The recent RACMSA announcement that advertising permits are to be abolished is greatly to be deprecated as disadvantaging the true amateur motor sport competitor to the advantage of those who receive payment for their sport. Amateur sport nowadays seems to be a rare entity but some of the older motoring clubs (for example VSCC, BDC) seek to maintain the amateur ethos by prohibiting any form of advertising on competitors’ cars. For my own part I wish to remain independent and not associated with any company, large or small. Also I am not in the motor trade myself nor do I have any close friends in the trade who might wish to sponsor me. Above all I do not wish my cars to look like mobile advertising hoardings. Whilst advertising might just be acceptable on the circuit it looks ridiculous on the road and must be as a red rag to a bull as far as the constabularies are concerned — some of us do still drive our cars to meetings.
The concept of subdividing races into classes on the basis of degree of modification is well established and accepted as being fair. What it fails to do, at club level, is to distinguish the amateur from the professional. I am aware that many individuals receive relatively little sponsorship or else they are advertising their own, small businesses. But consider what happens to £1000 of my gross earnings spent on motor sport. £400 goes in income tax; of the remaining £600 another £90 goes in VAT: only £510 is left to be spent on equipment, entry fees, etc. The sponsored competitor does not pay or can reclaim these taxes. It is however even worse because out of my £510 I have to pay profit to my suppliers, whereas the sponsored competitor or tradesman can obtain goods at trade prices and he has the advantage of workshop facilities to which very few amateurs could aspire. Therefore it costs the sponsor no more than one third to one quarter as much as it costs me to go motor racing.
The encouragement to clubs to give sponsors the exposure that was previously given to entrants and the abolition of the advertising fee is clearly designed to increase sponsorship and hence semi-professional sport at the expense of amateurs. I would beg race and championship organisers to consider amateur and professional classes rather than those based on horse power. The definition of amateur would be easy — no advertising allowed on the car.
Dr Christopher Pearson, Hampshire.