Once the vision and brainchild of the late Tom Wheatcroft, who died in 2009, the Donington Collection will close the doors for the final time in November. Since Jonathan Palmer’s MSV has taken control of the circuit, sadly the museum has fallen on hard times and has become unsustainable leaving the Wheatcroft family with the unenviable decision to call time.
It’s some 45 years since the venue was opened as a visitor attraction boasting a large collection of historic racing cars including BRM and Vanwalls. Tom Wheatcroft expanded the collection and both Williams and McLaren were manufacturers who offered exhibits to enhance the content it also featured many landmark exhibits including a tribute to Ayrton Senna, the cars raced by Wheatcroft’s protege Roger Williamson and the Lotus 18 used by Stirling Moss to win in Monaco in 1961.The Donington Collection wasn’t simply static, or mothballed displays, on many occasions the cars were demonstrated ‘on track’ – it became a true living museum and the world’s largest collection of Grand Prix racing cars.
Unfortunately, with falling visitor numbers it fell upon Tom’s son, Kevin Wheatcroft, to break the news, ‘Closing the Museum after 45 years has been a really difficult decision, but family responsibilities simply make it the right thing to do.’
Photos credit Pete Austin