1981 Dubai Motor Racing Grand Prix
Dubai's First and (to date) only, Motor Racing Grand Prix in 1981 celebrated the United Arab Emirates' Tenth Anniversary since declaring independence on 2nd December 1971. It was an unlikely event for a City State still unknown in the World back then and with no experience of Motor Racing of any kind.
That the 1981 Dubai Motor Grand Prix took place at all was, in hindsight, a remarkable show of confidence in Dubai.
Whose idea was it to hold a Dubai Motor Grand Prix?
Dubai's 1981 Motor Grand Prix had its roots in Martin Hone's 1966 dream of holding a Motor Racing Grand Prix on a UK city street circuit. In 1970 Martin found support for his idea with a member of Birmingham's City Council but the barriers were formidable, not least UK's Legislation not allowing motor racing on public roads. That Legislation had to change before a race could be held. Eventually Birmingham City Council saw the motor race as a means of changing Birmingham's drab profile to a modern go-ahead city. Martin Hone and his company, International Festival Services helped them with their task but continued to be frustrated in achieving an outcome.
As an interim step in 1980 Martin Hone organised a ‘The Lucas On The Streets Sport Spectacular’ to raise support for his Birmingham Motor Grand Prix Plan. Racing cars of all kinds were driven around a 1.8 mile circuit on Birmingham's streets, many by international racing drivers. No racing was involved. No speed limits were exceeded. It was a "presentation" of motor racing cars to the public. The public loved it.
How did Dubai became involved?
Watching this "presentation" event was Dubai's newly appointed Chief of Police, 28 year old Dahi Tamim 28 Said Khalfan accompanied by his colleague Major Saeed Khalfan who was also Chairman of Al Nasr Motor Sports Club. They were obviously impressed and approached Martin Hone to run a similar event in Dubai. Martin saw this an as opportunity to further promote his Birmingham Plan and gain experience in running this type of event.
Martin Hone flew to Dubai in January 1981. He soon realised the enormity of his task and commented....
“There was no racing circuit, an insufficient public road network to make a street circuit, no racing cars in the Emirates, few racing drivers, no trained marshals and no officials.”.
Deira Corniche reclamation had not long completed. Only the Hyatt Regency Hotel had been built on this reclaimed land and its surrounding area was largely sand with a single road connecting Dubai's Shindaga Tunnel. Martin designed a new 1.85 km circuit around the Hyatt Regency Hotel incorporating part of the Shindaga Tunnel Road. He also helped arrange Contractors to build the new circuit and brought out Clerks and Marshalls from UK to train and assist with the Grand Prix. There was criticism at calling the event a "Grand Prix" as it was not a Race for Formula 1 Grand Prix racing cars. There had been local major motor racing events in Asia that had given themselves the title of "Grand Prix" so Dubai's 1981 Motor Grand Prix followed in that mould.
Where did the cars come from?
How did they get to Dubai?
1981 Motor Racing Grand Prix season had ended so there were cars and drivers available to travel to Dubai if they could be persuaded to do so. But more racers were needed to fill a full 2 day programme so Martin Hone approached UK's Aston Martin Owners Club as well as saloon car racers. Prospect of racing in the sunshine and a working holiday in Dubai sounded attractive but there remained the problem of how to get the cars to Dubai.
Dubai's Jebel Ali Port had not long completed. Sheikh Rashid awarded the Port's Management Contract to Sealand Shipping Company, an American Company that pioneered Container Shipping during the Viet Nam War era. Sealand Shipping were both managing Jebel Ali Port and introducing their container shipping services to the Gulf Region and Dubai. Shipping these racing cars to and from Dubai for the 1981 Dubai Motor Grand Prix provided a major opportunity to promote both Jebel Ali Port and Sealand Shipping Company's Container Services to the Gulf and Dubai. By 1981 Dubai was promoting itself as an international transit hub for sea and air cargoes so there were cargo airlines willing to transport some of these racing cars to and from Dubai's Grand Prix as a publicity exercise. The overall approach was to demonstrate Dubai's cargo handling capabilities as well as its accessibility. Both Sealand Shipping Services and Cargolux Airline were featured in the publicity surrounding Dubai's Grand Prix.
1981 Dubai Motor Grand Prix Circuit
Opening "Grand Prix Parade" featuring sponsors products, saloon cars collector's cars, beach buggies motorcross presentation by Al Nasr Motor Club, marching band of the Military and Police Authorities. Dubai water-ski club presentation "World Champions Parade" Hoteliers Floats, "Hilton", "International" "Metropolitan" "Sheraton". "Hyatt Regency" followed by the "Metropolitan Kart Racing presentation"
The TRANS GULF Crystal Decanter will be awarded for the best float.
Pace Car driven by Walt Cunningham. American Astronaut.
Competing for the DUBAI INTERNATIONAL HOTEL TROPHIES.
Pre and post war sports racing cars Featuring the World's top racing Aston Martins.
|10||John Freeman||1948||SPA SPECIAL||1949cc||Kent|
For the SHERATON HOTEL SILVER DHOWS.
Featuring demonstration laps by some of the world's classic cars.
- JUAN MANUEL FANGIO (ARGENTINA) Mercedes-Benz 300 Monoposto.
- STIRLING MOSS (GREAT BRITAIN) Maserati 250 F.
- ROY SALVADORI (MONACO) F1 Aston Martin DBR4.
- JOHN HARPER (GREAT BRITAIN) F1 Connaught "A" Series.
- RICHARD PILKINGTON (GREAT BRITAIN) F1 Talbot-Lago.
- IAN PRESTON (GREAT BRITAIN) F1 Bugatti Type 35B.
A Super Sports classic car race over ten laps.
|1.||David Piper||1967||Ferrari 330 P4||4000cc||Guildford|
|2.||Richard Attwood||1965||Ferrari 275 LM||Wolverhampton|
|8.||Nick Mason||1970||Ferrari 512S||5000cc||London|
|4.||Mike Knight||1968||Lola T70 MKIIIB||5000cc||Ascot|
|2.||Mike Wheatley||1968||Lola T70 MKIIIB||5000cc||Middlesex|
|5.||Nigel Hulme||1967||Lola T70 MKIIIB||4991 cc||Sussex|
|7.||John Brindley||1966||McLaren N1B||5000cc||Guildford|
|42.||Malcolm Clube||1968||McLaren MIC||5000cc||London|
|11.||Richard Knight||1967||McLaren MIC||4995cc||Guildford|
|20||Robert Horne||1970||McLaren M8D||8100cc||London|
|25.||Jeffrey Johnstone||1964||Elva Buick||3528cc||Scotland|
|69.||Gerry Marshall||1968||Lola T70 MKIIIB||4991cc||Hampshire|
|10.||Mike Ostroumoff||1964||Ferrari 330P||4000cc||Worcestershire|
|14.||Richard Thwaites||1968||Chevron B6||1800cc||Huddersfield|
|15.||Bernd Becker||1967||Porsche 910||1991 cc||West Germany|
|Late Entry||Joe Wiedmer||917/10 Can Am||4500 cc||Switzerland|
Repeat ten lap one make Saloon Car Race featuring drivers based in the U.A.E. driving the saloon cars propelled by the World Champions in Race One.
|1.||Major Saeed Khalfan||(U. A. E.)||Dubai|
|2.||Lt. Abdullah Omar||(U. A. E.)||Dubai|
|3.||Tony Peck||(G. B.)||Dubai|
|4.||Stephen Carter||(U. S. A.)||Dahran|
|5.||John R. Watts||(G. B.)||Dubai|
|6.||Andrew Hedges||(G. B.)||Bahrain|
|7.||John Tait||(G. B.)||Abu Dhabi|
|B.||John Micklethwaite||(G. B.)||Dubai|
|9.||Capt. Alan Skennerton||(G. B.)||Dubai|
|11.||Jack Russell (Captain)||(G. B.)||Abu Dhabi|
|12.||Charles Sammut||(G. B.)||Abu Dhabi|
|13.||Bruce Reid||(G. B.)||Abu Dhabi|
|14.||To be nominated|
|15.||To be nominated|
In between races Lap Record attempts will be made for the HYATT REGENCY TROPHY for the fastest lap of the Dubai Grand Prix circuit by a Formula One Car. A prize of $5000 will be awarded.
- The 1978 Grand Prix World Championship winning TEAM LOTUS
- The internationally known Grand Prix World Championship con¬tenders TEAM THEODORE
- The World Championship MARLBORO TEAM McLAREN
Presenting all of the racing cars and drivers in a two by two spectacular followed by a repeat of the opening "Dubai Grand Prix Parade"
2nd and 3rd December 1981 are Practice Days
Race Day Arrangements
Facilities at Dubai's 1981 Motor Grand Prix were basic but adequate. Some of the track was marked with truck tyres and the pits and paddock constructed from shipping containers. Al Futtaims (Dubai's Toyota Dealer) provided Landcruisers fitted out with locally built hand operated crane. These were stationed around the track to deal with breakdowns and incidents. Fire, ambulance and Rescue Services were in place. Spectators were generally accommodated in temporary stands. Prior to Race Day was a Practice Day.