Not all the spectacle is confined to the circuit
As well as housing over 300 iconic historic racing cars in between their periods of action out on the track, the paddock at the Donington Historic Festival will be home to fascinating individual displays of special vehicles, including some outstanding cars from two forthcoming Bonhams sales.
There are three lots from Bonhams’ June 29th Goodwood sale, including one of the most famous pre-War British competition cars: the 1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Racing Single-Seater in which ‘Tim’ Birkin shattered the Brooklands Outer Circuit lap record in 1931. There is also the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C formerly owned by Le Patron Ettore Bugatti, and which may have been presented to him as a birthday present from the workers in his factory. And the 1956 Lotus-Climax Eleven Le Mans Sports-Racing Two-Seater is one of the Glasius Collection cars, an extremely rare and immensely desirable Team Lotus works Le Mans veteran.
Bonhams is also displaying a car from its May 19th Aston Martin sale. The 1991 DB4GT Zagato Sanction II Coupé on show in the Donington Historic Festival paddock is the last of the four works-approved Sanction II DB4GT Zagato Coupés built. It carries a pre-sale estimate of £1,200,000 – 1,500,000.
Another paddock head-turner is Richard Jones’s immaculately-restored 1940 Dodge race car transporter. This eye-catching machine spent its early years carrying bomber crews around a wartime base in England before beginning a new life hauling British Speed Hillclimb Champion Dennis Poore’s pre-War Alfa Romeo to sprints and hillclimbs in the late 1940s and early ’50s. By the mid 1990s the transporter was outside at Donington Park, having once been displayed inside the Museum there. Richard Jones discovered it in 1995, and began a lengthy restoration, the impressive results of which can be seen at the Festival.
Sir Stirling Moss will be signing autographs in the paddock on the Sunday, and, of course, Festival visitors can get up and close and personal to some incredibly rare and valuable pieces of machinery spanning seven decades as the cars competing over the weekend ‘rest’ between races. Want to spend ages gazing at a Maserati Birdcage or a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, or find out what a Squire Short Chassis looks like? To listen to the idling engine of a Chevron B29, or choose your favourite from dozens of racing E-types? Then the paddock is the place to be – and don’t forget your camera!
The British Historic Kart Club’s ‘Karting in the Park’ celebration should be another crowd pleaser, as some 150 historic karts, including machines originally campaigned by Graham Hill and Ayrton Senna, join the action on a specially laid-out circuit using the Donington GP Loop.
Over in the infield, hundred of classic cars from car clubs across the UK will form a magnificent display. Jaguar and Porsche are the marques with the most cars due to go on show, but there is strong support from Lotus, MG, Morgan, TVR, Triumph and Ferrari, plus a host of other marques including Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Riley, and Daimler.
The Trade Village, adjacent to the main paddock, contains over 40 exhibitors, selling everything from automotive art and motorsport magazines to diecast models, enamel signs, motoring books, luggage, car-themed gifts, racewear, spares and tyres.
And last, but not least, the magnificent Donington Grand Prix Collection houses the world’s largest collection of F1 cars – and Festival entry tickets allow two-for-one entry to the museum.
Day tickets cost £18 in advance (£25 on the gate) and weekend tickets £30 in advance (£40 on the gate). Children aged 15 and under are admitted free.