At the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century, there were few major events dedicated to historic racing cars - the' Oldtimer' Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, the L'Age d'Or meeting at Montlhéry and Steve Earle's Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca were already established, but in England, the world centre of historic race-car preparation and ownership, there was nothing to compare. However, back at Silverstone, the home of British motor racing, BRDC director and former TT winner on both two and four wheels, Stuart Graham, had been considering ways in which Silverstone could expand its portfolio of events to broaden the base which supported the British Grand Prix and upon which the circuit was heavily reliant. He realised that there was wide support at home for his idea of a Silverstone Historic Festival and, through his valuable contacts in the historic racing world, he secured the support of successful racer Peter Hannen and, through him, the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association. The HGPCA had been formed by a number of influential owners of historic single-seaters, and had been involved in two highly successful historic car races at the 1979 Monaco Grand Prix and at the 1980 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Supported by the legendary Jimmy Brown, 'Mr Silverstone', shortly before his death in 1988, Stuart's proposals were approved by the BRDC board and it was agreed that a two-day meeting would be held a fortnight after the 1990 British Grand Prix. This would have the added advantage of being able to use much of the infrastructure already in place for the grand prix.
The highly-respected name of Christie's, the international auction house, was secured as the 'blue chip' sponsor for the new historic festival, the head of their motor car department being Colin Crabbe, a well-known driver and collector of historic racing cars and the man responsible for bringing Ronnie Peterson into Grand Prix racing. The BRDC were the organisers and promoters, the majority of race meetings at Silverstone in the early 'nineties being organised by them, so they were the obvious choice at what was their home circuit, although other organising clubs such as the Historic Sports Car Club and the Aston Martin Owners' Club were invited to bring races from their roster to help flesh out the programme.