Clubs battle to maintain dates at Silverstone
The future of historic and vintage race meetings at Silverstone has been thrown into doubt by recent changes to the circuit hire charges. Following the recent agreement between Octagon Motorsport and the BRDC, clubs running meetings at the track face a sizeable increase in costs.
For decades, clubs like the VSCC, the Aston Martin Owners’ Club and the Historic Sports Car Club have used Silverstone as a key part of their racing calendar. Not only do they now face a substantial rise in the basic hire cost, they could also lose the benefit of a long-running subsidy offered by the BRDC.
The new terms also take gate receipts away from the clubs, leaving them facing difficulty in making meetings commercially viable.
“The new deal means that circuit hire costs will almost double,” said a spokesman for one club. “It hurts the economics of the whole meeting. A Silverstone meeting is always a big event of the year for our members.”
Dialogue over the future of any possible subsidy has been opened in the hope of persuading the BRDC to continue assisting such events.
The VSCC organises two race meetings at Silverstone and its president Julian Ghosh hopes to resolve the situation: ‘The VSCC has had a good relationship with the BRDC ever since the airfield was acquired, and wishes to continue this with the new operators. We are sympathetic with their desire to maintain Silverstone as a world-class GP circuit. This can only be good for motomport, but obviously this will change the face of club racing.
“And since the VSCC heavily promotes its events and enjoys good attendance, we feel there is scope for some commercial common ground between us and Octagon Motorsports.”
BRDC secretary Roger Lane-Nott said: “We understand the situation and have received correspondence from some clubs. It may be possible to help this year, but it is likely that the subsidy will not be available in 2002.”
Crystal Palace heritage under threat
Development work within the Crystal Palace Park has put the remaining sections of the former race circuit under threat.
Although not used for racing since 1972, a considerable amount of the original track remains and has been used for the last four years for a sprint event run by Sevenoaks and District Motor Club. In its heyday, the circuit hosted rounds of the European Formula 2 Championship.
Now Bromley Council is planning to return the park to a condition mirroring its state in Victorian times, and the Tarmac racetrack could be dug up. “The track will be narrower under the work that is going on,” said a spokesman for Bromley Council. “It will be designed for cycling and work should be complete in 2002.” Although work has not yet started, it is scheduled to begin later this year.
Neil Brooks-Johnson is lobbying the council on behalf of Sevenoaks DMC: “There is still a chance of saving some of the track, but I’m not sure how much. There is some hope of a reprieve.”
Snetterton’s Golden Anniversary
The 50th anniversary of the Snetterton circuit will be celebrated in June during a two-day race meeting organised by the Aston Martin Owners’ Club.
Central to the event will be a recreation of the Autosport three-hour sportscar race and the newly-instigated John Cooper Memorial Race for 500cc F3 cars.
The Autosport three-hour race will run into the evening of Saturday, and there will also be a fly-past by the US Air Force.
The 2.71-mile circuit on the site of the Snetterton Heath wartime airfield hosted a number of international events in the 1950s and 1960s before becoming better known as a national racing and testing venue.
AMOC, which ran the first competitive event at Snetterton, plans to attract some drivers from that opening meeting to the 23/24 June event.
Events of note
MARCH 31-APRIL 1 NOGARO (F) Opening round of the FORCE Classic Grand Prix Series. Tel: 01306 73051
APRIL 7-8 BARCELONA (E) FIA Cup for Thoroughbred GP Cars season begins. Tel: 01621 892814
8 DONINGTON PARK (GB) HSCC meeting includes most of the club’s categories, including the Group 6 cars of the RJB Thundersports. Tel: 01327 858400
9-14 FRANCE Tour Auto — a five-day blast around some of the country’s famous racing venues. Tel: 00 33 1 4259 7340
15-16 BRANDS HATCH (GB) Opening round of BTCC includes an HGPCA race. Tel: 01935 872255
16 THRUXTON (GB) Easter Monday: opening event of BARC Classic Race Meeting series. Tel: 01264 882200
21 SILVERSTONE (GB) VSCC’s Spring Start meeting at Silverstone. Tel: 01608 644777
22 MALLORY PARK (GB) HSCC meeting. Tel: 01327 858400
Dependent on foot-and-mouth restrictions
BRITS vs YANKS AT ROCKINGHAM
The Coys Historic Festival at Rockingham feature a Transcontinental Historic Saloon Car Race for pre-65 cars with six-cylinder engines or greater.
Julius Thurgood is bringing together a capacity field for the meeting and British and American cars will go head-to-head on the oval track.
“We have had a terrific response,” says Thurgocd, who promises Ford Mustangs, Falcons and Zephyrs, Jaguars — and even an Alfa Romeo 2600.
The 45-minute race will be an optional twodriver event, with at least 34 cars on the grid.