- Circuit type Race
- Circuit Length 4.020kms
- Circuit Turns 11
- Circuit Direction Clockwise
- Capacity 120,000
- Established 1933
|Only race||European Grand Prix||April 11, 1993||Ayrton Senna (BRA)||full results|
Donington has hosted just one grand prix; the European Grand Prix in 1993, meaning the last man to win a Formula One race at the track was the great Ayrton Senna.
The history of motorsport at the park goes back to the early 1930s, when motorbike racer Fred Craner approached Donington Park owner to use his extensive roads for racing. It hosted its first race back in 1931, and in 1933 Craner achieved permission to build a permanent race track. In 1933 the first car races took place and the circuit became the second permanent race track in the UK, ending Brooklands circuit's 26-year monopoly.
However, in World War Two the circuit was closed and requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence, and it fell into disrepair until it was bought in 1971 by local businessman and car enthusiast Tom Wheatcroft. Wheatcroft moved his car collection to the track, and the museum, the Donington Grand Prix Exhibition, opened in 1973, is the largest collection of grand prix cars in the world. The circuit reopened in May 1977 and since then it has regularly hosted events such as MotoGP, the British Touring Car Championship, and British Superbikes.
In 1993 Wheatcroft achieved his dream, and the circuit hosted the European Grand Prix. Generally considered to be one of the greatest races of all time, Ayrton Senna stormed from fifth on the grid to lead after the first lap, and dominated the race, beating runner-up Damon Hill by over a minute.
In July 2008, Bernie Ecclestone announced that from 2010 Donington would host the British Grand Prix, subject to a £135million renovation. However, in October 2009 Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL) announced they had failed to raise sufficient funds to host the event, and Ecclestone confirmed that he was in talks with Silverstone for the event to return to the Northamptonshire circuit. Just days after his beloved track failed to secure the funding to host the 2010 event, Donington owner Tom Wheatcroft died aged 87, following a long illness.
Jo Carter November 2009