Following a recent hike in Motorsport Insurance, The Local Cookstown 100 Motor Cycle Club are now facing ways and means to find an extra £4.000 which has been added to their insurance bill for their annual road race event, which takes place this year on Friday and Saturday 28/29th April.
This will mean that their bill will probably be in access of 16k! Just for insurance alone!
To most of the spectators, for too long they have been accustomed to watching road racing for Free!.
In recent years, Clubs have asked for Spectators to purchase Race programmes, to help offset the ever rising costs of the sport, and you would be amazed at how many people complain about this! programme sales, are the lifeline of the majority of clubs running events, In theory, it costs the local Motor Cycle club in the excess of 90k to put this annual event over! there is little or no gate money and if it rains, which it does in Ireland, then it’s disaster.!
Unfortunatley,this year, the Mid Antrim will not take place, and the simple reason, was because of a poor turnout of spectators at last years event, due to the poor weather!, This has a knock on effect in many ways.Last year, The Cork races were cancelled, then later in the year, the Killane meeting was also called off, Heavy rain forced the Kells club to abandon their event.
Organising a national road race is no mean feat with loads of hurdles to jump through. The tracks are every day public roads closed on Friday or Saturday for roughly nine hours of practice and qualifying, then the following day for another nine hours of racing, plus it takes weeks of circuit preparation , Then you have to talk to potential event or race sponsors, to farmers for the use of their land and movement of their animals, the erection of grandstands etc.
“Health and safety plays a big part of any road race and we have to negotiate with farmers and residents to maybe remove part of their hedges and fencing to allow safety precautions to be implemented as per the MCUI (UC) course certificate and get local councils to clear the grandstands erected as safe to use before a spectator is allowed onto them; we have a choice, either comply or the races do not run.”
Not every resident is a road race fan and while a minority, of spectators but not genuine fans, have no regard for other people’s property or crops in fields. They are people the clubs could well do without.
The Cookstown MCC have excellent working relationships with the majority of local residents and comprises are reached
To organise a national road race is expensive and time consuming. Somewhere in the region of £90,000 is required when you pay for insurance, medical cover or grandstand materials etc. all before a race takes place, therefore bad weather + poor attendance + poor income = financial failure – no race can afford to run at a loss.
It must also be noted, that the organizing club are based on everyday workers, who give up their time to help prepare the circuit etc.
A road race is a multi-personnel event requiring road marshals, flag marshals, race officials, commentators, first aid cover, doctors, hospitality, communications and club workers to prepare the circuit and -just as importantly - put it back again after the race. And remember these people are all volunteers.
The Irish National Road Race calendar for 2017 looks like this:
21st-22nd April – Tandragee 100
28th-29th April – Cookstown 100
17th-18th June – Kells Road Races
30th June-1st July – Skerries
8th-9th July – Walderstown
22nd-23rd July – Faugheen
28th-29th July – Armoy Race of Legends
9th-10th September - Killalane
The biggest problem to running a road race, other than the financial, is undoubtedly the weather, you can arrange all the dates you want, but there is no guarantee that you will have a dry day – if you have it is a bonus. Most clubs will be relieved to break even from a road race and if a profit is made it all goes towards next year.
To keep the Cookstown 100 and national road racing alive, Fans are going to have to realize, that this is a sport, a highly costly one at that, and in these days,there is No such thing as a FREE Day out! Race Fans are going to have to be prepared to put their hand in their pocket and purchase a programme mostly priced at £10 or €10. Is this too much to ask for a day’s spectacular entertainment.? How much does one pay for a football match,t hat lasts 90mins?
It is no longer a case of, ‘If competitors still want to race the roads clubs will organise events for them’. It is a case of the club asking themselves, ‘Can we run this event without losing any money?’