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A Few Facts About Donington Park

Friday 4th July 2008

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A Few Facts About Donington Park

A Few Facts About Donington Park

A brief guide to the future home of the British GP...

* Google 'Donington Park' and you'll find out at the circuit is home to British Motorcycle Grand Prix, The British Touring Car Championships and World Superbikes. Added to that (and its new F1 race) the track will also play host to the new Superleague Formula (football meets motor racing) on August 31st

* Asking yourself and your mates where the blazes Donington Park is? Well you'll find it at Castle Donington, Derby, DE74 2RP which is 12 miles from Nottingham on the top of a windswept hill close to the East Midlands Airport.

* The Donington Park estate belonged to the the Gillies Shields family but during World War I it was requisitioned by the British government and turned into a prisoner of war camp. In 1915 Gunther Pluschow, a German pilot, made one of the few successful escape attempts of the war from Donington.

* It wasn't until 1933 that the venue was used for car racing when a Derby garage owner called Fred Craner approached John Gillies Shields and convinced him to let the Derby & District Motor Club use the roads on his land for racing. The orginal track was 2.1-miles and played host to the first 300-mile Donington Grand Prix which was won by 'Mad Jack' Shuttleworth.

* The circuit was closed in 1939 due to World War II when it became a military vehicle depot.

* In the early 1970s it was bought by Leicestershire racing fanatic Tom Wheatcroft, who funded the rebuilding of the track, which was re-opened in 1977 with a round of the European Formula 2 Championship which was won by Bruno Giacomelli.

* The Melbourne Loop was built in 1985 to increase the lap distance to 2.5 miles (4.02 km) and allow the track to host Grand Prix motorcycle races - at 1.957 miles (3.149 km) without the loop, the circuit was deemed too short.

* Donington was promised the 1988 British GP by the Royal Automobile Club. However, the race never happened and the battle ended in the courts

* Six years later Donington finally saw F1 with the running of the 1993 the European GP, which was won by Ayrton Senna, took place at the circuit. The race was arguably Senna's most famous wet-weather victory - he won by over 1 minute from Damon Hill.

* By the way, Wikipedia claims 'the hill approaching Craner Curves (beginning just after Hollywood corner) is steeper than it appears and it is possible to reach speeds in excess of 40 mph (64 km/h) using only a bicycle.'... Whoo!

* Oh and aside from racing you can also attended music festivals at Donington. Jonhenry Wilson, the esteemed editor of sister publication Cricket365 attended Download 2008 earlier this month, which featured headliners including Kiss, The Offspring and Lostprophets. He recommends the venue!

Michelle Foster

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