This was the third Donington Historic Festival and I’m glad I’ve been able to attend all three. I feel well placed to compare the progress from year to year and against all the other festivals and classic car shows that there are now in the UK.
This year’s event, which took place between 3 May and 5 May, took advantage of an extended three-day format for the first time, which organisers Historic Promotions said helped to make the event a massive success with everything from pre-war Grand Prix cars to mighty Group C racers taking to the historic track.
The event was certainly bigger, more well organised and better than the previous years. We went on the Sunday and had very much enjoyed ourselves until the event was brought to a premature close, we later discovered that driver Christian Devereux, who was involved in an accident during one of the Pre 1966 touring car races had tragically died from his injuries. Our thoughts go the family and those that knew Christian.
Duncan Wiltshire of Historic Promotions, the event’s organisers, said: “This was the third Donington Historic Festival, and the first to be held over three days. By the Sunday morning we were very pleased with the attendance numbers, the quality of racing and of the various displays, as well as the friendly atmosphere that continues to make this event so special. But, of course, all that pales into insignificance in the light of that afternoon’s tragedy. Now the thoughts of the Donington Historic Festival team are very much with the family and friends of Christian Devereux, and everybody affected by the accident.”
Among the highlights of this year’s event was a special tribute to Ayrton Senna, to mark 20 years of the Brazilian race ace’s stunning victory at a soaked Donington during a storming drive at the 1993 European Grand Prix. Perhaps ironically, the sun shone on six motorsport machines brought together to celebrate his career, including a 1986 MG Metro 6R4 he drove for a magazine feature and the 1993 McLaren MP4/8, the very car he drove to victory at Donington. Personally my favourite Senna car on display was the JPS Lotus 97T (above and below) (how cool?) which we videoed for you:
Another stirring sight new to the event were flypasts by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, who sent a C-47 Dakota over the circuit on the Friday an the evocative trio of a Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire on the Saturday and Sunday.
There was some great action on the track too, with no less than 20 race-prepared Jaguar E-Types doing battle in a series of races and the 1966-85 touring cars providing some particularly memorable action for visitors.
Hundreds of classic owners joined in the fun, too, by bringing their cars to the club stands area backed by CCfS’s sister brand CCW. There were definitely many more cars there this year than last year; this was helped by the Porsche owners there in force to celebrate 50 years of the Porsche 911. You can see the drive by track parade below:
Personally I still think these events could be so much better attended if they let any classic car or sports cars onto the infield, not just members of the respective car clubs. Maybe next year!
Up until the tragic events of the afternoon of Sunday 5th May, this year’s Donington Historic Festival had been a fiercely competitive and joyful start to the historic racing year for the many race organisers, drivers, and spectators who attended.
Over 20,000 people attended this year’s Festival, which featured 18 races for 13 grids spanning seven decades of racing history. Memorable moments included the HGPCA Nuvolari Trophy for pre-1940 Grand Prix cars, the HMRN Pre-63 GT race, the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for pre-56 sportscars, HSCC Historic F2 and the Formula Junior race.
New for this year was the high-speed historic rally car demonstrations from Rallying with Group B and the Historic Rally Car Register, which was cool, although not really my thing? There were also evocative demonstration laps by Donington Park owner Kevin Wheatcroft in his painstakingly built replica of a 1937 Mercedes-Benz W125 Grand Prix car (below).
We very much enjoyed the event, there were more stalls than ever before at which we spend a few quid (as always). We got talking to a Bugatti T35B owner near the end of the day, talking about the car as you do, when the lady (I later discovered is was Mrs Julia De Baldanza) asked if my son would like to go for a spin to her car trailer and help put the car away. Of course he jumped at the chance (below). Of course I keep telling him how lucky he is. How many people have ever sat in, let alone been privileged to have a ride in a Bugatti Type 35? So cool!
Thank you so very much to Julia, like me you believe great cars are to share.
Lastly, I know that all our competition winners really did enjoy this wonderful event, and will be looking to go again next year. The tragic event with Christian Devereux is a reminder that Motorsport can be dangerous. I was actually contemplating buying a Mini Cooper S to start my racing career; I think I’ll be thinking long and hard about this given the events at Donington.
If you’d like to see all our photos from the day, they can be seen on our Donington Historic Festival 2013 Facebook Album.
Next we’re off to Motorsport at the Palace on bank holiday Monday and will be awarding our competition winners tonight. Make sure if you’d like the chance to win complimentary tickets follow us on Twitter, Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter, to keep up to date with our offers. All our current competitions can be seen here.