Inside Line

 Last Updated: 02/07/2019 19:12

Well Sunday has been and gone and again, whilst much of the country based in 30 degrees, good old Manchester was cloudy and a temperate day around 19 degrees, perfect for shale.
Where do I start ? Firstly congratulations to Heat and Final winner Karl Roberts, well deserved, Karl is a great chap, his electrical skills ‘saved’ Stoke a few years ago when a weather bomb of rain and wind affected the floodlights and his magical powers provided a fix!  Karl – and I swear he has been distracted since getting married [ lol ] after a period with little reward, has gained traction so it was pleasing to seem him collect glory at his home track. My inside knowledge suggests that fellow Rochdale man SSJ has allowed him some of the secret tonic he imbibed much as Lundy would say ‘everyone should drink more milk!’ Congratulations Karl.
BriSCA F2 wise, it may seem unbelievable but true that Daz Shaw, lifting the English title was a first major Championship win for the seasoned Yorkshire driver. We have an affinity for the English as a promotion as at our various venues over the years it has always delivered – this was no different with an exemplorary Final that ‘delivered’ great action and racing. Well deserved for one of shales’ most committed and polite drivers surrounded by a polite and passionate family, congratulations Daz.
Reading some comments re the format, Dave Hamar and myself discussed at length what format to use bearing in mind we wished to showcase BriSCA F2 – a standard format of 2 heats and consi etc to me did not seem appropriate and we wanted the Final special and the last race. We did understand that drivers might only do one or two heats and await the Final however we speculated to go with this format and we believe it worked, the lowest car count in the heats being 18. Every heat produced great racing and the aforementioned awesome final. It also afforded drivers more opportunities for some prize money and we enhanced the Final from the standard 150 win to £500 to celebrate the occasion. The meeting attracted 51 entries [ actually 57 before cancellations ] and with an ill timed shale World Qualifier the night before, which surprisingly did not prompt many cancellations despite most in action, ironically we lost Gordon due to work commitments and Chris Burgoyne who called from Carlisle on his way down who had to return home as one of the team members fell ill. Nevertheless mid forties raced and put on great action and we feel proud of the support that we have had from F2 this year on shale, boy have they put n some miles and blood,sweat and tears to honour bookings and this meeting was a tribute for the formula which is an important and valued part of Startrax racing offering! Well done everyone.
BriSCA F1, 37 cars made the grid – the booking list did peak in the 40’s but Tom apologies as he was in Tenerife keeping his better half ‘happy’ before he travels across the pond to the USA, one or two last minute cancellations, Nigel Green had to work and Willie Skoyles not ready in time, Lee Fairhurst advised us also politely as usual why he wasn’t attending and apologies, he was still awaiting engine parts after a dismal shale season that kicked off late May at King’s Lynn after which despite rebuilt engine, more gremlins!  It was great to see some different names as it was a qualifier and there are still drivers desperate at the bottom end wanting to qualify. The system has some critics but it has and continues to boost numbers and if it’s not broken don’t fix it! 18 in heat 1 and 19 in heat 2 AND EVERY non qualifier made the consolation grid with good grids in the Final and GN!
This is where I feel right to express my own opinion on things after reading some extremely disingenuous social media comments!  Many drivers had travelled 10 hour plus round trips, it was great to see Russell Cooper back who had little to show sadly for his day at the Vue, and a rare visit from deepest Bedfordshire of Tim Warwick in a well presented ‘budget car’ Often taken for granted, Matt Newson and entourage, again from deepest Norfolk and sort of ‘expected’ to be at every meeting, the sheer cost and commitment is staggering and boy, has he had a great 2019 thus far!
Manchester on a Sunday [ or Monday ] evening given now the changed demographics of where drivers live can be a big ask, getting back at midnight and work at the next Monday. Therefore whilst people whinge about car numbers, we can do nothing about the fact the dogs are on until hence the start time – either that, or no racing. So we are operating a little bit, one hand behind our back to keep it alive. However, we respect the dedication of every driver who makes the trip and it’s good to get a boost every now and again – thank you
From where I stood, it was a great meeting. However, reading some comments, bearing in mind I have been a fan since 22nd July 1967 I am wondering if I am on the same page as many of today’s fans ? I have been thinking long and hard of much of the critique directed at the sport and contact element, yes it has since 1954 changed and evolved, but Sunday the racing was as good as the first meeting 21 years ago early May 1999. Similar numbers of cars, that aspect has not altered over 21 years, personalities have, the track produces quirky racing with fast straights, hard corners and you have to hit the car in front, it’s called ‘stock car racing’ and not ‘super modifieds’ – so exactly what do people expect these days ?  Akin to Nascar, yes we have a new crop of drivers, perhaps we not as many personalities and everyone these days has equal kit and in many cases ability, so how in reality do we change that evolution ? Sunday’s racing was as good, and more professional dare I say it than Nelson way back in 1967 when 39 cars and three heats was the ‘norm’ – It’s time to think logically and ‘enjoy’ what we have whilst we have it.
I read a post that ‘it seemed as we were going through the motions’ as we knew the track was closing! I have to express ‘what an insult’!  Considerable work was done with assistance – thanks – in producing a great themed programme to celebrate 21 years at Kirky Lane. Yes, as has been well publicised plans were announced on December 17th 2018 for 250 houses to be built on the site which it has to be said was not unexpected. However, since January ,with some great people, 15,000 signatures and high profile support and investment, we have campaigned to try and fight it. In the coming weeks we are due to meet the planners but, as it stands, none of us know the future, it quite literally is month by month. One can speculate as much as one wishes, but reality, if planning is granted in the coming several weeks, June 30th might just have been the last meeting, equally so could August – or we could see out 2019, equally we could still be there in 2020. Candidly, until the fat lady sings we just do not know and we still have a huge workload. The works goes on, 4k was jointly spent on much needed rubbish clearance , accumulated from mainly other events at the stadium – is that a sign that we are ‘going through the motions’ ?
There are comments about poor or crowd being down, yes it was on a Bank Holiday but in reality as the bill payer, that’s my responsibility and we are there to ensure that the product people pay to watch is presented to the best of our efforts. There was a ‘strong’ BriSCA audience, bigger than a Bank Holiday however, as anticipated due to timing, holiday looming, no Bangers, it did not attract ‘families’ as a Bank Holiday does, not unusual because stock car racing is about summer.seaside or bank holidays. We are challenged with Sundays and starting at, it is that or no racing at all, not attractive for families and school the next day other than Bank holidays, and even those are prejudiced with school holidays changed. I am unsure any other promoter would take it on with one sport finishing at 2,pm and cars on track at with a logistical ‘smooth as clockwork’ transition and that’s thanks to great staff! After a sequence of rain affected meetings our ace track man spent almost 10 days on it, we dug out 100 tons of shale and relaid it and with decent weather, good watering, it provided great racing!  Blood,sweat and tears, does that add up to going through the motions as it has a cost ?  The venue, indeed all venues, need everyone’s support – we are prejudiced revenue wise as we gain no benefits of food or drink revenue, they are expensive to run and 26 years on do wonder to be honest how we have survived. That revenue is increasingly crucial.
However, the developers are required under section 97 of the planning act to prove that the events at the stadium are no longer ‘needed’ and the argument for housing has a greater benefit for the area to grant permission. Opinionated talk can have consequences and undo considerable work we have done to prove the sustainability. That disappoints us.
Whilst we are considering retirement, we are actively in discussions for a joint six figure investment in Sheffield for improvements as and when and as a plan B, but reading some of the morose comments seriously does make me question whether now, today is the right time to go.
The sport I am watching today has changed, it has flaws, but it is still stock car racing, every month and year as the BMB , even as recently as last week, the BSCDA and BriSCA met for several hours discussing the future of the sport, how it has evolved, how we can tweak and improve the show – there are no quick fixes or even a viable case to ‘switch the clocks back to 1967’ – that ship sailed and it’s called evolution and access to technology. However, I am unsure what we are watching today is radically different to what we watched 15 years ago, certainly that was my judgement after Hednesford and  Sunday. We all want to cut costs, but what now do fans racing wise want is it about ‘smashing cars to bits?’ is about whether 2/3 drivers are attending a meeting that dictates a fans attendance ?
To all the drivers and fans who made a great meeting that started at and finished at and our terrific staff, thank you and thank you all for 21 years. A factoid, whilst we understand that the evening fixture can be prejudicial for travellers, if we started at it would have finished at – and most would say ‘excellent turnaround’ – Mother.Mary of God we are with some passion trying to keep the sport alive in the North because when stadiums are gone they are never replaced. We should be coming together to support it and our sport collectively.
A great afternoon/evening racing and thanks all. I would also like to thank the sports great friend Commander David Crosby who wrote a page in our programme re Armed Forces week, and we are delighted to support Ticket for Troops and David has been a great supporter of Startrax. Jackie and I were overwhelmed at a commemorative David gave both of us to Jackie and we will cherish it. Great people, great sport, but wake up and smell the coffee and come together to support it!

Thanks – opinion over, and I also am entitled to one as passionate about our sport