THE VOICE OF NATIONAL RACING
Another New Year’s Day, and it was another trip to Plough Lane to watch stock car racing at Wimbledon Stadium for me.
I reported at the end of last season that there were some very real concerns over the future of the venue. Sadly, just before Christmas, those concerns were realised.
As reported in Motorsport News, plans were pushed through to demolish the stadium and build flats and a new 11,000 all-seater stadium to house AFC Wimbledon in early December.
No timeframe has been set for the development to commence but time is pressing if motorsport is to keep one of its most cherished venues.
Supporters of the stadium have started a petition to alert higher political powers – including London mayor Boris Johnson, who has the authority to review the decision – that there is a fan base for the stadium and the sport in south-west London. The supporters feel they weren’t taken in to account when the original planning permission was pushed through. They want their voice to be heard, and rightly so.
Although Wimbledon is only one venue, it could be the thin end of the wedge, particularly for short oval racing. Remember, it is a sport that has produced so many stars that have gone on to huge success, including the likes of Martin Brundle, Derek Warwick and Nick Tandy.
You can read how to support the online petition on the Sporting Scene news page ( p29). It is important that people do because Wimbledon has a huge part to play in the history of motorsport.
But, perhaps, more importantly than that, it is vital to show the powers that be motorsport fans will not just sit quietly while these arrows are being relentlessly fired at our sport.
The motorsport industry in this country is massive and it has been acknowledged at the very highest political level. But the high profile side of the sport, recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron, is only the tip of the iceberg. It is propped up and supported by a network of engineering companies, businesses, competitors, venues and suppliers – which, if you totaled up their input into the economy as a whole, would probably outstrip that provided by the supposedly more important categories.
If you are a motorsport fan, and even if you don’t have much interest in short oval racing, signing this petition and showing support is a signal of how important these places are to the very fabric of our sport. That is something that should be easy for any fan to understand.
JAMES “These places are the fabric of our sport”