Donington - a GP future?
There are obviously many to whom the success of the European Grand Prix, heralding the return of Grand Prix racing to Donington Park after so many years, was as nostalgically exciting as it was to me. But to most, it was the sheer exuberance of Tom Wheatcroft realising a dream, despite the dreadful weather and an early-April date, that will remain in our memory. No one deserves success more richly.
A pity, therefore, that the likelihood still remains that Silverstone will continue to be the venue of the British Grand Prix into the 21st century. Not for one moment that I would wish to decry the efforts at Silverstone in creating such a successful circuit. However, Donington’s entrée into Grand Prix racing has revived in me a dream held for most of the past 40 years; that of attending a Scottish Grand Prix. This dream first started in 1956 when the late Jock McBain and Stan Gallon asked me to join them in founding the Border Motor Racing Club (of which a certain Jim Clark was Assistant Secretary in those days!). We spent day after day searching for a site for a better circuit than Charterhall, and finally – coinciding with a change of name to the Scottish Motor Racing Club – settled for Ingliston, which was up and running within six months.
In 1966, I was approached by The Duke of Hamilton to prepare designs for a Scottish Grand Prix circuit, which was very thoroughly researched but eventually thought to be too great a financial risk. I still have both the drawings and a very thick report prepared by a firm of financial consultants. I have to admit that now it would undoubtedly be too great a gamble to contemplate.
However, with Max Mosley at the helm of the FIA, with Scotland’s first-ever Grand Prix winner Innes Ireland as President of the BRDC, Jackie Stewart as President of the Scottish Motor Racing Club, is it not time for these to get together with the RAC MotorSport Division, the Royal Scottish Automobile Club and with Tom Wheatcroft and make an all-out effort to establish a regular World Championship Scottish Grand Prix at Donington Park? What a lasting tribute to Jim Clark it would be in this, the 25th anniversary of his tragic death!
I put the idea to Tom and Tim Pamell some years ago but the powers that be in Paris, under M Balestre, were at that time adamant that they would never allow a GP at Donington. Now that is in the past; a very successful European Grand Prix has proved that. If San Marino and Monaco can stage Grandes Epreuves, why not Scotland, the home of so many quite remarkable drivers from Le Mans-winning Ecurie Ecosse, Innes Ireland, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart – not to mention Andrew Cowan and Louise Aitken-Walker in the rallying world? If Italy, France and the USA can each effectively have two GPs, why not Britain, the home of most of the World’s Grand Prix teams?
The Scottish Motor Racing Club (under the Chairmanship of Bernard Buss) and the Scottish Motor Racing Marshals Club, could certainly form the nucleus of a first-class organisation for a Grand Prix with the expertise of those who so successfully organised the European GP.
An old man’s pipe-dream? Not with dedicated enthusiasts like Tom Wheatcroft and the SMRC. I issue a challenge to all those who might make it happen to do it this year, as a memorial to the greatest all-round champion and driver the world has ever known.