Guest column – John Hughes

The FIA’s role in historics

The newly elected president of the FIA’s Historic Motor Sport Commission outlines how the federation will safeguard the past for the future

Having been recently elected president of the FIA Historic Motor Sport Commission, and having chaired the working group on historic motorsport set up by the World Council last year, I appreciate the opportunity to share some views.

I believe that it’s critical to understand that the historic world is different from modern motorsport. For me the key issue is to protect our heritage while also recognising individuals’ desire to compete. 

I believe it’s important that we create a comprehensive database covering historic international competition cars as a tool not just for the FIA, but to benefit the historic racing community at large. Our intention is to work with various stakeholders to assemble the database; the FIA is uniquely positioned to do this work. I recognise that this is an expensive and lengthy project, one for which we must find innovative sources of financing. We must move ahead with this; so much of the knowledge is in the heads of people who are sadly growing old and one day won’t be with us.

Heritage is a much bigger theme that we need to build on, where the FIA is informative, provides guidance and also leadership: the database forms just one part. We need to continue to improve Appendix K [the specific historic-car regulations] as the framework for organisers to use and for owners and entrants to want to use. It’s about providing a level playing field for drivers wanting to race internationally as well as a useful tool for event organisers. I would like to see cars run close to their period specification and to avoid them being so overdeveloped that they become just another ‘silhouette’ series, be they on circuits, rallies, hillclimbs or regularity events. This again is part of the agenda.

The FIA will build stronger links to manufacturers with a motorsport history, to work with them in preserving their and our heritage. Also, people need to be trained to work on these cars and we should work with universities to help provide the skills.

The FIA also has its traditional governing body role including safety, circuit and car standards, driver licensing and sporting calendars. We should provide leadership in all of these areas.

Finally, we should look at how the work of the FIA in modern motorsport can be beneficial in historics, in particular in fields such as circuit safety, materials testing and driver safety aids.

The working group report set some key strategic directions. The Historic Commission now has to put those strategic directions into a workable framework. In doing so we will actively engage with everyone who shares our interest in the future of all forms of historic motorsport. This is about the FIA being the regulatory body but also a key member of the historic community; taking a lead as only an international federation can in striving for the best possible future.