Ferrari 250 TR - Donington Park Track Day.

On the 17th of July 2012 the Ferrari Owners' Club held one of their rare track days, this one was at Donington. Donington is my local track and being their resident Instructor I was looking forward to helping out.

The turn out and the day's enjoyment would revolve around the weather, which turned out to be one of the better drier warmer days we had seen amongst a very wet year so far.

The weather forecast before I left was in favour of showers in the afternoon so I decided not to go in the Ferrari 250 TR. As the day progressed it seemed unlikely it would rain after all, so I went home at lunch time to collect the TR in the hope of doing a few laps towards the end of the day when the track had gone quiet.

Ferrari 250 TR Donington Paul Mercer
In the pit lane at Donington with an admiring group. Photo - Paul Mercer.

So in helmet and boots I climbed into the cockpit and I warmed the engine a little more, then ventured out onto the track. I'd barely done a lap when the red lights came on and I made my way back to the pits.

Someone had got it wrong in a big way and we all waited while the mess was sorted. It can happen to even the most experienced. I must add this type of accident where two cars are involved is quite rare and more often than not any incidents are lone, self inflicted and generally result only in a spin.

So back out on track and finally I did manage to put together a string of laps without interruption.

Having been in a Ferrari 458 on and off for most of the day, then lately in the TR it really did emphasize how much more you have to "drive" the TR. OK ultimately it's not as fast, it is approaching 50 years of age. Lateral G and deceleration are limited by the 5.5 inch wide Borrani wheels and cross-ply racing tyres, but what stands out is how much more it has to be driven, or is it that the 458 is easy to drive? By comparison the 458 is so sophisticated with an abundance of technology, it does help if you have a degree just to operate the steering wheel with all its knobs and switches. The TR's 16 inch steering wheel only has a horn button, oh, yes it does also turn left and right. The TR has a steering box, which is generally less precise and gives the car a larger turning circle and more turns lock to lock than a rack and pinion.

Ferrari 250 TR Donington John Gaisford
The TR at the chicane, Donington Park Ferrari Track Day 17th July 2012. Photo - John Gaisford.

Changing gear in the TR is the usual manual sequence of events, not so with the 458, where a small touch on one of the paddles performs a gear change in the blink of an eye, literally, up or down with no change in the cars balance. It even revs the engine for you on the down change, and the sound, well objective I know, but for me not quite as good as the TR's V12 when it's around 7000 rpm.

Awesome would be an understatement, for the 458 is most definitely the best Ferrari road car I have driven, and I have driven a few.

No seat belts in the TR, nor power steering, ABS, air con, satnav, windows, radio, need I go on? Traction control is of course the driver's right foot. The most technical parts are the distributors, which consist of three lobe cams, two sets of points, one condenser in each. I race it with out the proper seat, my makeshift seat is made out of two part expanding foam in a bin liner, exactly how we did it in Sports 2000 way back. It doesn't look pretty but it does give me a better fit and I can get lower and further back in the cockpit.

I'd like to thank everyone who came to admire the TR, and those who even thanked me for bringing it along. 

Click here to see youtube video of the TR on the FOC Track Day Donington.


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