We’ll talk about the Jenson-McLaren development in a minute.
What saddened me more was news that Donington Park has gone into receivership today – and so soon after the passing of 87-year-old Tom Wheatcroft. This treasure of the sport did much to revive and then develop the circuit for world class racing. He also played an important part in the careers of many a GP driver.
In the early 1970s Donington Park was still in a dilapidated and neglected state following its use as a military vehicle depot during the war. Former racer Tom, now a successful builder, was in a position to buy the land upon which the circuit stood.
With amazing enterprise he upgraded and re-routed the circuit – to accommodate the required safety legislation – and a large number of hospitality suites were incorporated to enhance the circuit’s facilities for an ever growing leisure market. Racing eventually returned to Donington Park in 1977.
Tom also built up a unique collection of Vanwall, McLaren, Williams and BRM machines – the Donington Grand Prix Exhibition. The collection contains a pre-war AutoUnion built from the original plans and a perfect replica of Ettore Bugatti’s personal Royale.
I could go on, but Tom’s contribution to the sport has been immeasurable, and the word ‘legend’ hardly does justice to the man. It’s going to take someone with great vision to get Donington Park up and running again.
That’s not going to be easy. Tom’s a tough act to follow.