Generally speaking, government are very supportive of sporting events, the Olympics in 2012 being an obvious example where sport is used to gain attention for the nation as a whole. Motoring events on the other hand, are often lauded as noisy and irritating to residents who live near race tracks, with the result being that many are restricted to racing only at certain times and with strictly enforced noise restriction levels.
With that in mind, you might think that racing within a city on usually busy streets would equally be out of the question and you’d be right. Up until now it has been illegal to organise or take part in a race or trial of speed along any public highway. Even with the power of the FIA and the likes of Bernie Ecclestone from Formula One were not enough to convince the government and mayor of holding an F1 race on the streets of London.
But hold on a minute, we hear you say, what about next year’s Formula E race through the streets of London that has already been accepted and agreed? The law would also affect Formula E too, though it is likely that even if the law wasn’t changed in time for that particular race, an exception would be made.
The Motor Sports Association – governing body of four wheel motor sport – has welcomed the launch of a government consultation regarding a proposed change in the law that would allow motor sport events to take place on closed public roads in Britain.
The MSA has been pushing successive governments to devolve power to local authorities to enable them to suspend the Road Traffic Act without having to resort to an Act of Parliament.
Such an amendment would enable competitive motor sport events such as stage rallies, sprints and hill climbs to take place on closed public roads, as already happens across mainland Europe, in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Rob Jones, MSA Acting Chief Executive, hailed the consultation as a huge step forward for the MSA’s long-running closed roads campaign:
“This is the news that British motor sport has been waiting for. It represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the landscape of our sport, allowing local communities across the country to host motor sport events and enjoy all the excitement and economic benefit they bring. However to make that vision a reality, we need everybody involved with our sport – competitors and volunteers, clubs and organisers – to respond positively to the government consultation before the 10 April deadline. The government’s enthusiasm for motor sport, and its launch of a public consultation, reflects years of hard work behind the scenes. It’s now up to us all to grab this chance to take the closed road campaign a big step closer to the finish line.”
Source; MSA, Photo: FIA Formula E – First public display of SRT_01E on the streets of Las Vegas