This article is about the non-championship race, you may be looking for the current Race of Champions (1988–).
The Race of Champions was a non-championship Formula One race, hosted at the Brands Hatch circuit in the United Kingdom. Held relatively frequently between 1965 and 1983, the meeting often featured the top drivers from the championship, as well as those from the various support championships, most notably the BTCC.
History[edit | edit source]
The Race of Champions was seen as the biggest (F1 based) motor race in the British Isles, alongside the British Grand Prix and the BRDC International Trophy, during its time in the racing calender. First held in 1965 (with the backing of the Daily Mail and supported by the BTCC), the first meeting witnessed the likes of Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren (all of whom drove in the touring car race on the same day) take part. The race was held over two heats, and despite a simple victory for Clark in the first 40 lap race, it was his Lotus colleague Mike Spence who claimed overall victory on the day.
The Driver's Title[edit | edit source]
Although 1966 did not see the race held, it became a popular fixture on the non-championship timetable from 1967, with many a F1 champion (past or future) making a name for the self at the Kent circuit. Dan Gurney, for instance, demonstrated that, despite coming to the end of his F1 career, he could still perform, giving Anglo American Racers a rare taste of success in 1967. From 1968, the Race of Champions ran in a more conventional single race format, preventing complicated scenarios causing confusion.
The Race of Champions became a badge of honour for many drivers in the 1970s, with some teams opting to take on drivers (or keep them) based on their performance in the UK's biggest race. One example was Clay Regazzoni, whose victory in the 1971 Race meant he kept his seat at Ferrari for the season. Peter Gethin was another to impress in the 1970s, making history by winning the 1973 edition of the race in a Formula 5000 car (the only time this would happen in any race featuring F1 and F 5000 cars).
Demise[edit | edit source]
The late 1970s saw interest in the non-championship races, in general, begin to decline, as the world media focused increasingly on the F1 championship rather than individual races. Despite a double win by James Hunt in 1976 and 1977 , the Race of Champions was not held in 1978. The race returned in 1979, however, with Gilles Villeneuve claiming a famous victory against a reduced F1 field. After this, the race disappeared once again, looking set to be confined to the pages of history.
Yet in 1983 , the owners of Brands Hatch decided to try one last time at hosting the event, obtaining sponsorship from Marlboro for the day. The first non-championship race to be held since the 1981 South African Grand Prix, the Race of Champions attracted half of that season's grid, although Renault were notably absent from the event (instead testing at Paul Ricard). Keke Rosberg claimed victory from promising rookie Danny Sullivan after a famous last lap duel, with the pair crossing the line just a fraction of a second apart. Yet, the interest in the race, particularly outside the UK, was simply not there, and so the 1983 Race of Champions was the last non-championship Formula One race to be staged anywhere in the world.
The Rise of ROC[edit | edit source]
In 1988 the Race of Champions name was reborn, when Michèle Mouton and Fredrik Johnsson lauched the ROC (Race of Champions). Although this new event (which had nothing to do with the original) was open exclusively to World Rally Champions, the organisers soon decided to invite the best from Formula One and the rest of the motorsport world to compete. Numerous F1 champions have since competed, with the title "Champion of Champions" awarded to the winner, although it must be remembered that that honour was equal to that of the old race.
Venue[edit | edit source]
The Race of Champions was held exclusively at Brands Hatch throughout its life as a non-championship F1 event, with the Grand Prix layout used for every race. Despite having to compete with the BRDC International Trophy and the British Grand Prix (both held, more often than not, at Silverstone), the Brands Hatch circuit, with it's natural amphitheatre and challenging, rolling layout popular with both fans and drivers throughout.
Winners[edit | edit source]
Below is a list of all of the winners of the original Race of Champions, alongside the constructor team that entered them for the race.
References[edit | edit source]
|V T E||Race of Champions|
|Circuits||Brands Hatch (1965 - 1983)|
|Races||1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980–1982 • 1983|
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