Return of the Superprix? Coventry's talks to host World Rallycross round

Rallycross News

Coventry is hoping to bring wheel-to-wheel racing back to Britain for the first time in over 30 years. Kevin Hansen spoke with Cambridge Kisby about how World Rallycross plans to tackle the streets of Coventry

Birmingham Superprix

Is it Tabac? Is it Rascasse? No, it's Halfords Corner

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Thirty-four years after the last Birmingham Superprix, top-level racing cars look set to once again roar around West Midlands streets.

There are currently “advanced talks” for Coventry to host a round of the World Rallycross Championship in 2025. The proposed circuit would see a field of 600bhp cars race past the ice rink in the south-west of town before heading onto the city’s notorious ring road, turning back at Grayfriars Green and then heading back toward the heart of the city centre.

Digital image of proposed Coventry World Rallycross event

A vision for Coventry’s Rallycross future

WRX officials are negotiating terms with MotoFest — a local motoring festival which hosts a series of live sprint events on the city’s streets as well as demonstrations and parades. Should the talks be successful, not only will the WRX championship round become a part of next year’s festival but it would also be the first time cars have raced wheel-to-wheel on a British street circuit since the days of the Birmingham Superprix — an annual event which hosted single-seater, touring car and sports car competitions from 1986-1990.

On a twisting 2-mile street circuit, soon-to-be F1 drivers in Luis Pérez Sala, Stefano Modena, Roberto Moreno, Jean Alesi, and Eric van de Poele flew down Bristol Street and through Halford’s Corner at average speeds of over 100mph on their way to F3000 wins. Commentary was provided by Murray Walker, Nigel Mansell and Derek Bell.

Unsurprisingly, few who saw the spectacle have forgotten it — and there were plenty, with as many as 70,000 fans flocking to the streets of Birmingham. That’s despite the unfavourable comparisons it drew to Monte Carlo and Macau, on account of the surroundings. It was “not an attractive sight” according to Motor Sport’s Mike Lawrence who stood trackside in 1986. 

“The markets acted as the support race paddock while all the F3000 cars were housed in a covered car park behind Bristol Street Motors whose main showroom was turned over to the media,” he added in his official race report. “Temporary hospitality boxes were erected near the start/finish line and there was a “tented village” in which teams could entertain guests. Temporary bridges supplemented the permanent subways so crossing to the infield was no problem and since the crowd was accommodated around the whole 2.7 miles and were much closer to the action than at any other British circuit, everyone got a good view and the sight of an F3000 car at full chat a few feet away is a mightily impressive one.”

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The 1990 Birmingham Superprix would ultimately be the last race of its kind, as the event was put out to tender the following year and there were no bidders. A ban on street circuit racing in Britain soon prevented any other cities from hosting similar events, but since that ban was lifted in 2014, motor sport enthusiasts in Coventry have been keen to follow in the Superprix’s wheel tracks.

“This is a massive opportunity to showcase Coventry’s motoring past with a project that will help secure its future as a city at the heart of transport innovation and development,” said MotoFest Coventry Festival Director, James Noble. “We have made no secret in the past of our ambition to stage competitive motorsport on Coventry Ring Road and having successfully delivered closed-road time trials, we are now driving forward with the next phase of that plan”

Map of proposed Coventry World Rallycross street circuit

The proposed circuit layout

Speaking to Motor Sport, Kevin Hansen — winner of the 2023 World Rally X of Hong Kong (held on the series’ first street circuit) — described how he imagined a race on the streets of Coventry, which would be the third British location for the series, after Lydden Hill and Silverstone.

“From a fan perspective, we’re trying to make the most entertaining track,” he said. “Around the start there’s a beautiful backdrop of one of the old churches, and then Turn 1 will be around the Ikea building which will be a fantastic place for big grandstands or VIP areas.

“Then we’ll go under the ring road, which could be a great place to put a bit of gravel or fit the joker lap in. It will also be a tight corner which will open up a lot of overtaking opportunities. From there we’ll then go straight up onto the super fast ring road before tackling another tight double left which will not only be another great overtaking opportunity but it will host some huge grandstands and great viewing site.

“Then finishing off the lap we wanted to connect it through some of the core buildings in Coventry. To get that ‘British feel’ we’ll even be driving through a small lane of houses. I thought that was a great addition to this track to add a bit of culture from the country. All in all, I think the layout we have right now is the perfect location for this opportunity.”


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Hansen, who visited MotoFest earlier this year, was spurred on by the huge crowds that attended and believes the addition of a World Rallycross Championship round would only add further value.

From the archive

“It was great to see MotoFest for the first time, just to understand the race location we were proposing and what the event was like,” he said. “To see that amount of fans and that amount of Coventry citizens coming out and enjoying the celebration of motorsport and the motor industry at the festival was fantastic and it just made me believe even more in the event and the track location that we have.”

Although void of the glitz and glamour of other street race locations, Coventry is still likely to face the familiar obstacles taken on by Monaco, Macau, Singapore — and once upon a time, Birmingham.

At the time of the Superprix, local businesses immediately surrounding the circuit were asked to move out for weeks at a time. Although it was undoubtably a spectacle for those who could watch from the offices above, the loss of revenue became substantial as customers struggled through traffic and road closures. Still, the local council was commended for its efforts to make it work.

“It’s a dead duck now, thankfully,” Paul Williams, then running Bristol Street Motors told Motor Sport in 2018. “But it was a good idea at the time, and you have to applaud them for doing it. No other council in the country has tried to do it, especially with all the health and safety; if it was difficult then it would be almost impossible now.”

For Coventry, however, it’s not quite impossible and 30 years after the Birmingham Superprix had its swansong, the streets of the West Midlands could have the chance to prove once and for all that street-circuit racing has a place in Britain.