As more and more motorsport venues shut the doors in response to the current pandemic situation in the world, the flood of posts complaining about these decisions increases along with demands for refunds on member fees for this year. But like people who are hoarding toilet paper, its about time you take a step back and review yourself in the mirror.
The majority of motorsport positions worldwide are volunteer positions. The medical car driver? Volunteer. The chief grid marshal? Volunteer. Race control? All volunteers. Timing? Volunteers. Flag marshals? Volunteers. Scrutineers, you guess it! Volunteers.
And that person in race control just doesn’t start in race control, they spend years learning all aspects of the track, attending training courses on their own time, sometimes even having to pay for them. The timing people? Well let me tell you that at Perth’s main motorsport facility, Wanneroo Raceway, there are about two people that can do this job as its actually quite a demanding position. Get something wrong and the whole race that just ran could be for nothing.
So tell me, when was the last time you volunteered at the track for an entire race meeting? When did you last spend time and/or money on a training course to better your skills so you could get into higher volunteer positions?
I spent three days at Wanneroo Raceway here in Western Australia at their first event of the year where we filmed interviews with the volunteers, staff of the race track as well as drivers and the underlying message from all of them is that motorsport needs more volunteers. Drivers acknowledged the fact that without these volunteers motorsport would not happen.
The individual motorsport facilities have a duty of care to their volunteers just like their normal staff and with the majority of the key volunteers, race control, timing, scrutineers, in the “high risk” category due to their age and younger people only wanting to be on the track racing, hard decisions have to be made.
As for private events at these facilities, which has been part of the argument of “why is the track closing off other events?” rhetoric, the duty of care falls to the person hiring the track and they are sometimes in a better position with paying people to run their events to take this risk on hence why these events may still run during this time.
Lastly, most of our motorsport facilities are run by car clubs which do not run at high profits, or where there is a profit, this money is put back into the facilities to improve them for drivers.
If they started giving refunds to everyone, where would this leave the facility for when resumption of racing occurs? In a poor position is the correct answer. The membership fees would have to go up in the following years to cover those losses and maintenance, improvements and general status of the clubs would slip back. Something which no car club or facility can or could afford even before this pandemic.
Don’t forget as well, the almighty toilet paper hoarding keyboard warrior who is currently bagging out that motorsport venue would also be the first to jump on them if they ran an event and there was an outbreak linked to that event. Are you really going to be that person? Or are you going to do something about safeguarding motorsport’s future?
Put down your angry keyboard hands and get in touch with your local motorsport administration body, for Australia Motorsport Australia runs online officials inductions with training then done in person at a race meet, so at least you can get the ball rolling ready for racing to resume and get yourself on the list of volunteers to help these race meets run.
Ask your local car club if there is anything you can do to help them in this time and stop being like the toilet paper hoarders. Your $50 – $100 that you might get back is it really worth the long term damage that will be done to grassroots motorsport? What happens if they did decide to run and the people in key volunteer positions did get sick and then they have no-one to run the event at all in the future until someone is trained up?
Also think of it this way, you save on running costs for a few months, you can work on your car and get all those little bits and pieces done that you’ve been holding off and you might even come back to the track with renewed vigor that you win a title or two .. All because you weren’t behaving like a toilet paper hoarder.
Hell you can hit up your local media guys and even ask them to run a story about your car and your history in racing.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL TRACK. DON’T BE A SUCH A TOILET PAPER HOARDER. VOLUNTEER NOW
* DISCLAIMER: Please note that this is my complete and own opinion and I have no affiliation with Wanneroo Raceway, WA Sporting Car Club, Motorsport Australia or any of the volunteer groups that keep the tracks running. I am simply a guy who can take that step backwards and be rational about it thinking long term.