Donington Historic: Event review

The Donington Historic was becoming firmly established in the motorsport calendar before the pandemic hit. Similar, but smaller than the Silverstone Classic it brings together high quality racing with off track shopping and food. With the demise of the Croft historic racing event, the Donington Classic is the only northern opportunity to get that full event experience.

Admission is £30 for a ticket on the gate, but buying on line reduces that to £25. However if you are a member of an attending club then you can get a discount code for a further 50% off. That’s just £12.50 for a full days racing. Probably the best value admission for any race event.

We set off early on Saturday Morning to catch morning practice. Parking was straight forward and well organised and the entrance of the circuit has been spruced up since my last visit. Armed with folding seats, lunch and drinks we took our traditional spot at the old hairpin.

Practice is a great opportunity to take some photographs as the cars don’t run at racing speed all the time. You can also wander round the trade stalls without missing any close racing. The stalls have the usual memorabilia, vintage clothing, models and old signs. The number of stalls seemed down on the last time I visited but it is going to take 12 months for these events to settle down and people to get into a regular programme. The pits are open and it is an opportunity to get up close and personal with the cars.

The event also features a large number of club stands and most makes and models were catered for. The Porsche Owners Club had an exceptional number of cars on show and included some interesting early cars. The Datsun 240 club is one of my favourites showing some of the Samurai cars.

The races start at 14.20 with the Jaguar Classic Challenge for pre 66 cars. Eligible cars includes the XK series, C Types D-Types, E types and saloons. The race lasts an hour and drivers change at approximately the half way point. This race was predominantly made up of E-Type Jaguars in both standard and lightweight form. This was great racing with plenty of overtaking and despite their value the drivers held nothing back. In fact there were a few minor spills and offs. One major incident happened with one car losing control and hitting another car as it passed. The bill for both cars will be extensive but that, as they say, is racing,

Next on the programme was the Sixties touring car challenge. Again this was a two driver one hour race dominated by Lotus Cortina’s with a couple of Alfa Romeo Guilia Sprints and a BMW 1800TI thrown in for good measure. The racing was close and fair and there was an occasional foray into the gravel.

The racing stepped up a notch for the third race with the Group C1 cars. This was a varied field including cars by Jaguar, Porsche, Nissan, Aston Martin and Spice. The C1 cars first appeared in in 1982 and the series lasted for ten years. These cars sound like proper racing cars with normally aspirated V8’s,V10’s and V12’s as well as turbocharged flat sixes.

The final race of the day was the Pre 56 and Pre 61 sports cars. With everything from Lotuses, Aston Martins and even a Maserati this was a mixed bag of cars. Possibly the most entertaining race of the day as the variety of cars of different performance levels there was plenty of overtaking as well as thrills and spills.

Overall this was an excellent days racing helped significantly by good weather. At £12.50 entry it was exceptional value and highly recommended. I have to say that the event is not quite at the level it was pre pandemic, but I am sure that by next year it will be back to full strength. The racing was of a high standard and the cars taking part were of top notch. Personally I would have preferred shorter races with a more varied entry list. I missed seeing the Mini’s vying with the Ford Galaxies, though more variety was offered in the Sunday programme.

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