Though the historic racing experts felt it was a bit of a risk to stage a historic festival at the newly refurbished Donington Park circuit, sponsors EFG International and organizers HSCC seemed to have been very happy at the end of a sunny and busy Mayday Bank Holiday weekend.
Though it was hard work to get everything to happen in only two days, a superb entry and very close racing brought positive responses from the sizable crowd. Many said it was a very good first attempt that would challenge the regular shows at Goodwood and Silverstone.
Much of Saturday was taken up with qualifying until the afternoon when the “Mad Jack” race opened the program for pre-war sports cars, a race in honor of Richard “Mad Jack” Shuttleworth who won the Donington Grand Prix in 1935. The 45-minute, two-driver race was won by the Alta of Alex Ames from the pole-winning Alfa Romeo of Neumark/Hope.
Historic Formula 2 is in fine health these days, and the leading protagonists provided great action. Martin Stretton’s March 742 led the 772 of Matthew Watts in a stirring battle. Watts was better through traffic after 10 laps and Stretton, a bit ragged, went off. Watts was right on his tail and seized a lead he held until the end. In the second F2 race on Sunday, Stretton kept his head and beat Watts by 15 seconds. Dave Gathercole was 5th in his quick Chevron.
The Woodcote Trophy for pre-1956 sports cars went to the D-Type Jaguar of Laidlaw/Hadfield, and there were two races for the Lurani Formula Junior cars. There were no retirements in the first hectic and aggressive race, won by McLeod’s Caravelle. In the Sunday race, the tactics were even more aggressive. McLeod got away from the damage but Edwin Josey’s Lotus took off several other competitors in an ill-advised passing maneuver.
The 1000-kilometer race for pre-’72 sports cars takes place at four different meetings, each of 250 kilometers. This race was unfortunately ended early when veteran racer Frank Sytner went off track in his Lola T70, having suffered a heart attack. Frank was resuscitated and taken to hospital. We wish Frank, a VR subscriber, well. The shortened race was awarded to the T70 of Olly Bryant with two similar cars behind him.
The Group C race, with 21 Le Mans veteran runners, was taken by the Mercedes C11 of Bob Berridge from Justin Law’s Jaguar XJR9.
By Ed McDonough