Amid rumours of housing estates and golf courses, the future for Mallory Park looked bleak through the winter of 1982-83. But Ron and Edwina Overend – key movers in the Midland Centre of the British Racing and Sports Car Club – had been working hard and persuaded former racer Chris Meek to buy the site.
At a rumoured E1 million, property developer Meek became the new owner and the Overend family soon had an operating lease. The circuit was safe, and on May 29 1983 racing resumed in a euphoric atmosphere with a 750 Motor Club meeting.
Inevitably, the international events and glory days were now merely a memory, but the track was busier than ever with club meetings for cars and motorbikes. In fact it was too busy. A total of 62 race meetings in 1984 led to a noise nuisance order being served by the local council in December ’85.
An agreement was reached that limited the circuit to 40 days of racing each year, plus considerable mid-week testing. More than 20 years later nothing has changed.
A landmark was reached in 1988 with the first 100mph lap for a Formula Ford 1600. Italian Vincenzo Sospiri lapped his Van Diemen RF88 in 48.44sec to break the 100mph mark that had first been topped by Denny Hulme’s Lola T70 22 years earlier.
Also in the late-80s, Nelson Piquet (Brabham) and Keke Rosberg (Williams) used Mallory for pre-Monaco F1 testing: Rosberg reportedly got down into the 36sec bracket!
Ricardo Zunino’s official record of 40.06sec survived 17 years through to August 1996, when gruff Lancastrian Tony Worswick dipped down to 39.36sec in his F3000 Reynard during a BOSS race. Less than a year later Johan Rajamaki stormed his Footwork FA13 around in 38.23sec (127.12mph) to set a mark that still stands.
The Overend family handed over the reins to the British Automobile Racing Club soon after the death of Edwina in 2004. With John Ward as circuit manager, a burst of investment has brought a new race control building and enhanced run-off areas at Devil’s Elbow and Shaw’s in particular. P L