Join The World's Best Iconic & Vintage Car Community >>
Hermann Paul Müller’s Auto Union heads into Schwantz Curve in 1938.
Photo: Simon Lewis

Donington devotee John Bailie is researching, designing and editing a book, planned for launch later this year, which focusses on the venue’s pre-war history and the dramatic progress it made in just a few full seasons of racing. It will include “Then and Now” images showing how the circuit has changed, as well as extracts from Bill Boddy’s on-the-spot race reports of those pre-war meetings. Here, Bailie examines those years and the pioneering spirit that brought Donington to life and has kept it alive in recent times.

Original track map with the modern layout in blue.Photo: Bailie Collection
Original track map with the modern layout in blue.
Photo: Bailie Collection

It’s an astonishing fact that in less than seven complete pre-war seasons from the commencement of car racing at Donington Park in 1933, the circuit expanded several times—with continually improving facilities for competitors and spectators—to such an extent that it attracted events which carried increasing prestige, such as the RAC Tourist Trophy and the British Empire Trophy. Its ultimate accolade was the staging of four International Grands Prix, two of these the prestigious “Silver Arrows” Grands Prix of 1937 and 1938. Lesser known, but nonetheless significant, landmark occasions included the first ever “Ladies Only” race in 1935, a demonstration run by John Cobb’s land speed record-breaking Napier Railton, the running of the Coronation Trophy in 1937 (on Coronation Day itself…a Wednesday), and in 1938 Bill Lyons, head of Jaguar, entered what was the only race of his life…and won it!

Become a Member & Get Ad-Free Access To This Article (& About 6,000+ More)

Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.

Become a member today!

Already a Member?