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The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition, formerly known as the Donington Grand Prix Collection, is a museum of motor racing cars, based at the Donington Park motor racing circuit in Leicestershire, England.
With five halls and over 130 exhibits, the Donington Grand Prix Exhibition comprises the largest exhibition of Grand Prix cars in the world. The collection contains vehicles from many forms of open-wheel, single-seater racing, but is primarily focussed on Grand Prix and Formula One machinery. The museum was formed by the late Tom Wheatcroft in March 1973 and is based on Wheatcroft's personal collection of vehicles. These include some that Wheatcroft's own motor racing team ran for drivers such as Roger Williamson and Derek Bell, although many cars exhibited are on loan from other owners. Various external collections of automobilia and motor racing ephemera have been donated to the museum over the years.
Specific attractions include the world's only complete collection of Vanwall cars, a near-complete collection of McLaren Formula One cars from the team's inception to the early 2000s, and extensive collections of Williams and BRM cars (including examples of both notorious BRM V16-powered machines as well as the H16-powered BRM P83). The collection also has examples of four different four-wheel drive Formula One cars, including an unraced Cosworth car. Another star exhibit is the Lotus 18 with which Stirling Moss won the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, along with Jim Clark's World Championship-winning Lotus 25. Noticeable, however, is the distinct under representation of Ferrari vehicles, with only 3 examples in total presented, but fine examples nonetheless. First being a Ferrari 312 driven by Chris Amon, second a 312B and thirdly, a Ferrari F2000 (The particular chassis driven to victory in the 2000 Canadian Grand Prix, one of nine victories for Michael Schumacher in his maiden championship winning series with Ferrari), conversely, the establishment houses the Jordan 191 in which he made his formula 1 debut in 1991. The 1998 Jordan 198, the most successful in Jordan's history, (the chassis being the one Damon Hill drove to victory in a 1-2 with team mate Ralf Schumacher at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps) also figures. Another interesting exhibit is an Auto Union, built from pre-war plans following the factory's destruction by allied bombing during World War II. Wheatcroft has also supplemented the racing car collection with some additional notable cars, including a replica of the personal Bugatti Royale of Ettore Bugatti.
Augmenting the car collections are the world's largest collection of motor racing helmets; Fangio, Hill, Mansell, Hunt and Alonso amongst others, a small collection of racing motorcycles, including a Daijiro Kato Honda and a Barry Sheene Heron Texaco Suzuki and a number of collections of trophies and awards gained by a selection of British drivers and riders.
In addition to exhibits, the Donington Grand Prix Exhibition also incorporates a conference suite and gift shop.
The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition was closed briefly in late 2009 in the wake of the death of Tom Wheatcroft and Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd. entering administration. It reopened in January 2010, along with the cafe and race control offices.
The McLaren HallEdit
The Donington Collection is home to the largest exhibition (being almost comprehensive of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s) of McLaren vehicles. Highlights of the collection include the #1 McLaren M23 driven by Formula 1 World Champion James Hunt in 1977, the McLaren MP4/14 chassis number 4, untouched after crossing the line and affirming Mika Häkkinen as 1999 Formula 1 World Champion, also, the 1993 MP4/8 driven to victory by Ayrton Senna on location at the 1993 European Grand Prix. An MP4/4, designed by Gordon Murray carrying chassis number 3 and being the only example of said model to not win a Grand Prix stands in exhibition of the all conquering McLaren of the 1988 Formula One season. Conversely, its lacklustre predecessor, the Steve Nichols designed MP4/3 TAG Porsche twin-turbo stands alongside it in a diachronic exhibition of Mclaren creations. In addition, rarities such as a Häkkinen's MP4/13 in test livery (prior to the unveiling of their new sponsorship ahead of the 1998 season), an M14A driven by Denny Hulme and an MP4/2, the car that took Alain Prost to his first World Drivers' Championship in 1985. Alongside these lie helmets of great drivers who drove for the Woking based outfit over the years such as Senna, Prost, Lauda, Häkkinen, Berger and Coulthard.
References / sourcesEdit
- The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition. Donington Park Online. Accessed: 28-11-2009
- Donington Grand Prix Collection. Autotrader.co.uk. Accessed: 24-04-2009
- The Donington Grand Prix Collection. Sidepodcast.com. (video presentation.) Accessed: 24-04-2009
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