Track History

Circuit length: 2.50 miles (Grand Prix), 1.9573 miles (National)


Track History

Donington Park in 1931 was owned by a Mr.Shields who used to open the park to the public for the price of 6d. Fred Craner, a local garage owner and motorcycle racer, was looking for somewhere local to compete, and he came to an agreement with the landowner to hold a race on a dirt track in the grounds. The first meeting was held on Whit Monday, May 1931, on a 2 mile 327yd circuit.

For 1932 the track was improved, and a combined motorcycle and sidecar meeting was held. For 1933, the track was widened and tarmacked at a cost of œ12,000, and the first car meeting was held on the 25th March, followed by a further three car meetings that year. The track was extended for 1934, and by 1935 the circuit was 2 miles 971 yds long, and was established enough to hold the first Donington Grand Prix. The race was 4hrs47m12s long, and was won by Richard Shuttleworth in an Alfa Romeo.

For 1937 the circuit was extended again to 3 miles 220 yds, with the circuit being extended down the Melbourne Hill to the Melbourne Corner, which was situated just over the county border in Derbyshire! This version was used to hold the famous Third Donington Grand Prix, won by Bernd Rosemeyer in 3h1m22s in an Auto Union C Type. However, the war soon intervened, and the circuit was requisitioned by the military to store vehicles.

Although attempts were made to reopen the circuit, none were successful until the grounds were purchased by the self-made millionaire Tom Wheatcroft. It wasn’t easy reopening the circuit due to the protrusion of the circuit into the neighbouring county, so racing was restricted to the 1.957 mile national circuit which missed out the Melbourne loop and was modified from the 1937 circuit (some of the corners were reprofiled and moved, and the some of the corners were renamed – see picture below).

Wheatcroft harboured the desire of holding another Grand Prix at the circuit, so in 1985 he extended the circuit length to 2.5 miles by extending the circuit with the Shields Straight and the Melbourne Hairpin. On the 22nd September 1985 the circuit hosted the F3000 championship, and in 1989 the World Sports-Prototype Championship. Wheatcroft’s dream finally came true on the 11th April 1993 when the circuit hosted the European Grand Prix, famously won by Ayrton Senna. However, the race was only hosted once.


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