Donington Grand Prix Collection
Going to a Grand Prix to see hi-tech cars scream past at ear-splitting speeds is fantastic. But it’s not exactly cheap and nor does it give you the chance to appreciate the machines close-up.
23 August 2006
If you’re a racing fan looking for a fun bank holiday trip you can’t do much better than the Donington Grand Prix collection, home to more Formula One cars under one roof than anywhere in the world.
Tom Wheatcroft, owner of the Donington Park racing circuit in Leicestershire, lives and breathes motor sport.
His collection of pre- and post-war Grand Prix machines is unmatched: they’re practically parked on top of each other.
For a Grand Prix nut it’s almost over-stimulating. Some of the cars here have enough history to deserve museums of their own.
Such as Sir Stirling Moss’s Lotus-Climax from 1961. With this light, nimble car the British hero single-handedly vanquished the powerful Ferraris of Phil Hill and Richie Ginther and won that year’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Another corner pays homage to British three-times champion Jackie Stewart and is suitably covered in a grotesque tartan carpet. Here Wheatcroft has acquired one of the peculiar (and ugly) Tyrrell P34s – a rare Formula One car with six wheels that even won a race.
Visitors may be surprised at the scarcity of F1 Ferraris on show – this is simply because team founder Enzo Ferrari cared little for heritage and even his most successful racers were usually broken down to build his next cars.
The two great British teams McLaren and Williams are very well represented with dozens of cars from their history: James Hunt’s 1976 championship-winning McLaren, the Williams FW14B that carried Nigel Mansell to his title win in 1992, and Damon Hill’s from four years later.
Wheatcroft spent a small fortune bringing the Formula One World Championship to his circuit for a one-off race in 1993. And a special stand pays tribute to the car and man that won the memorable race – Ayrton Senna in his McLaren-Ford, who died the following year.
It’s not all about Formula One cars though. Wheatcroft has carefully built an immaculate replica of an exclusive Bugatti Royale Type 41. This gigantic machine is over six metres long with a 12.7 litre engine. It’s almost as big as the old fire truck next to it.
If you’re a Grand Prix fan or even if you’re just discovering the sport you can’t miss the Donington Grand Prix Collection.
Adult entry £7
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