For five summers, Britain’s second city played host to F1’s official finishing school
Writer Peter Higham
It took 15 years of campaigning and government legislation to make the Birmingham Superprix a reality, but the race lasted just five years. Martin Hone was the idea’s driving force and the Birmingham Road Race Bill was finally passed in April 1985 (by 202 MPs to 68), with Royal Assent following six months later. That paved the way for a round of the FIA F3000 Championship to be held on August Bank Holiday 1986.
That inaugural event was marred by some of the heaviest rain to fall on a British race meeting, forcing the race to be stopped before half-distance. Even when the sun was out, the circuit’s tight confines and vicious bumps led to numerous mishaps. David Hunt survived a frightening accident in 1988 and that race was stopped again following another multiple pile-up – Russell Spence was still in his cockpit as his car was craned away.
That said, the Birmingham Superprix was a real highlight of the UK racing calendar with a unique atmosphere as the noise of 3-litre racing engines reverberated around the concrete car parks and housing that lined the 2.47-mile circuit. Like many a temporary course, overtaking was difficult and four of the five events were led from start to finish. That didn’t stop Roberto Moreno driving from the back of the field to finish second in 1987.
There were plans to lengthen the circuit to comply with FIA demands, but that never came to fruition and the British mainland’s first street race slipped from the calendar 25 years ago.