Former 500cc Grand Prix star and Isle of Man TT winner Ron Haslam is set to star at Sunday’s inaugural Donington 500 event at Leicestershire’s Donington Park circuit.
The British racing icon, who last raced 12 years ago, will be competing in the 250 endurance race in a new race meeting which has been designed to offer a platform for inexpensive and accessible grass roots racing. Ron and his wife Ann are also sponsoring the race with a £500 cash prize, through their legendary Ron Haslam Race School, which is based at the famous Midlands circuit.
The 61-year-old Carole Nash ambassador will be joined in a team with fellow riders John O’Toole and Jack Tynan. O’Toole is Haslam’s son-in-law, while Tynan is a mutual friend. Both riders are students from the race school and the team has been put together to demonstrate the strong family environment that runs through the racing paddock.
It’s the promise of this friendly spirit that has convinced ‘Rocket Ron’ to support the event. He said: “The reason I am dusting down my leathers is to support the sport that has been a large part of my life. I want to show people how affordable it can be to take part – either as a competitor or as a fan – and Donington Park has echoed this by offering spectators entry for a fiver, just like the good old days. Obviously racing again at Donington Park is a big factor for me as I have a huge nostalgic connection to the circuit. This will be the first time all three of us have raced together so it’s going to be interesting, but endurance racing is all about stamina and consistency so we will be working very much as a team rather than looking for individual glory.”
The Donington 500 is the brainchild of Bob Adams, Donington Park’s Sporting Director, and is being run by Thundersport GB. Haslam’s race, the Donington 500 Two-Fifty Endurance is the headline of the event, with a large grid of Honda CB500 racers lining up for a pure endurance race with pit stops and three rider teams.
As well as the endurance race, the Donington 500 meeting will feature a variety of other races including Military races and a ‘21st Century Challenge’ for racers born since the year 2000. Race fans will also have an opportunity to see the stars of the future when the MiniGP machines take to the track. These ‘Metrakit’ bikes can be ridden by kids as young as eight and have launched the career of many current day MotoGP riders, including Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales.
Donington Park Sporting Director, Bob Adams, added: “I have long been conscious of the seemingly ever-increasing costs associated with getting into bike racing. Some costs are real and others just perceived, but the fact that getting involved has an aura of large expense is a very good reason to address the issue.
“Back in the day there were many one-day race meetings that were completely standalone with no practice day or pre-event qualifying sessions. The whole spectacle was accomplished between 9.00am and 6.00pm on race day. A few of these events remain but none that take place on the premier race circuits such as Donington Park. The Donington 500 is designed to recreate that 1990s style of race meeting, but with 21st century safety standards.”
Tickets for the Donington 500 on 13 August will be available upon arrival at the circuit, priced at just £5. Children aged 13 and under go free. For more information, visit www.donington-park.co.uk.