A return of Birmingham’s legendary Super Prix would see crowds of more than 100,000 on the streets of the city, the original event’s organiser claims.
Hopes are rising that the street race could return after the government launched consultation that would allow local authorities to close roads for motor sport events.
Martin Hone, who was behind bringing motorsport events to the city, said he would gladly be involved and urged the city’s leaders to show some “political will”.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, launched the consultation to give councils the right to suspend the Road Traffic Act without resorting to an act of parliament, something Birmingham had to do when it ran the Super Prix from 1986 to 1990.
Birmingham remains the only UK city to have staged a major motor sport event on its streets and over the decades there have been repeated calls for its return.
The event saw the city centre transformed into a Monaco-style road race circuit with cars travelling at speeds of up to 200mph.
The flagship event was a Formula 3000 race, at that time the last step on the ladder before Formula One, and took place over the August bank holiday weekend.
A special Act of Parliament – the Birmingham Road Race Bill in 1985 – had to be passed in order for the race to take place.
Welcoming the prospect of its return, Mr Hone said: “It could happen if there is political will.
“I am well versed. If someone came and said: ‘Martin put a road race on tomorrow’, it would be done. I have still got the energy and vitality and would love to do it. I would love to see something like that happening in Birmingham.
“I am twiddling my thumbs and it is one of my biggest dreams.”
Mr Hone, who owned the Opposite Lock nightclub and a number of restaurants in the city, was initially asked to investigate the possibility of a road race by Birmingham City Council in 1966.
It was the start of a process that saw the former racing driver stage a number of major motor sport exhibition events in the seventies and eighties, with Formula One legends like Fangio and Emerson Fittipaldi coming to the city, although the Super Prix itself ended up being run by the operators of the Brands Hatch racing circuit.
Reflecting on the events he organised, Mr Hone said he believed it would be at least as popular now and explained: “We would get anything up to 100,000 people to come and watch the parades.
“For me it was an extension of my business interests to see Birmingham come alive and fill the place with tourists, bringing a high-profile event to the city that would then go national. I had done street racing myself and saw the effect it had on bringing people to places in Italy. I knew it was a solid business venture and a tourist attraction.
“As a Birmingham man born and bred I wanted to do the same thing for Birmingham.”
Mr Hone said he remained convinced the return of road racing would be a huge boost to Birmingham, particularly if it was run in conjunction with other events such as music festivals, as happens in Monaco.
He added: “Birmingham needs major events and yes, of course we could do it. It is still a good idea, would stand up to public scrutiny and frankly we could do it even better now.”
The latest consultation follows extensive lobbying by the Motor Sport Association and is being backed by many racing drivers, including Alan McNish, BBC F1 presenter and the 2013 FIA World Endurance Champion. Mr McNish said: “As a young driver I was lucky enough to compete in the Birmingham Super Prix which raced around the city.
“It was an important international race televised across the world, as well as being an excellent experience in the art of road racing, something that I relied on throughout my career at races like Monaco F1 GP and Le Mans 24 Hours.”
In March 2013 plans were announced by Birmingham City University and Midland sports car manufacturer Westfield to stage a showcase event on city streets using electric racing cars and Parmjit Chima, head of the School of Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Systems at the university, suggested Birmingham would be an ideal location for a race in the Formula One organiser FIA’s new Formula E racing series, given its automotive heritage and the fact it once ran the Super Prix.
“The time is right to get vehicles on the streets of Birmingham again,” he said. “Formula E is still being developed but Birmingham would be absolutely perfect. I think there is huge enthusiasm for motor racing on the streets of Birmingham.”
The Government’s consultation runs until April 10.