The mess NZ motor racing is in

Of the major series this summer, only the TRS has come up with worthwhile fields and this alone will make the series successful. the way the TRS people have gone about their job is a credit to them.

Many of us will be able to remember the time when motor racing in New Zealand was organised, run and promoted by individual clubs. Come the summer and the meetings at Baypark, Pukekohe, Levin/Manfield, Wigram, Teretonga, Dunedin perhaps, Waimate and Ruapuna were all run separately, but within a common area of interest.

Everything was under the control of the central governing body called variously, ANZCC, MANZ and now MSNZ, and motor racing promoters and circuit owners met frequently to discuss matters of direct interest to themselves

These were different times and while it worked well enough, it was obvious that if there was to be some sort of uniformity to the international part of the season, there needed to be an umbrella organisation.

That organisation — a promotional company — was created to organise, run and promote the series, but directly under the control of what was now called MANZ.

But problems arose.

At the heart of the matter, I believe, is the fundamental structure of the way motorsport is run in New Zealand.

Only a very few car clubs affiliated to the parent body actually have anything to do with the big league events, or motor racing circuits. Yet each of these affiliated car clubs has a person who is their representative at the Annual General council meeting of the parent body.  In many cases, these people have held that position for many years and they have never really had any real interest in what formulae are being raced, or what the politics of New Zealand motor racing are.

They are simply interested in the overall welfare of the sport and the effect that has on their club. Their club may be in a small remote area and they run two hillclimbs, a bent sprint and a club rally each year.  What happens in the V8s at Teretonga, or Hampton Downs is really of no interest to them.

And most of the work of the parent body is taken up with looking after the affairs of the majority of clubs outside the small number involved in motor racing.

So, the new promotional motor racing body started to feel it operated alone and was not really answerable to anyone but itself.  That led to an increasingly arrogant and stand alone attitude that can only have been historically encouraged by some members of the parent body.

In recent years the arrogance of the promotional company was also tainted by increasing levels of ineptitude and personal empire building.

Remarkably, while it was obvious to many people that motor racing in New Zealand was going to hell in a handcart, the parent body did nothing.

But neither did the member clubs scattered across the country. Come each annual general meeting and the affairs of the promotional body were passed over without any opportunity for rigorous questioning and probing, because few of the representatives of these member clubs really had any interest.

Then there was a changing of the guard at the parent body which allowed the promotional body to spin completely out of control.

I find it difficult to accept that these people who retired from the national scene had no idea of what was going on.

But their departure left a vacuum into which a group of self interested opportunists moved. And move they did.

The result of all of this has been the events of the past 18 months or so — the emergence of the rebel V8 Supertourers, the slow moving of the official V8 series, wasteful (and embarrassing) legal challenges and finally the total collapse of the promotional company that was originally set up by the parent body.

Now we have the total capitulation of the official V8 teams which was really the only way that this situation was going to be resolved.

We also have the parent body saying piously that the collapse of the promotional company and the current mess has nothing to do with it. That is plainly wrong.

As the parent body it had the final responsibility to ensure that the sport was being managed in the best possible way in the interests of the sport and it’s individual members, all of whom were, ultimately, shareholders.

I would sheet home the bottom line of responsibility to the individual club members, most of who, like everyone else in the country, knew what was happening, but did nothing to stop it.

Over the past decade or more, the sport has lost momentum because of mismanagement, wrong decisions and a lack of resolve.

This summer, with the single exception of the TRS, the sport will stall. Again, except for TRS, the other major supporting races are notable for a level of entry that is pathetic. And the mismatch and fudging of support races at the major meetings is farcical.

All of this was as obvious as greyhound’s testicles a year ago, the rumblings of collapse were evident two or three years ago — that was when something needed to be done. Not two months ago.

But the declaration of peace, of the merger of interests between the two rival V8 factions yesterday is not a cure. It’s only a temporary reprieve for the problems of a racing formula that has no long-term future.

The management of the sport is still in total disarray.

— Allan Dick

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  • The Mayans may have been (partly) right.

    The most damaging schism in New Zealand motorsport appears to be over. The carefully worded media release from NZV8s’ entrants and owners group and V8ST posted here yesterday means the end of NZV8s as we know them, and the absorption of the final few such cars in the the V8 Challenge Cup that feeds drivers through into the main V8ST ‘show’.
    The key points are the cessation of legal action in the IP row between V8ST and NZV8s; and the election of a whole new board to the NZV8 entrants group, headed by experienced motorsport identities Lyall Williamson and Greg Lancaster and including V8ST Challenge Cup co-ordinator Steve Gillard.
    Whatever way you read it, this is a complete capitulation by NZV8s, because the central premise is that the NZV8s are to become a support category for the V8ST.
    It is an extraordinary turn of events, one that even V8ST CEO Didier Debae was not confident of when Full Throttle spoke to him for the exclusive interview in issue 1, which is now on sale.
    One of the new board’s aims is the re-emergence of major Tier 1 race meetings. But surely that is the role MSNZ has held? From TMC through MPL and into financial insolvency, the Tier 1 summer of motorsport has insisted the NZV8s were the ‘premier category’. But when in mid December with entries already closed it was announced that entries would be free, there were signs the Mayan Calendar might have been written about the category, not the world as a whole. And so it was that the demise of NZV8s as MNZ’s premier category was announced on 21.12.12, the putative date of the end of the world according to the Mayans.
    The best NZV8s will now hope for is to be “a high profile, but significantly lower cost support category”.
    It’s a huge climb-down but one that may well cause significant harm among member clubs – it is still not clear how many (if any) NZV8s will front for the summer series kickoff at Teretonga in a couple of weeks. Nor is there a published entry list for the category, casting doubts also on the second round at Levels a week later.
    With clubs footing the bill for promotion and marketing this year in the wake of the death of TMC/MPL and the massive debts still outstanding from their flawed operation over recent summer seasons, the 2103 summer motor racing season desperately needs tin-top V8 race action alongside the burgeoning success of the Toyota Racing Series. Many purists will go to the racing to see the Toyotas and know they are watching the racing stars of the future at a pivotal point in their careers. But the V8s appeal to the masses and there is no indication those masses will find their need for V8 speed met over the coming summer, at least not by NZV8s.
    The bitter division has harmed the sport, no doubt. The challenge now is for both sides to come together and swiftly design a Brave New World of V8 racing in the summer series. For 2013, that appears to be too late.

  • Bob Hulme

    As we wave goodbye to the 2012/2013 season we must surely take some time to note down the lessons learned before they are forgotten and the mistakes made all over again. But even more importantly we must look forward to how major motorsport circuit race meetings can be run to make them the spectacle they have been in the past.

    If we take stock of the position, it looks like this….
    Sealed circuit racing has attracted big crowds in the past.
    It attracts good viewer ratings on TV now.
    Classic Racing has grown incredibly in recent years.
    These days Classic race meetings attract bigger crowds than national championship ones.
    Car racing is still a popular sport and participation levels are higher than back in the “Golden Years”

    My thoughts are that a more entrepreneurial approach is needed and this must come from the promoters of the individual race meetings (in cooperation with each other). Major race meetings would become a collection of the top championship classes (by top, I mean in spectacle) with other types of racing for wider interest such as classics, F5000, or maybe even a motorcycle race or two. (This was the norm many years ago)
    We are well past the days when current formula 1 drivers would come here to race in our summer, but we can create brighter, more interesting and spectacular events that will have people pouring through the gates, news media taking a greater interest and TV channels itching to purchase coverage rights.
    Okay, so where do we go from here? What are the next steps and what action must be taken now before it is too late for the 2013/14 season. Anyone else like to comment?