Park keeper


I write in reference to Gordon Cruickshank’s excellent article regarding Donington Park, which describes how much and how little things have changed at Donington since pre-war days.

However, there were a few inaccuracies.

When my father acquired the derelict circuit in the 1970s his original intention was to preserve it as it was so that he had somewhere to drive his grand prix racing car collection. It was only when he started this that the idea came to him that the circuit could be reopened.

Modern motorsport demanded that certain parts of the circuit be re-routed, so in effect my father was more successful in preserving the old circuit than the article suggests. The dramatic Craner Curves follow the line of the original circuit. The access road, which the article suggests was the original track, was in fact a service track built by myself (at the time I was working on the construction team). And all we did was to bring the right-handed Old Hairpin forward slightly so then, as a virtual straight line, we bypassed Starkeys Bridge. The bridge itself has not been altered in any way; all we did was remove the embankments on the infield so the bridge stood alone. It was also suggested that my father had chopped down all the trees. Some inevitably had to go to accommodate the reprofiling of the circuit and to enhance the view for spectators, but for every tree he felled he replaced one elsewhere to try and retain the park-like feel. The majority of the trees were felled as part of the Civil Aviation Authorities safety improvement programme for East Midlands Airport.

It is our long-term desire to create a walkable path picked out in stepping stones to retrace the old pre-war circuit, highlighting the various important parts.

I am very proud of my father’s pioneering spirit in saving Donington, which now stands as the only active circuit in the country with a history dating back over 70 years, and the Donington Grand Prix Collection which celebrates its 30th anniversary of opening to the public in March 2003.

I am, yours Etc, Kevin Wheatcroft, Donnington Park