Grande Passione – Donington – April 2008

Mindful of the huge crowds that were at the last Donington event I attended, the Renault World Series, back in September, it was a bit of a surprise to approach an almost deserted venue for the Grande Passione event there yesterday. Although the forecast was for less than spring-like weather, I had assumed that the attraction of a whole program of races of a wide variety of sports and racing cars from an over 50 year period would attract plenty of afficianados. Having parked within a stone’s throw of one of the entrance gates – sadly not the one from which tickets could be collected, so we had a long walk to start with! – we made our way into the circuit just in time for the start of the first qualifying event. During the day. every 20 minutes or so, a different category of car was out on the track. Qualifying events were in the morning, and a mixture of qualifying and racing in the afternoon. Assuming it was going to get busier during the day, we made an early tour of the paddock, figuring this would also wet our appetites for the things that we were going to see on the track. And so it did. Almost all my photos were taken here, and these are some of the highlights of what we saw. My eye was particularly taken by a wide variety of Maseratis:

This one was an Osca Maserati:
There were several Alfas, too:
This Alfa P3 won the 1935 Grand Prix at Donington

An Abarth, complete with a Simca badge:
There was one class allocated solely to Ferrari. Most of the competing cars were from the 1980s, but a few other cars were also competing in other categories:
This car came second in its class, of pre 61 Grand Prix cars:
Winner of that class was this……….. The badge on the steering wheel said Jaguar, and I am now informed that it is a 1958 Lister Jaguar Monzanopolis.
A lone Bugatti, a Type 35:
The pre 1952 Grand Prix class was dominated, both in number of cars and in speed by ERAs
1950s Talbot:
A 1950s Lancia Aurelia GT
1960s sports cars:
This looked like an original GT40, but I don’t believe it was:
Aston Martin DBR3:
Several of these were in action:
The Sports car race was dominated by Lolas. There were about 9 of these T70s, and they were by some margin the loudest cars of the day. Surprisingly, it was not a T70 that won its race, though, but the smaller Lola T212
This Zakspeed Escort was for sale……. needless to say, the price was “on application”:
Some interesting road cars around, too. After scoring a full house of Bentleys (Arnage, Continental GT and GTC and Flying Spud), 2 x Z4M Coupe, both in the same colour and more M BMWs than one could count, the rarer vehicles included a Signum, a Croma and a Stilo Wagon…….. oh, and these:

We tried hard to identify this from a long distance, and completely failed. From closer range, my guess at a replica Porsche 718 RSK proved correct:
The few track shots that I took are not very sharply focused, for which I apologise:
There was a category for Formula 1 cars from the 70s, and many historic cars were there, including James Hunt’s Marlbro Mclaren, a Lotus 72 and 77, a Matra driven by Jackie Stewart, the first car in which Emerson Fittipaldi won a race. Sadly, I don’t seem to have any photos of this class at all. The track action was excellent. Donington is such a good spectator circuit, and we could (and did) wander around to see the racing from every imaginable vantage point. It has to be admitted that what the commentator called “a keen wind” – OK, it was absolutely ****** freezing, if I am honest! –  did detract a little, but even so it was surprising that so few people were there. I fear the event will incur a huge loss unless it is crowded out today. We rounded off the day with a repeat visit to the Three Horsehoes in Breedon-upon-the-Hill, which did not disappoint. Not only was the log fire very warming, but the food was just as awesome as I had remembered. An excellent day.
2009-12-28 10:55:14

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