendar.
This article provides an in-depth look at the BRDC at Silverstone.
What does the BRDC stand for?
The BRDC stands for the British Racing Driver’s Club.
When was the BRDC founded?
The BRDC was founded in 1928 by Dr Joseph Dudley “Benjy” Benjafield. He was one of the original Bentley Boys, a group of wealthy British motorsport enthusiasts who campaigned various Bentleys in international motorsport competitions through the 1920s.
Benjy Benjafield was a doctor with a passion for cars and racing. After successfull competing in his Bentley 3-litre in club races around the UK, his talents were spotted by Bentley themselves and he was given a drive of the factory cars.
He competed in LeMans 7 times and won the race overall in 1927. A year later he founded the BRDC, initially with the aim of hosting after-race social events for the drivers but it quickly became clear that it could serve a bigger purpose; to promote British motor racing and British drivers in the UK and abroad, and also to host foreign drivers when they raced in the UK.
Benjy Benjafield raced until 1936 and died in 1950. But his legacy, the BRDC, lives on stronger and more prestigious than ever.
Who is in charge of the BRDC?
The head of the BRDC is His Royal Highness Prince Edward the Duke of Kent. The full list of controlling members of the BRDC reads like a Who’s Who of British motorsport legends:
- President in Chief: HRH Prince Edward the Duke of Kent.
- President: David Coulthard MBE
- Vice Presidents: Martin Brundle, Ron Dennis CBE, Dario Franchitti MBE, Damon Hill OBE, Nigel Mansell CBE, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, Derek Warwick, Howden Ganley, John Grant
- Chairman: Peter Digby
- Board members: Lord Beaverbrook, Peter Digby, Harry Handkammer, Andy Priaulx MBE, Gordon Shedden, Darren Turner, Philip Walker
There are currently around 850 members of the BRDC. These include drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Jason Plato, Tom Ingram and many more. Its membership also includes people who have made a significant contribution to UK motor sport for reasons other than just their driving achievements, such as Ron Dennis and Gordon Murray.
Below are 5 British Formula 1 champions, all BRDC members, stood in front of The Wing building when it was opened in 2011.
As well as the British members, the BRDC has also offered membership to a select number of international drivers who have been at the top of International motorsport in their discipline for a number of years. Some of these members include Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Mario Andretti, Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovinardi amongst others.
There are no full members of the BRDC who are motorbike riders. In 2015 they offered their first ever honorary membership to a motorbike rider, Valentino Rossi, for his incredible lifelong achievements in 2-wheeled competition.
The full list of BRDC members can be found here.
BRDC young drivers
The BRDC does a lot to help celebrate, promote and fast track young and upcoming racing drivers. It runs the Rising Stars and Superstars programmes which recognise young drivers who have shown great promise at a young age. If a young driver is awarded membership of either programme it will serve them very well whilst trying to climb the motorsport ladder as the awards are internationally recognised.
Here’s a baby-faced Jenson Button being given the BRDC young driver of the year award in 1998.
How do you get in to the BRDC?
The BRDC is a very exclusive club so becoming a member is not easy. You need to have demonstrated repeated success in the highest levels of motorsport, either on the national or international stage.
There are certain racing series in which participation means the driver is eligible for full BRDC membership. There are some other series where a driver has to have finished in the top 4 or top 6 places to qualify for membership, and others where participation has to have been between a certain date range. The full list of these can be seen below.
In addition you need to have an existing BRDC member put you forward to the club administration for your proposed membership.
The BRDC at Silverstone
During WW2 Silverstone was an airfield used for training bomber pilots. It was decommissioned by the RAF in 1947 and for a few years the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) leased the airfield, turned it in to a circuit and organised races on the perimeter road. These included the first ever Formula One Grand Prix in 1950.
In 1952 the BRDC took over the lease of Silverstone from the RAC and continued to host a number of races and Grand Prix here. In 1971 the BRDC bought Silverstone outright from the Ministry of Defence and took full ownership of the circuit and the land. The club set about a programme of updates and improvements to the circuit, its facilities and infrastructure, which it continues to this day.
The Formula One British Grand Prix has been held at Silverstone every year since 1987, despite it not being profitable for the BRDC for over 30 years. F1 ticket prices have increased as a result, but thanks to the recent surge in F1’s popularity the circuit is now selling out Friday and Saturday tickets, as well as Sunday for the F1 weekend.
In 1999 the BRDC opened a new clubhouse at the Silverstone circuit, just for members of specially invited guests. This multi-floored building is located on the inside of the National and Grand Prix circuit layouts at the end of the Wellington Straight, near Brooklands, Luffield and Woodcote corners. It offers dining, hospitality, a rooftop terrace and outdoor areas in which to relax and watch the racing from during all of the major events on the Silverstone calendar.
There is also a BRDC grandstand adjacent to the club house that allows the members to get slightly closer to the action on the entrance to Brooklands corner.
These are both members only. Check out our guide on the other Silverstone hospitality options if you are looking for a VIP experience but aren’t a member of the BRDC.
The BRDC operates a smart-casual dress code at Silverstone for its members in the clubhouse and all other BRDC areas. See our article on the Silverstone dress code for more information on what the general public should wear to a race day.
The BRDC at Silverstone also has a campsite reserved for its members within the circuit infield. This is not available to members of the public, instead it’s a place where BRDC members can park their motorhomes during a race weekend.
There are a number of other nearby Silverstone camping options for members of the public who want to make a weekend of it.