Williams marks 25 years with new museum

WilliamsF1 Marks 25 Years of Success with a New Museum & Conference Centre. Since its inception in 1977, WilliamsF1 has grown from a modest workforce of 17 into a 450-strong organisation that has claimed 16 FIA Formula One World Championship ...

WilliamsF1 Marks 25 Years of Success with a New Museum & Conference Centre.

Since its inception in 1977, WilliamsF1 has grown from a modest workforce of 17 into a 450-strong organisation that has claimed 16 FIA Formula One World Championship titles in a quarter of a century, making it one of the world’s most successful motor racing companies of the recent era.

2002 marks WilliamsF1’s 25th year of competition in Formula One, a chronicle that is permeated with legendary figures from the sport’s history, including among others Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, Aryton Senna, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.

To commemorate the company’s 25th year, a new 51,000 square foot museum and conference centre, which at once charts the racing achievements and successes and also provides a first class presentation and conferencing facilities for business, was opened today on the company site at Grove, near Wantage, Oxfordshire.

At the opening of the Grand Prix Collection and Conference Centre, WilliamsF1’s Managing Director, Frank Williams remarked,“ The business of Formula One leaves little time to dwell on history, and quite rightly most of our energies are committed to the future. However, I hope the magnificent new facilities will provide a useful venue for other businesses to meet and progress their own commercial objectives.”

The museum houses 41 race cars in a 31,000ft2 interactive display from the inaugural WilliamsF1 Grand Prix car from 1978, the FW06, to last season’s FW23, driven by Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya. Included among the exhibits are references to other WilliamsF1 projects through the years including the ubiquitous Group B rally car, the Metro 6R4, and the Williams Renault Laguna touring car from 1999.

The conferencing facilities include 10 suites ranging in size from the 150 seat Ayrton Senna Auditorium to individual senate rooms for groups as small as 12. With a bar and two fully equipped kitchens, the centre aims to provide unsurpassed conferencing facilities in the Oxfordshire area for seminars, product launches, lectures, cocktail receptions and business meetings.

The Building
The building that houses the WilliamsF1 Conference Centre & Grand Prix Collection was designed by DPDS Architecture and was completed in 1998. Its original purpose was to house the BMW Le Mans project. After the sports car programme achieved its stated objective of scoring a victory at Le Mans & Sebring in 1999, the building reverted to a storage and maintenance facility for the company’s historic race cars.

The work to convert the 51,000ft2 building to a museum and conference centre commenced in June 2001 and the structural project was managed by the contractors commissioned to build the Millennium Dome, while Impact Europe were retained with commissioning the interior fit of the facilities.

Approximately 31,000ft2 is given over to the Grand Prix Collection, the display of 41 race cars, with the remainder of the two floors dedicated to conference and entertaining facilities.

The Conferencing Facilities
The conference facilities are composed of 10 separate rooms, intentionally designed on a fully flexible basis to accurately meet specific client needs and budgets. Rooms can be flexibly combined to provide a range of different configurations.

The Silverstone Room and the Aryton Senna Auditorium also offer extensive audio visual facilities. The auditorium includes three large plasma screens, staging, and a multi-purpose floorspace measuring 12 x 17m with removable seating.

Reception Area & Gift Shop
The Conference Centre & Grand Prix Collection is accessed via a glass atrium reception area, at the heart of which is a ground level display of the team’s 2001 race car, the WilliamsF1 BMW FW23, and, suspended 20ft in the air, Jacques Villeneuve’s Championship-winning FW19. To achieve the stunning visual effect of a suspended Formula One car required significant engineering design to modify the car to connect 4 load rods at critical tensions and compressions to achieve the desired effect.

At the rear of the reception space is a fully stocked gift shop stocking a wide range of BMW WilliamsF1 Team apparel and gifts.

The Grand Prix Collection
The Grand Prix Collection provides an interactive tour through the quarter century of WilliamsF1’s successes on the race track. The tour commences with a 7 minute video presentation that includes rarely seen archive footage of the company’s origins in the late 1970’s right through to the present day, providing a foretaste of the exhibition. The presentation takes place in the three-screen preview theatre, a surround screen cinema that opens at the end of the film to reveal the entrance to the museum.

The Grand Prix Collection is arranged in four eras, commencing with the Cosworth period that includes the first Patrick Head designed race car, the FW06, and also includes the company’s first Grand Prix winning car, Clay Regazzoni’s FW07A. The Cosworth era also includes the unique 6 wheeler FW08B. As visitors pass through each era in the Collection, an automated video presentation provides background to the seminal moments in each period, and provides the technical backdrop to the race cars on display.

The Honda era includes Keke Rosberg’s championship winning car and Nigel Mansell’s first race winning car, as well as bearing reference to WilliamsF1’s short association with Judd. The Honda era is followed by an extensive collection of Renault-powered race cars, including the highly advanced FW14B, still regarded as one of the most technically sophisticated race cars ever designed. The Renault era includes cars that took Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve to World Championship crowns.

The Grand Prix collection concludes with an exhibit of more contemporary machinery marking WilliamsF1’s association with BMW. Among the Grand Prix Collection, even the unaccustomed eye will spot a number of more eclectic exhibits, including the seminal Gp B rally car of the 1980s, the Metro 6R4, which was designed by Patrick Head. Augmenting this is the 1997 Renault Laguna touring car, and a 1990 Ferrari 641/2 that formed part of the severance consideration when Jean Alesi was released from his WilliamsF1 contract for the 1991 season.

The itinerary through the exhibits is automatically managed through video commentary and lighting and is approximately 70 minutes in duration.

First Floor Exhibits
The Grand Prix Collection feeds visitors from the ground floor via a staircase to the 1st floor Trophy Room. From the display cabinet area, a tribute area to the late Ayrton Senna leads into a detailed engineering display that includes wind tunnel models, component cutaways and a range of exhibits designed to shed light on the cutting edge technology that drives contemporary Formula One.

Staffing
The WilliamsF1 Conference Centre & Grand Prix Collection is staffed by a full time permanent management team of 6, headed by Conference Centre Manager Lynn Nixon and complemented by a full catering team led by Head Chef Patrick Aguliar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the Conference Centre & Grand Prix Collection be open to the public at large?
Unfortunately the facilities are not currently capable of supporting the expected public interest in WilliamsF1 on an ad hoc basis. However, the centre does host a race day presentation for selected Grands Prix each season, which includes a fully hosted museum tour, lunch and live link to the team in the paddock before large screen live coverage of the race. More details can be found on at www.williamsf1.com

To supplement this race day opportunity to visit WilliamsF1, it is expected that access will be developed for specific interest groups such as motor clubs in the future.

How many car parking places does the facility have?
130 parking places are dedicated to the facility.

Are the cars in the Grand Prix Collection real?
Yes, every car in the Collection is a genuine running race car, maintained in the workshops within the Conference Centre building. On selected occasions, these cars are demonstrated at historic festivals, and are not‘ show’ cars.

Are the Conference Centre facilities only open to team sponsors?
No, the Conference Centre is available for booking by all businesses.

Is it possible to tour the factory as part of a booking?
No– the factory is a working and confidential environment. Part of the intention in creating the Grand Prix Collection and Technology Exhibition is to provide a full insight into the business of a Formula One team from within the new facility.

Is there anything additional in the locality that could supplement the facilities on offer?
Yes, a superb new karting facility is nearing completion within 2 miles of the WilliamsF1 team HQ in Grove, and preferential rates can be secured as part of your booking of conference centre facilities.

-www.williamsf1.com

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About this article
Series Automotive , Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams