Tel: 01332 810048
Fax: 01332 850422
Bernd Rosemeyer winning the 1937 Donington Grand Prix in his Auto Union
Upcoming Historic Racing
April 8th - Historic Sports Car Club.
April 9th - Sports & Saloon Car Races (MG Car Club).
April 28th to 30th - Donington Historic Festival. The Donington Historic Festival is one of Europe's biggest historic motorsport festivals, attracting hundreds of priceless machines dating as far back as the 1920s, as well as star drivers, big display areas and much more.
Following feedback from spectators and competitors, who come from all over Europe to compete, the festival is now running from Friday 28 – Sunday 30 April. This allows all the excitement of qualifying to take place on the Friday, and even more action-packed racing on Saturday and Sunday.
With an established reputation as a premier international historic racing event, the new format is an exciting change that will allow this year’s festival to be even bigger and better. Stars of the 2016 event included Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver and BTCC champions Andrew Jordan, Matt Neal and Colin Turkington. They were joined on the track by a spectacular variety of historic racing cars, from famous marques such as Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, BMW, Bugatti, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lotus and Lola, to name but a few.
The theme of this year’s event – the seventh consecutive Donington Historic Festival – is ‘get involved’ and organisers have invested in a diverse range of entertainment both on and off the track in which families and fans can get immersed. This means that the popular rally car stage returns, together with a new stunt driving arena and other new attractions soon to be announced.
September 9th to 10th - CSCC.
October 15th - HRDC at the BRSCC Meeting - featuring Academy, A-Series Challenge and Touring Greats, Coombs, TC63 and Allstars.
Donington Park has had a somewhat troubled history in recent years but is now back on the scene, especially so because of its new annual Historic Festival - scheduled to take place in May in 2013.
The circuit owes its origins to another motorbike rider - this time Fred Craner. In 1931 Fred was the owner of a garage in Derby and the secretary of the Derby & District Motor Club. Being himself a keen rider (he had taken part in seven Isle of Man TT races) he approached the owner of the Donington Hall estate requesting use of the extensive roads for racing.
The first track was just over 2 miles in length on pretty rough surfaces and hosted its first race on Whit Monday in 1931. In just two years permission was granted to build a permanent track. March 25th 1933 saw the first car race with the Donington Park Trophy on 7th October being the highlight of the calendar with Earl Howe racing to victory in a Bugatti Type 51.
1935 saw another of our heroes take victory - Richard Shuttleworth, founder of the superb Shuttleworth Collection winning Donington’s first 300 mile Grand Prix in an Alfa Romeo P3. Dick Seaman won in 1936 and a more international feel hit the Park as Grand Prix racing returned in 1937 and 38 - the years of the Auto Union Silver Arrows with victories by Rosemeyer and Nuvolari respectively. 1939 was different altogether with the area being requisitioned by the Ministry Of Defence for a vehicle Depot as war began.
Fast forward to 1971 and enter Tom Wheatcroft a car collector and businessman of great repute. Wheatcroft moved his collection to the circuit in ’73 and it remains there to this day. Many more recent additions have followed and the museum now has the largest collection of Grand Prix cars in the world and includes Stirling Moss’ 1961 Monaco winning Lotus 18.
The circuit itself re-opened in May 1977 and circuit began attracting more events and more investment into the infrastructure. 1985 saw the Melbourne Loop added increasing the lap distance to 2.5. The shorter National circuit is used for most Historic and Club events.
In 2007 Wheatcroft sold a long lease to a new operator DVLL. The following years were troubled with DVLL failing to pay rent to Wheatcroft’s holding company with an out of court settlement finally being agreed. At this point the circuit had been awarded the British Grand Prix but investment was not forthcoming and DVLL fell into administration. The British Grand Prix was given back to Silverstone and the whole afffair consigned to history. Donington was not over, though. Ownership reverted to the Wheatcroft family and racing has returned once more. The museum alone is worth a visit for Historic Racing fans but combined with a racing day it is a must.
1. Wheatcroft Straight leads slightly downhill past the pit complex.
2. The Craner Curves are a fast right followed by a left which tightens. This difficult combination is made harder still by both curves being on a steep downhill gradient. The large infield is forgiving and whilst you might not have expensive repair bills from hitting a tyre wall you can lose a lot of time sliding on the grass.
3. McLeans Corner is deceptively tight and the gravel trap is frequently visited. From the corner it’s flat out up an incline and over the brow.
4. Coppice Corner is blind and quick. Get the wrong line in and you’ll be spat out on the exit. Good exit speed is essential for the following straight - Starkeys.
5. Starkeys Straight is long and flat out. Where you brake at the end of the straight depends on the circuit configuration as it could be either left for the GP circuit or right on the National.
In Car Video
Where To Watch
• Starkey’s Straight is not that great a place to watch as the view is obscured by the Museum.
• Old Hairpin has good viewing but from a bit of a distance.
• Craner Curves infield viewing is high up and offers a good view of much of the circuit.
• Stand on the outfield of McCleans to get closer to the action and to see any unfortunate cars slide into the gravel.
• From Redgate and Hollywood you can see right along the start/finish straight and onto the first corner.