Donington Park Cemented Its Place in the History of Motorsports
Donington Park was the first permanent racing circuit in the United Kingdom and still stands as one of the most popular venues.
History of Donington Park has begun before WW II
The venue located in the Leicestershire, near the cities of Nottingham and Derby, has a long history as it was opened in 1931. The circuit was originally a part of the Donington Hall estate near Castle Donington. Before the World War II, the 3.5 km long circuit regularly hosted the Grand Prix races, mainly dominated by Auto Union ’Silver Arrows’, Alfa Romeos and Bugattis, driven by the legendary racers like Tazio Nuvolari and Bernd Rosemeyer. When the war began in 1939, Donington Park was used by the Ministry of Defence as Military vehicles depot.
Grand Prix collection at Donington Park is the biggest in the world
When the WWII finally ended, Donington Park was almost forgotten, despite several attempts to reestablish the place as a racing venue. Yet in 1971, they started a reconstruction of the circuit. Local businessman and passionate racing enthusiast Tom Wheatcroft bought the venue because he wanted to revive the old famous days of racing in the beautiful scenery.
Over the years, he acquired a huge number of different racing cars from all over the world. That collection later became the Donington Grand Prix exhibition that is still expanding and stands as one of the trademarks of the circuit. With more than 130 exhibits, this collection is a real gem and is known worldwide.
1993 European Grand Prix was held at Donington Park
The new owner started a renovation of Donington Park and in 1977 the 3.149km long racing track was ready for the new beginning. In the next couple of years, the track was used mainly for motorcycle races, club and exhibition racing. Donington Park later also hosted Moto GP events, BTCC, and other smaller racing series. In 1993, even the Formula 1 European Grand Prix was held there and that epic race won by Ayrton Senna is still considered as one of the F1 epics.
Another revival after unsuccessful try to bring back F1 race
After a period of uncertainty, between 2007 and 2009 when the venue was owned by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd that went into administration after unsuccessful try to bring the British Grand Prix to Donington, future of Donington Park as a race circuit and a part of the British racing heritage is assured when Wheatcroft family took control of the circuit.
Two layouts and host of many racing events
The track layout was slightly changed a couple of times before they made the current one, clockwise run layout, was made in 2010. Grand Prix Circuit is 4.020 km long and has only 12 turns. Ayrton Senna is record time holder with a lap time 1:18.029, set in the aforementioned 1993 European Grand Prix. The National Circuit is 3.149 km long and has 10 turns. This layout is mainly used by most of the racing series. The circuit includes a full pit lane with 38 garages. The venue is able to accommodate approximately 80.000 spectators during race days even though it has only two grandstands.
Nowadays, the main events at Donington Park are the races of British GT, BTCC, and World Superbike Championship, but as one of the most popular and the best-visited events stands Donington Historic Festival. The FIA Formula E headquarters are also located at Donington Park, so the pre-season tests are held there while the WTCC round were also held there in 2011.
Many music festivals were held there
Except as a racing venue, Donington is almost as famous as the place ideal for hosting big music festivals. Since 1980s many famous bands played there. The venue is also known as the host of gigantic Sunday market that instantly became one of the favorite happenings for families. Donington Park also offers the possibility of organizing exhibitions, trade shows, and other events.
Getting there and accommodation
Located in central England, Donington Park has good connections with all the parts of the country. East Midlands Airports is literally a couple of minutes from the venue and offers many international and national flights, so getting to the circuit is very easy, especially knowing that the train connections are also pretty good.
Those who want to visit Donington Park don’t have to worry about accommodation because in the area are many different types of hotels, guest houses, and lodges.
Video – Ayrton Senna at Donington
Address: Donington Park, Castle Donington, Derby DE74 2RP, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1332 810048