3-11-90 - The first Day of Champions

When GP racing found its conscience and the Day of Champions was born

The Day of Champions takes place each year before the British GP. It has grown into something special - a day when race fans can get closer to their heroes than at any other time, and all in a very good cause.

But the event's beginnings have largely been forgotten. Conceived as a fund raiser by the then fledgling Riders for Health, the original Day of Champions took place at an end-of-season BMCRC club race at a cold Brands Hatch on 3 November 1990.

Riders for Health was the brainchild of Andrea Coleman and Randy Mamola, and born out of a desire to show that GP racers could do good outside of racing. The two had worked together since the mid-80s when Randy asked Andrea to do his PR. Randy had been to Africa with the Save the Children Fund at the end of 1984, and saw a need to manage the delivery of healthcare by motorcycle. He suggested putting on a race to raise awareness.

"Randy, Kenny Roberts and I got the first event up and running," says Andrea Coleman. "Kenny brought his whole team, and they both got other riders to give up their time." Even if they weren't sure why. When asked why he was attending, Team Roberts riderJohn Kocinski replied: "Kenny told me to..."

Each of the races on the day was 'sponsored' by a rider: there was the Randy Mamola 350 race, the Kevin Schwantz 600 race and the Niall Mackenzie Novice race. In the paddock, money-raising activities took place and events organised to draw crowds. Kevin Schwantz and his parents had a barbecue and sold burgers; newly-crowned 500cc World Champ Wayne Rainey, riding his Team Roberts YZR-500, had an on-track shoot-out with the JPS Nortons; there were autograph signings and an all-star kart race.

In the era before satellite TV and Eurosport, mass-market consumption and multi-media exposure of GP racing, it was a very special event for the crowds and club racers present. Mamola, Lawson, Rainey, Schwantz and the rest were heroes, only fleetingly accessible through MCN, Motocourse annuals and Duke Marketing videos. For them to be present, and so available, at a Brands Hatch club race was a very special and, then, unique occasion.

"None of us had any idea what it would turn into," says Andrea. "That first Day of Champions raised £13,400. The Day of Champions is the cornerstone of Riders for Health. Without it we couldn't do what we do in Africa."