David Williams: Show off your skills behind the wheel at the Donington Festival

David Williams
Bumper to bumper: competitors in last year's GT and Sports Car Cup

One of the biggest out-of-town car festivals takes place later this month — and petrolheads are being given the rare chance to try a range of behind-the-wheel stunts.

Visitors to the Donington Historic Festival can learn the art of the handbrake turn and the J-turn — like a high-speed “handbrake turn” in reverse — with leading stunt driver, Paul Swift, in a high-powered Ford Focus RS.

Those with a passion for speed and performance can even try their hand at “drifting” a Caterham sports car around a circuit, while classic car owners are being invited to take part in glittering parades around the famous racing circuit near Derby.

It’s all in keeping with the theme at this year’s event — “Get Involved”. The cost of scaring yourself in Mr Swift’s Ford (or enjoying a passenger ride while he does the work)? Just £30.

“It’s amazing how much you can teach newcomers in just a few minutes,” Swift says. “They’re welcome to sit alongside while I show how it’s done — or have a go.” The Caterham Drift Experience, meanwhile, costs £20 for rides, or £50 to pilot the 1.6-litre 130bhp Caterham yourself.

Those not desperate to prove — or improve — their prowess behind the wheel have plenty to look forward to, with a packed racing fixture. Hotly contested racing will see 400 cars and 500 drivers compete in 18 races over the weekend of Friday, April 28 to Sunday, April 30.

Visitors will also be able to line the rally car stage to watch well-known names drive infamous, fire-spitting Group B rally cars from 1982.

Other attractions include an assortment of stands at Trade Village, with aisles of books, collectibles, models and photos, while the Go Motorsport stand is on hand to show how to get into motorsport.

The Sporting Bears Motor Club, meanwhile, will be running Dream Rides, ferrying passengers in luxurious supercars and elegant classics, in return for a donation to children’s charities.

Track action will include “Mad Jack” Pre-War Sports Cars, the Historic Touring Car Challenge, the GT and Sports Car Cup, the Jaguar Classic Challenge, the HSCC Super Touring Car Challenge, two Formula Junior grids and many more. Qualifying will take place on the Friday, followed by two full days of racing on the Saturday and Sunday.

More than 80 car clubs will be on hand, too, encouraging visitors to talk about rust, tuning, polishing and touring with the vehicles’ owners. Car club members can even book a place to take part in the lunchtime parade, allowing them two full laps of Donington Park’s circuit. “It’s a real honour to welcome such prestigious grids to join us as we celebrate Donington Park’s 40th anniversary, the seventh successive Donington Historic Festival,” says Richard Grafton, commercial director of Historic Promotions.

“It’s all about having fun, not just for the people racing, but the whole family. To make it more special, 2017 also marks 40 years since Donington Park reopened following its closure during World War II, so we’ll be taking a special look at cars that ran here in 1977.

“It’s all about getting involved, so we’ll throw in a pit lane walk where visitors can see the cars that are competing, speak to their drivers and get caught up in the event.”

More at doningtonhistoric.com

Bikers seek a fairer deal

A large convoy of motorcyclists converged on City Hall last week to deliver a letter to Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling for fairer treatment on the capital’s roads.

We Ride London campaigners (weridelondon.com) want the mayor and Transport for London to reverse the policy of reducing lane-widths, which they say has made motorcycle filtering more dangerous. They are calling for exclusion from congestion and pollution charging, with Ultra Low Emission Zone proposals likely to cost bike riders £12.50 a day and force 44,000 machines off the road. They also want adequate, secure motorcycle parking, universal use of London bus lanes for safety reasons and action against bike theft and bike-jacking.

WRL says that while motorcyclist deaths in London are far more numerous than those of cyclists, they appear to go unnoticed.