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Old 14 Mar 2006, 12:15   #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, 12:57   #2
jonbryant
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I was there in '86. Unfortunately I was 6 and all I can remember was the rain absolutely persisting it down. I think we barely hung around until my Dad sold the tickets and we scarpered!

So I can't help that much other than to say that I can remember how wet I was 20 years later!

Oh, and of course, welcome to the forum!
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 13:48   #3
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Hi bigears,
I wasn't there, but I have just bought the book "Motor Racing Circuits in England, then & now", by Peter Swinger, which contains a couple of pages about the Birmingham Super Prix. I'm not sure if copyright rules will allow me to publish the article on this forum but, if you want, I'm sure we can find some other way of getting it to you.
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 14:23   #4
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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, 15:58   #5
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I was the Observer in 1990 on the elevated marshal's post in the middle of the dual carriageway pretty much in the centre of the first of the Peter Barwell Hill photos. I remember being supplied, through the wire fence, with tea (and nothing else!) by some 'interesting' young ladies from the flats on the left of picture. We gathered they were in the 'personal services' industry and were pretty hacked off that the race was not bringing in the expected increase in business!
I believe, without looking it up, that the race was won by Eric Van de Poel but Im sure somebody will jump in and tell me I'm wrong.
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 15:58   #6
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i raced in the modsaloon race in the 1987 event, the circuit was still being finished when we got there,there was i believe a problem with a gas main. We practised in the morning, we not did race until very late in the afternoon/early evening, the support race paddock was in the veg. market and the only place we could see race cars was from a multi-story car park. i do remember that because the circuit was anti - clockwise that it felt difficult to learn lines etc. i nearly rolled my car when i was caught out by very steep camber on a roundabout.
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 16:18   #7
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Originally Posted by White flag man
Hi bigears,
I wasn't there, but I have just bought the book "Motor Racing Circuits in England, then & now", by Peter Swinger, which contains a couple of pages about the Birmingham Super Prix. I'm not sure if copyright rules will allow me to publish the article on this forum but, if you want, I'm sure we can find some other way of getting it to you.
Unfortunately Peter Swinger died about 3 1/2 years ago (incidentally one of the nicest people in racing I ever met). I could put you in touch with his widow if it was a case of getting permission to quote anything from the book.
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 16:48   #8
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Originally Posted by johngee
I was the Observer in 1990 on the elevated marshal's post in the middle of the dual carriageway pretty much in the centre of the first of the Peter Barwell Hill photos. I remember being supplied, through the wire fence, with tea (and nothing else!) by some 'interesting' young ladies from the flats on the left of picture. We gathered they were in the 'personal services' industry and were pretty hacked off that the race was not bringing in the expected increase in business!
I believe, without looking it up, that the race was won by Eric Van de Poel but Im sure somebody will jump in and tell me I'm wrong.
Hi Johngee,
thanks for the info' about Peter Swinger, never met the man, but the book is great.
You're absolutely right , Eric van de Poele did win in a Cosworth Reynard 90D and second was Andrea Chiesa in a Mugen powered Lola T90/50.
You're right again, I did look it up!
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 16:55   #9
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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 08:30.
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 19:12   #10
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[mod]Sorry, can't allow links to another forum, even though it's clearly an innocent direction[/mod]
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 19:20   #11
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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, 19:41   #12
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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, 20:31   #13
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You may be interested in this Link to some pictures taken the week before the First event.

http://www.marshalspost.com/gallery/80.html

I marshalled all 5 and thoroughly enjoyed every one.

R's Jim
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 20:40   #14
Tim 27
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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, 20:45   #15
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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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