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Old 2 Apr 2018, 13:58 (Ref:3812487)   #1
justracing
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justracing should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridjustracing should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Donington spark plug

I'm planning to go to Donington for the Historic Festival next month and having not been been there for 15 years I am keen to get local knowledge of favourite current viewing spots and access. Can you walk the whole circuit and can you park on the hillside on the outside of the Old Hairpin/Craner Curves? Did the spark plug get removed along with the Dunlop bridge and the Spitfire?

Last edited by justracing; 2 Apr 2018 at 14:09.
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Old 2 Apr 2018, 14:22 (Ref:3812490)   #2
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The Plug, Bluebird and Dunlop bridge are gone.

You can walk almost all the way around the track, only Coppice to chicane on the outside is inaccessible (behind the exhibition centre).

This year is the first year under MSV, so the place has had a lick of paint, a new cafe.

Redgate lodge bar is gone, but that means more viewing chances although there is now large debris fencing around a lot of the outside of the circuit.
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Old 2 Apr 2018, 15:22 (Ref:3812498)   #3
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justracing should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridjustracing should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Thanks for that, sad about the old features but stiil a great circuit nevertheless. I did love the quirky appeal of the spark plug! I seem to recall seeing spectator vehicles parked up on the hillside on the outside of the Old Hairpin at a previous visit and wondered how they accessed this area?
What about the inside, if you go through the tunnel from the paddock/pits area can you then walk round the inside up to Coppice and then through the other tunnel at Mcleans to the outside? Or did this get filled in?
I know MSV have their dissenters, but in my observations the circuit improvements they have made have to be applauded, Cadwell Park and my own home circuit of B/Hatch are shining examples.

Last edited by justracing; 2 Apr 2018 at 15:38.
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Old 2 Apr 2018, 19:10 (Ref:3812534)   #4
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Redgate lodge bar is gone, but that means more viewing chances although there is now large debris fencing around a lot of the outside of the circuit.
Small shame about the features round the back, but... Redgate Lodge?!!!
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Old 2 Apr 2018, 20:16 (Ref:3812550)   #5
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Small shame about the features round the back, but... Redgate Lodge?!!!
After the Gillett/F1 bid fiasco the track licence had lapsed and so various changes had to be made before it was re-instated.

The run-off on the inside of the Dunlop Straight had to be extended by some way (which is why the bridge would no longer fit even if servicable), the chicane on the National circuit had to be moved back along the straight as it was deemed to be too close to the bank at the previous location and that mean the section onot the loop had to be changed as well.

It also made the pit straight (Wheatcroft Straight) a little longer and faster and with some additional influence about run-off at Redgate from the bikers (iirc) there was tarmac added at the end of the straight, and the gravel trap was extended and widened. So goodbye to the lodge and the bar. Also hello to a lot of fencing (as previosuly mentioned) and barriers to keep the masses well back from the fencing - especially at Redgate because it's a main Recovery Tractor location and the usual pattern is to shift incident down the hill and then return to station outside the fencing on a reserved track rather than battle through the crowds (when there are any crowds).

Run off was increased in a few other areas too - inside after the Old Hairpin for example once the bridge had gone. Most of the circuit in fact and expecially inside at McLeans plus a lot of fixing of the new tunnel - if I counted right we are at version 4 now, or maybe 5 - between McLeans and Coppice. That is NOT a pedestrian tunnel afaik and the Infield access is to and from the outside of the circuit not the outside of the track.

The Old Coppice tunnel still exists and I saw a sign indicating Pedestrians only so if and when open it may be that offers a route back to get all the way around the circuit.

The option to go outside the wall and rejoin after the Exhibition centre (for any meeting where the relevant gates might be open) is probably a non-starter now as "The Engineroom" as it was renamed a year or so back is now solely the province of Aston Barclay car auctions with fencing in place and the old tarmac outer road blocked and gated.

So with the Plant Auction outfit (Ritchies) occupying most of the rest of the once grassed area between the Museum Buildings and the Engineroom is would be a long walk around.

On the plus side the old gravel tracks thhat existed on that side of the land outside the track walls have all been tarmacked over since the New Year along with the balance of the gravel in the paddock.

There is a new open Grandstand on the bank at Holly Wood and newly built toilet facilities at various places around the track.

The Tunnel undet the Dunlop straight may or may not be open depending on the meeting. If the loop is in use it is usually open. However for the bigger meetings the gate was used and the area outside the gat was designated for parking. That parking area now seems to be occupied more often than not by cars for the auction. Whether that will be the case for major even days I don't know - if anyone went to the BSB meeting this weekend they may know.

A few weeks ago it was mentioned that the pedestrian tunnel from the Paddock to the infield was no open on the day. I forget is that was a General Test day or the 750MC Track Day but either way it seemed a little unusual. However there was work going in in the in-field and it may simply have been and H&S decision based on that.

If you can get to the infield that way the old block of suits on the inside at Craner Curves wash demolished 2 or 3 years ago and there is reasonable viewing bank in its place.

As for the Sparkplug ... I was told that it was little loved by the commentators assigned to it. It was always either too hot or too cold and usually damp through lacking ventilation. I think they much prefer being on top of the race control building and watching the colour camera and timing feeds ... so long as everything is working well on the day.

In theory the commentary is also broadcast on a Track FM radio channel (or at least it has been for notable meetings in recent years) so a phone with FM aerial (often the earphone cable) should allow a decent option to listen to the commentary wherever you are around the track.

Whether that still applies under the new regime I am not sure.

HSCC are there next weekend so presumably people will have an opportunity to assess the latest developments and report back in good time before the Historic Festival.

Parking on the outside of the circuit is something that might be questionable absent a disabled qualification or a car pass but yes one does see cars (other than marshal's cars) around the circuit at small meetings.

Not so often parked up on the banking though. To be honest unless the area dries out a lot in the next few weeks I suspect it would be a bit damp still. JP does not like to see his grass churned up and with the construction work that has been going on things were already quite messy last time I was there a couple of weeks ago. Plus getting up on the banking might be easier than coming down - at least coming down in a controlled fashion to a point at which you would wish to rejoin the gravel track!

HTH
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Old 2 Apr 2018, 20:28 (Ref:3812553)   #6
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That's a very comprehensive and informing resume if a little disappointing regarding the pedestrian access to certain areas, thanks.
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Old 2 Apr 2018, 21:51 (Ref:3812566)   #7
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It's been 14 or 15 years since I made it through the gates at Donington - a place I had a great amount of affection for at one time - must make it back sometime soon to see the changes for myself. Thanks for the info on what I could expect if and when I make it!
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Old 3 Apr 2018, 11:46 (Ref:3812623)   #8
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Last time I was there (BTCC media day last week), the pedestrian tunnel under the start/finish straight was closed but you could still get thought the Esses tunnel and walk around the Melbourne Loop back to the paddock.

Tunnel at Coppice was open to pedestrians, although there was a trailer parked in the entrance and temp barriers nearby suggesting it may have been closed at some point. The 'new' vehicle tunnel near McLeans exits outside of the circuit gate so you can't use that to walk between outside and in-field.

New grandstand at Hollywood is significantly bigger than the one infield of the start line. Wasn't open when I was there but suspect the view will be pretty impressive.

The old Paddock Suite building between the pit land and parc ferme was re-opened over the BSB Easter weekend meeting as a bar/restaurant called 'Garage 39'. Guessing that the the long-overdue replacement for Redgate Lodge. Old paddock dinner is still open as well.
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Old 3 Apr 2018, 12:23 (Ref:3812629)   #9
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Last time I was there (BTCC media day last week), the pedestrian tunnel under the start/finish straight was closed but you could still get thought the Esses tunnel and walk around the Melbourne Loop back to the paddock.

Tunnel at Coppice was open to pedestrians, although there was a trailer parked in the entrance and temp barriers nearby suggesting it may have been closed at some point. The 'new' vehicle tunnel near McLeans exits outside of the circuit gate so you can't use that to walk between outside and in-field.

New grandstand at Hollywood is significantly bigger than the one infield of the start line. Wasn't open when I was there but suspect the view will be pretty impressive.

The old Paddock Suite building between the pit land and parc ferme was re-opened over the BSB Easter weekend meeting as a bar/restaurant called 'Garage 39'. Guessing that the the long-overdue replacement for Redgate Lodge. Old paddock dinner is still open as well.
The circuit Twitter feed has some photos of the view from the new Grandstand. It's occupying the location the the Donington Park Racing Association Club used to occupy - but a bit higher. So it should be good though possibly a little exposed in certain weather situations.

The pedestrian tunnel under the start finish straight does not seem to have any particular reason to be closed as far as I am aware.

For the Historic Festival I believe there are the usual plans for car clubs and the like on the in field so I would imagine the pedestrian tunnel will be open.

There has been work going on in the area of the Scrutineering bay and the afore mentioned "Garage 39" redevelopment and it may be that the tunnel, as it sits between those two locations, was best kept closed at that time. I would be surprised if that was permanent but you never know ...
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Old 3 Apr 2018, 13:01 (Ref:3812636)   #10
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The pedestrian tunnel under the start finish straight does not seem to have any particular reason to be closed as far as I am aware.

For the Historic Festival I believe there are the usual plans for car clubs and the like on the in field so I would imagine the pedestrian tunnel will be open.

...
I remember that someone was killed when a large part of a single seater (engine/gearbox ?) went into the infield exit part of the tunnel after a serious crash.

Found it http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/1..._racing_crash/

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Old 3 Apr 2018, 17:29 (Ref:3812660)   #11
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I remember that someone was killed when a large part of a single seater (engine/gearbox ?) went into the infield exit part of the tunnel after a serious crash.

Found it http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/1..._racing_crash/
Alan Mcnish in a DAMS Lola T90/50 was launched over the wall it's on youtube should you wish to see it. The same car was running in British F3000 the following year and then had a swansong in EuroBoss.
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Old 3 Apr 2018, 21:05 (Ref:3812681)   #12
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I remember that someone was killed when a large part of a single seater (engine/gearbox ?) went into the infield exit part of the tunnel after a serious crash.

Found it http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/1..._racing_crash/
Different tunnel Gordon.

That one is the one under the esses along what was the Dunlop straight. A car and pedestrian tunnel.

The one from the paddock - normally pedestrian only but small vehicles could get through if allowed) is well protected by everything around it at the paddock end and on the infield is a long way down in the dip towards the pond and well away from the edge of the track.

All sections in both locations have a lot of debris fencing these days and the wall on the infield side of the track was moved back a considerable distance before the new licence was issued.
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Old 3 Apr 2018, 22:47 (Ref:3812694)   #13
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Different tunnel Gordon.

That one is the one under the esses along what was the Dunlop straight. A car and pedestrian tunnel.
Sorry yes just had a look, my memory isn't so good after 27 years however it just shows that motor racing is dangerous ! Even with all the new track run off areas things still happen, I remember a car going over the barrier on the back straight at Brands not too long ago almost hitting the marshals post !
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Old 4 Apr 2018, 06:49 (Ref:3812744)   #14
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After the Gillett fiasco the place looked like the Somme but it is slowly coming back . I'm sure MSV will do a good job of turning what was a basket case into a decent circuit again . But if you haven't been for some time be prepared for a shock at how far away the track is from spectators , as the run off areas are just absurdly huge, compared to the different vision the circuit had of the ..err..spectator experience ...when it reopened in 77.

I am sure somebody will tell me that watching cars race in a different postcode is for the best, all in my interests etc but it really isn't ....
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Old 5 Apr 2018, 06:55 (Ref:3812936)   #15
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You are still closer to the action than you are at Silverstone, where some corners are like being at the seaside with the tide out.


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