Early signs of optimism for domestic racing amid cost of living pinch

Where’s the time gone?! It’s already been over a month since the Classic Sports Car Club kicked off the 2023 Club Circuit race campaign that blew the winter blues away with a successful season-opening event at Silverstone at the end of February. It has passed.

Since then, England has hosted six more events, with the season kicking off in earnest this Easter Bank Holiday weekend, but these first matches remain an interesting snapshot of the overall health of domestic motorsport. offers.

Yes, this is a very small sample size. And yes, opening event numbers aren’t always truly representative, especially when the venue in question is an ever-increasing factor in a particular grid’s popularity. There are still some signs. Of the 38 English categories launched, with comparable data from 2022, 21 (55%) are up from last season’s average.

Among them was the spectacular opening of the British Racing & Sports Car Club at Silverstone. The minimum grid was ‘only’ 29 cars in 4 non-combined categories (C1 Endurance (61), Clubsport Trophy (59) and Mazda MX). -5 Supercup (49 cars) and Modified Ford (47 cars) – all dominated his 45 cars.

The Classic Sports Car Club also enjoyed two Tin Tops rounds, with just over 40 entries. The Snetterton Swinging Sixties Group 1 Contest also collected 39. Other impressive are his 32 cars at the Oulton Park Caterham Road Sports race and 57 entries in shared Minis. Miria and his Se7en grid in the first round at Silverstone.

Despite the difficult economic situation and stubbornly high inflation, it is clear that there is still appetite for racing, even as finances are squeezed.

“Most people say, ‘I can’t spend that much money, but I don’t want to stop racing,'” says John Pearson of Equipe Classic Racing, who started the season at Brands Hatch earlier this month with the Equipe GTS leading the way. is. 32 driver trails.

Brands Hatch’s Equipped GTS Grid Exceeded Expectations

Photo credit: Gary Hawkins

The trend for racers to protect their motorsport budgets as much as possible was seen last year when some categories were successful despite an overall drop in living standards in the UK and looks to be continuing this season. It also goes along with the claim that many competitors continue to race as long as they can because they are concerned about the future of the sport as they get older, or as the pressure to better protect the planet increases each week. They are tied.

But going back to the stats I mentioned earlier, this year’s opening event meant 17 categories underperformed the 2022 average. Many of these were minor differences. In fact, more than a third of them were only one or two cars smaller.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that early-season meetings don’t always give you an accurate picture. On the one hand, enthusiasm and action can boost numbers, while others are put off by the cold and unpredictable weather.

“The same thing always happens at the first race of the year, people say, ‘I thought my car was ready, but it’s not,’” adds Pearson.

“These are real people and can be influenced by what’s going on around them.” Ben Taylor

Perhaps more worryingly, some of the new categories launched this year haven’t gotten off to a roaring start. At the Bell Sport Challenge Series, which started at Donington Park, his 11 paddle shift his Ferraris from 360 to the new 488 appeared on the first grid. Organizers are optimistic that more drivers will join the fray as the season progresses, and the first batch of drivers were positive about the prospects.

But the Britcar Prototype Cup, which had the lowest grid count so far this year, saw the Praga R1 go up against a range of other prototypes, but only six cars at the first Silverstone round last month. gathered.

British Automobile Racing Club Group Chief Executive Ben Taylor said: “I know they expect more to come out in due course. Their cars may not be ready at this time.”

Silverstone’s Pragagrid was a disappointing six

Photo credit: Steve Jones

And while Taylor has been encouraged by interest in some of the club’s other categories, including the crowded grid of the inaugural event since the manufacturer-backed Caterham Series joined BARC’s portfolio, he is not crazy. A clubman racer without infinite resources has yet to be determined.

“They are real people and can be influenced by what’s going on around them,” he says.

In the meantime, more grids are up and running each next weekend. UK GT has reached capacity. Never achieved in times of economic instability, the ever-popular 750 Motor Club campaign continues today in Donington. About 40 cars are expected at Hot Hatch and Locost, but a record entry into his contest campaigning against Porsche’s miserable life is also possible.

insight: Can Marcello replace his European success with a British GT?

Before we know it, dozens more events should be in the book, giving us an idea of ​​exactly how things are shaping up. Let’s celebrate by savoring some of these big grids.

British GT kicks off today’s first race with full grid

Photo credit: JEP/ motorsport images

https://www.autosport.com/national/news/the-early-signs-of-optimism-for-national-racing-amid-cost-of-living-pinch/10454769/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-ALL&utm_term=News&utm_content=uk Early signs of optimism for domestic racing amid cost of living pinch

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