Do you know the story of the fake marina at Silverstone?

Mocked on social networks with its fake water and boats transported by crane, Miami’s « fake marina » became the star (in spite of itself) of social networks during the week of the Grand Prix across the Atlantic. However, it was not the first time that a Formula 1 circuit had imagined this kind of totally crazy attraction…

Almost 35 years ago, an Autosport designer had fun rethinking the surroundings of Silverstone. The much-missed Jim Bamber, who died in 2014, was commissioned to draw a map of the circuit for the specialist magazine as part of a preview supplement he made for the 1988 British Grand Prix. arrived on time, was very successful and was printed without any modifications.

But unbeknownst to the Autosport team, Bamber had inserted a marina inside Becketts as a joke, amid parking lots and children’s play areas. The yachts and water were placed right next to the track, with a good view of the circuit.

The Silverstone map in Autosport.

The Silverstone map in Autosport.

On the page, the marina did not stand out, and no one had noticed it when the magazine came out. Bamber himself didn’t talk about it, waiting for someone to notice his joke. It wasn’t until the following week, when Bamber submitted his post-Grand Prix cartoon, that questions began to be asked. His cartoon, which featured Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost mentioning the marina as they discussed gear changes on a lap, made no sense to the Autosport team, who didn’t get the joke.

Bamber's caricature after the British Grand Prix.  Prost describes the gear changes on the lap, before blocking on the word

Bamber’s caricature after the British Grand Prix. Prost describes the gear changes on the lap, before getting stuck on the word « marina ».

Andy Hallbery, former editor at Autosport who, at the time, was in charge of the supplement on the British Grands Prix, had therefore telephoned Bamber to ask him a few questions. He remembers the moment reality hit him, when Bamber finally confessed the truth.

« I didn’t know anything about the ‘Marina’ Silverstone/Becketts »recalls Hallbery. « I was relatively new to Autosport, and trusted its respected contributors, like Jim. After editing the British Grand Prix preview supplement in 1988, Jim sent in his weekly cartoon for the magazine Principal. None of us understood the joke, it made no sense to us. I called him and asked him: ‘Marina?’ His answer was simple. ‘Look at the map in the presentation that you published last week…’ Everyone saw the funny side of it, and the magazine itself ended up publishing an alternative caricature of Marina in the following week’s edition. »

The second cartoon, a week later.

The second cartoon, a week later.

The appearance of a fake marina at Silverstone was ultimately hardly a surprise, with Bamber frequently trying to bring some of his private jokes to life in his other productions for Autosport.

Hallbery reminds us of this: « Working with Jim Bamber was both a joy and a nightmare. An absolutely gifted artist with a fierce sense of humor. His work was brilliant, but he regularly added a personal joke to it. Sometimes they were obvious, like its map of the old Hockenheim with two circular car parks under the stadium section, and the trees turning from green to red towards the Ostkurve, which means that you will never see the old Hockenheim the same way again. It was a privilege to work with Jim all these years, but I looked very closely at everything he sent in. He had a creative mind, combined with the nature of a young schoolboy who never ever grew up! And that’s exactly what made it great. »

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