Your Donington anger

Published: 01 August 2004

MYSELF and two friends drove 500 miles from the north of Scotland looking forward to a repeat of the tremendous weekend we had at Donington three years ago. Arriving at the track we were subjected to a long wait to access the campsite, had our cooking gas confiscated, our cars searched ( I would suggest illegally and I am a Police Officer) and finally separated from our vehicle by almost a mile. We finally found a spot only to discover it was the unofficial toilets down by the trees and had to endure the weekend surrounded by the smell of piss. Jobsworths in yellow coats warned that if we committed any of the cardinal sins we would be evicted from the site( pity they were not there on Sunday!!!). The ultimate insult was the treatment of spectators at the end of the racing. We were stuck in the furthest away field for almost six hours, some of my colleagues from the local Force arrived but stated it was nothing to do with them and we should all write to Motorcycle News. The concept of public safety obviously did not occur to them, with many small children and elderly people stuck in their cars for the same amount of time as we were. I myself am Diabetic and although I had medication, diet is also a major consideration for me.I have to say that the public in general were badly let down, as all other road users were also affected, the Donington crowd were let down, and the stars who put on such a great show for us were also let down as their performance was overshadowed by the total lack of organisational responsibility by the Donington management a the local Police. I am disappointed to say that I will never set foot through it's gates again. Hang your heads in shame all responsible !!!!!

Charles

GREAT day out - fantastic racing but once again the Donington experience was marred by the time it takes to get out of the circuit. Add to that some complete idiot of a police chief who decided that it would be a good idea to breathalyse every other car driver and biker and you end up with utter chaos. If the local force are trying to kill off a great event then they are going the right way about it. There must be a lot of people who, following their experience on Sunday, will decide not to bother next year.

Barry Jones

JUST got back from watching the Moto GP event at Donnington Park. I can live with the £96 entry fee for myself and wife; would expect nothing other than the drizzle and high winds we experienced throughout the day at varying degrees and ignore the grossly indifferent facilities of the track, on accounts of the quality of racing, which was truly inspiring. I can't, however let pass the shambolic traffic arrangements both into and out of the circuit on race day (we were even issued an apology on the trackside PA system on behalf of organisers before 25 per cent of spectators had arrived), the entry and ticketing arrangements at the circuit itself (at gate B, two attendees only to admit several thousand spectators), not the ever present pushiness of ticket touts and scumbags trying to add insult to injury during queuing. For the money spent, we're off to a foreign track in '05 - Catalunia probably, after years of the 'same crap, different day mentality' of circuit owners and event organisers, we're taking our cash elsewhere. I guess nothing will ever change until Donnington Park becomes part of the UK institution that has befallen such organisations as British Rail, Triumph, Norton, etc - complacent indifference, in true British tradition. C Williams, Bridgend AFTER attending Donington last year for the GP on a camping weekend, my mates and I decided to attend this year's GP. Last year we camped so decided to do the same again this year. One person booked the weekend so three of us only got the tickets on the Saturday of the weekend. The small print on the back was not read, we took it for granted that with camping, cooking your own food needs fuel ie gas canisters etc. On arrival at Donington we had our gas canisters confiscated. How the hell do we cook food without them, on matches? Fortunately we also had a charcoal burning barbeque so apparently it is OK to have fires but not safer gas canisters. All the lads on bikes had to unpack all their gear to remove gas canisters and as such had no cooking facilities, plus a 20 minute walk laden like pack mules to put up a tent. If you had no food, a minimum snack of a portion of chips cost £3 as opposed to a potato probably costing about 30p, this therefore brings the following questions. 1) Which idiot suggested confiscating gas canisters? 2) Was said person having the experience that the public were i.e. camping without gas? 3) Was it a ploy to increase catering revenue? 4) Do the organisers want to retain the support of enthusiasts? Conclusion: There are 4 of us seriously thinking of not attending next year if this fiasco is still going on. How many more people will be thinking this? It was a good job that the racing was excellent. Moral of Story: Punters = pounds = top riders = good racing. Do I have to spell it out any more?

Terry Rhodes

I AM sure that you will have heard all this before but, just had to write to complain about the disgraceful manner in which we were treated by the organisers at the weekends GP. We arrived on Saturday morning and paid for weekend tickets and camping. From this point on we were treated as second class citizens by the security staff as we were directed to a field and forced to park miles away from where we were expected to camp. Then we couldn't even get onto the site as it was completely full and ended up with 100s of others in a field at the side of the official site. On the Sunday we planned to stay right to the end, let the crowds clear and then pack up and leave. However it was then that we discovered that noone who had left straight after the Moto GP, had moved an inch. People were running out of petrol as they had been sat in queues so long. One driver that we spoke to was in his car at 1630hrs and was still sat there at 2100hrs. The upshot was that we heard one steward going down the line of cars and telling people the reason for the delay was the fact that the Police were doing random breathalyser checks. This was totally untrue, we spoke to the Police who were stuck in the circuit with everyone else. A Chief Inspector rightly pointed out that it was not in their or anyone else's interest. I might add that by this time most of the 'security' staff had disappeared leaving the carnage behind them. This was obviously a cheap ploy to deflect blame from the incompetency of the organisers. We eventually got off the site at 2315hrs and there was not one steward directing/assisting with the flow of traffic trying to leave. If this is the best that Donington Park can come up with then it makes you wonder if they deserve to have the GP in future. I know I spoke to an awful lot of people who said they would never go again!!

Dave Hamilton

HAVING been at the MotoGP last weekend I am not surprised to find that so few used the showers - last year the excuse for having 16 showers was they didn’t expect such a big turn out (but they sold the tickets!) What was the excuse this year? Not only were the showers worse, someone had crapped in one, and it was still there three days later! Surely there's something under health & hygiene standards? They were also removing gas bottles as we went in as it was a 'terrorist threat', yet there are standards of what gases can be stored next to each other and they'd got the lot mixed together in a small fenced-off area. If that lot went up, so would everything and everyone! As far as we could tell, the only thing they improved on was that they had cash machines! Yet again there were no bands and this time they even took the bars away. What idiot is going to pay £10 for four cans of Carling? We'd rather drink the warm cans in the tent - of course they cant provide anywhere to freeze iceblocks. If they did, we might have food and drink for an entire weekend instead of having to ask for chips and curry sauce and a mortgage to go with it. If they made the trays for chips any smaller they may as well use an eggcup! Hike the price up and make the amounts so small that a normal kids meal would be a feast! Still, we know that the camping facilities are crap, thats nothing new from last year, but what happened to pitlane walkabouts and meeting the riders? Having paid £10 each for paddock passes on Thursday, we wandered aimlessly for nearly two hours (having queued for an hour) and eventually met a total of seven riders. Think I'll take my chances of meeting them in my local High Street from now on, there’s probably more chance! As for the balls-up when people tried to leave – forget it! Three and half hours sat stationary in a car (and we were lucky as others were there for longer). Marshalls were useless and blaming it on police breathalising 1one in four drivers causing back-logs. We had a walk up and spoke to the police, who hadn’t breathalised anyone. There was only one bonus to sitting that long – they eventually gave up trying to get us all out of one gate and sent us out round the circuit. Well at least we got our money’s worth there! Forget the idea that things might improve next year - we give up. Next year we'll go on the bike for the Sunday and save our money! Donington couldnt organise a piss-up in a brewery (no-one would have a chance with the cost of the beer!)

Mr & Mrs Hanson, Lincs

I’M sure you've been swamped with letter regarding the fiasco of leaving Donington Park after yesterday’s MotoGP but I thought I'd voice my feelings along with the rest. Last year we enjoyed great sunshine, incredible racing and a 2 hour wait to leave the car park. This year we had no sunshine, incredible racing and a 6 hour wait to get out of the car park. Maybe I'm wrong but I'm sure they said: “With the new routes for cars and bikes we will ensure people don’t have the same problems leaving the site”. Amongst the mob there were rumours of the problems being caused by the police stopping all the cars and doing breath tests, we're not sure if this is true but we didn’t see anybody breathalised. the police we spoke to denied this. in fact the only time things got better were when the police turned up and got the stewards to open the track and allow us to drive along the top section around McLeans. something that provided me with 45 seconds or so of fun in an otherwise bad 5 or 6 hours. It was an absolute joke, what is wrong with the organisers of this event, they new there was going to be a record crowd, they new people have long drives home, why did they run the races later? Why only have two exits open? One for bikes one for cars?? Most of the bikes got away pretty cleanly from what i saw and we were sat wishing we'd gone on bikes but its just not always practical if you live a long way away and need to bring equipment to camp with clothes change and food /drink etc. The answer seems to be stay at home with a crate of beer and friends and watch it on TV What a shame its going to come to that. Although it left a bad taste it was a great weekend and we didn’t let it ruin the spectacle for us and at least the guys that matter on the track were as usual amazing.

Andrew Butler

PITY such a fab circuit is ruined by poor greedy management. Half mile walk from car park to campsite no help with gear (a la Brands), no decent showers, had my primus confiscated so bang went the much awaited fry-ups. Got chucked off an adjoining grass field for having a game of cricket when another marhsal had said no problem, lined up for 30 minutes for a coffee only to be told "no coffee" then no lids and uht milk for the tea but what do you expect for £1 and the final insult was 4 cans of "ice cold" but not really Carling for a tenner. We felt we were treated with utter contempt. We'll not go again.

Colin Carruthers, Romford

ANOTHER Moto GP race day at Donington Park another nightmare on the roads leaving the track. Last year we experienced major delays both arriving and departing from the track. We overcame the problems by leaving home at 6 am for the 35 mile journey and arrived without problems at 7.30 am. However by going into the main car park we had condemned ourselves to be directed out of the car park in the opposite direction to the one we needed. We eventually arrived home at 10 pm. totally shattered after such a long day. We were pleased with the greater number of loos provided but please, please separate facilities for the ladies. The rubbish bins were regularly emptied early in the day but towards the end of the meeting when the bins were overflowing there was no sign of the rubbish being collected. The racing however was fantastic.

David Clanchy

WHAT a fantastic series of races over the weekend! However the camping and toilet facilities again let the organisers down. No gas allowed on a camp site, but barbecues dowsed with fuel was OK? Is this just to get people to buy food from the authorised, highly inflated catering vans? We arrived on Friday to camp. Directed to a field past the Craner Curves. Then had to walk with the camping equipment to a field where the nearest toilet was mile away. My girlfriend was not amused, especially at 3am. We left for home as soon as the GP race had finished, and got in the car at 4.30pm. We then didn't move for four hours, nobody on our car park moved! My girlfriend was getting worried as we had told the baby sitter that we would be home, to Stoke on Trent around 8pm. She approached several stewards, along with many more irate paying public to see what the hell was going on. Most of the stewards could not speak English. Those who could said it would be another four hours before we moved.I went back into the circuit to use the toilets, and many disabled people, who had being watching at the bottom of Craner, were stuck right at the back of the queue. The police arrived, having checked bikes for exhaust systems and number plates and said they were doing their best. Several of us eventually removed barriers around the car park and went around the perimeter fence and left the car park at 10.45pm. A friend who was right at the back of our car park said the police turned up around 9pm again, opened the fence at the bottom of the car park and took them around the track to Redgate, at which point the exited the circuit.I have contacted Donington with my complaints and they say they will contact me after their Management debriefing.I think they should consider the following points 1. What would have happened in an emergency, how would someone get to hospital? 2. If after four and a half hours the track was opened to let people off the car parks, why was this not planned? 3. If we are expected to pay top price for tickets we should get quality service as they tend to do on the continent. 4. The improved route to and from the circuit did not work with 83,000 people there, which they expected. So is it time for the GP to move to a more suited venue?

Kevin Finney

WHY do British companies have to rip the very people who so unerringly turned up in their thousands (80,000+)? The entrance fee which has increased to £48 was bad enough to endure, but as the 10 of us turned up to camp on Saturday evening we, first of all were asked to pay for Friday and Saturday at a cost of £8 for Friday and £10 for Saturday; which we could not attend as we were working. If we did not pay this we could not camp on site, at a further cost of £12 per person. We paid this begrudgingly only to meet our next problem. No gas bottles to be allowed “how the hell are we going to cook?” we asked. “Not my problem” said the yellow coated jobsworth. Then we were directed to the parking area two fields away from the actual camp site. Needless to say after supporting this event and others religiously for many years we feel that the only option is to now stay at home and watch on TV , as the promoters obviously now want us to do.

John Sidebotham, Wigan

LAST weekend saw some great racing, a good result for the Brit boys. I was especially pleased for Shakey, beating a Honda and catching up with Max (if only there had been a few more laps), giving him his best result yet. The weather held up mostly and it should have been a brilliant weekend, but we were camping! arriving there on the Wednesday we were greeted with the usual 'have you got any fireworks', which I agree with, but then they said 'have you got any camping gas'. We had two for our primus to make coffees with which they confiscated saying 'they might be used as a detonator for terrorism'. I could not believe this but had no choice in the matter. It got worse, the catering for the campsite was poor to say the least, my girlfriend is vegetarian and she had no choice, the veggie burgers on the menu appeared non existent as they had always run out! (although the infield had more choice this year). The showers had decreased in number and there was no bar. As last year there was no evening entertainment apart from a large television, not much fun in the rain. All around the campsite people were saying, 'it's not like it used to be' and 'it's much better at Brands'. Come on Donnington, you have the best racing in the world, make it the best event in the world. Iain Taylor AFTER another great day racing at the Moto GP at Donnington the fun was ended by the traffic jams caused by the management system in place. I don't want the GP to move, but due to the traffic problems it's clear that the area cannot cope with the Moto GP traffic. Therefore I would like for all of us to air our views by forming a petition to move the Moto GP from Donnington unless they resolve the traffic problems.

Gary Sutton

We had so many letters from you about the Donington British MotoGP that there wasn't room to publish them all in our August 4 issue of the paper.

So here are many of those we couldn't find room for in print: Donington's response to many of your complaints is published in MCN, out on August 4, 2004.

I‘VE just read your article on the GP at Donington. I agree with most of what is written ,but I feel I need to put a few things straight. My partner and I arrived at the track on Thursday evening, after riding up from Kent. On entry we had our camping gas bottle confiscated (fire risk we were told.) After pitching the tent we went to get a drink… only to find there was nowhere to get a pint. Friday night we went out for dinner (couldn't cook, no gas, but portable barbecues ok) strange. Saturday was a brilliant day watching the bikes, went to get a beer only to find only one bar in the infield and one in the exhibition hall. After watching all the bikes, we went back to the tent to change and get ready for the entertainment that evening. Lo and behold: No entertainment, other than six fairground rides. No bands, no music, nothing at all, never mind, I told my other half, we'll get a beer and chill out. Not one bar open including the one in the exhibition hall, nothing... Asked a steward where we could get a beer and he guided us to a kiosk selling 4 cans of lager for a tenner. You estimated about 20,000 campers, And most of them came on bikes, so they didn't have loads of room to carry beers and other essentials. But my main whinge is the lack of entertainment and bars to get a drink on Friday and Saturday evening. DUKEBOY 996.

ATTACHED is a copy of the e-mail I sent to Annie Brownsword of Clear Channel Entertainment (the leaseholders of Donington Park) regarding the lack of organisation and common sense applied to the campsites for the British GP. "Most peoples complaints seem to be related to leaving the circuit, we admitted defeat and accepted that it was going to take forever to get out on Sunday so stayed over and left the following morning,even though we'd run out of food, dry clothes and I lost a days pay for the Monday. What made us really angry was the fact that some genius had put the car park and the campsite a mile apart! Why couldn't you just camp next to your vehicle? From getting the car parked at 9pm on the Friday it was midnight before the kids got anything to eat (on a campsite on which someone had thoughtfully banned all forms of heating – can't responsible adults be trusted to build a small campfire as in past years?) as we had to trek backwards and forwards from car park to campsite four times (plus another three trips on the Saturday) to take all our gear up! What really stuck in your craw was each time you hauled your gear up to the campsite you had to pass the separate security personnel campsite and they had plenty of showers and toilets and had been allowed to pitch their tents next to their vehicles. As a family we attend race day every year but this was the first time in many years that we have attended the full weekend, I doubt very much that we will repeat the experience. I would far rather travel to a Spanish GP where they seen capable of organising a far larger event and haven't banned all forms of people entertaining themselves from their campsites. I suggest you visit the MCN bulletin boards and see how many of your customers either left before race day and went home to watch the races on telly or stuck it out but have vowed never to return. British GP attendances are on a high at the moment, but useless organisation and petty rules could easily reverse the situation.

Dave Woolfenden

Donington Park have done it again. It took me two and a half hours to get into the MotorGP and - wait for it four hours and twenty minutes to get out and for two hours of that I never moved. Every year it seems to be the same old story. "We've had problems but we have leaned lessons and that same thing won't happen again" and the year after - the same again. Don't they expect people to turn up to these events? Do the numbers always come as a surprise? It seems to me that they could organise a piss-up in a brewery. I'll be thinking long and hard about going next year and I suspect they will be a lot of people like me. R Long I must let you know that though the racing at Donington was excellent the traffic and parking was something else. As per Donington traffic arrangements went south down M1 leaving at J24A to go onto yellow route, 2 hours 20 minutes to cover 3.5 miles to car park. After GP walked back to car park B, cars all ready queuing we did not turn a wheel for 3 hours as nothing but nothing was moving, 4 hours 40 minutes after arriving at the car I pulled out of the car park. Arrived back in Sheffield at 10.10pm after leaving home at 7.30am, both my boys said they will only go again when they have road bikes, my partner said do not both to get her a ticket as the whole day was spoilt by the lack of traffic and parking organisation. Donington must now be given the same ultimatum as Silverstone was a few years ago, you have 12 months to sort the traffic and parking problems or you loose the GP. This morning people are asking how it was and there is no real recognition of the racing just the trauma of getting away. Donington Park Leisure Ltd – enough is enough – sort out the problems.

Glenn Galloway

Having attended most of the UK GP's since the mid-80's, last weekend's MotoGP was an eagerly awaited event. With my weekend ticket all ready, off I went on Friday mid-morning (in the car, as the starter failed on the bike the day before...) to catch practice from midday onwards. However, what is normally an hour and 20 minute journey from North Lincs to Donington took almost four hours as I sat absolutely immobile in my car not two miles from the circuit for over two hours, trying to reach the Coppice entrance that was just along the road. Why? I just managed to get into the circuit at 2.15pm, in time to catch some MotoGP practice. I heard commentators Steve Parrish and Charlie Cox commenting over the air on how it had taken them an hour and a half to get into the circuit from the M1 at 7.3am. It looks as though Donington was completely unprepared for the Friday attendance figures, and all roads leading to the circuit were obviously chocker. What a surprise - MotoGP now quite popular, shock horror. My confidence in Donington's ability to cope was by then well shot. I was staying with friends who live not too far from the circuit and was commuting each day. Saturday was an improvement with many extra car parks open and minimal queueing, thankfully, but my faith in Donington to cope on race day had completely evaporated, and I sold my race day ticket as I left the circuit on Saturday evening. Judging by the reports on the congestion, it looks as though I was proved correct. I'm sorry to say I won't be back again. There's being inconvenienced for the sake of the event in terms of increased traffic which we can (and do) all put up with, and then there's just being fucked over by logistics maladministration from an organisation which really should know better by now.

Gibson Keddie , Winteringham, N Lincs

Would it be too much to ask the residents of Castle Donington if they minded having the roads closed for a few hours to get two lanes of traffic in and out, and why were the traffic lights switched on instead of the police directing traffic?

Emma Boyd, Penrith, Cumbria

I attended the GP and enjoyed, it but what I would like to know is when the 125 and 250 races were on. Why do people have to decide to go shopping and keep walking in front of people that are enjoying the racing.I go to several European tracks and we do not have this problem as most have seating.

Ian Lee

For Donington Park to hold the British round of MotoGP is a privilege. I have just witnessed the fantastic spectacle of Valentino Rossi giving everyone a masterclass on two wheels, Colin Edwards paying no thought to his team mates championship challenge, and Shane Byrne chasing Max Biaggi like a greyhound chasing a wounded hare. My wife and I paid £96 for advance tickets and £24 for camping. For that we got to watch the racing and the use of a Portaloo. We did not even get into the campsite as it was over subscribed, we like many others we had to pitch up in a field next door to the official site. After the event we were left queuing in our car for three hours unable to move until someone equally as annoyed as us literally broke their way out of a locked exit point. What a disgrace, the event organisers should be ashamed of themselves. To have the MotoGP circus come to England we really should provide a complete package for the teams, fans and media alike. Just look at the effort that Silverstone puts in to keep the F1 boys coming back. They have worked on all areas such as the paddock and the way that they disperse the crowds, but they still have to up their game every year. I truly believe Donnington has and will keep letting us all down, the sooner the venue is changed the better.

Stuart Lane, Basingstoke

Went to Donington, bought a programme, very little info about the circuit. No real map showing stands or toilet locations, food stands, bars, shops, etc. We had to search for the Riders For Health tent to leave our lids and leathers. For £5 I got page after page of photos and very little else. Sort it out please.

Ernie Walker, Edenbridge, Kent

I have to say that after 13 years of visiting Donington for the MotoGP, this must have been the worst ever year for camping. I am registered disabled with mobility problems, and registered as partially sighted, went with my three kids, one who is also disabled, to be treated no better than farm animals. We asked for the family camp, were refused this, and put miles from anywhere, away from the showers (not that we were able to use them because of the state of them), and away from track entrances. We complained to Donington staff and security, but were basically fobbed off and told to get on with it! It took me two hours to get to the infield to the disabled viewing area, again, two hours to return to our tent, when we approached staff about this, I was told to WALK FASTER! If I had known I was spending £60 each to stay in the tent in agony, I would have stayed at home and watched the racing in comfort! But, after all that, the racing was great, and despite it all, we enjoyed watching Valentino win again. We are hoping to go again next year, but lets hope that the management at Donington Park are listening to the many complaints, and rectify the obvious problems encountered by us all, and make it a thoroughly enjoyable weekend for all. They sit and rake the profits in, let us all have a little something back out of it.

Hayley Loveridge, South Wales.

Read MCN, out August 4, 2004, for Donington's response