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Birmingham Superprix - Britain's most controversial circuit?
The 1986 race weekend - Birmingham suffers a washout

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On Sunday 24th August, the eyes of the motorsport world were looking into Birmingham as the day had finally arrived 25 years after Peter Barwell’s claims that he first thought up of a road race during the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race.

15,000 grandstand tickets and more than other 15,000 tickets had been sold for the two day events. The main race would be televised to 35 different countries. A successful event would definitely put Birmingham on the map to the world.

The first line-up was the first practice session for the F3000 cars at 9am, due to a high number of entrants (44 drivers) to battle out for only 26 grid slots to take part in the F3000 race. So the drivers were split into two groups. The Group A practice session would take place from 9am until 9.45 and the practice session for the Group B cars would be at 10am till 10.45.

But the timetable was thrown into disarray as people arrived at the circuit to discovered some Armco were still being erected and this only half an hour before practice was due to start! It was soon apparent that there would be a delay but the delay lasted for two and three quarters hours to be exact.

It was discovered that it was caused by vandals who had interfered with the barriers over the night. Furthermore, some sections of the Armco barriers had been wrongly constructed and had to be altered. Due to the unusual nature of the circuit, being anti-clockwise, the Armco had been lapped over in the wrong way and the joints had to be changed over. It meant that the Armco joints should be in the direction of travel and the ending section was on the top of the new section, so then there would have been no problems if a car was sliding along the Armco. Also there were some advertisement banners missing from the circuit. Motor racing always had the danger factor so everything had to be checked out before the go-ahead was given.

About 1,000 policemen were on duty for the two-day event and the race organisers vowed to boost the security with police and council workers to go on a night vigil to patrol around the circuit to make sure there were no more mishaps.

It was only an hiccup as there was a decided degree of patience and flexibility to those who were present, as it took Martin Hone 16 years to put the race on and another few hours of repair work to make the circuit safe weren't going to matter.

However, the MSA Chief Safety Officer, Derek Ongaro was extremely upset with this and he made sure all of the Armco bolts and wedges were tightened after he walked around the entire circuit. But he was cheered up a bit later on as according to a marshal, when a BRSCC Rescue Unit van was commuting marshals to their posts, their portable PA was belting out Monty Python’s song “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” As the van driver was negotiating a corner and discovered Derek Ongaro with a group of FISA officials standing in the middle of the circuit, he stopped the van. Derek smiled and promptly moved out of the way of the BRSCC Rescue Unit van!

The BRSCC hastily rescheduled the race programme for the Birmingham Superprix event and it would look like this:

Sunday

0910-1010 F3000 Untimed practice session
1030-1130 Thundersports Heat 1 qualifying session, 20 mins untimed, 40 mins timed
1150-1250 Thundersports Heat 2 qualifying session, 20 mins untimed, 40 mins timed
Lunch break
1400-1445 F3000 Timed Group A qualifying session
1500-1530 Formula Libre Untimed practice session
1550 Race 1 Thundersports Heat 1, 10 laps
1620 Race 2 Thundersports Heat 2, 10 laps
1700-1745 F3000 Timed Group B qualifying session


Monday

0910-0940 Formula Libre Timed qualifying session
1000-1030 F3000 Warm-up
1045-1125 FF1600 Qualifying session, 15 mins untimed, 25 mins timed
1145 Pro-Am Renault Practice session
Race 3 Pro-Am Renault 7 laps
Lunch break
1400 Race 4 Formula Libre 15 laps
1440 Race 5 Thundersports 30 laps
1600 Race 6 F3000 50 laps
1730 Race 7 FF1600 10 laps


During the delays, the drivers were unimpressed with the wait. They learned that the official practice sessions would have to wait and it caused some frayed nerves amongst some of the drivers. The waiting crowd at the Bristol Street straight was given a treat as the F3000 drivers and mechanics gave them an impromptu display of football!

Stuart Dent (Eliseo Salazar’s British manager during the F3000 season) gave this story:

“I played for Italy once! Well, sort of... Anyone present at the inaugural Birmingham Superprix F3000 meeting in 1986 will remember enormous delays on the first morning, due to vandalism by protesting locals done to the barriers, the PA system and so on.

As was the norm in those days, a football was produced in the pitlane and some of the drivers started a kick-about. Then some mechanics joined in, and rolled out two pairs of trolley jacks as goal posts. The pits were in the Bristol Street Motors forecourt facing a big grandstand, and the impromptu action was going down well with the bored and frustrated spectators.

Within no time there were masses of players, and the goals had been made wider and the pitch lengthened. Such was the proliferation of our Italian friends in F3000 that season the players were split up to form Italy versus The Rest of the World.

So, with the 'international' well underway, I was enjoying the action sitting on the barriers by the halfway line with Eliseo Salazar who didn't fancy a game.

Credits to Stuart Dent and Mark Gallagher


Then, out of the blue, the ball was propelled in my direction... Without a second thought, I sprung to my feet and hit the sweetest half-volley towards the goalmouth to my left. It was one of those weird slo-mo moments as everyone watched the ball's looping trajectory... and saw it land plum in the goal - for the Italians!

They went completely mad; Ivan Capelli and Gabriele Tarquini came rushing up to me and - in time-honoured soccer fashion - did all the embraces and stuff, and then turned me round to the grandstands holding my arms up to the crowd (and those who weren't laughing too hard generously applauded!)

It was just one of those brilliant and totally spontaneous moments - and amazingly Ivan still remembered it several years later. Oh what I'd give for a photo of those goal celebrations, as Mark Gallagher (who took the shot above) had already gone elsewhere...”


FISA later fined the race organisers £10,000 because of the delay.

Finally at 11.45am, the circuit bursted in sound as John Nielsen in his Ralt-Honda rolled out of the pit lane; he earned the honour of being the first driver to set a lap around the Birmingham Superprix circuit. Everyone was keen to know what the impression of the circuit was like and what kind of laptimes could be expected. The Dane clocked up a lap of 1m 24.27 at an average speed of 105.5mph.


It finally had happened. After years of efforts and disappointment, Birmingham got its race and it was bound to be a great race for everyone to remember. As motorsport had been with the British people for 90 years and now the people of Birmingham were witnessing cars going at speeds that the Cosworth DFV engines were giving out to the F3000 cars in the streets of Birmingham for the first time in mainland Britain.

Tim Davies goes up the Peter Barwell Hill in his Colin Bennett Racing March
during a bone-dry qualifying session


Meanwhile under sunny and clear conditions, the drivers enjoyed lapping around the bumpy Birmingham Superprix circuit during the two qualifying sessions. Although some drivers complained of handling issues due to its bumpy nature. It was a strange thing as John Richardson (a member of the Road Race committee) was quoted by its official race programme after overlooking the construction of the circuit before the Bank Holiday weekend: “Our streets are smoother than any race track I have seen.”

Some drivers such as Tim Davies in his Colin Bennett March and Pierre Henri Raphanel in his ORECA Marlboro March experienced some harmless spins at the beginning of the qualifying sessions.

Ross Cheever had a tough introduction to street racing as he crashed his car into the Bristol Street Motors Bend (which is the first corner) in both sessions.

 

Credits to Rob Trebble


As the time went along, Michel Ferté was leading the timesheets for a long time with a lap of 1m 22.53 and was looking unbeatable from the start and then it was the Spaniard, Luis Perez Sala, who held provisional pole. It was until Pierluigi Martini pipped his Pavesi team-mate with a lap of 1m 22.16 at the last minute of the qualifying session.

Finally one of the highlights of the timetable for the Birmingham Superprix event was the qualifying sessions for the Formula Shell Thundersports Trophy race.

Credits to Rob Trebble


Minutes into a Thundersports qualifying session, there was a plume of smoke coming out of the Birmingham backdrop. The worst fears were confirmed that there was a massive accident along the Belgrave Middleway straight, there was an inferno coming out from Robin Smith’s Simpson Engineering Ltd. GC2 85 Cosworth car.

Credits to www.simonlewis.com


What initially happened was that Robin Smith was exiting the Halfords Corner and appeared to lose control his car; some witnesses said that it was caused by a burst tyre. Then the car clipped the Armco and then somersaulted along the downhill straight into flames. The speed of the accident was reported to be about 110mph. The sickening impact into the crash barriers literally cut the fuel track into half and went into a long spin.

A marshal standing at the apex of the Ferodo Corner and he claimed that he saw the Simpson car hit this Armco gate near the mosque and caused the fuel tank to split in half. The car finally ended up near the temporary gravel trap at the Ferodo Corner. Robin Smith then jumped out from the blazing car, himself on fire and his hasty escape to safety was aided when the explosion after crashing into the Armco gate blew the doors out of his car!


Amidst all of the chaos as the car tried to weld itself to the road due to the ferocity of the inferno that took over the entire car, marshals immediately arrived at the scene and smothered the car in foam. Robin Smith suffered from minor burns on his wrist, face and ankles locally and was taken to the Birmingham Accident Hospital.

Robin Smith receives treatment at the trackside following his crash


The amazing thing is that this happened in 1986, so there should have been some general awareness about safety. But still yet, another marshal personally reported that when the car was finally out, he could see petrol flowing along the drains by the path as some spectators stood there smoking their cigarettes near the accident scene!


The Thundersports qualifying sessions were brought to a premature halt because of the big shunt and the delays with the Armco barriers from the mornings in order to clear up the backlog of the race schedule.

Due to the rescheduling of the timetable by the BRSCC and as a result the Thundersports Trophy heats was cancelled and the last timed qualifying session for the feature F3000 event did not finish until nearly 8pm!

As there were some worries, it was a real learning curve for the people of Birmingham and the race organisers. The spectators departed from the circuit happily with a sun tan and in some cases a headache looking forward to the main event the following day.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast warned that an hurricane named Charley was fast approaching towards the British Isles from the Atlantic Ocean and it would affect the outcome of the inaugural Birmingham Superprix…



Monday 25th August 1986, the day had finally arrived 25 years after when Peter Barwell thought up of a road race in the streets of Birmingham at his trip to the Le Mans 24 Hours race and 16 years after Martin Hone first suggested it to the Birmingham City Council. But it didn’t go to a perfect start of the race as Birmingham suffered from severe weather when hurricane Charley lashed through the British Isles. The city got caught with the tail-end of the transatlantic storm. There were concerns that becasue of the poor weather crowds were down for the early events. But the organisers were still confidently predicting that 100,000 people would be at the trackside for the day’s feature event, the Formula 3000 Birmingham Superprix race.

Race officials mounted a night-long vigil to watch on the Armco barriers to avoid a repeat that marred the qualifying/practice session that wasted so much time yesterday. Andrew Marriott of CSS Promotions was quoted by the Express & Star:

“Everything is set now and its all system go for a memorable Superprix.”

In the morning, it was cold and there was thick cloud hovering over the city of Birmingham, making the teams to reach for their wet tyres and to set up their cars accordingly for the wet weather.

Satoru Nakajima’s manager Naomichi Fukuda was one of the few who were hoping for a shower or two so it would give his man an advantage.

One of the supporting acts of the Birmingham Superprix, the BRSCC Formula Libre Championship, and the organisers allowed the Formula Libre runners to go out and do their qualifying. Alo Lawler was in fine form with his McLaren M30 and topped the timesheets.


Marcus Pye, only just being drafted in the Renault 5 celebrity race on the previous Friday, he wanted to take advantage of track time with his Argo JM6. But unfortunately for him, the hastily rescheduled timetable changes and he experienced a leaky security bolt on his “wet” rims and he had to go out to qualify in slicks!

Marcus Pye going slightly a bit wide past Graham Williams.


Miraculously, he made the cut as he tried hard to keep it in the island (and many other Formula Libre drivers didn’t!) He reported that he was reaching speeds of 130mph along the Peter Barwell Hill in his ex-Thierry Tassin F3 car. The whole qualifying session was supposed to last for 30 minutes but it was cut shortly to 15 minutes due to other support races needing vital track time.

Graham Williams’ Fittipaldi F5A stands outs in the miserable conditions during the Formula Libre qualifying session.


The FF1600 qualifying session was cut from 40 minutes to 20 minutes and there is lack of information of what happened during the qualifying session. There is only a small report that Paul Warwick, brother of Derek Warwick, was driving for the Brabham Formula One team at the time did very well during the qualifying session.

Paul Warwick in his wet-shod Van Diemen RF86 at the Ferodo Corner.


The honour of the first race of the Birmingham Superprix didn’t go to the F3000 circus but to a group of invited celebrity and professional drivers that were due to take part in the Pro/Am Renault 5 race.

The celebrity race went ahead first bearing in mind that the finishing order of the celebrities would be reversed for the regulars grid. Divina Galica took the lead from Barry Lee early on in the race. Marcus Pye, fresh from the brief Formula Libre qualifying session, was enjoying his advantage of his extra knowledge around the street track and was up there as well.

He forced Galica into a spin and followed suit afterwards. Nick Phipps, a bobsleigh champion, flew past Marcus Pye and lost control of his Renault. Then, Pye had to avoid the spinning car and spun as well. It was indeed chaotic! But then it was only a celebrity race…

Rowan Atkinson didn’t make it to the race and David Leslie took his place and drove to the win of the celebrity race.

Ainsley Bennett, who replaced Sir Jack Brabham as he had to be called back to Australia on business at the last minute. He ran as high as 12th but he dropped back to 17th place, last of the surviving runners on the last lap.

A professional motorcyclist, Mick Grant took third just in front of recovering Marcus Pye and Motoring News’s David Tremayne.

Final positions after 5 laps:
1. David Leslie
2.
3. Mick Grant
4. Marcus Pye
5. David Tremayne
6.
Fastest lap: No record

It was abruptly stopped after five laps as the organisers allow the F3000 runners out for a 20-minute acclimatisation session.

Even the ‘Pro’ Renault cars lined up on the grid ready to start their race but at the same time the organisers were still rearranging the racing timetable! At the very last minute, the Renault 5 cars were recalled to the paddock and the drivers were told that the two heats would not happen due to lack of time to make way for the F3000 race.

It required a shuffle with the racing timetable for the day ahead because of the extra practice session. As a result the second part of the Pro-Am Renault 5 was postponed and the Thundersports race was cancelled.

It resulted in some drivers being angry and disappointed with the cancellation. The FISA reinforced the point that the F3000 cars got priority and besides there were television cameras to consider.

The amazing thing that the organisers never bothered to inform the cancellation of the Formula Libre, Thundersports and FF1600 races and the competitors found out about it via an announcement from a local radio station!

During the 20 minutes warm-up session, it was Nakajima’s team-mate, John Nielsen who led the timesheets despite his troubles with the third gear that occurred during qualifying yesterday. Gabriele Tarquini, Robert Moreno and Tommy Byrne joined the leading contenders for their efforts around the increasingly difficult street circuit.

After writing off his car, Alain Ferte’s team, ORECA had no spare car available so they decided to hire Gianfranco Tacchino’s March for the race.

The warm-up session which was interrupted again when Marcel Tarrès suffered a spin and the session come to an abrupt halt.

Luis Perez Sala found a sweet spot and was the fastest by a mile. He commented that the car was perfectly balanced amongst the rain and the bumps that have scattered around the street circuit. Behind him, as predicted, it was Nakajima. He used the weather to his advantage as back home in Japan; he was well used to such conditions at Mount Fuji!

As the crowd continued to grow around the street circuit, the rain became heavier. So it looked like the F3000 drivers got a wet and difficult race ahead...


As the cars set off the warm-up lap, there were masses of spray being thrown up from the wet tyres, there was very little visibility and grip on the track.


As a result Pierre Henri Raphanel had a minor spin and on arrival for the grid, he had to weave through to slot himself in the starting position at the fifth row. It was an offence that would end in disqualification. But there was a delay with the starting lights!

It seems like the rain had drowned the electrics to start the green light so the organisers were frantically trying to sort the problem quickly as possible. Eventually Andrew Gilbert Scott started to wave his arms in a frantic manner as he stalled his car during the delay.

The ‘start delay’ siren was set off and the Bristol Street straight was quickly swarming with mechanics and organisers. Eventually after a 15-minute delay, the F3000 grid lined up again ready for the race proper with Marcel Tarrès and Tim Davies starting from the pit lane.

The organisers couldn’t use the starting lights so there was a touch of nostalgia as an Union Jack was waved to start the inaugural Birmingham Superprix...


Pierluigi Martini smartly got off the line with Sala behind him from a safe distance. Andrew Gilbert Scott held on to his third place ahead of Michel Ferté.


But there was a moment of concern as John Nielsen stalled but the whole field managed to get past him safely. As Tommy Byrne was describing that first lap:

“As anyone who was there that day knows it was raining cats and dogs. I have never seen anything like it, but I was not too worried as I knew that we could not race in those conditions, but I was wrong and I never started so far back in any race never mind the blinding rain.

I was sh***ing myself and I had nothing to prove and I know I was going to be injured, it was a given. There was no way we were going to get through the first turn without a major crash.

I tried getting out of it but I had to do it when the light went green which I could not see from where I was. You could not see the steering wheel in front of you I had to listen to the car in front to know when to brake for the first turn when his engine died then I braked. It was a miracle that we all got through that turn.”


It was indeed a miracle that the dangerous mixture of experienced and young drivers with dreadful weather conditions thrown in have managed to get through the first turn and chicane with no problems.

There was a lot of standing water at the now then fabled Halfords Bump but Martini and Sala controlled their cars best as they could but Gilbert-Scott went wide at the hairpin but Ferte was close behind and quickly overtook him at the Belgrave Middleway straight.


Luis Perez Sala was clearly faster than his Pavesi team-mate Pierluigi Martini and he pulled off a move and overtook him for the lead at the Tandon Turn. Championship leader, Ivan Capelli made a superb start from 12th to 7th at the first corner and he was soon 5th. He got a bit too ambitious and spun his car at the Redex Corner and stalled his engine on the second lap. Capelli later said that he found it difficult to find the right set up to cope better with the bumps along Sherlock Street straight.

Now the next charger after Capelli was Eliseo Salazar, he was fast catching up on Andrew Gilbert Scott who was experiencing handling problems that resulted in a spin two laps later. Eventually Salazar reeled him in. At the back of the grid, Marcel Tarrès whose Team Dollop car had finally qualified for a F3000 race for the first time into the 1986 season, spun at Redex Corner and unluckily Tim Davies in his Colin Bennett March with very little visibility collided into Tarrès’ stricken car and retired on the spot.


Tarrès appealed to the marshals to bumpstart his car. A marshal tried to remove the loose front wing from the March. Eventually when he got going, race leader Luis Perez Sala came charging into Redex Corner. Marcel Tarrès looked into his left mirror and slid across the track into the racing line. Luckily Sala, as ever so alert due to the increasingly poor visibility flicked his Ralt across to avoid instant disaster. Marcel Tarrès limped into the pits to retire from the race.

John Jones had been improving a lot, especially around street circuits, but the conditions got better of him as he caused a harmless spin on the fifth lap and recovered in seventh place behind his Onyx Race Engineering team mate Russell Spence.

Another charger has appeared, Russell Spence, as he started on seventeenth place and by the fifth lap, he was seventh! After John Jones’s minor spin, there was a gaggle of cars consisting of Tomas Kaiser, Nakajima, Emmanule Pirro, Byrne and a determined Roberto Moreno. The race was shaping up nicely with battle all the way from the frontrunners to the backmarkers.


On the seventh lap, Tommy Byrne spun his Eddie Jordan Racing car at the top of the hill at the Halfords Corner; he tried to bumpstart it. Gilbert-Scott was having a scrap with Tarquini and they received a fright to see a stranded car at the Halfords Corner. Byrne was able to rejoin into the track at the back of the grid though.

John Nielsen finally got underway into the race and caught up with the gaggle of cars with Olivier Grouillard and Pierre-Henri Raphanel. But then Raphanel’s ORECA March was forced to retire due to terminal handling problems on the tenth lap. A part of the undertray came loose and he appeared to go straight into every corner! But his car gave up the ghost on the ninth lap.

Positions after 10 laps:
1. Luis Perez Sala
2. Pierluigi Martini, 5.5 seconds behind the leader
3. Michel Ferté, 9 seconds
4. Eliseo Salazar, 11 seconds
5. Pascal Fabre, 23.5 seconds
6. John Jones, 28 seconds

There was a battle for second place between Michel Ferté and Pierluigi Martini, there was a big ball of spray thrown up from them going around the circuit and people would think when the Frenchman would get in the front of Martini. But it wasn’t to be.

Alain Ferté suffered a spin in his San Remo March on lap 12. The car was left parked on the left side of the track on the approach towards the British Telecom International chicane. Its part of the proceeding was, alas, not yet over...

Meanwhile with the train of cars behind the frontrunners, Nakajima got past Kaiser and Pirro was fast gaining on Kaiser but then on the fourteenth lap, he spun into the Armco and damaged his nosecone and abandoned his car along the Sherlock Street straight. Roberto Moreno had to up the ante for himself as John Nielsen was catching up onto the gaggle of cars.

Russell Spence was setting himself up to take fifth place from Fabre but suddenly his engine suffered a temporary misfire due to the engine swallowing up some rainwater but soon the dramas cleared up but the battery started to short out. So he fell back away from Fabre.

Luis Perez Sala was leading at the fifteenth lap but his lead was greatly reduced as he had a spun and his front nosecone was removed by the Armco on the tenth lap but thankfully he was able to continue with no damage to his front wings. Now he got a battle to survive from the clutches of his team-mate Martini and Michel Ferte as he started to experience wet and freezing feet!


Positions after 15 laps:
1. Luis Perez Sala
2. Pierluigi Martini
3. Michel Ferté
4. Eliseo Salazar
5. Pascal Fabre
6. Russell Spence

The leaders lapped the unfortunate Andrew Gilbert-Scott, Gary Evans and Altfrid Heger as he enjoyed the pleasure of experiencing a double gyration, flat in fifth gear and still missed the Armco barriers!

Grouillard was an other victim of the tight confines of the street circuit as he spun. By this stage of the race, the rain was still pouring down heavily in Birmingham and everyone got a battle to survive and to finish the 52-lap long race and try to gain a few more places up the grid as they could.

Andrew Gilbert-Scott pulled into the pits on the nineteenth to have his rear suspension adjusted due to handling problems he encountered at the beginning of the race. Finally he rejoined the race two laps later.

Positions after 20 laps:
1) Luis Perez Sala
2) Pierluigi Martini, 17.75 seconds
3) Michel Ferté, 18.77 seconds
4) Eliseo Salazar, 34.89 seconds
5) Pascal Fabre, 50.68 seconds
6) Russell Spence, 54.19 seconds

On lap 22, the gap between Sala and Martini was down to 3 seconds but the leader was able to keep up with his pace and to maintain his lead.

At that point, people were starting to wonder whether if it was time to make a decision whether to abandon the race. Everybody’s worst fears was confirmed when as the leaders clocked up the 25th lap and Andrew Gilbert Scott clocked up his 21st lap and approached the Bristol Street Motors bend, he lost control at the exit of the corner at speeds of 70 mph.


It could have a harmless spin but Alain Ferté’s car was parked up alongside the Armco and Gilbert-Scott’s Lola smashed into Ferté’s stationary March.

Andrew Gilbert Scott escaped from the accident without any injury but he couldn’t hide his disappointment.


“The conditions were so bad you couldn’t even see flag marshals or the light of the car in front of you...although the grip of my car was improved after I pitted, it simply got sideways coming out of the corner and I had nowhere to go.”

The cars spilled across the track and the following cars have to weave through the narrow gap to get into the chicane. The marshals tried push Ferté’s car but they struggled to do so.


To everyone’s relief, the Clerk of the Course, John Nicol decided to red-flag the race.

It was a very brave decision to do so because of the hype of witness the Birmingham Superprix to happen, it was live at the front of the television camera particularly to a global audience to millions of people in 20 countries around the world. Some drivers felt it was necessary due to the appalling weather conditions but some were disappointed not to continue to make up any ground they may have lost or didn’t gain during the race.

For a while it was seemed that the race would be run in two parts, with the results to be decided from the total point of both races. But eventually it was decided not to continue the race due to the dangerous weather conditions and so half points were awarded to the top six finishers, as had been done at the F3000 International Trophy race at Silverstone earlier that year. Luis Perez Sala was leading when the race was stopped, was declared the winner of the first ever Birmingham Superprix.


Final positions after 24 laps:
1. Luis Perez Sala, winner, 4.5 points
2. Pierluigi Martini, 2.31 seconds, 3 points
3. Michel Ferté, 6.40 seconds, 2 points
4. Eliseo Salazar, 11.65 seconds, 1.5 points
5. Pascal Fabre, 42.99 seconds, 1 point
6. Russell Spence, 54.84 seconds, 0.5 points
Fastest lap: Eliseo Salazar 1m 42.62 (88.64 mph)

Most of the supporting races were cancelled and the F3000 race cut short due to the tight schedule of the timetable and the torrential conditions lashed out by Hurricane Charley. Luckily for the paying (and very soaked) crowd, they would be able to see some more racing action as the “Pro” side of the Pro/Am Renault race was put in as the final race of the Birmingham Superprix event.

After the marshals and organisers had cleared away debris left behind and abandoned cars from the previous race, the regulars lined up on the grid but the weather was a lot worse compare to what the F3000 drivers experienced.

Credits to Rob Trebble


David Martell ran into the lead but it would not last as he dropped off the leader board while David Grimshaw stormed through the slippery conditions to the chequered flag. It was noticed that David da Costa put in an excellent drive to move up from 17th and held on to his 6th position and also after David Leslie’s celebrity win, David Gibson started from last and moved up to 7th. It was particularly noteworthy for both drivers.

Richard Hill leading a gaggle of Renaults in the regulars’ race.


Final positions after 5 laps:
1. David Grimshaw
2. David Martell
3.
4.
5.
6. David da Costa
Fastest lap: David da Costa 2m 08. (69.31mph)

Amidst chaos with the weather and general confusion that was rife at the Birmingham Superprix, a few days after the race the aggregate results were declared:

Aggregate positions after 2x5 laps:
1. Ainsley Bennett/David Grimshaw, 11m 04.55s
2. Rachel Heyhoe-Flint/David Martell, 11.15.82s
3. Pat Roach/Chris Maries, 11m18.99s
4. Steve Pinder/Malcolm Pyne, 11m 22.85s
5. David Tremayne/David da Costa, 11m 23.41s
6. Lord Brockett/Andrew Thorpe, 11m 35.35s

Now then, at the next day, there was criticism from some national newspapers as it was an anti-climax and was more of a consequence of the event’s unique position in British motorsport than of any special dangers featuring in the new street circuit. Monday’s rainstorm was a freak incident and people would believe that the Birmingham City Council, BRSCC and sponsors must wait for an other years to reap the rewards of the Birmingham Superprix. It was indeed a cruel fate for a hurricane to hit Birmingham at the wrong time, especially during the British summer.

It would require 12 months to put everything right and to rectify any issues; it would be foolhardy to think all of the problems originated from the appalling weather. The RAC MSA praised the organisers for their efforts but there are lessons to be learnt such as improving access points for the paying public and more provision to for cranes to remove stricken cars from danger points of the street circuit.

The Birmingham City Council would reflect upon the whole weekend as their budget for the inaugural Birmingham Superprix was £1.5 million pounds and attracted 119,000 people throughout the whole event (45,000 went to see the qualifying/practice sessions on Sunday) but then they lost £400,000 at the end though.

Head of the Birmingham Road Race committee was quoted by the Daily Mail:

“If the weather has gone with us, we might be able to break even this year.”

Now the city of Birmingham were hoping that the weather gods would help them for the next August bank holiday in 1987...