While Britain may not have Italy’s happy knack of staging two Grands Prix every year, this country has certainly fared better than other European nations in recent times when it has come to organising secondary World Championship events. Even so, it is eight seasons since the UK hosted the last European Grand Prix.
Quite a bit has happened since then. The man who won that race, at Brands Hatch on October 6 1985, is the reigning world champion, Nigel Mansell. It was his first ever F1 victory.
The European GP is to be revived at Easter, when Donington Park stages its first F1 race since its re-opening in 1977. For circuit owner (since 1971) Tom Wheatcroft, it marks the fulfilment of a long-cherished ambition.
Of course, the circuit has held Grands Prix before. . . on two occasions, the last of them in 1938, when Tazio Nuvolari won for Auto-Union. Auto-Union had triumphed in 1937’s inaugural Donington GP too, courtesy of Bernd Rosemeyer. A third race should have taken place on September 30 1939, but the Second World War put paid to that. Thus it was that the VSCC meeting on August 12 1939 would be the circuit’s last for almost 40 years.
Even in these post-Mansell days (as MOTOR SPORT closed for press, the F1 entry was believed to be the same as that for the South African Grand Prix — see accompanying race report and the full preview published in March’s issue), a large crowd is expected at the Leicestershire venue during the Easter weekend.
In addition to the main feature, over 76 laps at 14.00 on Sunday, the programme includes a brace of Vauxhall Lotus Euroseries events (16.30 Saturday and 11.55 Sunday), a round of the British Open Formula Ford series (10.30 Sunday) and, finally, a round of the increasingly high profile British Touring Car Championship (scheduled to conclude the meeting at 16.30). The circuit opens at 6.00 on Friday and Saturday, 5.00 on Sunday. Action starts at 9.30 each day, with F1 free practice and warm-up respectively.
Admission will be cheapest on Friday, adult entry set at £20, accompanied children (under 15) free. Grandstand rover tickets will cost an extra £10 per adult. On Saturday, adult admission is £25, grandstand rover £20. Again, accompanied children will be admitted free of charge. Finally, raceday tickets are £60 adults, £15 children. Reserved grandstand seats are £120 adults, £60 children (note that these prices include the cost of admission to trackside enclosures). Advance bookings can be made until April 1 either via official agencies or direct from the circuit. Contact Donington on 0332 810048 for details.
There will be an adjacent campsite with drinking water, toilets, refreshments and bar facilities. Cost is £4 per head per night. There are alternative, private camping amenities at Park Farm, near the circuit’s Wilson Lodge entrance. Call 0332-882409 for information.
Public transport connections are available to the nearest mainline BR stations Derby (0332-292200 for details), Nottingham and Loughborough (0602-240000 for both). Several approved taxi services operate in the area. Contact 0332-31331(Western Cars), 47044 (Abbey Cars), 40837 (Eagle Cars), 812009 (East Midlands Airport Taxis) or 0602-734774 (Long Eaton Taxis).
Finally, there will be a special stand at Coppice for the disabled, with toilet facilities close by. Applicants should provide proof of entitlement when applying for tickets. Extra details will be available on-site, from the information point at the main entrance (open from 12.00-20.00 Wednesday, 9.00-21.00 Thursday, 7.00-21.00 Friday, 6.00-22.00 Saturday, 5.00-20.00 Sunday and 9.00-12.00 Monday. Full coverage of the event will appear in May’s MOTOR SPORT