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Donington Park is a circuit near Castle Doningtonmarker in Leicestershiremarker, Englandmarker.

Originally part of the Donington Hallmarker estate, it is leased by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd from owner Tom Wheatcroft. Used as a motor racing track, it is also the venue for the Download Festival.


The Donington Circuit layout in 1937
Donington Park motor racing circuit was the first permanent park circuit in Englandmarker, which also ended the race circuit monopoly that Brooklandsmarker had held since 1907.

Fred Craner was a former motorcycle rider who had taken part in seven Isle of Man TT races, and was by 1931 a Derby garage owner and secretary of the Derby & District Motor Club. Craner approached the then owner of the Donington Hall estatemarker, Alderman John Gillies Shields JP, to use the extensive roads on his land for racing. JG Shields son John Shields was a captain of Leicestershire County Cricket Club, who married a descendant of Edward Cornelius.

The original track was 2 mile 327 yd (3518 m) in length, and based on normal width unsealed estate roads. The first motor cycle race took place on Whit Monday, 1931. For 1933 Craner obtained permission to build a permanent track, with the original layout widened and sealed at a cost of £12,000. The first car race was held on the 25th March, followed by three car meetings further that year. The first Donington Park Trophy race was held on 7 October 1933, and was won by the Earl Howe in a Bugatti Type 51.
Donington Park showing Spitfire sculpture and track

In 1935 the first Donington Grand Prix was won by Richard "Mad Jack" Shuttleworthmarker in an Alfa Romeo P3. In the 1937 Donington Grand Prix and 1938 Donington Grand Prixmarker, the race winners were respectively Bernd Rosemeyer and Tazio Nuvolari, both in Auto Union 'Silver Arrows.'

The circuit at Donington Park was closed in 1939 due to World War II, when it was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence and was converted into a military vehicle depot.

Wheatcroft revival

In 1971 the circuit was bought by business man and car collector Tom Wheatcroft, who funded the rebuilding of the track. Wheatcroft moved his collection to the circuit, in a museum now known as the Donington Grand Prix Exhibitionmarker which opened in 1973, and has the largest collection of Grand Prix cars in the world.

The motor racing circuit re-opened on May 27, 1977, the first postwar race meeting was organised by the Nottingham Sports Car Club, but that nearly didn't happen, as the local ramblers tried to assert their rights to retain access to footpaths at the eleventh hour. The meeting went ahead as a "Motor Trial", a legal loophole that curtailed the use of single seater racing cars for that opening meeting. The NSCC continued to run race meetings at Donington until the Donington Racing Club was formed and a licence to run race meetings obtained.

The Melbourne Loop was built in 1985 to increase the lap distance to and allow the track to host Grand Prix motorcycle races - at without the loop, the circuit was deemed too short. This shorter layout remains as the National circuit, which is used for most non-Grand Prix events.

In recent times Donington has held meetings of MotoGP, the British Touring Car Championship and British Superbikes, as well as the 1993 European Grand Prix.

Other events taking place at the track include a 1000 km endurance race for the Le Mans Series in 2006, the World Series by Renault and the Great and British Motorsport Festival. On 26 August 2007 the circuit hosted the British Motocross Grand Prix, with a purpose-built motocross circuit constructed on the infield of the road circuit.

Donington Ventures Leisure

In 2007, Wheatcroft sold a 150 year lease on the land on which the track and museum are located to Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd.

In July 2008, it was announced that DVL had won the rights to the British Grand Prix for seventeen years from July 2010, with North West Leicestershire Council approving plans for the required track and facility rebuilt design by Hermann Tilke to be constructed from January 2009.

On September 27 and 28, 2008 the Motocross des Nations, the biggest and longest running event in World Championship Motocross, was at Donington Park.

In April 2009, Wheatcroft & Son Ltd took legal action against DVLL in Derby County Court, seeking £2.47m in rent arrears, as well as forfeiture of the lease. The legal action put the future of the British Grand Prix in doubt, with Bernie Ecclestone restating that if Donington does not meet required standards to host the event there, will be no British Grand Prix from 2010.

On 5 June 2009 it was announced that an out of court settlement had been reached between Wheatcroft & Son Ltd and DVLL.

On 24 October 2009, BBC News reported that Donington had failed to raise the £135 million needed to stage a British Grand Prix, that Donington's bid 'looks over' and that the F1 supremo has offered the race to Silverstonemarker.. On 29 October 2009 Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that the British Grand Prix would not be held at Donington.


On 18 November 2009, the company went into administration.. Mr Price (Chairman) said: "This need not be the end of Formula One racing at Donington. It still remains a fantastic location. It needs people of vision to get the dream to the starting grid We are certainly hopeful that a 2011 Grand Prix could take place at the site."

Motorsport at Donington

At Donington Park several motorsport events are held including BTCC, British F3, British Superbikes, SBK, MotoGP, Superleague Formula, Pickup Truck Racing. Most recently the track want to host the British Grand Prix initially in October Bernie Ecclestone said that no Formula One race for 2010 will be held at Donington but did not rule out 2011. In November Donington Leisures Ltd went into administration and Ecclestone said that if a new buyer has the right idea we will definitely negotiate with them. However he said there was a deadline of December 11 and if Silverstonemarker didn't accept the contract and Donington didn't have the funding then there will be no British GP

Formula One

1993 European Grand Prix

Donington Park was the host of the 1993 European Grand Prixmarker on 11 April 1993, which was affected by rain. The race was notable for the dominance of Ayrton Senna where he won the race by over 1 minute from Damon Hill, having advanced from fifth to first in the opening lap.

This race was described by AtlasF1 as the 'Drive of the Decade' . There is a memorial to Senna in the grounds of the racetrack, outside a shop selling motorsports memorabilia.

2010 British Grand Prix bid

Proposed 2010 circuit

See also: 2010 Formula One season
On 4 July 2008, Bernie Ecclestone announced that Donington Park would hold the British Grand Prixmarker from 2010 onwards in a 17-year deal, having been hosted exclusively by Silverstonemarker since 1987. On 10 July 2008, the proposal was that the track would have a major upgrade designed by Herman Tilke, to include an entirely new pit complex along Starkey's Straight and increasing the circuit length to , by the addition of a new infield loop, to get it up to the standards required for modern day Formula One racing.

The proposal was that race would be the first to be accessed only by public transportation, as cars will not be allowed to enter the facility. This was in part was an answer to the lack of road access, which even when 30,000 bikers exit major motorcycle events resulted in long tailbacks. The proposal was that a shuttle-bus service would run from the close by East Midlands Parkway stationmarker, on the Midland Main Line from Londonmarker to Sheffieldmarker.

In light of the financial crisis and Donington's potential inability to raise finance, on 20 June 2009, Bernie Ecclestone stated that there would be a British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2010 if Donington was not ready to host it. This was a change from his previous "Donington or nothing" standpoint and he cited changes in the structure of the BRDC meaning there was a better way of negotiating with them over future commercial rights. Furthermore during an interview with the BBC about the Formula One Teams Association threatening to break away and form their own series, FIA president Max Mosley said it was "highly likely" the 2010 British Grand Prix would return to Silverstone.

Donington was given an extended two week deadline to prove it had the funds to host the 2010 British Grand Prix, however, on 22 October 2009, fundraising attempts fell through. Ecclestone later confirmed that Donington would not be hosting the British Grand Prix.

On 18 November 2009, less than one month after it was confirmed that the Donington had lost the right to host the British Grand Prix, circuit owner Donington Ventures Leisure Limited was placed into administration .

However on Friday 20 November F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone said that "If a new owner comes we will definitely negotiate and if they have the right ideas for raising funds that there might be a Grand Prix after all.

Moto GP (1987 - 2009)

Donington park has also been the home of Moto GP. From 1977 when Moto GP started in the United Kingdom it was held at Silverstone for 10 years until in 1987 Donington held the race up until 2009.However the race won't happen at Doningtion in 2010 because it plans to shut down the track to prepare for the British Grand Prix. So after 27 years the race will return to Silverstone.

Other events

Beside motorsports many other events are held at Donington including Music Festivals like the Download Festival, the Donington Park Sunday Sale and the Donington Grand Prix Museum exhibition

Music festivals

Donington Park has a long history of holding rock concerts and festivals, having played host to the Monsters of Rock concerts from the early 80s to mid 90s, when groups such as AC/DC, Metallica and Iron Maiden performed there. More recently, it has played host to Stereophonics' A Day At The Races event in 2001, and the Ozzfest in 2002.

The Download Festival began at the venue in 2003, headlined by Iron Maiden and Audioslave. The event has been held each summer since then.
Donington's Dunlop Bridge

Donington Grand Prix Museum Exhibition

The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition first opened to the public in March 1973. It is the largest collection of Grand Prix racing cars in the world. Five halls, with over 130 exhibits, illustrate the history of motor sport from the turn of the 20th Century. Cars include examples driven by such famous names as Nuvolari, Mansell, Prost, Moss, Senna, Fangio, Clark and Stewart. The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition houses the largest collection of McLaren racing cars in the world, and the only complete collection of Vanwalls. Notable exhibits include the 1936 twin engined 500 bhp Alfa Romeo Bimotore which has a top speed of 200 mph, Jim Clark's World Championship winning Lotus 25, the 'howling' flat 12 Ferrari 312B, and Stirling Moss's Lotus, in which he defeated the Ferrari works team in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix. The Collection also features the World's largest collection of Driver's Helmets.

Facilites at Doington

Donington being potentially the new home of the British GP has a wide variety of other facilities including simulators.

Donington Park Simulators

In Donington there are several different type of simulators which make it feel like real racing. There are also Moto GP facilities at the track along with Rallying and Touring Cars.


Donington Park lies south east of Derby and the circuit has a Derbymarker postcode, it has a Derby telephone Area Code and East Midlands Airportmarker is just a mile down the road.

Donington Park is located just off the M1 and is very close to East Midlands Airport, and aircraft taking off fly directly over the circuit at low altitude.

East Midlands Parkway railway stationmarker and Derby Midland Station are close by and the owners have expressed their desire for spectators to use these stations and coaches to the circuit. The owners are also in support of any future light rail transport to East Midlands Airport itself.


Donington Park has been simulated and can be driven in several racing simulations, such as Spirit of Speed 1937 (the 1937 version of the track is featured, as the name suggests), Sports Car GT, Le Mans 24 Hours, ToCA Touring Cars, ToCA 2 Touring Cars, ToCA Race Driver, ToCA Race Driver 2, TOCA Race Driver 3, GTR, GTR2, GT Legends, F1 Challenge '99-'02(with a mod), Grand Prix 4 (1993 configuration, unofficial add-on track), MotoGP 3, Redline, rFactor, SBK-07, Race Driver: GRID and Need for Speed: Shift. Donington Park also appears in the game Guitar Hero: Metallica as a playable stage.

See also


External links

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