Take a look at the picture above. The late 1980s was a real heyday of the British Formula 3 Championship, as a host of teams fielded upwards of 40 cars, with qualification races held at the shorter tracks.
Career-minded drivers, many of them future Formula 1 stars or professional aces, sported the colours of Marlboro, Benetton, Camel, Jewson, Cellnet and many other big backers. They shared the grid with impecunious youngsters or amateurs who could afford to compete in the one-year-old rolling stock that came on to the market every winter. Great days.
The birth of the championship, on March 4 1979 on the Silverstone Club Circuit, had featured 20 cars. Grids wouldn't boom for another few years, but this was a crucial step, born of the realisation that having two F3 championships in the UK - one organised by the BRDC at Silverstone, the other (generally more prestigious) by the BARC at Thruxton - didn't make sense. The new series, belonging jointly to the BARC and BRDC, was given British championship status by the RAC, then the governing body of motorsport in the UK - the first time this was awarded for F3.