The Wheatcroft family confirm that Tom Wheatcroft sadly passed away on Saturday 31 October 2009. The family respectfully request their privacy at this difficult time. They also wish to thank everyone for the overwhelming support received over the last few days.
The funeral will be a private family affair, as Tom specifically requested, and rather than floral tributes, the family request that a donation be made to their chosen charity (Hope Against Cancer). A separate memorial service to celebrate Tom’s life will be held at a later date.
The Donington Grand Prix Collection has opened a book of condolence and members of the public are invited to leave their personal tributes.
A brief history of Tom’s life:
Tom, as he was affectionately known throughout the sporting world, was first attracted to motor sport and Grand Prix racing as a schoolboy when he cycled from his Leicester home to watch the great races of the 1930’s era of his local circuit, Donington Park.After military service during World War II, he returned to Leicestershire, soon establishing a building company which went on to prosper and has since developed into the highly successful company it is today.
Tom continued his enjoyment of racing, never missing a British Grand Prix since 1935 and visiting every other Grand Prix circuit on the world calendar. At the same time supporting many drivers in all formulas, and particularly fostering the career of the highly talented Roger Williamson, taking him into Grand Prix racing.He also owned a growing collection of Grand Prix cars, and in 1971 bought the Donington Park Race Track, in 1973 he opened the world renowned Donington Grand Prix Collection.
After a lengthy, often bitter and very costly, planning hearing, he was given consent to re-build and re-open the Donington Park circuit, which had lain derelict after military use during the Second World War.Racing returned in 1977 and soon the circuit was hosting major events, bringing the world's best motorcycle racers into action and then various FIA Championships for Formula 2, World Sports Cars and European Touring Cars.
Tom celebrated his 65th birthday by securing the British Motorcycle Grand Prix, which ran for the first of 23 times on his circuit in 1987 - it was voted the best in the world. Then in 1993 he achieved his dream, when at short notice, his circuit staged the award winning FIA Formula One World Championship Grand Prix of Europe, which was won by the late great Ayrton Senna and was later voted Grand Prix of the century.Tom’s interest in the future of Donington continued right up until his passing.
His contribution to the sport has been immeasurable, and the word ‘legend' hardly does justice to the man who was Donington Park - Tom Wheatcroft.
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