GREEN LIGHT FOR CLASSIC ROAD RACES
It’s the change in the law we’ve spent years waiting for – the chance to see classics battling on a street near you
Motoring event organisers are now able to host motor sport events on closed public roads. New rules that came into force on Monday mean that classics are now able to race in closed-off town centres and on historic street circuits, and take part in sprints and hill climbs. Daniel Lackey of historic racing specialist CCK Historic welcomed the change as ‘ brilliant news’ for classic fans, and is looking forward to seeing the first events to take advantage of the changes. He says: ‘ We need local accessible motorsport events. Circuit racing is financially unviable for a lot of people. Being able to have small scale sprints and hill climbs is brilliant for companies and the local economy.’
‘It’s brilliant news – circuit racing is financially unviable for many people’ DANIEL LACKEY, CCK HISTORIC
Pressure from classic enthusiasts and the Motor Sports Association (MSA) has paved the way for motor sport’s return to public roads.
Plus, classic racers are set to benefit from smaller, cheaper local events like sprints and hillclimbs.
These new rules came in to force on Monday 10 April. Previously, events either had to request an individual Act of Parliament, or agree to hold them on public roads as long as there wasn’t any racing, or timing.
Primary legislation providing the framework for closed-road motorsport was passed in the 2015 Deregulation Act. The MSA has since worked closely with the Department for Transport (DfT) on the secondary legislation required to make this framework available to event organisers.
The news was welcomed by classic racing and restoration company, CCK Historic. Daniel Lackey says: ‘It’s brilliant news. We need local accessible motorsport events. Circuit racing is financially unviable for a lot of people, and being able
to have small scale sprints and hill climbs is brilliant for companies like us, and the local economy.’
Independent research commissioned by the MSA and conducted by the Sport Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University showed that local communities could generate up to £40m of additional revenue by closing roads to host a limited number of motorsport events.
Rob Jones, MSA chief executive says: ‘This is a seismic shift for UK motorsport. We can now take motorsport to the people, and in turn those local hosting communities have the opportunity to benefit from the economic boost that these events may provide.’
Transport Minister Andrew Jones adds: ‘New road races will boost local economies through increased tourism and hospitality, and offer community opportunities such as volunteering.’
Tendring District Council in Essex has been the first local authority to declare an interest in holding a closed road race in its district – although it doesn’t know what type of race it would like to hold.
Other advocates of the decision include Nigel Mansell CBE, 1992 F1 world champion. He says: ‘I am delighted that this government is embracing motorsport, which will assist the UK’s world-leading position and improve the sport’s ability to help provide opportunities and focus for young people.’
However, the MSA has come under criticism from smaller events. Organisers claim it is still going to be too tough to organise. Quentin Nicholls is the course director of the Oundle Classic Sprint. The sprint started in 2014 and was closed in 2016 because of red tape. He says: ‘Health and safety will still be an issue. Because in reality you’ve still got to keep people away from vehicles. And of course, insurance is still an issue. You need an enormous amount of bloody mindedness to organise an event like this. We don’t know whether we’ll start running again.’ Murray Scullion
Closed-road events like the Oundle Classic Sprint have previously had to negotiate a red-tape minefield to hold classic closed road motorsport events.