From the first loose-surfaced tracks of 1931 to staging four grands prix, Donington Park’s expansion in just a few years was astonishing.
The unlikely but formidable partnership of John Gillies Shields, 74-years old when the circuit opened, by now an alderman and the owner of the entire Donington Park estate, and Fred Craner, half his age, garage owner and energetic secretary of the Derby and District Motor Club, had taken the circuit to world-class standards, although some of its rudimentary facilities remained out of step with the development of the track itself.
That’s what makes this collection of images extra special. Shot on 35mm Agfa colour film, they were recently discovered by Edinburgh-based Donington devotee Philip Hall. Never published before, and taken by an unknown photographer, they vividly capture, despite their much-faded hues, the relaxed ambience of a virtually deserted circuit on a practice day before the 1938 Donington Grand Prix.