If you are a racing fan, a petrol head or devotee of motorsport history (and let's face it you're likely to one of the three if you're reading this) then Silverstone Classic powered by the AA is for you.

As a visitor arrive early on the Friday to start the three day festival of historic racing and you'll be treated as you walk into the circuit alongside the sort of cars that graced your childhood dreams and/or bedroom walls. Personally that moment came when a Lancia Stratos (in Alitalia livery) was lined up in the queue last year.

Then I looked up. Parked on the Silverstone infield on the far side of the road were four more Stratos (or whatever the plural is). The number was to swell further over the course of the day. From the moment you enter the track Silverstone Classic, encompassing the full Silverstone envelopes you, demanding attention from all sides. That's another reason to arrive early on Friday morning: if you have any ambition on seeing everything the world's largest classic racing festival has to offer, you need all three days.

The most important thing to grasp about Silverstone Classic is the scale of the event. Over 1,000 racing cars spread over the 14 different grids take over both the old pits and the new Wing building, and the space in between hosts a phenomenal array of everything automotive and more.

In the Silverstone infield more than 7,000 cars are on static display, cars clubs representing dozens of marques, with cars spanning the entire history of famous names with some fine rarities on show, glorious 1950s gullwing Mercedes, streamlined Jaguar XJ220 and that's before you consider that once more Silverstone Classic has attracted several official celebrations of big anniversaries of famous cars.

Last year more than 1,000 Jaguar E-types were packed into the circuit and 767 set a world record by parading around the track. In 2012 the anniversaries belong the AC Cobra, Triumph Spitfire and Lotus Elan, 130 Cobras alone expected for the weekend, and the world record belongs the Ferrari F40. The iconic (it is impossible to overuse that word in relation to the items on display over the weekend) supercar celebrates its 25th anniversary. An unprecedented 70 examples of the Prancing Horse's finest are set to stampede to Silverstone, culminating in a parade during Sunday, the Ferraris only a small part of 450 exotic cars taking to the track.

More than 70 Ferrari F40 will make up a record breaking sight as part of the car's silver anniversary (Photo Credit: Silverstone Classic)

More than 70 Ferrari F40 will make up a record breaking sight as part of the car’s silver anniversary (Photo Credit: Silverstone Classic)

Such is Silverstone Classic's importance in the historic racing calendar that it forms a central part of many car club's years. For 2012 the three day festival is one of just three events chosen by the MGB50 Committee to be an official event celebrating the golden anniversary of the little British sportscar. Decidedly more up to date Silverstone will also host the UK's first Z-Fest for BMW's range of Z-Car roadsters.

While, largely, the car displays are kept to the north end of the circuit – inside the National circuit – the south end of the circuit houses the new for 2012 AA World. The pit buildings of the Stowe complex will be turned to a motoring theme park, with interactive elements for all ages, including your chance to try your hand at being a member of a pit crew and the chance of free hot laps around the Stowe circuit not to mention visits from British racing legends Derek Bell and Nigel Mansell over the weekend.

The astonishing car club displays, the new AA World and taking advantage of the access to both paddocks Silverstone Classic prides itself on, allowing fans to get up close to some of the race cars over the three days would be hard enough, but a visit to Silverstone Classic is further filled by need to watch those same cars at speed, which requires a whole different preview.

Also part of the Silverstone classic weekend are aerial displays, the 2012 highlight a Sunday aerobatic display by a pair of rare pre-war biplanes, and a huge array of stalls selling motoring memorabilia, books and souvenirs of the weekend celebrating the huge variety on show of the weekend.

Then, when the noise of engines ceases the Silverstone air is filled with live music taking the event into the night.