Never heard of supercross? Don’t feel blue, you’re not alone. But once you’ve experienced it it’ll be something you bore your the cab driver about on the way home. Think along the lines of motocross — or scrambling, if you’re of a certain vintage — and you’re part way there, but swap muddy fields and wellies for a stadium and cold pints, add more jumps, live music, pyro, freestyle stunts, world class athletes and a family-friendly Saturday night that, handily, is coming to Birmingham this summer. On Saturday July 1 the World Supercross Championship rolls into Villa Park for the British Grand Prix and the opening round of the 2023 season. Here are 7 reasons why it could well be your new favourite pastime...
Let’s start with the sport itself. If you’re familiar with motocross that's where supercross can trace its roots. But in supercross there’s a bigger focus on the jumps, creating more excitement and placing higher demands on the riders, more opportunities for overtaking, and more drama. During a lap of a supercross track the bikes are off the ground as much as they are on it. As a result you don’t need to know what the very latest bike from Honda or Suzuki is to watch and enjoy it.
And there’s plenty of it over the evening. With heat races, superpole, main events across two classes and quick turnarounds between the chequered flag falling on one race and gate dropping for the start of another, there’s never a dip in the action. It's full throttle (Charlie's Angels 2).
Global superstars with big money teams and sponsors
The riders are the real deal. This is a world championship, and they’re riding for big teams with big sponsors and with a big pot of prize dosh going to the winners. Take Ken Roczen; the German native is the reigning world champ, he's ridden for some of the biggest teams in the world, and will have Red Bull all over him, like you in Snobs in the 90s.
In fact, the rider lineup boasts an international who’s who of supercross, with race winners and champions from the US, France, Italy, Australia and Brazil.
Then there’s the prize pot. Per round, £200k is split between the winning teams and riders in each class, and by the time the 2023 world champions are crowned in Melbourne, Australia in November, over £1m will have been dished out.
Let’s not forget the Brits that will be in action, either, pitting themselves against the best riders from around the world. Max Anstie — above, who hails from Newbury — finished second in the world last year in the SX2 class. He’ll be looking to go one better this year and what better way to start his season than by racing in front of a home crowd? Always good to have someone to get behind.
Red-blooded motorsport in a stadium environment
All of this doesn’t take place in a bespoke motorsport facility out in the countryside somewhere, inaccessible save for a multi-hour drive. Nope, it all goes off inside a nearby stadium. So, unlike watching something like Formula One at Silverstone, where you see the cars whizz past for 10 seconds every minute and a half, with World Supercross you can see everything, all the time. Wherever you are sitting in the stadium you won’t miss a jump or an overtake, you’ll get to see these elite racers going ‘bar-to-’bar for the full race.
That’s not the only benefit. Want to grab some drinks or a bite? Pop out between races. If you’re familiar with motorsport, that is a luxury you are often not afforded. If the weather turns, no problem, you’re protected from the elements. And the noise of those race bikes enclosed inside the arena? Wowzer.
The Stadium itself...
And it's at Villa Park. It'll split the city and the readership, but it's a world class venue that not only hosts Premier League football, but a stadium that’s also no stranger to hosting extracurricular events (P!nk and Bruce Springsteen are playing there this summer, too).
Physics-bending freestylastics and a bit of the ol' pyro
When there is downtime between races, the entertainment doesn’t stop. Freestyle stunt riders will be defying the laws of physics by flipping and whipping their way through the air. The spectacle is something to behold, and provides another spike in the excitement levels, alongside fireworks and flames to add to the atmosphere, all set to a rousing soundtrack.
It’s a family-friendly event
Arguably the most important reason to get along to the World Supercross Championship British Grand Prix. This is the ideal Saturday night event for families as well as groups of friends. You don’t need to be a diehard supercross fan to revel in the atmosphere of a world championship sporting event. Book your seats, arrive early, catch a glimpse of the riders during the meet and greet and let jaws drop as bikes and riders let rip.
Get your tickets to the World Supercross Championship’s British Grand Prix at Villa Park, here.
BIAS BINDING AND BACK TO BACKS
The back streets of Brum don’t have to fear AI overlords dictating our next style du jour quite yet; it’s clear that it’s people, stories and human creativity that make our fashion sub-cultures. And what better place to explore it than in Southside, the hive of cultural Brum? Discover Hurst Street’s historical significance to fashion at two free exhibitions (one on each floor) at the Back to Backs from this week.
Opening tomorrow (June 9), Gary Lindsay-Moore: It's Not Unusual features a series of photographs by the local artist, all inspired by Kahn & Bell, the shop located at 72 Hurst Street (opposite the Back to Backs, roughly where Glee Club now stands) from 1976 to the mid-’80s. Hailed as the city’s answer to Vivienne Westwood, owners Jane Kahn and Patti Bell were innovators in Brum’s punk and new romantic scene, dressing local legends Duran Duran, amongst many others. Featuring original Kahn & Bell garments worn by models who reflect the spirit of – or a direct connection to – the shop, Gary’s lens directs the spotlight (as above) onto the vibrant history of Southside and the area.
Next up on the local icons list is Caribbean Master Tailor, George Saunders, who moved to Birmingham from St Kitts in 1958. Overcoming discrimination, he ran a successful tailor’s shop from the Back to Backs until 2001, leaving his unique collection to the National Trust. Through George Saunders Reimagined, Birmingham City University’s School of Fashion and Textiles students have delved into the back catalogue, developing new extraordinary pieces (like those below) that explore his stories and skill using contemporary methods and approaches. Using original paper patterns, unused for more than 20 years, they’ve created garments, experimented and developed new ideas – even producing wallpaper – inspired by George. See the collection uniquely come to life, exploring themes such as migration, heritage and enterprise; as relevant now as during George’s career.
Both exhibitions are absolute gems. Open from June 9, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (1pm to 5pm) and Thursday to Sunday (10am to 5pm). Visit
MAI TAI-PE OF WEEKEND
Suffering withdrawal after the sunny high that was Brum Pride? Well, the city is spoiling us for opportunities to reunite around a good old knees-up. Cue Birmingham Cocktail Weekend (the catchy BCW2023). It’s just a month away (July 7 to 9), with a nifty little countdown clock to tell us precisely, to the second, just how much time we have to prepare for the boozy bonanza of a weekend. Precision is key in the cocktail game, see.
As always, snap up a wristband (£12 pre-event) and you’ll get exclusive access to a £5 signature cocktail at each venue. Including old favourites, brand new venues and cameos from departed friends (well, they moved out to Stirchley), this is a fantastic long weekend exploring and celebrating the best of our bars. Venturing this year into Digbeth and other new frontiers, they’re flying the flag for independents alongside bigger players: from Medicine Nights and Fox & Chance, all the way over to Kilo Ziro and Chapter. Bar Ikigai, ‘Best Cocktail of BCW2022’ winners, might now be Stirchley-based, but they’re back exclusively for the weekend. Collaborating with Hendricks, they’re taking over The Coffin Works courtyard to bring you a veh, veh cool pop-up.
This is your cue to get booking – events notoriously sell out quickly. From whisky with marshmallows, rum and chocolate, to intros to tequila and mezcal; your cocktail vibe is catered for. Whisk(e)y-ites rejoice; there’s a lot of ground to cover, including The Highland Park Hub at Hotel du Vin. But BCW isn’t just about the cocktails. Lordy, no. Eating isn’t cheating, and you can do it cheaper. With plenty for you to feast on along the way, get exclusive deals and discounts from the likes of The Church, Smoke + Ash and Bodega, plus a few food pairing events to balance that booze. July’s going to be smashing. Tickets
Enjoy a little midsummer magic surrounded by enchanting choral music and unwind in the calm, candlelit St Paul’s Church as Ex Cathedra brings Summer Music by Candlelight to Brum on June 20 and 21. Performed in the heart of the JQ – the place of many a good summer sit-out whatever your music tastes – Ex Cathedra will wow you with choral renditions of classics to lesser-known gems; all to be discovered as daylight turns to dusk. The second evening (June 21) just so happens to be the longest day, and provides a solid way to celebrate the summer solstice, with music performed by candlelight as the sun sets (at 9.36pm to be precise). Fear not, early risers; they’ll have you away by 10pm.
Spanning across 15 centuries of music, the diverse programme takes its inspiration from William Byrd’s Sing Joyfully: Joy, and explores the many ways in which we can find joy in our lives. From indulging in the delight of holidays via George Gershwin’s Summertime – surely the epitome of the season in a song – and Summer Holiday (yep, the Cliff one) to an exploration of parenting, love in different forms, and even the joy of numbers by Indian-American composer, Shruthi Rajesekar; this is a spellbinding repertoire. In a first for Ex Cathedra in its fifty year history, the concert is designed and directed by Sarah Latto, the first visiting conductor to wholly curate and direct a full concert series with the group. What a start.
And bringing even more joy, it’s bring your own, with suggested snacks of strawberries, fizz and picnics. They’ll sing while you supper. Oh, and bring a cushion for a much more comfy sit-down. Tickets from £18.50(£8 for students and under 18s)
Venue: Plates By Purnell's, 121 Edmund Street, B3 2HJ; website Choice: Pulpo a la Gallega (£9) Chooser: Amelia
I've just got back from Lanzarote where the tapas was worse than the weather, and the weather was bad. I did my Google reviews research, I looked at Tripadvisor and I slipped the bellboy €10 (didn't have a five at the time, did I?) for his local knowledge, but still it was Fisher Price standard food and it made my face sad. I remember wittily turning to my partner in crime and telling her the only place that does worse tapas than this is Birmingham. Don't think she heard me.
I'm not saying there are no good tapas bars in Lanzarote and, now, I'm guaranteeing you there's a fantastic Brum tapas joint — and yet again you heard it here last. Plates By Purnell's opened in February so I leapt into action, wandering in without a table booking four months later with my other partner in crime — the one that won't share a bed with me, but he does laugh at my laser-guided observational wit. It was, hands down, my favourite affordable meal of the year so far.
Let's crunch the numbers first. Four pints of Madri (where the chuff did Madri come from and who's their business development manger, Derren Brown?) plus 8 plates for £88, including service! That is absolutely outstanding value for a restaurant right bang in the middle of town putting out ingredient-led gold-dust with Glynn Purnell steering the ship.
That's not to say Glynn's behind the pots and pans. Skilled chefs Jess and Sunday (how cool to be named Sunday, by the way?) run the entire kitchen, as a two-person team, out of an open hatch workstation. If you can pick your seats, sitting right by them would be my advice. Not only is it a joy to watch these two at work but they make for really good chatter when the orders aren't coming thick and fast — which they usually are.
Plates used to be Pinxos/Pinchos, which wasn't bad in my book. But this place, under Purnell, goes absolutely billy-o! Goldilocks-level charring and salting on the padron peppers, pan con tomate into which we added sobrasada (a bit like Spanish n'duja) was rich and sweet to the point you could feel it through your lips. It demanded a second portion of bread for the dunkage. Patatas bravas was everything it wasn't in the Canaries — crispy and fresh with fluffy, steaming potato in the middle. They should serve this at cinemas — salty and sweet and wildly moreish, I shoved a few anchovies in there because I don't play by the rules.
The calamari was an eye-opener. I thought I'd had good calamari in the past but this was like the first time I heard KC and the Sunshine band. It was summer manifest, completely free of rubberiness and in a batter that was so light you could hang glide off it.
The chorizo in cider made me realise how tough almost every other chorizo I've been served has been, these being plump, almost gelatinous little hits of juice while the octopus (pulpo a la gallego), had all the same charm as the squid but more so. Smoky but soft, meaty but delicate, a masterclass in cookery but also a lesson in sourcing. So, so fresh. But of course, we can't get good seafood here, can we?
Final mention must go to front of houser, Amelia. If there is a more down to earth and up for the craic restaurant manager in the Colmore region then I've not met them. I've booked back in already and there can't be a higher compliment when part of my job is to explore new places. Menu
GOODBYE GREY SKIES, HELLO BLUE
There’s nothing quite like facing the futility of life on a lovely summer’s day. Those real ‘hello darkness, my old friend’ moments; wouldn’t you agree? So you’ll love the darkly titled Happy Days, the 1973 Samuel Beckett play coming to The Rep from June 28 until July 1, in which a woman experiences anything but – quite literally stuck in the mud, contemplating life from the vantage point of her current predicament.
Exploring the hopelessness of man and exuding the dark humour of objectively humourless situations, there’s only one woman to portray the middle-aged Winnie’s crisis: Siobhán McSweeney, the BAFTA-winning, mirth-inducing Sister Michael of Derry Girls – no stranger to deftly weaving pathos and acerbic wit.
Directed by Caitríona McLaughlin, after its first run in 2021 – performed to an empty room and live streamed due to you know what – the compelling, scene-stealing McSweeney received alllll the plaudits. She now reprises the role with both “delight and terror”; understandable given the premise of the play, in what will be the only UK-based performances, the others being in Cork and Dublin.
For those unfamiliar, it’s quite simple: Winnie is buried up to her waist, with the sun beating down and her husband Willie somewhere near her, hardly speaking or listening. No one knows how or why she’s stuck – perhaps she neglected the perilous warnings about quicksand – but why isn’t the point. With everything but her head buried in the sand, she somehow proclaims that ‘this will have been another happy day’. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, it seems. The one scene play – featuring the negligible and negligent husband, Willie – is rife with absurdity as Winnie pre-occupies herself with ruminations and routine, highlighting the delusional madness of hope that’s also essential to survival. Those first performances in 2021 epitomised the sentiment of the play: defiance, determination and resilience. They’ll no doubt be even more striking when seen live and in-person. Worth a stare into the abyss. Tickets from £12.50 (plus fee).
Exclusive ICB Opening Night Offer: Book best available seats for the opening night performance (June 28) for just £20 saving up to £17.50. Enter code BECKETT20 at checkout. Transaction fee applies. Book
Brum artist Imbue, who's current exhibition near London's Bank of England is making real waves, is selling his You Can't Eat Money collection of faux cereal boxes. "Cereal's always been a no frills food item," he told us. "But like everything the size has got smaller and the price has gone up. Each box is financially themed with 'Nesquik' replaced with Nasdaq. My favourites are Capital Grains and Coco Stocks. It’s the idea that the everyday person has to think about investing in the stock market in order to just get by. The childhood simplicity of a bowl of cereal has gone." To get the above photo Imbue slinked (slunk?) into Morrisons, Stirchley, and added his Coco Stocks to the cereal aisle where they remained for hours before being removed. It's £50 for the collection of four or £20 each. Shop
WHAT'S ON THE BOX?
If My5 TV show Big Money Munch has passed you by, fear not, because the most important episode airs from today (June 8). In each instalment DJ and food-loving presenter, Sian Anderson, invites a friend out for dinner at three Black-owned restaurants moving from city to city — ticking off London, Leeds and Bristol so far. At the end of the episode one of the chefs wins £10k, and today’s show is entirely Brum-based, calling at Devon House (JQ), The Deep Experience (Southside) and Adian’s of Aston (above). From goat curry with a twist to a Thai-influenced Jamaican number, it’s a decent and very much worthwhile watch even if you have to put up with Londoners saying ‘Burminum’ a little too often. My5 is the streaming platform for Channel 5 and the show should be on there from 11am. More
The Cuban Embassy (Moseley), quite rightly will host Birmingham Rum Festival alternative on June 24. Details —
KEBAB is an art exhibition held in Digbeth where Digbrew once thrived. Curated by students from Birmingham based educational design studio outline.work topics include social media addiction, Brutalism, digital landscapes and pharmaceuticals, available to explore through animations, prints and projections. ON from June 9 to 13. More —
All Greek Street Food will be the next to take up residency at 1000 Trades (JQ) where they'll be putting out gyros and more from now until July 1. Facebook —
See a selection of rare archival films of Bournville from the 1940s and 50s, screened at Selly Manor, July 20. £7 —
Birmingham's oldest pub, The Old Crown, is launching a mini street food festival in their Digbeth beer garden, kicking off June 17. Spuds and Bros are on poutine while Grounded Kitchen are bringing some Korea to proceedings. More —
Beer festival Suds Fest lands at The Bond (Digbeth) July 1. £12 —
Handy with a camera? Hobbyists and pros are invited to the top floor of the Rotunda to photo the sunset, June 29. The fee incudes one of those very cool Rotunda-themed cans of beer, with all proceeds going to LoveBrum. £15
WORDS: Tom Cullen, Claire Hawkins PICS: Gary Lindsay-Moore (Bias Binding and Back to Backs)
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