New legislation could herald revival of Birmingham Superprix

Motor racing could return to the streets of Birmingham – and other towns and cities in the West Midlands – under new legislation which has come into force.

New laws, effective from today (Monday), will allow motor racing events to take place on closed public roads in England.

The move could see small races hosted by local communities, bigger European rallies or even a future Monaco-style Grand Prix in an English city.

The Government believes the new law could offer huge economic benefits to local authorities and the areas they represent.
Birmingham is one of the few cities in the UK to have experimented with street racing.

In the early 1980s, the city council, keen to capitalise on Birmingham’s motoring heritage, decided to stage races.

Between 1986 and 1990 the event became known as the Birmingham Superprix. The principal event formed a round of the FIA Formula 3000 Championship, but support races included the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and Formula Ford 1600 championship, as well as sports car racing.

While initially attractive, the event soon into problems when race fans realised that the giants of Formula 1 would not be racing around the city centre.

A lack of investment and dwindling crowds eventually forced the cancelation of the event and while there have been several attempts to resurrect it, it remains an ambitious experiment.

However, this could change under the new legislation – and one focus of attention could be electric vehicle racing. Jaguar is one of the teams participating in the FIA Formula E world championship and the prospect of a race in its home city would be an attractive prospect.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones, launching the new legislation, said: “Britain is a world leader in the motorsport industry and this will further cement our position. There are already races of this kind in some areas of the British Isles which are incredibly popular, attracting thousands of spectators. New road races will boost local economies through increased tourism and hospitality, and offer community opportunities such as volunteering.”

One advocate is Birmingham-bred F1 and Indy Car World Champion, Nigel Mansell.

He said: “I have seen first-hand the very significant impact of motor sport on the economy of the Isle of Man and Jersey, so this is a great move forward for the sport and will bring visitors and pride to parts of the country that wish to stage such events.”

Another advocate is Conservative Mayoral candidate, Andy Street.

He said: “These new laws will make it so much easier to overcome some of the obstacles around putting on these events, provided of course we agree the necessary permissions locally.

“In my Renewal Plan I have committed to making the West Midlands a global centre for electric and driverless vehicles, building on our existing strengths in advanced manufacturing.

“A revival of the Superprix focused towards racing in new technologies would demonstrate our growing confidence as a region, bring motorsports fans from all over the world and showcase our global excellence in this emerging industry.”