Pic Of The Week: Donington's Glory Days

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This week's news that the revitalised Donington is to host an annual historic festival to rival those held at Goodwood, Silverstone and Oulton Park has had us inevitably dreaming about Donny's pre-war days.

Donington Park was only the second purpose-built circuit in the UK, and the first 'parkland' track (Brooklands was more of a 'sspeedway' affair). After a couple of seasons of bike racing, Donington held its first four-wheeled motor race in 1933.

It held its first GP in 1935, which was won by a chap who we have to mention solely because of his fantastic nickname - Richard 'Mad Jack' Shuttleworth in an Alfa Romeo.

Later in the 1930s the crowds at Donington (60,000 spectators came to cheer on Dick Seaman in the 1937 event) also bore witness to some epic battles between the mighty German 'Silver Arrows' of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, before the track was requisitioned as a military transport base in 1939, destined not to re-open for another forty years.

We reckon this shot of a Mercedes-Benz W125 in full flight is a fitting reminder of Donington's history. We're not sure wheter it's Seaman, Carraciola or Manfred von Brauchitsch at the wheel, but we do know that launching 595bhp's-worth of Mercedes into the air is a feat of damned amazing driving. Oddly, the chap waving the flag doesn't seem so impressed...

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Comments (53) Join the discussion on the forum

  • will261058 02 Nov 2010

    Graebob said:
    Really? Nobody? OK, I'll bite then

    Article said:
    Dick Seaman
    Just what I thought. Oh how innocent we were in those days. Reminds me of the film of the Boeing 707 test flight " Tex Johnson and his co-pilot Dick Splash" laugh

  • JJ78 01 Nov 2010

    cheers for the info guys!

  • steveq135 31 Oct 2010

    "........came to cheer on Dick Seaman"


  • davepen 31 Oct 2010

    Housey said:
    Always use to enter Dony from the Melbourne loop before they went all 'Sunday Market' frown
    I think we ended up parked down there for the practice day for the (Senna) Grand Prix. Trying to work out where the leaping car were, and by accident we were parked on the old Melborne loop. Also remember Jonny Herbert stopping in the gravel (at the other end of the circuit) and thinking he's short.

    As well as the Mercedes a year or two back, the VSCC did have an Auto Union go round a few years ago - before they branded the event See Red. I think Audi also brought a Pikes Peak Quattro to demo.

    Looks like the VSCC meet is moving to May, so hope it isn't too close to Duncan Wiltshire's event.

  • FourWheelDrift 31 Oct 2010

    Yep, only I think tarmac at Redgate, Hollywood and Craner Curves and some of the new loop might be on the original circuit, the Old Hairpin went further down under the bridge, now beyond the catch fencing, Coppice used to run on further through what was Coppice Farm and the old Starkeys straight was on a line now occupied by the buildings alongside the current straight as it ran down to the old Hairpin.

    Found this overlay as I was typing the above. Both are in black....doh, but you can see the different old & new.

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