The Donington Collection is the result of one mans love for a sport that has thrilled him since the mid 30’s, when as a spectator at the Donington Grand Prix’s he witnessed the giant German cars powering themselves to victory. For Tom Wheatcroft, founder of the Donington Collection, the love affair had begun.
The beginning was the purchase of an ex-Peter Whitehead 1951 Ferrari in 1964, bought mainly for fun purposes. Tom Wheatcroft’s private collection grew and grew until eventually one of his dreams became reality, in 1971 he purchased Donington Park with a view to bringing International motor racing back to England’s first true road course. In 1973 The Donington Collection opened its doors to the general public, with over fifty historic racing cars on show.
Today, the Collection numbers somewhere in the region of 150 racing cars plus the Speedway Hall of Fame and numerous other vehicles of interest. It is the largest collection of single seater grand prix racing cars to be found anywhere in the world, with many of its cars priceless. The Collection spans eight decades of this fast and furious sport, starting with the Edwardian Cottin et Desgouttes hill climber of 1911 which is a splendid 10.6-litre ‘Cad’s’ car, the legendary Tazio Nuvolari’s 1934 Maserati 8CM-3000, through to the latest world championship Fl cars including Ayrton Senna’s 1988 championship winning Mclaren/Honda MP 4/4.
The Collection is visited regularly by Grand Prix stars of yesteryear, as many of the manufacturers have kindly loaned their cars to be exhibited. It also attracts the stars and rising stars of today, who come to study their mentors and the machines which carried them to glory. At the Donington Collection you can almost imagine the cars in their heyday driven by the likes of Nuvolari, Fangio, Moss, Ascari, Clark, Stewart and Graham Hill. If you have only ever watched this invigorating sport on television, the Collection offers the chance to witness and understand the size and power of todays high performance cars, Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix winning Williams FW10 of 1985, Jackie Stewart’s all conquering Tyrell 003 and Nelson Piquet’s 1983 World Championship winning Brabham BMW Turbo are typical examples.
The Collection is home to the most comprehensive and breathtaking array of BRM’s anywhere in the world. Raced by the likes of Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, the BRM’s provide a fascinating insight into Britain’s attempt at providing the ultimate in 60’s Grand Prix racing.
The Speedway Hall of Fame is a new addition, the brainchild of Barry Briggs, world champion himself and Tom Wheatcroft. It is the only display of its kind in the world which heralds this sports champions, and explains its introduction in to England and its growth into the fast and invigorating sport it is today. The Hall of Fame is full of associated memorabillia which includes an example of the fearsome ice speedway machines! It is fully supported with audio visual displays which shows some of the Champions in action.
Other items of interest include the Fastest Bentley in the World, which managed an astounding 158 mph! and a special display of the late Mike Hailwood’s motorcycles and trophies, and other items from the motor racing world.