Mansell's Dramatic Day Of Thunder DONINGTON PARK, ENGLAND, August 21, 2001 -- The return of Grand Prix motor racing great, Nigel Mansell, to the cockpit of a Formula One car was always likely to be a dramatic occasion, but his participation...
Mansell's Dramatic Day Of Thunder
DONINGTON PARK, ENGLAND, August 21, 2001 -- The return of Grand Prix motor racing great, Nigel Mansell, to the cockpit of a Formula One car was always likely to be a dramatic occasion, but his participation in the unique Thunder in the Park day at Donington Park this afternoon turned out to be more dramatic than even he might have imagined.
The world's first-ever two-seater F1 race came to a premature conclusion on lap 11, when the 1992 Formula One World Champion's European Minardi collided with the rear of Fernando Alonso's similar machine as the two powered onto the pit straight for the final lap of the race. Mansell's car, with passenger Jonathan Frost on board, was momentarily launched skywards before crashing back down on the track. Happily, no injuries were sustained in the heart-stopping incident and results were declared according to the positions in which drivers and passengers had completed the previous lap.
That meant European Minardi chief, Paul Stoddart, passengered by up-and-coming singer, Kelis, won the world's inaugural two-seater F1 race, with Mansell and Frost finishing second, Alonso and ITV-F1 commentator, Louise Goodman, third, and Alex Yoong and the Daily Mirror's Des Kelly classified fourth. Unfortunately, the fifth entry in the race, that of Tarso Marques and Shane Lynch, retired on lap five of the 12-lap event when their car developed a gearbox problem.
The race, however, was deemed a great success, with the 4000-plus crowd that attended the event lapping up the non-stop action and enjoying the entertaining commentary of ITV's Murray Walker and Tony Jardine. For passenger, Jonathan Frost, who bid $55,000 at a charity auction during the Monaco Grand Prix Ball, he unquestionably had the thrill of a lifetime. Far from the Monte Carlo-based British businessman being put off by today's events, however, he vows to be the successful bidder at next year's auction in order to make it two in a row.
"It's been a great day and it's just a shame that it had to end in this way. Full marks, however, to Paul Stoddart and the European Minardi team for building a strong, safe car. It's difficult to know exactly what happened, other than that the car in front seemed to slow dramatically as we exited the chicane on the last lap, and we ran into the back of it. Anyway, I can only thank Paul and his team for putting on a wonderful event and I hope all those here at Donington today have enjoyed it as much as my family and I did."
"From where I was sitting, it looked like a fantastic race, but we just never dreamed anything like this would happen. Happily, no one was hurt and what happened does emphasise just how strong the cars are. The aim of Thunder in the Park was to bring Formula One to the people, and I certainly think we accomplished that. We really enjoyed entertaining everybody today, although we hadn't envisaged doing it in quite the way we did!"
- European Minardi F1 (UK) / European Formula Racing