Donington Park Museum
Donington Park is truly the stuff of legends and not just because our supercar club is based here. Originally part of the Donington Hill estate, the location has been used for motorsport since 1931, making it the oldest race circuit in the UK still in operation.
Following the outbreak of World War II the circuit was closed down and requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence to be used as a military vehicle depot.
In 1977 racing returned to the venue and the circuit would go on to become one of Europe's premier racing venues, hosting iconic races and racers throughout the years.
For 23 years Donington was the host venue for MotoGP in Great Britain and in 1988 it was the location for the debut round of World Superbikes, an event still held at the circuit today. One of the most famous events to be held at the circuit was the Ayrton Senna dominated 1993 European Formula One Grand Prix.
As well as the annual visit of the FIM Superbike World Championship, Donington currently plays host to various motorsport events. There’s the Bennetts British Superbike Championship and Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship - Donington is the established venue for BTCC Season Launch Day. Other events include British GT and F3, British Truck Racing, the Donington Historic Festival and the Classic Motorcycle Festival.
Donington is also home to the teams of the FIA Formula E Championship, with all teams competing in the electric series basing their headquarters at the venue.
With such a rich motorsport history, it’s no surprise that the Donington Park Museum is one of the world’s best.
Donington F1 Museum
With over 130 exhibits spread across five halls, the Donington Grand Prix Collection comprises the largest exhibition of Grand Prix cars anywhere in the world. Whilst the collection is focussed primarily on Grand Prix and Formula One machinery, it also contains vehicles from many other forms of open-wheel, single-seater racing.
In March 1973, following his purchase of Donington Park in 1971, the late Tom Wheatcroft formed the Donington Grand Prix Collection based upon his own personal collection of vehicles. Today, many cars remain present from this original personal collection, including some ran by Wheatcroft's own motor racing team.
Many of the cars though are exhibited on loan from other owners, with various collections of motor racing hardware and memorabilia being donated to the museum over the years. This has led to an overall collection that is rich in history and heritage.
The collection contains many attractions within its hallowed halls, such as the world's only complete collection of Vanwall cars. Vanwall was a British motor racing team and racing car constructor in Formula One during the 1950s that achieved their first race win in the 1957 British Grand Prix. With Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks sharing a VW 5, the team earned the team the distinction of constructing the first British-built car to win a World Championship race.
Whilst many famous names from the history of Formula 1 can be found within the collection, perhaps best represented is legendary British F1 team, McLaren. The Donington Collection is home to the largest exhibition - being almost comprehensive for the periods of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s - of McLaren vehicles outside of the McLaren factory.
Particular highlights include the #1 McLaren M23 driven by Formula 1 World Champion James Hunt in 1977, the McLaren MP4/14 chassis number 4, which remains untouched after crossing the line and making Mika Häkkinen 1999 Formula 1 World Champion. There’s also the 1993 MP4/8 driven to victory by Ayrton Senna at Donington Park in the 1993 European Grand Prix. Of course, no McLaren collection would be complete without a mention of Alain Prost, so you’ll also find the MP4/2 car that took the Frenchman to his first World Drivers' Championship in 1985.
The Donington Park Grand Prix collection also houses the worlds largest collection of Williams F1 cars outside of their factory. With a collection spanning the 80’s, the dominant 90’s and modern iterations, the museum is home to some of the most famous cars in F1 history. There’s the first F1 car ever driven by Ayrton Senna and the 1992 World Championship winning car piloted by Nigel Mansell. There are modern F1 racing cars too, with six Force India Grand Prix cars, including the famous machine that propelled Giancarlo Fisichella to Force India’s maiden podium finish at the 2009 Spa Francorchamps Grand Prix. Other notable vehicles from the collection include examples of four-wheel drive Formula One cars, including an un-raced Cosworth car. Another star attraction is the Lotus 18 car with which motorsport royalty Stirling Moss won the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix. There are several Ferraris, including the Ferrari F2000 that was driven to victory in the 2000 Canadian Grand Prix by Michael Schumacher, one of nine victories in his maiden championship-winning season with Ferrari. There’s also the Jordan 191 in which Schumacher made his Formula 1 debut in 1991.
Sticking with Jordan, there’s also the 1998 Jordan 198, the most successful car in Jordan's history and the same chassis Damon Hill drove to victory at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps.
There are various other interesting exhibits to take in too, such as an Auto Union, built from pre-war plans following the factory's destruction by Allied bombing during World War II.
Donington Motor Museum
Whilst the Grand Prix Collection is astonishing, the Donington Motor Museum is about more than just F1 cars. The racing car collection has also been supplemented with some additional cars of note, including a replica of the personal Bugatti Royale of Ettore Bugatti.
As well as the vast collection of vehicles, the museum features the world's largest collection of motor racing helmets, with items worn by Fangio, Graham Hill, Mansell, Hunt and Alonso amongst others. For fans of two-wheeled vehicles, there’s a small collection of racing motorcycles, including a Daijiro Kato Honda and a Barry Sheene Heron Texaco Suzuki, as well as a number of collections of trophies and awards gained by a selection of British drivers and riders.
Also present at the museum is the world renowned ‘Wheatcroft Military Collection’ that displays an assortment of memorabilia and artefacts from World War II that pay homage to Donington’s military past. The collection includes tanks, armoured vehicles and rare motorcycles.
Castle Donington Museum
If you’ve still not had your historical fix, then the nearby Castle Donington Museum is sure to get your attention. The Castle Donington Museum Trust was founded in 1994 and collects objects and documents reflecting the long and interesting history of the local community. The museum has won many regional awards in the east midlands for its exhibitions, events and other projects and is staffed by volunteers.
Come And Experience The Museum In One Of Our Driving Experiences
With an AutoXotica supercar driving experience, you’ll get the full Donington Park experience. So you’ll get to head out onto the race track yourself in a number of astonishing supercars and put some laps in.
As part of your experience, you’ll also get free entry to both the Grand Prix Collection and the Wheatcroft Military collection with an expert tour from our very own forme F1 test driver, so you can see firsthand the cars that have laid down astonishing laps around the track in the past and won championships around the world.