Kirkistown Motor Race Meeting Forced To Abandon At Thirteenth Hour!

23 Replies

The final car and superkart meeting of 2020, being held at the Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit in County Down, on Saturday 17th October, was forced to abandon after five qualifying sessions, when an email from the Department For Communities arrived into Race Control at 10:37am. It stated that since there were more than fifteen participants and the same participants were not “Elite Athletes”, the event could not run under the most recent Covid-19 regulations.  The meeting had already started just after 9:00am.

This was a smaller than usual event with only sixty three drivers over six classes. Given that each driver could have a maximum of two assistants, that meant there was a maximum of around two hundred and fifty attendees, including marshals and officials.

These were in a site which is probably five times the size of the Cliftonville Football Ground where Cliftonville F.C. were playing Glentoran F.C. in front of fans, on the same fateful day.

The Five Hundred Motor Racing Club Of Ireland, owners of the Kirkistown Circuit, has not permitted spectators at any of their events this year.
They have also taken the step of issuing all competitors with proper, washable face masks and demanded that, even though the event takes place outside, everyone must wear face coverings at all times.

Which brings us to the subject of Elite Athletes. What is an Elite Athlete?

Let us be honest. While both Cliftonville F.C. and Glentoran F.C. are great teams in a Northern Ireland context, they would not consistently do well in England, even in the lower leagues.  Our racing drivers from Kirkistown regularly race in England, where they are feared those they compete against.

At Brands Hatch next weekend, in the World renowned Formula Ford Festival, Randalstown driver, Alan Davidson, is expected to bring home the spoils in the pre-90 Formula Ford class. His counterpart, David McCullough, from Ballymena will be a contender in the Open Formula Ford class. Their competitors will not just be from England. They will be from all over the world.   Both of these drivers do not get paid to drive but they are “Elite”.

Then there is the situation at Kirkistown where Newtownards man, Ricky Hull, had eight cars entered in the Fiesta class. The drivers were hiring them. One regular driver, Stephen Walker, makes the trip from Scotland for every meeting. This is Ricky’s business.  Now he cannot operate at this non-contact sporting event that takes place in a socially distanced manner, in a vast outdoor setting, where everyone wears face coverings.

Please, can someone in authority explain why?

Photos by Graham Baalham-Curry

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About Author

Saloon class race competitor and partner organiser of Trackskills track days at Kirkistown Circuit.

RMS Forum Comments

jagged replied at 13:23, Mon 19 Oct, 2020
That's a complete bollocks , to stop a race meeting in full flow being held outdoors and observing the guidelines. Totally irrational, hard to have any faith in the decision makers.
Graham replied at 14:36, Mon 19 Oct, 2020
A complete farce!
FM155 replied at 18:25, Mon 19 Oct, 2020
Utter load of cobblers. 500 club should be looking for compensation from the DoC.
MagicRat replied at 00:57, Tue 20 Oct, 2020
Ridiculous decision. Contact sports permitted to continue, spectators allowed to attend but no motor racing. I can't think of another sport that has better social distancing for competitors, hard to beat a crash helmet and car.
Gambit replied at 09:33, Wed 21 Oct, 2020
Yes i agree Motorsport is more than possible to have social distancing in place and it is a stupid rule but unfortunately it is for ALL sports classed outside of "Elite" - you can hardly expect the executive to rule on each individual sporting matter, ffs they can barely organise a piss up in a brewery. referencing what is deemed an "Elite" sport is pretty stupid in the blog article. - shows the stupidity and ignorance of whoever wrote it. Teams are 'professional' maybe not your Liverpool, Man Utd or Chelsea but are operating at same level as English Leagues lower tiers.....plus they also compete in Europe. All the competitors at kirkistown are clubman/amateur racing drivers. "Let us be honest. While both Cliftonville F.C. and Glentoran F.C. are great teams in a Northern Ireland context, they would not consistently do well in England, even in the lower leagues. Our racing drivers from Kirkistown regularly race in England, where they are feared those they compete against." 3 Irish league clubs got over £2million between them from competing and winning in European competition albeit early rounds...they are still competing in professional competition, players are on full time contracts and get paid to play. They have also had to meet numerous guidelines in order to allow to continue and more so allow spectators Grotbags actually tried to stop spectators attending football on the friday night when supporters where already in the ground...another 13th hour issue but the clubs continued with the game on health & safety as it was deemed causing more risk stopping people from entering and in turn congregating outside. the fact you got a letter on saturday morning would make me think someone reported you on the day
FM155 replied at 09:45, Wed 21 Oct, 2020
Football carries a much greater risk of infection due to close proximity and contact between people not wearing masks. A simple comparison of the risks would show that if motorsport is deemed too risky to run then all forms of football should be shut down too. I know the decisions are driven by ignorance on behalf of the 90odd % that have no interest or knowledge of motorsport but it's their friggin job to make balanced decisions based on facts not ignorance. Who in the 500MRCI or ANICC have they been liaising with on these decisions? I'm willing to bet nobody.
Graham replied at 09:50, Wed 21 Oct, 2020
I also think it is safe to say that, should some of our drivers be given paid drives, sponsorship deals, or sports funds from the government, they would be winning European championships. Without doubt.
Gambit replied at 09:54, Wed 21 Oct, 2020
| Football carries a much greater risk of infection due to close proximity and contact between people not wearing masks.
id be pretty certain you havent been to a local premiership game to determine what contact is possible. you'll find everyone gets temp checked on the way into the ground, must wear masks until you are at your determined spot - which is marked etc all other football in all leagues throughout NI have been prohibited except for the top league for the exact reasons you state. | I also think it is safe to say that, should some of our drivers be given paid drives, sponsorship deals, or sports funds from the government, they would be winning European championships. Without doubt.
would probably be the same if government funded Irish League football and all who play in it - but they don't.
FM155 replied at 10:35, Wed 21 Oct, 2020
Yep, I have zero interest in football and have never been to a match. Ever. I know that the local teams have some money coming from sponsorship and via the league etc but local football is much better funded and supported than local motorsport. What I'm saying is that you cannot get away from the fact that football carries more risk of being a super spreader event (and that includes GAA also) than any form of motorsport that only has one person in the car.
Gambit replied at 12:19, Wed 21 Oct, 2020
| that only has one person in the car.
That is not a valid argument. You need to take into account everyone within the circuit that is competitors plus also those involved in the running of it. Yes all can be achieved but it's more than just the one person in a car.