Donington Park's owner dies after long illness
2 November 2009

Donington Park’s owner Tom Wheatcroft has died aged 87.

Wheatcroft will be best remembered for in efforts in turning around the fortunes of the circuit, which he bought for £100,000 in 1971.

Tom Wheatcroft's motorsport life in pics

His dream was always to hold a Formula One race there and this was realised in 1993 when Donington hosted the 1993 European grand prix. The race is remembered as one of the best in history, as Aryton Senna triumphed in the wet.

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal, paid tribute to Wheatcroft for making a large contribution to British motorsport.

“The term 'legend' is maybe used a little too liberally in the world of sport, but without doubt it is justified in the case of Tom Wheatcroft,” he said.

“He was a larger-than-life character and an always-engaging conversationalist. He was also an able and successful businessman who contributed a lot more than many people perhaps appreciate to the story of motorsport in Britain. He will be very much missed.”

Wheatcroft watched races at his local Donington circuit in the 1930s but the track fell into disrepair after it was used as a World War Two air base. He rebuilt the circuit and helped build its museum, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of grand prix cars in the world.

In 2007 he agreed a 150-year lease of the circuit to Simon Gillett, who had agreed to deal to bring the British grand prix to the circuit before it fell through last week.

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