23 March 2013

Rubbing salt into the wound?

A Facebook (tm) friend of mine, Alan Raine, posted this picture taken at Oulton Park, yesterday (22 March 2013).  As you can see it is pretty dire; although the snow has been cleared and the track salted.  Yesterday was a test day but not many people turned up and quite rightly the day was cancelled.

Sadly the weather has failed to improve and thus today's (23 March 2013) Masters Racing Series, Historic Race Day has been "postponed".

In the finest tradition of discussion forums (fora?), the more vociferous members, of the Historic Forum on 10/10s have taken to the site to condemn the practice of salting the circuit with statements such as; "it is a highly irresponsible action by circuit owners and that they should be boycotted" is the stance one poster takes  (outraged of........?) and it is a view with which many agree.  Alternative views are propounded; "I suppose ultimately the owner has to decide if the entry fee outweighs the cleaning costs";or "Just race in the summer months and be done."

Without doubt, salt damages cars, it damages old cars even more so. Which means, there is a lot of sympathy for those who have invested time and not inconsiderable money, in going historic racing. The upshot of the dire weather conditions of this weekend are that; not only has Masters postponed its event, the events at Donington, Cadwell and Silverstone, are cancelled. I understand Castle Combe has, so far, escaped the weather.

Some will say that these events have been cancelled because it was inevitable and that there was no choice.  A view that suggests that if the organizers had the merest hint of a small glimmer of faint hope, that the weather would abate they'd run it, just to ensure they didn't have to pay back the entry fees.

Bearing in mind, we need organizers to make money and thus provide our events, we perhaps should take a more pragmatic view on this?  Certainly, there are times when we all think a race should be abandoned, but from my perspective as an amateur racer, I'm not looking for my money back, I'm looking for people to keep me and the marshals, safe and to race.  So, if it happens that after two laps an incident occurs and we run under a safety car until 75% (or whatever is the criteria) of the race is completed, then so be it.  I take the view that the only reason we are doing so is because the organizers were trying to clear the problem but ran out of time.  Sometimes it doesn't happen that way and (as happened in 2011), to release the cars after a massive oil spill would have created an even worse situation.

This Youtube clip shows the late lamented David Purley, preparing for the Oulton Park F5000 race in 1975.  It shows them running on a salted track.  It shows them coping with snow too.  Not sure it was a sbad as it is this weekend, but accepting that the team was paid to race, there were no qualms about the conditions, they just got stuck in.

The point?  We should perhaps allow the organizers to make the decision and realize that any boycott is only going to increase the cost of competing  By all means refuse to race but for goodness' sake, keep calm and don't panic.


  1. Peter,

    The weather was very strange yesterday. There was quite a bit of snow at Oulton but 5 miles up the road towards Manchester there was virtually nothing. They were ploughing the circuit with 2 tractors but only one had salt or grit for spreading although I didn't see it being used. It looks like they were just using the ploughs and they were doing quite a good job clearing the snow. I was quite surprised how clear the track was considering the conditions and am not surprised Testing took place. Pity about the Masters Raceday but at least I got a lie in this morning!


    Alan Raine

  2. Thanks for that. A lie in is always a good thing too. ;)