Featured The Donington Grand Prix Collection: In Memory

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Paul Jeffrey, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium


    Donington Grand Prix Collection in Memory.JPG Doningon GP Collection 4.JPG Donington GP Collection 1.JPG Donington GP Collection 2.JPG Donington GP Collection 3.JPG Donington GP Collection 6.JPG
    The legendary Donington Grand Prix Collection closed doors once and for all this November 5th, and we gave it one last visit to say goodbye for the final time.

    Opened by a man with a passion for motorsport and Formula One, containing some of the most iconic and incredible Grand Prix cars in the entire history of the sport, and visited by millions of racing fans throughout the world, the Donington Grand Prix Collection will no doubt hold a very special place in the heart's and memories of many of those who visited the incredible and understated facility on the outskirts of the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit in England.

    Officially opened to the public in 1972 by owner Tom Wheatcroft, the Grand Prix Collection started out life as a place for the quiet businessman to store and share some of his impressive collection of racing machinery, eventually growing over the coming years to hold some incredible hardware from key moments in the history of the sport as Wheatcroft continued to collect more cars, and the likes of Williams, McLaren and Force India amongst other provided equipment to display on long term loan deals - many of which would head out on to the Donington Park circuit for periodic running as the team looked to keep them in fine fettle during their retirement from active racing life.

    Whilst the museum would grow considerably during its early life under the keen eye of Wheatcroft, the surrounding Donington Park race track would also undergo something of a resurgence, Wheatcroft again using the fortune earnt post-war to purchase the derelict facility and tirelessly work to bring the venue back up to racing standards, something the Englishman would achieve in 1977 as racing returned to the venue once again, Donington since establishing themselves as one of the most popular racing circuits in the United Kingdom.

    Unfortunately, the development at Donington would not spread over to the Grand Prix Collection, and recent years the venue would continue to fall steadily into a state of decline, with buildings and facilities starting to show signs of age as large investment failed to materialise and the visitor numbers steadily dried up in recent times.

    With Donington now under the control of Motorsport Vision, the independently run museum was perhaps always on borrowed time, with many of the more high profile pieces of the collection having moved to pastures new and an increasing number of military equipment having taken its place in the opening two halls of the exhibition.

    Despite the obvious signs, it still came as a shock to hear the museum will be no more, and for me at least, it would be a highly emotional moment as I turned back and looked one final time at the venue and the wonderful cars it contains.

    Thank you Donington Grand Prix Collection, you've been around as long as I have been alive, and the memories you have given me will be cherished for the rest of my life. From my first visit with my parents and a brother now no longer with us, to my final pilgrimage with my own young son, I've been inspired, awed, humbled and amazed in equal measure every single time. I've walked those hallowed halls, I've marvelled at how close I can get to machinery that has occupied my dreams throughout my childhood. I've been privileged, and I'm grateful.

    Donington, I thank you.

    Donington GP Collection 5.JPG

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    Have you ever visited the Grand Prix Collection? What are your memories of the collection? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
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  2. antirussia81


    When I was at Donington few year ago, I didn't have much time and I thought to mysefl that I would visit Grand Prix Collection next time... I missed my chance.
    Thanks for the video and for a piece of your personal memories. Very sad to see places like this being shut down.
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  3. rubaru


    It would be really nice to know what will happen to the collection, how it has been distributed amongst other collectors and museums.
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  4. wombat999


    'Motorsport Vision', now there is an oxymoron.
    I have mixed memories (mostly good) of my visits to Donington. I was always impressed by the variety and eclectic content of the collection, the only negatives for me were a few cars that were 'not quite right', but that was one of my own thoughts.
    Sad when this happens, IIRC the Rosso Bianco Collection was broken up some time ago, where at least the French Government stepped in and took over the Schlump(?) Collection as a national museum. I guess it would be too much to hope the present UK Government might step in and fund the Donington Collection as a national heritage collection.
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  5. Jonny Austin

    Jonny Austin

    Some of the cars were owned by Tom Wheatcroft.They must have been passed onto the family who probably want to sell them.The others like the F1 Brabhams are owned by Bernie Ecclestone & will probably move to places like Beaulieu National Motor Museum.
    Funds could probably be raised via National Lottery to build a new museum at Silverstone,Brands or Goodwood.The diffculty is the day to day running.I believe the Nascar HOF museum has lost a lot of money since it opened.
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  6. sparkyplug28


    We where going to go the last weekend in October unfortunately the Mclaren and Williams cars had already been removed when I found that out there seemed little point in going I missed my chance
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  7. RobertGracie


    Its something I wanted to go visit....but now....I will never get the chance to go and see it...
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  8. kph002


    Thanks for sharing your memories, Paul. Many museums & historical collections of all stripes are facing similar fates. The internet is a great resource for those of us interested in the past, but I wonder if it has come at the expense of traditional 'brick & mortar' institutions.
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  9. DucMan888


    Never been there, but I'll admit I got a bit emotional knowing the collection will be heading to private collectors. Hopefully those collectors will get them up and running for some historic races around the world.
    Thanks for sharing Paul as that was quite the collection, beautiful!
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  10. Toonces


    Beautiful, just beautiful. Thanks, Paul.
  11. dale223223


    Like a chariot museum closing in Ancient Rome. This is just the beginning...
  12. Richard Hessels

    Richard Hessels

    How much visitors a day should a museum like this have to not go bankrupt?
  13. rw3


    I took the opportunity to visit as soon as I heard it was closing and I'm glad I did, got some fantastic photos of some gorgeous cars and basked in the history, and seeing red 5 was a special moment for me - I was a Mansell fan as a kid and I've always loved those late-80s and early-90s Williams liveries. Such gorgeous cars, I'm glad I got to enjoy them one last time.
  14. joopauloh914


    Thank you for the opportunity to see such amazing cars
  15. Zuffenhausen Weiss

    Zuffenhausen Weiss

    Went there last week and compared to the videos I've watched, it feels as if it's a shadow of its former self (as shown below), only managed to last an hour as I ignored the military vehicles and most of the collection had gone

    If this museum was to survive, it wouldn't have survived in its current state, it would require a huge investment (and definitely a new building) like the Haynes, Coventry and Gaydon had to keep it going otherwise it could survive as a limited opening museum like Nissan's Zama Collection but then it will be very costly to keep it going - it needs lot's of changes to keep it going with the times and compete with the rest of others and I doubt Kevin W has shown himself to be interested in that as it had shown with the entire site and neither could Tom W with his advancing age
  16. Fat-Alfie

    David Pemberton Premium

    Thanks for the article Paul, it was really interesting. It made me particularly sad that I never travelled the 52 miles from my house to get there :rolleyes: It's true when then they say you never appreciate what you have until it's gone :(

    On a side note, can I just say what a wonderfully relaxing voice you have :D Have you ever considered volunteering to narrate an episode of Jackanory? :roflmao:
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