The drive to save Donington

Historic Racing

After the disastrous attempt to host the British Grand Prix at Donington in 2010, the circuit has been left a shadow of its former self. The last owner, Donington Ventures Leisure Limited, went ahead with ambitious plans to revamp the circuit before the company went into administration last November, leaving Donington Park without even the original functioning race track. To restore it to how it was just under two years ago is going to cost a minimum of £600,000.

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For all motor sport enthusiasts this is sad news. However, there is light at the end of what has been a particularly dark tunnel: the control of Donington has been passed back to the Wheatcroft family. As we speak Kevin Wheatcroft, son of late circuit revivalist Tom, is doing everything he can to reopen it.

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If you’re looking to invest in and save one of Britain’s best-loved circuits then now is surely the time. But if you’re not quite in the right financial situation then a motor sport enthusiast from Oxford by the name of Lee Coombs has come up with an alternative idea.

“I didn’t have any contacts, I don’t have any financial clout, but I’m a real enthusiast of Donington Park and historic racing in particular,” he says. “I found myself going on the internet every five minutes and reading about Donington and, quite frankly, depressing myself.

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“I thought, ‘what can I do?’ I’m a Lotus owner and so contacted the forum and said ‘why don’t we drive up there and just show whoever owns the track that repairing it is a viable option’. So that’s what we’re doing. I didn’t realise it was going to take off like it has…”

The plan is to drive to Donington Park on March 7 and so far Coombs has managed to recruit nearly 700 people for the event through his new website (www.savedonington.co.uk) and various forums.

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A hoard of spectators gather to see the top three finishers at the end of the 1938 Donington Grand Prix

The Wheatcroft family has had a torrid time of late and we urge you to go to Donington to show them your support on March 7. It’s not a protest, but merely a gathering of like-minded people trying to save one of Britain’s great circuits. Tom would have been proud.

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