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The story of Birmingham’s Motor Race Superprix Those were the days ... TM

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The story of Superprix, Birmingham’s very own road race – the subject of much controversy amongst residents of the city, politicians' and race fans alike. The SuperPrix was a motor racing meeting held over August Bank Holiday on a street circuit in the centre of Birmingham, from 1986 to 1990. The principal event was the Formula 3000 Championship race, but support races included touring cars and sports cars. The idea of a motor race in the heart of England's motor city (to emulate the Monaco circuit) had been mooted as early as 1966. In the end, the city's arterial roads round the Bull Ring and the city centre provided one of the most exciting racing events ever staged in the UK.

Transcript of Superprix - Birmingham's Road Race Sample

  • The story of Birminghams Motor Race

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    www.veloce.co.ukFirst published in November 2009 by Veloce Publishing Limited, 33 Trinity Street, Dorchester DT1 1TT, England. Fax 01305 268864/e-mail [email protected]/web www.veloce.co.uk or www.velocebooks.com.ISBN: 978-1-845842-42-0 UPC: 6-36847-04242-4 SS Colins, David Page and Veloce Publishing 2009. All rights reserved. With the exception of quoting brief passages for the purpose of review, no part of this publication may be recorded, reproduced or transmitted by any means, including photocopying, without the written permission of Veloce Publishing Ltd. Throughout this book logos, model names and designations, etc, have been used for the purposes of identification, illustration and decoration. Such names are the property of the trademark holder as this is not an official publication.Readers with ideas for automotive books, or books on other transport or related hobby subjects, are invited to write to the editorial director of Veloce Publishing at the above address.British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Typesetting, design and page make-up all by Veloce Publishing Ltd on Apple Mac. Printed in India by Replika Press.

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  • Acknowledgements...................................................................................................4Introduction.................................................................................................................4A.road.race.for.Birmingham?................................................................................ 5Paving.the.way.towards.a.street.race.............................................................. 131986..The.final.preparations.............................................................................241986..The.Halfords.Birmingham.Superprix................................................... 291987..The.Halfords.Birmingham.Superprix.street.racing.festival.......431988..The.Halfords.Birmingham.Superprix...................................................561989..The.Halfords.Birmingham.Superprix...................................................681990..The.Halfords.Birmingham.Superprix................................................... 75The.end.of.the.road.race....................................................................................... 81Index.............................................................................................................................95

    Contents

  • Contributing drivers:Mario Hytten; Phil Andrews; Mark Bryan; David Hunt; Jari Nurminen; Emmanuele Naspetti; Allan McNish; Andy Wallace; Marco Apicella; Roger Orgee; Rod Birley; Gerry Taylor; Tony Trimmer. General information and websites:The Nostalgia forum at www.autosport.com; www.ten-tenths.com forums; www.tbk-lite.com forums; the old tbk.fameflame.dk forums; www.grandprixgames.com forums Other contributors:Stuart Knibbs a big thank you to you for whetting my appetite about the Birmingham Superprix; Simon Lewis at www.simonlewis.com for his superb photographs; Ian Wagstaff for his pictures; Nick Bailey; David Lucas, Head of the Birmingham Road Race Department; The Birmingham Central Library (the Local Archives section); Many fans and marshals from the Nostalgia forum and Ten-Tenths forum; Stuart Dent for his help and advice for contacting the right people; Kevin Wood from LAT Archives; Dominic Ostrowski from the BRSCC; Ben Laidlow, producer of the Inside Out programme by BBC West Midlands; Simon Edwards for various memorabilia; John Wisson for his marshal documents; Alastair Nash and Melanie Roberts for selling their collection of 1986-1990 Motoring News newspapers to me; The Communications Department of the Birmingham City Council; Simon Arron from Motoring News; Gregor Marshall for information about his fathers involvement at the 1980 Lucas On The Streets event; Rick Ashton

    from Ashton Plant Hire (Dudley) Ltd. for allowing me to look at the old Superprix Armco in its compound; Birmingham Post & Mail for its collection of old newspaper cuttings.

    And finally, a huge thank you to my girlfriend, Sandra Burton, for supporting and putting up with me throughout this project. I am so grateful for your patience, and for giving me the motivation to complete the book.

    David Page

    4

    Introduction

    The place is magic; better than Monaco not a description you would expect to hear of Englands much derided second city, but Stefano Modena meant it. He was stepping from the cockpit of his Formula 3000 racer at the time: Birmingham is something else; it is fantastic for the people of the city as well as for the people taking part. The circuit is not dangerous, as can be the case with street tracks the drivers say it is bumpy, but then its a street circuit so it would be bumpy, Birmingham is not an exception. I had no great problems with it, and in my opinion, Birmingham is a wonderful race.

    That wonderful race took place for five years, a half decade where the excitement and glamour of international motor racing came to the streets of the West Midlands. But those five years have now faded into obscurity. This is the story of how the races came about, and how they came to such a premature end. This is the story of the Superprix.

    Acknowledgements

  • Top and bottom:

    The 1975 Duckhams parade on

    New Street. (Ian Bower)

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    Eventual winner Stefano Modena heads a tightly bunched group.

    City skyscrapers provide the backdrop as cars hurtle

    into Halfords Corner.

    ahead of the chasing pack. Wallace then had to divert his attention from chasing Modena to defending himself against Gugelmin and a rapid Martini.

    Wallace held off the onslaught from the Brazilian for a further seven laps, and Roberto Moreno gained a lot of ground up Peter Barwell Hill, into Halfords Corner. On the approach to Ferodo Corner, Wallace suddenly moved across and slid wide under heavy braking. His Madgwick Motorsport Lola careered over

    the gravel that covered a roundabout there, which it cleared before ending up in an escape road. He quickly booted the throttle and spun the car 180 degrees. When he rejoined the track he was in 5th, behind works Ralts of Moreno and Gugelmin, as well as Luis Prez Sala.

    first lap); Barilla; Bailey; Euser; Hytten (after an amazing first lap); Leoni; Belmondo; Apicella; Foitek; Spence; Nurminen; Moreno; Langes and Fert.

    At the end of the sixth lap, Stefano Modena had built a good gap between himself and Andy Wallace, setting the fastest lap time so far of 1m 29.63sec, with an average speed of 99.2mph. Modena was even quicker on his next lap, setting a time of 1m 24.99sec (104.62mph). The Italian was in dominant form, increasing his lead to 8.5 seconds

  • The Oreca Motorsport March of Olivier Grouillard shakes off an earlier clash of wheels with fellow Frenchman Pierre-Henri Raphanels

    Marlboro-sponsored Onyx March at the start of the 1987 F3000 race.

    A packed grandstand thrills to a duel at Halfords Corner.

  • Superprix..The.story.of.Birminghams.Motor.RaceSuperprix..The.story.of.Birminghams.Motor.Race

    Mark Blundell, in the Cadbury-sponsored Middlebridge Racing Reynard, on his way to a 5th place at the 1989 Birmingham Superprix, the lapped Franco Scapini behind him on Peter Barwell Hill.

  • Superprix..The.story.of.Birminghams.Motor.RaceSuperprix..The.story.of.Birminghams.Motor.Race

    87

    Rush hour traffic clogs the roads along Peter Barwell Hill and Belgrave Middleway, under a bitterly cold winter sunrise. (David Page)

    shuddered to a halt; the event condemned to a small, sometimes forgotten piece of Birminghams history.

    The Superprix remains a quiet memory for now, marred by politicians petty squabbles, with those in power incapable of seeing the unarguable benefits that a revived Superprix would bring. Imagine a horde of GP2 Dallaras screaming down Belgrave Middleway, or the buzzing ranks of British F3, all no doubt supported by the hugely popular BTCC

    of the Birmingham to Weston Veteran Car Rally. He was also there to welcome them at the end of their journey.

    A week later, an event organised by Martin Hone called the Coventry Shakespeare Run a 65 mile run through the Warwickshire towns from Coventry to Stratford-upon-Avon took place.

    Bristol Street, and the other roads used for the street circuit, had become eerily silent since the last controversial, and noisy, Birmingham Superprix

  • 92

    An evocative look back at the unique Brighton Speed Trials, first run in 1905. Captures the flavour and feel of one of Britains oldest motor sports events. Over 150 previously unpublished photographs of cars and motorcycles chronicle the event from

    the 60s through to the mid-80s.

    12.99ISBN: 978-1-90370-688-6

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    More Those.were.the.days.... titles from Veloce Publishing

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    93

    Crystal Palace, Londons own circuit, has recently been identified as one of the oldest motor racing venues in the world this is its story. Focussing on the development of the venue over the years and its untimely demise, many rare and previously unseen

    photos are included.

    12.99ISBN: 978-1-904788-34-8

    For more info on Veloce titles, visit our website at www.veloce.co.ukemail [email protected] tel: +44 (0)1305 260068 prices subject to change p+p extra