Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pictures From the Donington Collection

A summary history of the Donington Park race circuit. Click on the picture to read the summaries.
These are a couple of Tom Wheatcroft's cars from the early 70's. These cars were driven by Roger Williamson. Unfortunately Williamson was burned to death in a crash despite an heroic attempt by David Purley to pull him from the wreckage in '73 for which he was awarded the George Medal for his efforts. See link below for photos of the crash.

Purley was killed in an aerobatic aircarft crash in 1985. Wheatcroft never really recovered from the death of Williamson and he terminated his race team not very long after Williamson's death.

Tom owns the museum and the collection. He re-opended Donington Park in 1977 and it continues to hold numerous premier motorcycle and car events including bike GP and WSBK. In 1993 he held the one and only modern day F1 to be run at Donington Park - hence the high fences around the track. I was lucky enough to attend and it was incredible. I was also very lucky to meet Tom late 2006 actually in the museum one Saturday morning. What a really nice guy.

For all F1 fans you will recall that the probably best lap in F1 history occured during that 1993 European GP when my idol, the late Ayrton Senna, overtook about 5 cars on the first lap going down the Craner Curves in the wet to go on and win the race. My father in law and I were standing outside Starkeys Bar and witnessed it first hand. We knew there and then we were witness to someting special. Senna died May 2, 1994 at Imola in the Williams, his first season for Williams after a long time with McLaren - another historic and unforgetable day for the wrong reasons.

Without doubt the best collection of Marlboro McLarens in the World - the collection has a car from each and every year. A number of Senna's cars are in this photo. Tom was very close to Senna and as a result he has a marvellous memorial to Senna and Fangio outside the museum. Ironically they both died in the same year 1994.
One of the great Barry Sheene's Heron Suzuki bikes. This is the one that he 'waved' a vicki' at Kenny Roberts at Silverstone back in '78. No. '7' was (is) a British hero. He suffered horrific injuries at Daytona in 1975 and once again at Silverstone in 1982. Our hero and last British World GP Champion died of cancer in 2003 at the ripe young age of 52!

Ronnie Peterson's Elf Tyrell '6' wheeler - I remember this being raced before it was banned.

Some of Nigel Mansell's race cars. He was F1 World Champ back in '90 or '91 if I recall correctly. He then came over to the States to do Indy Car and did quite well here too. Red "5"

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