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Donington Park

Castle Donington, Leicestershire

Donington Park opened as a motorcycle circuit in 1931 under the direction of local garage owner and competitor Fred Craner. Car racing followed two years later, and in 1935 the circuit hosted its first Grand Prix. That was an expanded club race at first, but for 1937 the all-conquering German teams entered with Bernd Rosemeyer scoring the last win of his meteoric career. Both Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz returned in 1938 despite the Munich crisis, with Tazio Nuvolari again winning for Auto Union. Like Brooklands in the south, Donington remained closed after the war. But Tom Wheatcroft bought the land in 1971 and successfully reopened the venue six years later. He also built a museum to house the largest collection of single-seater racing cars in the world. Since reopening in 1977, Donington has held European Touring Cars, Formulae 2, 3000, and 3, the Motorcycle Grand Prix, and finally a full F1 World Championship Grand Prix in 1993. In an event dogged by heavy rain, Ayrton Senna’s opening lap (in which he passed four cars to take the lead) is now as legendary as Donington’s Mercedes/Auto Union battles 50 years earlier. Speculator Simon Gillett acquired the rights to stage the British GP at Donington from 2010 but was unable to see that ambitious project to fruition, despite having begun the required upgrades that left the venue inoperable for a time.