BTCC British Touring Car Championship
The British Touring Car Championship was established 48 years ago and in that time has grown into this country's biggest motor racing show, with massive audience appeal.
From the start, in 1958, it was a huge success with the public, who would pack into Britain's racing venues to watch drivers compete in racing versions of their road cars at simply unbelievable speeds.
Traditional, great British names of the times, such as Jaguar, Austin, Ford, Mini, Lotus, Sunbeam, Hillman and Triumph, were all winners in the first 20 years, each aware of the importance of using the BTCC to showcase their latest models.
By the Eighties, the BTCC was moving with the times and beginning to attract a truly international flavour. Mazda, Toyota and Alfa Romeo were the first three winners of the decade as the championship continued to be run for different sized classes of cars, but the mighty Ford Sierra RS500 and BMW M3 are probably the two most evocative models of the period.
It was in the Nineties, however, that the BTCC boomed.
The championship was already beginning to grow in stature with regular television coverage on the BBC's flagship sports show Grandstand on Saturday afternoons.
When the decision was taken to make the BTCC exclusively for two-litre cars, it instantly created closer racing and attracted a host of high-profile manufacturers and teams to the series. Combined with enhanced television coverage and marketing genius, this made the BTCC essential viewing for millions throughout the UK - and many millions more worldwide.
Witty one-liners, tears and laughter, dirty moves, crashes, controversy, drama, heroes and villains - the BTCC had it all and became one of sport's biggest overnight success stories. No other sport has surely enjoyed such a rapid growth in popularity.
Official BTCC British Touring Car Championship Website http://www.btcc.net/