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Old 14 Mar 2006, 13:15   #1
bigears
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Memories of the Birmingham Superprix

Hello, I have just registered in this forum because I am an avid fan of the Birmingham Superprix so I am hoping to find more information from you. In the past few years, I have been collecting and researching information relating anything about the Birmingham Superprix.

I have used the search function and PMed some members here but one person suggested to me that I should set up a thread to get more response from you guys about what you know about or your experiences of attending the Birmingham Superprix.

A little snippet of information here:

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In 1985, the Birmingham City Council passed the Birmingham Road Race Bill, which allowed the Birmingham Superprix for Formula 3000 cars to be held on a circuit of closed streets near the city centre for two days during the August Bank Holiday. Previously, all motor racing on the public streets of mainland Britain had been outlawed (unless specifically allowed for in private legislation).

The first Superprix was held in 1986 and was subjected to torrential rain. After extensive delays, this first race was run to a reduced distance. Over the next few years, races featured numerous accidents and the excessive noise over the course of the weekend proved to be unpopular with some members of the local community. The races were also commercially unsuccessful, so for 1991 plans were proposed for the race to be organised privately on an extended 3-mile circuit. However, these plans were never implemented and the race was dropped from the calendar. At present, the Birmingham circuit remains the only street course to have been established on the British mainland.
I took some photos of the old street track and put them up in this website.

I got a lot of photos and even video footage from 1985-1990. So if anyone need their memory jogged up, let me know so I can post a relevant photo! So hopefully you can share your experiences in this thread.

Thanks
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 15:23   #2
allenbrown
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I was there in 1986 as I was so proud that Brum had managed to pull it off. So I got a place in the main grandstand, settled back and ... got drenched.

Every now and then something grey flew past in the spray. I guess it was a racing car but I couldn't be sure.

What a miserable experience after all that effort.

I kept going year after year and it was, of course, excellent after that. My old college, Matthew Boulton, had a great view.

Allen
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 17:55   #3
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Bigears, the whole weekend was absolute heaven for me!

I went with the old man and or mates every year because we lived half an hour away. Plus, F3000 was my main interest in the sport. The noise reverberated back off the tall buildings, it was amazing. I used to wander around the closed streets insude the circuit looking for a new vantage point. You could nip down side roads and find a forecourt of a business premises behind the catchfencing but with plenty of room to view the cars.

It was also weird seeing future stars standing around the service area od Bristol Street Motors, quite surreal!!

1986, the inaugual year was indeed terribly wet and we all felt sorry for the orgainsers because of having finally got it all arranged and up and running, the weather threatened to kill it off!

1987 was a good event, a 'demonstration drive' by Stefano Modena who looked every bit a future WDC at that point, shame he didn't cut the mustard in F1. Race also memorable for Roberto Moreno's drive to 2nd from the back and also a good battle between Andy Wallace and one or two others.

In 1988 loads of silly stoppages caused by idiot drivers theatened things a bit leading to cancellation of BTCC race which was a shame as it was a big crowd puller at the event.
Moreno did the business though romping away with Martini and Donnelly also impressing.

1989 main race was a great scrap (as mentioned in Marco Apicella thread) between him and Jean Alesi.

I had a photo blown up to poster size on my wall for years of Eric Bernard's Lola coming out of the Bristol Street pit lane - even with a relatively modest 135ml lens you could zoom in on the drivers crash hat. Trouble was that you'd go deaf momentarily as the guys would invariably blip the throttle to put some rubber down as they exited the pit lane!! The late Stephane Proulx was one particular ear offender!!!

1990m the final year was for me the best race for action. Eric Van De Poele won but Apicella was long gone until he broke down. Drive of the race was from Fabrizio Barbazza in the Crypton Leyton House. He qualified about 3 rows from the back in a really awkward car but flew through the field on a mission until he came upon one Eddie Irvine who decided to edge over on him under braking a the end of the return leg of Belgrave Middleway causing Barbazza to vault him and very nearly ended up down in the underpass! Ruined the race really as god knows where he'd have finished, easily second i'd imagine as Frentzen binned it bit later pushing too hard.

I was devastated when the event stopped, as it was touch and go for a while if it would continue into 1991.

Councillors said it was a huge money loss but I remember a massive crowd for that final year so it must have been a pretty good tourist attraction.

Hope that gives you a taster of what it was like for a local F3000 mad teenager!

Last edited by chunterer; 2 Nov 2007 at 09:30.
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 00:21   #4
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Originally Posted by chunterer
Councillors said it was a huge money loss but i remember a massive crowd for that final year so it must have been a pretty good tourist attraction.
This may be apocryphal, but I believe it lost money because an offer to underwrite the race by Marlboro was turned down, and minor sponsorship from an anti-smoking group taken instead. Fair enough as a political decision, but you can't blame the race for losing money as a result.

I went to every one, and what a fantastic event it was. It was before I started marshalling circuits, so I was a spectator and managed to see the whole circuit over the years. I used to watch parctice and qualifying from the grandstand on the right hander after the Middleway as it was free, and that gave you a good view all the way up the straight and back, most of the way to the left hand kink before Ferodo, and across into the chicane round the roundabout. Race day was varied. I watched two from the hairpin, one from the first corner and two from Ferodo, including the shunt and boxing match between Sytner and Cleland after Frank 'assisted' John's entry speed into the hairpin. I also remember Derek Higgins guest drive in the CRX ending in a shower of tyres all over the circuit after the car got away from him in the fast left.

Donnely went well in a car that was half white and half yellow after it was apparently totalled when he abandoned it on the exit of the first corner. That race was won by Alesi, I think.

vna der Poele was masterful the year he won, simply keeping Apicella in sight. The car was clearly smoking from early on, and obviously getting worse, and I'm sure he just sat back and waited for it to go pop before striding away into the distance.

Some of the support races were pretty good too. CRXs were good value. Mike Jordan's Porsche Turbo was terrifying and fantastic in equal measure, and all those Sierra Cosworths...
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 20:20   #5
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Bigears your website pictures don't load, have you set it up correctly.
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 20:41   #6
Andrew Kitson
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I painted a picture of it for Mark Blundell after the '89 race. Shows him in his Middlebridge 'Cadbury' Reynard leading Irvine and Apicella.
http://www.andrewkitson.com/pages/f3000birm.htm
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 21:40   #7
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Like Chunterer, F3000 (along with FF1600) was always my favourite Formula.
Unfortunately I only made it to Birmingham for the 1990 race.
In no particular order, here are some of my memories from that weekend:
Walking the course on Saturday and being blown away by the noise and how close you could get to the cars at full speed.(Especially next to the mosque)!
Sleeping in my car in a concrete car park!
Russ Swift practising his act in the same car park!
The brilliant atmosphere in Pizza Hut on the Saturday night!

Your pictures certainly brought back some memories Big Ears.
In one of them I can see the grass bank I sat on all of Sunday at the hairpin.
Stephane Proulx ( who sadly many years later died of an AIDS related illness), went straight on during the race, and with an enormous thump managed to shift about six layers of tyres back by about six feet!
From my vantage point I could see a huge TV screen, so keeping track of the races was easy. Mind you, my vantage point was nowhere near as good as many of the locals hanging off their balconies in their high rise flats! From there I also witnessed Van Der Poele's victory donuts.( He would have been banned and fined today)!

Although not a Touring Car fan, I remember the BTCC and TVR Tuscan races were quite entralling.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember watching the Belgian GP highlights in a hotel foyer after the meeting? Phillipe Streiff and Jonathan Palmer having a big shunt in their Tyrrells on the first lap?

All in all, a fantastic weekend, only spoilt by the fact I had missed the previous four!
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 21:45   #8
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Two other Brum incidents have just sprung to mind: David Hunt's engine going clean through an office brick wall, and Russell Spence refusing to exit his car as it was being craned to safety!
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 00:49   #9
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Waaay! I got the colours right! Not bad for 15 years ago.

Actually, I'm going to merge this thread and the marshals one, but I'll leave a redirect over there. Better to have all the tales in one place.
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 01:12   #10
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No problem, thank you for sorting this out.
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 07:53   #11
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I have two friends who race dat the first one I think. One of them (who shares my car in the long distance races) was in the tin top race although it didnt happen due to the rain. By coincidence on his way to racing Gp C he spent a season in F3000. Another co incidence is that we were chatting about that race at lunch on Sunday!
The other mate ran in the Thundersports race and I think took a class win. Both said it was a great event.
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 07:53   #12
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Like Jim i also marshalled all five but the best one for me has to be the first one.

I was in a fire tender ( Transit pick-up with big fire bottles strapped to the back)
in the pit-lane and spent all sunday and monday laughing and joking with James Hunt.

I could tell you some stories about him but the mods wouldn't print them.
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 08:31   #13
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Went to every one,missed just one saturday.Have hardly been to any other british racing since as circuits are so boring compared to Birmingham!
Actually,I thought we had already discussed this,and I recall sending some of my photos to 'bigears'- or was it that other forum we are not allowed to mention?
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 08:47   #14
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I also have a sense of deja vous but its a great subject!
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Old 15 Mar 2006, 12:20   #15
bigears
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Rob, yes you have already sent your collection of BSP photos last year.

Nice to see you in this forum by the way

rescue dude, if you got anything what James Hunt said about the Birmingham Superprix, you can PM me?
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