Tributes paid to legendary motorsports fan tom wheatcroft at donington track

Tributes paid to ‘legendary’ motorsports fan Tom Wheatcroft at Donington track

A book of condolence has been opened in memory of legendary motorsports fan Tom Wheatcroft, who died at the weekend.

Staff at the Donington Park Grand Prix Exhibition have invited members of the public to leave their personal tributes in the book.

Mr Wheatcroft died aged 87 on Saturday morning at his home in Arnesby after a long battle with illness and yesterday, flags at the circuit flew at half mast in his memory. Today, Donington Grand Prix collection manager Garry Rankin paid tribute to him. He said: &”I had known Tom for 15 years and it is a very sad loss.

&”He was a great man, he had a fantastic life and I believe he did everything he wanted to do.

&”It is a sad loss for motorsport and a sad loss for me personally.

&”We hope that members of the public will come and leave their tributes.&” The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition was established in 1973 to house the vast collection of motor racing cars Mr Wheatcroft had built up throughout his life, and remains the largest collection of Grand Prix racing cars in the world.

Among the 130-plus exhibits are cars driven by some of the sport’s greatest drivers including five-times world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, British driver Nigel Mansell and Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna.

Notable exhibits include the 1936 twin-engined 500 bhp Alfa Romeo Bimotore, which has a top speed of 200mph, Jim Clark’s World Championship winning Lotus 25, the ‘howling’ flat 12 Ferrari 312B, and Stirling Moss’s Lotus, in which he defeated the might of the Ferrari works team in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix.

Tributes to Mr Wheatcroft were led yesterday by McLaren Formula One Team principal Martin Whitmarsh who described him as a &”legend&”.

Former Formula One World Champion Damon Hill, who raced in the 1993 European Grand Prix held at Donington, said: &”I knew Tom from going back to my bike-racing days. He has always been a tremendous, larger-than-life character and someone everybody loved to know.&”

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