A Festival of Proper Racing

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As the second Donington Historic Festival approaches the organisers are keen to build on the success of last year

After the debacle of the British Grand Prix project, the 2011 Donington Historic Festival was a great way for one of the country’s best-loved tracks to move ahead. As we wrote in the July 2011 issue, the event “proved the venue is back in business”.

The second Festival is fast approaching on May 5/6 and plans are afoot to ensure that this year’s edition goes as well as the first.

“There’s no question that we’re still building,” Duncan Wiltshire, who runs the event, tells me. “Our intention when we set out was to put on an event that had a focus very much on the cars, the drivers and the racing.

“On the spectator side, we recognise that it isn’t Goodwood, but ‘If you like racing come along and enjoy it. I think we had about 12,000 spectators over the two days last year and we’d certainly like to increase that. There are plenty of signs that we will, and the ticket price is very fair.

“With these events it’s potentially quite difficult to stand out. You’ve got to work at it and you’ve got to be quite clear what the event stands for. When I set the whole thing up it was very deliberate that it was called the Donington Historic Festival because it is all about Donington and its heritage.

“I could very easily have called it the Motor Racing Legends Festival (Wiltshire is chairman of Motor Racing Legends the organisation behind four historic racing series), but if we’d done that I felt very strongly that we would have just been pitching it in with all the other organisers that are running events at Donington.

“In the first year we just wanted to concentrate on doing the key elements of the event as well as we could. I have to say we were extremely pleased with how year one turned out. You never know until you’ve done it, however much work you put in!

“Our plan for this year is to build on that and keep the ethos of proper racing. We aren’t planning anything wildly bigger or bolder, but we do want to fix the things that we weren’t happy with.”

With Historic F2, the E-type Challenge, pre-72 sports-racing cars and Group C races the second Festival should be a great success. Yes, there are so many historic race meetings out there nowadays that the market seems almost saturated, but with another successful Donington Historic Festival in May, the event will be on the way to being considered one of the essential meetings of the year.

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