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The birth of Formula 3000

Submitted by on October 1, 2009

Sunday March 24 1985 marked an important milestone in international single-seater motorsport. Converging on celebrated grand prix venue Silverstone were 17 drivers keen to boost their reputations as they fought to reach the final rung of the ladder: Formula 1.

This all-new series, created to replace Formula 2, the hitherto traditional final stop on the road to F1, would be called Formula 3000 – its name bearing allegiance to the three-litre cubic capacity of the Cosworth V8 powerplants found in the back of the cars.

And for the next 20 years F3000 would do what was intended: provide a training ground for aspiring F1 racers. The message was clear: do well at this level and you were sure of joining the big boys.

British racing car manufacturers Ralt, March and Lola were committed to the series from the off, joined by French marque AGS (which had won the final F2 race at the end of 1984). The Silverstone grid would be swelled by modified chassis from Williams and Tyrrell – two grand prix names needing no introduction.

Pole position went to the ORECA March of Michel Ferté, the Frenchman pipping the works Ralt of Kiwi Mike Thackwell, who had secured the final F2 title before graduating to the new series after failing to secure an F1 seat.

Strategy for the race, billed as the Daily Express International Trophy, was tough to call for the would-be F1 racers, who would be lining up on a wet/dry circuit. If the drivers thought the conditions were tricky at the start, they were in for a surprise. Watch this excellent archive footage – narrated by former AUTOSPORT editor Simon Taylor – to find out whose name went into the record books as the winner of the inaugural International Formula 3000 race almost 25 years ago.

Henry Hope-Frost

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