For us British MotoGP fans, Silverstone is a handy place for the GP to be held. I’ve attended for the past two years (cheers student finance) and was massively impressed by the atmosphere both years.
There really is nothing better than being surrounded by enthusiastic spectators when you’re all united by one thing – your love of motorcycle racing. So why is it that attendance figures for the British GP are dropping? I’m a big fan of speculation (backed up by fact, of course), so I’m going to ‘speculate’ as to why people just aren’t as interested as they used to be.
“I’m not paying that!”
Probably my most used phrase of the 2017 Brtish Grand Prix. On Thursday, I bought two burgers for myself and a friend as we had only just arrived and we were extremely hungry. I’d like to say that I was surprised when the lovely, unassuming server charged me £12.10 for two of the most mediocre burgers I have ever tasted. But the fact of the matter is that £6 for something to eat is now the average price of food at circuits. I’ve attended British Superbikes and it’s exactly the same. No wonder people stop off at Tesco for a £3 meal deal on their way to the track.
But generally, a GP weekend is expensive. Two general admission weekend tickets cost £129, which doesn’t sound a lot but add on the £110 for Thursday-Monday camping, food over the weekend, any merchandise we wanted to buy and petrol to get there and back, you’re edging towards £300, possibly over. Grandstand tickets were being sold for £99+ and if you wanted to buy a race day ticket on the gate, you’d be pushing towards the £90 mark. Of course the organisers have to make money and I completely understand that, but fleecing fans out of their hard earned cash for a plastic seat is nearing ridiculous.
Off-track entertainment is great, but don’t think you’re getting into the paddock.
For a lot of fans (myself included), going into the paddock is something you can only dream of. This year, we bought two Day of Champions paddock passes – expensive, but for a good cause. Was it worth the money? Probably not. But £50 each was a small price to pay for all the hard work that Two Wheels for Life do, and we were more than happy to pay it.
As a wannabe MotoGP journalist, I wanted to experience the buzz of the paddock on qualifying and race day. I wanted to meet the journalists, see the paddock in full swing and just be a part of it all. But unless you’re incredibly rich and can afford swanky hospitality packages, are lucky enough to win a VIP competition on the Internet or have “a friend of a friend” there is no way in hell that you’re getting in there. You have to be in the know and you have to be connected, something that a lot of people aren’t. These riders are some people’s heroes, and everybody should have the chance to meet theirs once in their life.
I wholeheartedly understand why the paddock isn’t open like it is at BSB or World Superbike, but charging an extortionate amount of money isn’t going to have the fans pouring in, and unfortunately getting into the paddock will just be a mere dot on the horizon of our dreams.
Is it worth it?
If you’re a motorcycle racing fan, of course it’s worth it. But if you have a passport, I would seriously consider looking into attending a European round. There are a lot of packages out there where you can bundle tickets and accommodation together, and flights can be relatively cheap, especially if booked at short notice.
So why were attendance figures down by over 17,000 between 2016/17? Because it’s probably cheaper to go on a two week break to Butlins than a weekend at Silverstone.