How Silverstone beat Miami to F1's first fake marina

Miami’s fake marina has been one of the biggest talking points in the build-up to this weekend’s inaugural Formula 1 race around the Hard Rock Stadium.

Silverstone cartoon map

But it’s not the first time that somebody has put an artificial harbour at an F1 track, with one being touted at Silverstone nearly 35 years ago thanks to a bit of mischievous fun from an Autosport cartoonist.

The much-missed Jim Bamber, who sadly passed away in 2014, had been commissioned to draw a track map for Autosport magazine as part of a preview supplement it was doing for the 1988 British Grand Prix.

The map arrived on time, looked all good and was put to print without any changes.

But unbeknownst to the Autosport staff, as part of his extra details that included car parks and children's play areas, Bamber had cheekily slotted in a marina on the inside of Becketts.

The yachts and water were handily placed right by the main runway and with a good view of the track.

Silverstone cartoon map

Silverstone cartoon map

On the page it didn’t stand out, and nobody spotted it when the magazine came out. Even Bamber himself kept quiet as he pulled off his joke.

It was only the following week when Bamber submitted his post-British Grand Prix cartoon that questions started being asked.

His offering, featuring Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost mentioning the marina as they discussed a lap, made no sense to Autosport staff as they couldn’t understand the joke.

Silverstone cartoon

Silverstone cartoon

So Andy Hallbery, the former Autosport editor who was a junior staff member at the time in charge of the British GP supplement, phoned up Bamber to ask about it.

He recalls the moment of reality hitting him when Bamber finally let slip.

“The Silverstone/Becketts 'Marina' I knew nothing about,” remembers Hallbery. “I was fairly new at Autosport, and trusted its respected contributors, such as Jim.

“After I edited the British Grand Prix preview supplement in 1988, Jim sent in his weekly strip for the main magazine.

“None of us got the joke – it made no sense to any of us. 'Marina?' I rang him up to ask. His reply was simple. 'Look at the map in the preview you published last week...'"

Everyone saw the funny side of it – and an alternative Marina cartoon was published in the following week’s magazine.

Silverstone cartoon

Silverstone cartoon

The inclusion of a fake marina at Silverstone was ultimately not really a surprise, with Bamber frequently trying to unleash some of his private jokes in his other requests from Autosport.

As Hallbery recalls: “Working with Jim Bamber was both joyful and a nightmare. An absolutely gifted artist with a wicked sense of humour.

“His work was brilliant, but he would regularly throw in a private joke. Sometimes they were obvious – like his 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, will make sure you won't ever see the old Hockenheim the same way ever again.

“It was a privilege to work with Jim over the years, but I looked very closely at everything he sent in after that.

“He had a mind full of creativity, combined with the nature of a naughty schoolboy who never grew up! And that's exactly what made him great. I'm certain he'd be at his absolute worst with the Miami marina.”

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