As well as an outstanding programme of 19 races from 14 world-class grids of historic competition cars from the 1920s-2000s, the 2018 Donington Historic Festival (Donington Park, May 4, 5 and 6) features a host of off-track attractions to add to the excitement and entertainment.
Clouds of tyre smoke will waft across the paddock from the Melbourne Loop as the ever-popular Group B rally cars demonstrate their considerable power and agility. These mighty machines echo back to the 1980s, when Donington Park was an RAC Rally stage and Group B dominated international rallying. These lightweight, 4WD, supercharged beasts, which could command in excess of 600bhp, were all-powerful, but their reign was brought to an end following a series of driver deaths and high-profile accidents. Now the only chance to see Group B cars in action is at demonstration events, when icons such as Audi quattros, Ford RS2000s, Porsche 911 RSRs and MG Metro 6R4s remind us of just how potent they are.
The off-track attractions aren’t confined to the ground - it’s eyes to the skies at Donington Park on Saturday May 5, when a Spitfire and Hurricane from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) will treat DHF visitors to a flypast. And necks will be craning again on Sunday, May 6, when the BBMF Dakota – a rather larger aircraft – flies over the event.
Back down to Earth again, F1 car demonstrations on the Saturday and Sunday of the event, plus static displays on all three days will celebrate that famous day at Donington Park in April 1993, when Ayrton Senna fought Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and the British weather to win the European Grand Prix by an incredible 80 seconds.
The all-access paddock will allow Festival visitors to see race teams in action and get those essential close-up photos of the fantastic range of competition cars at the event. Complimenting this are lunchtime pitlane walk sessions, when spectators can get a glimpse of the view from the other side of the track, as they wander into garages, pose for pics on the pit wall etc.
Donington Park has been further developed over the winter months, with MSV introducing a number of new elements, from grandstands to new loos(!). MSV has also just launched a superb new café, bar and restaurant named Garage 39. This is located right in the heart of the race paddock.
The views from the Infield are famously amongst the best at any race circuit anywhere, and spectators can also take time to examine the displays of 1000+ classics from dozens of car clubs and the pre-1990 classic parking area - and enjoy the lunchtime parades when some of those cars will take to the track.
Infield visitors on the Saturday can enjoy a mammoth gathering of over 200 Ford Mustangs, as enthusiast club Simply Mustangs UK brings together an incredible selection of this much-loved American motoring legend. A whole herd of Mustangs will lead the lunchtime parade that day - an unforgettable sight!
When the Group B cars are taking a well-earned rest, members of the British Historic Kart Club will take to the Melbourne Loop, showcasing karts from the golden era of British karting, when legendary names such as Graham Hill and Ayrton Senna got their first foot on the motorsport ladder in these tiny but powerful and incredibly nimble machines.
Festival visitors also get the chance to take the public roads around Donington Park in a classic or supercar. The very generous members of the Sporting Bears Motor Club are giving 10-mile passenger rides in their classic and supercars in exchange for donations to a very worthwhile charity, the Jennifer Trust for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Online tickets offer great discounts over buying on the gate, starting at £10 for the Friday qualifying day (£15 on the gate). Children aged under 13 are admitted for free and there are discounted tickets for teenagers aged 13-15. Car parking is free, and owners of pre-1990 classics who are not attending with one of the registered clubs can request a free infield display parking pass when they book their tickets.