A KNACK FOR ORGANISATION

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A KACK FOR ORGANISATION

ORGANISING BODY THE BRSCC HAS NO FEWER THAN 40 RACE SERIES_TO CATER FOR magine you are in charge of 40 motor racing championships. Each wants to be a part of 10 meetings a year, and some want those meetings to run over two days, some over one. Got that? OK, now add in the fact that many of these are grass roots series and money is tight — you can’t organise back-toback races at either end of the country. Nor can you interfere with dates already set by headlinepromoted series, both national and international. Fitting 400 race meetings into an eight-month season sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Well it is, and once you’ve go it sorted you can guarantee that various meetings will have to be

changed. Did I mention you have to do all this with only four paid staff? Welcome to the work of the British Racing and Sports Car Club. The BRSCC dates back to before World War II when a group of Bristol company enthusiasts got together to discuss low-cost racing. The war delayed proceedings, but the enthusiasm to race cheaply was still there afterwards. John Siddall, secretary of the Bristol Aeroplane Co Motor Sports Club, was particularly keen on the idea of 500cc racing and soon became club secretary of the 500 Club, born on August 21 1946. It was a huge success and helped develop and organise plenty of racing. Soon a more allencompassing name was needed and in 1954

the first committee meeting for the BRSCC was held. For over 60 years the club has overseen a huge part of British motor racing and has introduced such things as the Formula Ford Festival, the Tour of Britain, the Birmingham Superprix as well as the Racing Car Show (now Autosport International). Nowadays the club organises everything from the aforementioned racing events to last-minute instructions to competitors, marshals and even support vehicles at the meetings.

Ever thought that when you race at Silverstone the circuit organises everything? Not so. Organising clubs rent the tracks and sort it all. “The BRSCC is essentially an organising

committee,” says club chairman Bernard Cottrell. “Our main base is at Brands Hatch and from there we do all the calendars and operate our membership database. We have four full-time people, but apart from them we rely on volunteers. We’ve got six centres around the country and people help us sort things during their enings. It certainly wouldn’t ork as a business plan! “We had a poor year four years o when we ended up with a net loss of £130,000. OK, the club has got reserves to a point, but two or three years of that and it’s finished.” Cottrell has been chairman

d a BRSCC member since 1973. As part of his many responsibilities he is race director for the British F3 Championship, British GT, Superleague Formula and the Caterhams (including the Roadsport, Superlight and Academy series). “One of the biggest challenges is sorting the dates for all the race series. We’ll all sit down with a massive jigsaw of championships and try and put it together. We try and get it sorted by the Autosport show, but as soon as you relax something will come up. A BTCC meeting will move and then everything has to be reshuffled. We understand though, because with championships like the BTCC and British Superbikes the circuits will get huge numbers of people through the gates. “You also have to balance the variety of circuits with other factors, like making sure

there’s a break in August so that competitors have time to go away with the family.

“You have to remember that these people have a choice. You go to work because you have to, you race because you want to. We try and please everyone, but you can’t in all honesty, and you do sometimes lose championships to other organisers.” It seems like a lot of work for little reward, but there are plenty of organising clubs out there. There’s the British Automobile Racing Club, MSVR (MotorSport Vision’s racing arm), the 750 Motor Club, the Classic Sports Car Club and the Historic Sports Car Club. And those are just the main ones. Ruthless is perhaps too strong a word for the rivalry, but if something doesn’t work properly at a race meeting there’s plenty of competition ready to welcome your championship with open arms.

“We cater for a huge range of racing, from the club Formula Ford championships to the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Silverstone in September, but all rely on volunteers. I’d love to pay the marshals £50 towards their petrol, but if you’ve got 100 marshals you just can’t afford it. We give them breakfast and lunch, while some clubs give them £5 when they sign on, but what does that buy? Half a burger at the track?

“It is amazing the support we get. Some volunteers are in quite high-pressure jobs during the week and when we’ve been looking for more clerks or senior officials many just say ‘no thanks, I prefer it out on the bank with my mates. I spend my week in meetings and I come here to get away from it’. I can understand where they’re coming from.

“I think they just want a bit of recognition. The marshals usually have a get-together at the end of the day in the scrutineering bay and sometimes a driver comes in and says ‘thank you very much, I had a great day’. That goes down a storm, and it costs nothing.”

So what of the future? “We seem to have survived the recession quite well,” says Cottrell. “If you look at the British GT Championship compared to last year, it’s amazing. At Snetterton in 2010 there were 14 cars on the grid and this year we had 31 at Brands Hatch. We’re not over it yet though and we’re always looking for more championships. We don’t actively poach series from other organisers because there has always been a bit of a cartel between us and the BARC. When you’ve got promoters like Mr Palmer and MotorSport Vision though, you do need to watch your back.”

As a competitor, the BRSCC may seem like just another organisation you pay a membership fee to. However, the next time you send off your cheque for £45 bear in mind that not only does that cover the BRSCC liaising with the MSA about all the details of a race meeting, but also arranging everything from timekeepers to medical staff, marshals, course vehicles and race officials. It’s not bad value all things considered.

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