Donington Park lies where the three counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire meet. In virtually the middle of the country it has excellent connections being only 3 miles from the major trunk routes of the M1/M42 and A50
Click on the map above for map of Donington Park area
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If someone had told me I'd be doing trackdays in a Seven at the end of November I'd have said they were mad, well I am and it must be me who's mad.
Not being one to take the easy option and travel to a trackday the night before, I got up at 4:30 (half an hour late) after getting to bed at 12:30 the previous night. I quickly dashed round to pick up Simon Parker and then off we went to meet rob Margel and Daren Ball who were coming with us in Rob's screenless superlight. After leaving Rob's at 5:15 we had an easy 140 mile drive and arrived at Donington services at 7:00, Oops a tad early as usual ! After some much needed hot drinks we headed off to the track to be sure of getting a garage. Just as we were settling into our garage Robert Grigsby arrived with his Caterham on the trailer behind his Audi. Once we'd unloaded Robert's car and settled into adjacent garages we headed off to the cafe for some breakfast. The paddock was filling up fast, not many Se7ens, but loads of Scoobies, Evos and Porkers and three Ferarris, oh and a Gamballa Porsche GTR 600 . There was even one brave soul in a Mk3 Escort estate !
Signing on and Drivers Briefing were moe like a cattle market than a race circuit. It was heaving. Instead of the advertised 65 drivers there were more like 90, since Marcus had invited half the Evos in England along. Once the formalities were over, we were in the first session to go out and it was already starting to rain. What with that and the aviation fuel which the planes so kindly dump on the track on takeoff it was like a skating rink. On the sighting laps the car with most grip was definately the Land Rover Discovery which was leading us round.
The first session I went out on my own so I could get used to the conditions, Simon wisely stayed on the pit wall. It was taking all my concentration just to stay on the track round the bends. There had been dire warnings about going off and stopping the session in the driveres briefing and I didn't wan't to be leaving early. So it was gently gently and be courteous to other drivers and hope they'll do the same for you, which most of them did except some pratt in a Blue M3 who overtook me through the inside of the Schwantz curve.
In the second session I had Simon Parker in the passenger seat but I'm not sure he was enjoying it too much as all he said when we came in was "it is slippy out there isn't it", he didn't come out again. I had quite a good time during the morning, I seemed to spend most of my time following, passing or being passed by a red Porsche, a Ferarri 355 and a silver Porsche GT2. I also had an interesting time trying to follow Steve Carter's BMW M3 which had the advantage of traction control and fat tyres with some tread on them.
Just before lunch I was out with Daren Ball who didn't seem to mind how much we slid around and when we did a half spin at McLeans we just turned round and carried on, fortunately there hadn't been a car right up our backside for a change. It was during this session that a race BMW M3 lost it coming onto the start/finish straight and smacked the back end into the pit wall. The rear of the car was looking vey second hand when we saw it on the trailer after lunch.
Over lunch the rain really seemed to come down and we were all getting a bit miserable. Rob didn't really want to go out after lunch, I did one session and had really had enough even though I'd started sliding the car a bit more and having fun because as long as I didn't stuff the car into the wall I didn't mind being sent home early any more. I had one or two close shaves coming out of the pits when I was slightly late for the start of the session because the pit lane marshal didn't have a clue what he was doing and was letting cars out jsut as a car was at the end of the straight and entering the braking area which was by the pit exit. While I was on track I had to go off line a number of times to avoid cars coming out of the pits. This was an accident waiting to happen and while it didn't happen on our trackday it DID hapen the following day on a Bookatrack day when a Caterham ran into the back of a Mallock which was coming out of the pits.
About 2 o'clock Rob decided he'd had it for the day and wanted to get home during daylight. Not an unreasonable request seeing as it was puring down and he didn't have a windscreen or roof. As for me and Simon we wimped out and put the roof on. Unfortunately the windscreen cracked on the way home so I now need a new windscreen. I suppose I got of lightly compared to some people, at least the car was in one piece and we'd had fun. Can't wait to visit Donington in the dry next year.