1983 European Grand Prix
- Sunday, September 25, 1983
- John Player Grand Prix of Europe
- F1 World Championship
With a shortage of races on the calendar, John Webb of Brands Hatch went smartly into action with the RAC and the result was that FISA and FOCA agreed to there being a Grand Prix at Brands Hatch as well as at Silverstone. As Silverstone had the RAC title of the British Grand Prix, we could not call the proposed race the British Grand Prix 2, so the title of Grand Prix of Europe was resurrected and given to the Brands Hatch race. When all the Grand Prix races were in Europe, each year one of them was “honoured” by being given the title Grand Prix of Europe but it was a meaningless title and it eventually disappeared from use but remained on the statutes. I suppose we could have suggested the Grand Prix of London (SE) or the Grand Prix of Kent, or even the Isle of Sheppey Grand Prix, but Grand Prix of Europe was acceptable to everyone and it left John Webb and the RAC a bare three months to get organised. By a nice gesture of mutual agreement, so rare in Formula One circles, it was agreed that no publicity for the Grand Prix of Europe would begin until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone was over and thus it was. But now the question arose as to whether the paying spectator could afford to attend another major Grand Prix event so soon after Silverstone. Most people had got through at least £120 (for a man and his wife) at Silverstone and it was hard to see how they could afford to do it again in three months time, while there were other problems such as un-paid enthusiastic marshals, helpers, officials and so on taking off yet more time from work and the Trade and Industry and Advertising world which fills and pays for the back-cloth to a World Championship event had misgivings about finding a second helping from the kitty.
The 1982 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch had been sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes so that everything that could be painted was painted Red and White. Now John Player agreed to sponsor the Grand Prix of Europe so everything that could be painted had to be painted Black and Gold. Even the toilet rolls changed colour, I am told! It was a monumental task and while certain sections of British industry are losing contracts because of saying “It can’t be done”, Brands Hatch management got on and did it. The result was a highly successful Grand Prix of Europe to which something like 65,000 people turned up on race day to enjoy a very full day of racing and entertainment. In fact there was so much going on that you could have been excused for missing the two hours that it took torso the Grand Prix.
When Bernie Ecclestone says “come” the Formula One troops act as one man and all the teams were present ready for the Friday practice with a few minor alterations. The entry for the second Theodore car was withdrawn and Johnny Cecotto was there “on holiday” and the Williams team entered an extra car for Dr Jonathan Palmer as a one-off drive in return for all the test-driving he has been doing for the team during the summer. There had been a vague hope that the first Honda powered Williams would be tried out in practice, but nothing transpired.