|Location||Birmingham, England, United Kingdom|
|Major events||Formula 3000
British Touring Car Championship
Formula Ford 1600
|Length||3.8 km (2.47 mi)|
|Lap record||1:22.91 (107.24 mph) (Roberto Moreno, Ralt RT21 Honda, 1987)|
The Halfords Birmingham Superprix was a motor racing meeting held on a street circuit at the heart of Birmingham, England, from 1986 to 1990. Until 1990 the principal event was a round of the FIA Formula 3000 Championship, but support races included BTCC and Formula Ford 1600 rounds, as well as sports car racing.
The idea of a motor race in the centre of England's second city was mooted in local council meetings as far back as 1966. A councillor from the Birmingham City Council asked Martin Hone to create a White Paper of proposing a street race to be presented to the City Council. Stirling Moss obtained permission from Birmingham City Council to hold a race in 1972, but the event never materialised. Although there was a demo run by Patrick Nève in his Brabham BT45 around the Bullring in 1976.
It was not until the 6th November in 1984 that the council forwarded the Birmingham Road Race Bill to Parliament on the 29th November in 1984, the members of the Parliament approved the Birmingham Road Race Bill in April 1985 and where it was passed and received Royal Assent in October 1985. This allowed preparations for the Birmingham SuperPrix to begin. The event was to be centred around a race for Formula 3000 cars, at that time the last step up the career ladder before Formula One. The circuit was laid out on closed streets near the city centre, and the meeting was scheduled for two days during the August Bank Holiday.
In 1986, the first SuperPrix was held. The circuit was drenched by torrential downpours from the tail end of Hurricane Charley. Being laid out on public roads the circuit was bumpy, and the cars were thrown around badly. Pierluigi Martini and Luis Pérez-Sala qualified on the front row, followed by Andrew Gilbert Scott. The championship leader Ivan Capelli span early on, in his March 86B Cosworth powered car. Because of long delays, the first race was run at a shorter distance. At every corner there seemed to be someone crashing. The race was red flagged when Andrew Gilbert Scott was experiencing handling problems after an earlier spin. When he exited the Bristol Street Motors Bend on the 21st lap, he lost it and crashed into Alain Ferté's stationary car, blocking part of the track, with Sala still fighting for the win from a fast catching up Martini. Luis Pérez-Sala was given the win, and Pierluigi Martini given second, with Michel Ferté taking third. The top six drivers were awarded half points as the race was red-flagged on the 24th lap, just before the halfway point of the 51 lap race.
The 1987 race was a complete contrast to the 1986 race. Instead of the track being rain-drenched, it was sun-drenched. Maurício Gugelmin was on pole, alongside Stefano Modena. Later on, Pierluigi Martini was forced to pit with electrical problems, while Roberto Moreno had a tremendous race, having started from the pits after stalling before the warm-up lap. Modena made it his second win of the season, while Moreno took second after his pressure had caused Wallace to make a driving error at the Ferodo Corner. After his pole, Gugelmin took third place.
The 1988 race was also sunny, but had two restarts. The first one was because of a huge accident involving David Hunt (brother of former F1 champion, James Hunt) was involved in a massive shunt, clipping Claudio Langes' car as the cars front of them slowed down due to the Bertrand Gachot/Andy Wallace accident at the Zenith Turn (Hunt's car managed to punch a massive hole into a wholesalers' shop wall at the fast Loctite Corner). The second stoppage was due to an incident involving Russell Spence. After his car spun, blocking the road, a crane came to move his car. Spence was still in the car, and frantically waving at the crane driver to put his car down facing the right way. The car was lowered, but not in the right place and Spence got out of his car, and then the leaders got caught up in the incident. Roberto Moreno took the chequered flag after the 2nd restart, with Martin Donnelly and Martini in second and third respectively.
As a result of the delayed F3000 race, the BTCC race (British Touring Car Championship) and other support races were cancelled due to the time limit imposed by the Road Race Bill.
The F3000 race at the Birmingham Superprix was just as sunny as the two previous ones, there was a carnival atmosphere. But not certainly for Martin Donnelly as he got a lot of attention for wrong reasons. During the qualifying session after a spin at the Holts Corner, he abandoned his car, and watched with horror as Erico Cheli t-boned his car. His Eddie Jordan Racing team worked very hard to get the Reynard car repaired, and thankfully he started the race with an incomplete livery. His team mate Jean Alesi fought throughout the race with Marco Apicella. It stayed that way at the end, with Alesi beating Apicella by a slender margin. Donnelly came back to finish third.
The Birmingham SuperPrix circuit was laid down on public roads, just to the south-east of Birmingham City Centre. Slightly unusually the circuit ran anticlockwise.
- Proposals for a new SuperPrix and some history
- Memories of the Birmingham SuperPrix
- 8W Forix article on the history of the Birmingham Superprix
- Satellite picture by Google Maps