Tom Wheatcroft, 82, owner of the Donington Park circuit and the Donington Grand Prix Collection, recently received an honorary doctorate from the University of Derby in England.
The conferment of Honorary Doctor of the University (Hon. D. Univ.) to Wheatcroft was in recognition of his major contribution to motor racing, both in the East Midlands region where Donington is located and internationally.
Wheatcroft watched the pre-war Grands Prix at Donington Park as a schoolboy enthusiast and, following military service during World War II in the Far East and Europe, he became a successful builder in the immediate post-war years.
At the outbreak of war, the Donington Park circuit was taken over by the War Office, and it became a massive military vehicle depot. In the early 1970s, Tom discovered the then-derelict circuit and within a week he had purchased it. His incredible dedication and commitment led to the upgraded and improved track being reopened for racing in 1977 and the creation of the magnificent Donington Grand Prix Collection, the world’s largest collection of Grand Prix racing cars. The Donington Park circuit went on to stage the 1993 European Grand Prix, won by Ayrton Senna, the first Grand Prix to be staged there since 1938, when Tazio Nuvolari drove to victory in a works Auto Union.