Silverstone Classic festival (26-28 July) is set to be a scorcher with breath-taking action on the full Grand Prix circuit, including a race down memory lane for TV personality and former F1 driver, Tiff Needell.

Needell, who once co-presented BBC Top Gear and today fronts the Fifth Gear motoring programme, will be taking part in a record-breaking 54-car grid of Formula Ford single seaters.

Never before in the formula’s illustrious 46-year history have more than 50 cars lined up on the same grid.

Needell said: “Naturally I’m hoping to be out in front at the start and, more importantly, out in front at the finish – but with so many cars it’s going to be busier than the M25 at rush hour.”

Needell’s two races, taking place on Saturday and Sunday on the infamous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, will be all the more special as he gets back behind the wheel of the very Formula Ford car that launched his racing career.

Originally introduced in 1967 as an entry-level route into single-seater racing, Formula Ford quickly became established the world over as the launch pad of future champions.

Thousands of drivers cut their teeth in series’ staged around the globe, and the Formula Ford hall of fame includes the likes of Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher.

But these are not the only show-stopping displays of the weekend-long event, which also boasts a packed 24-race programme including the world’s largest gathering of historic racing machines, from the Bugattis of the 1930s to the 200mph Group C Le Mans prototypes of the 1980s.

The three day festival features the very best of historic racing, covering more than eight decades of motor sport as well as live music from classic rock bands and a wealth of family entertainment including a free fun fair, retail outlets, a host of interactive activities and air displays, plus huge showcases of classic cars.