Sunday 16 December 2007
RACE OF CHAMPIONS
Pictures & reporting by Dave Carter
When it was announced that the Race of
Champions was coming to Wembley it seemed like one of those 'no brainer' decisions to try
and get along especially as the last time there was four-wheeled motorsport at the
National Stadium was more than 33 years ago when, on 24 August 1974, the second of two
stock car racing events was held. That event was run as a race meeting for both F1 and F2
Stock Cars and very good it was too! Click here to see and read
more about that event and click
here for some video
action from that event.
In many ways, however, it was the first of the two stock car events held is more
comparable to the ROC format because as part of the meeting, held on June 29 1974 there
was a challenge, using Ford Mexicos, pittng the top stock car and Hot Rod stars against
"internationally famous drivers from the world of motor racing". The fact that
the oval racers came out on-top received little press attention at the time!
So what about the ROC event itself? It was the 20th annual staging of the event and the
first time when it had been held in the UK. The format of the event is very simple
comprising a series of knock-out two-lap match races, using five different classes of car:
ROC Cars (singe-seat specials), Ford Focus World Rally Cars, Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24s,
Fiat Grand Punto Arbarths and Solution Fs. There are pictures of all the classes in the
The track incorporates a bridge so that that each car races on a different half of the
track with only the start, midpoint and finish providing a side-by-side comparion of race
position. Looking down on the track it does look very neat with an almost 'Scalextrix'
feel to it! Given the tight track its perhaps surprising that there were very few spills,
although all drivers faced a stiff penalty and
certain defeat if they touched a barrier more than once in any race.
The racing was split into two competitions. The first half the Nations Cup pits teams of
two from eight countries in a knock-out. Finland won this but the most galling statistic
is that the Germans beat England! The second half features the individual Race of
Champions where single races whittle down the field to the Grand Final over the best of
The interval between the two halves was filled with a spectacular series of four and
two-wheeled stunts and do-nuts which proved very popular as well as a moving tribute to
former ROC Champion Colin McRae.
And what about Wembley? Its big, new and shiny and very impressive although the need to
construct a racetrack directly on top of a football pitch - rather than having a
removeable pitch seems rather restrictive on the frequency and indeed potential for other
non-soccer uses of the stadium and it would be a lot more spectator friendly (ie warmer!)
if it had a roof.
Reflecting on my first experience of the ROC at Wembley I couldn't help feeling that it
would add enormously to the appeal of the event if more and a wider range of contemporary
racers could be invited to the party? The crowd at Wembley, at over 50,000 was impressive,
but there were a lot of empty seats and given the spectator appeal of some other forms of
motorsport isn't there some untapped potential? For example, if Frankie Wainman Junior and
Carl Boardley were involved wouldn't this have make the event even more attractive and put
more bums on seats?
You can find out more about ROC by clicking here.