Steve Soper and Andy Rouse battle it out at Brands Hatch in 1988

British Touring Car Championship racing remains is a truly entertaining bit of motorsport. It has been for decades, and remains a joy to watch to this day. Back in 1988, if you showed up to watch a race you’d find mostly Fords on the field. Toyota, BMW, Holden, Nissan, and even Alfa Romeo and Maserati came out to play, however, and the result was on-track magic.

A thirteen race calendar featured some of the great circuits over in the United Kingdom. Well, okay… they ran Silverstone four times. Still, the racing action was awesome no matter where the traveling BTCC circus went. One of the great races of that season occurred at Brands Hatch.

Andy Rouse, who would go on to in the Class A driver’s championship that year, set off against Steve Soper. Rouse was piloting his Sierra Cosworth RS500 and Soper was driving the same model of car. Rouse’s car was setup with a special engine packing on a bit more boost. That would help him in some of the straights… but Soper manages to cling tightly to the bumper of the Cosworth ahead of him.

Prepare for battle

These two trade spots continuously over the course of the race. In fact, they’re side by side for a fair bit of racing. The weather is …British. The racing is awesome. The 500+ horsepower machines are a tremendous handful.

On the last lap, Andy Rouse remains in the lead but Soper continues to close. The pair push well ahead of the rest of the pack in a battle that’s all their own. Doors banging. Tails swinging. British Touring car excellence on full display.

I have to credit YouTube sim racer Jimmy Broadbent for leading me to this video. He posted a clip yesterday showing him racing one of Andy Rouse’s RS500 race cars at Brands Hatch. As YouTube can do, I fell down a BTCC rabbit hole.

Here I am, on the other side, with an awesome video for you on this Tuesday afternoon. Click play and enjoy.

7 Comments

  1. How someone can watch this clip and then say NASCAR is legitimately entertaining is beyond my understanding.

    1. I didn’t like NASCAR, also thinking it simplistic and inferior, until I really looked closely. I acknowledge that a lot of the 1.5 mi, tracks are dull, but anyone with an open mind can enjoy the hell out of the top NASCAR series. They also run road courses, and are extremely entertaining there.

      Unfortunately ,much of road racing has become boring and predictable, with the few ‘haves’ continually destroying the ‘have not’ teams. I love it when F1 fans talk about how inferior NASCAR is. Maybe NASCAR, with its frequent passing, is just too difficult to follow.

    2. I didn’t like NASCAR, also thinking it simplistic and inferior, until I really looked closely. I acknowledge that a lot of the 1.5 mi, tracks are dull, but anyone with an open mind can enjoy the hell out of the top NASCAR series. They also run road courses, and are extremely entertaining there.

      Unfortunately ,much of road racing has become boring and predictable, with the few ‘haves’ continually destroying the ‘have not’ teams. I love it when F1 fans talk about how inferior NASCAR is. Maybe NASCAR, with its frequent passing, is just too difficult to follow.

      1. It’s certainly not because I didn’t try. My father was an avid NASCAR fan my entire childhood, and so our family watched every Sunday because we had only one TV. In 12 years I don’t recall one entertaining minute. It was like watching paint dry, but I would diligently sit there with the family and eventually learned to pass the time reading or drawing. My father has since become disillusioned with the sport for the same reasons I never liked it.

        I could have leveled my comments at F1, IndyCar, or NHRA, all of which I find equally mind-numbing. To each his own– I’m not saying you shouldn’t like it. But I can say, with very extensive experience, that I do not.

  2. With turbo torque arriving all at once and narrow tyres the RS500 Sierra always made for exciting racing

    1. It’s a shame the U.S. Merkur XR4Ti was only available with the lame Pinto engine. I’ve seen some interesting ones with Mustang V8s swapped in, but it ruins the handling. The RS500 Sierra looks like huge fun.

      1. Mind you the road car had 200 hp… They were not sold by Ford Australia either, although obviously raced here. Some were privately imported, and would have cost megabucks.

        There was a factory V8 Sierra in South Africa, the XR8. Ironically an LS engine might be the answer, by the time you add all the turbo systems there probably isn’t a huge weight difference. The T56/6060 won’t help though.

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