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Open Letter To Members: Grid Sharing and Costs.

Dear Member,

 

Having noted a number of comments, by email and on social media regarding combined grids for some categories this season, we felt it right to address this and the uncomfortable truth. This email isn’t meant to have a negative tone, but is part of how we run the club, with honesty and openness in response to feedback from members.



Financial Reality

Post-Covid costs have increased on everything: medical, timekeeping, officials expenses, electric (despite our solar panels), MSUK insurance fees, but most of all circuit hire at some tracks. This, combined with frozen entry fees for many years and members on average taking part in slightly less races over the last three seasons, inevitably produced a loss, as shared with the membership at the AGM and in this news item: https://www.classicsportscarclub.co.uk/post/end-of-season-dinner-and-awards

It's no secret that the club lost £16,000 in 2022 and around £90,000 in 2023. Substantial losses, fortunately, prudence in previous seasons meant we can weather that loss, but clearly it couldn’t continue.

Our Chairman, John Hammersley, went on to describe the hundreds of man hours involved in setting the 2024 calendar, timetables and fees. It took many versions of timetables before we could establish one that balanced the books, this partly explains why we were some weeks later at announcing the calendar than intended.

 

Forming a calendar and timetables is a huge undertaking and is rarely something we sit back and look at with total satisfaction. We sometimes feel that we’re looking through a crystal ball, trying to predict what may happen a year in advance, guessing how many drivers are going to enter particular categories and races. Nothing is ever the same from one year to the next. There are always compromises in a timetable, especially when it comes to covering the costs of race meetings, regrettably there is always someone unhappy. 10 or 15 years ago, a grid of 17 or 18 cars was perfectly acceptable to cover costs. Those days are long gone at the premium circuits, where 25 cars minimum is the new target to break even for us. As an extreme example, the total forecast costs for our single day on Silverstone Grand Prix in June are well in excess of £100,000! You can quickly do the maths on the entry numbers and fees required to cover this.

 


We understand that most drivers would prefer to have stand-alone grids and not mix with other categories. With the exception of one year, our races at Spa have always been successful, with mixed grids. We will, in future years seek to return to stand-alone grids wherever possible, but if your series typically fields 15 cars and you want a stand-alone grid, are you happy to pay hundreds of pounds extra for that privilege? Most members would answer no, which is why, in this rebuilding year, we are seeing combined grids, to keep your entry fee to a sensible level and ensure you have a good number of other suitable cars to race against. The Morgan Challenge, who are an independent championship, have chosen to pay the CSCC slightly more for their race time, whilst they are working to rebuild grid numbers. Marshals and officials are in ever short supply, they speak highly of you as drivers and the large, varied grids the CSCC provides.

 


You’re just interested in making money!

We are a club first, business second, everything we do is to provide members affordable, club racing. We have no shareholders, no-one is making pots of money from this; the reason you don’t pay VAT is because we are a legal entity known as a ‘club of members’ and run the club on a not-for-profit basis. The reserves we have built up are there purely to ensure long-term stability for the club. Your two Directors, Hugo and David are salaried and cannot, nor would not, take dividends.


New to the CSCC Championships

As addressed in previous communications, the categories who joined us as full CSCC series and championships at the end of last year have been welcomed to help strengthen your club, not take anything away. For years we had politely declined taking on any categories, but this would have resulted in a smaller calendar and cutbacks to the service you receive. All but one of the new series and championships knowingly joined us on the basis they would be sharing grids, giving them financial security.



What about the rest of 2024?

Whilst the calendar dates and therefore hours available to us are fixed, we do have a tiny amount of wriggle room about who races with whom, but only a little. Every series and championship has combined sessions somewhere, in a few cases a change of format too. You will see an increased emphasis on driving standards, particularly around building respect between categories that are mixed. This worked particularly well in the second Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Championship/ Drive MG Trophy race at Donington, where the drivers received feedback after the first race, about working together once the two categories started to mix, after a two-part start. The Verum Builders Open Series and Ramair BMW Championship will be combined throughout this season, as previously announced.


 

Thruxton

We have received a few comments from you about the change of format for this round for Advantage Motorsport Future Classics, plus a combined grid for the 1990s Modern Classics and Co-ordSport Tin Tops/Puma Cup. Due to a very good relationship with Thruxton Circuit management, we have been extremely privileged to be allowed to take a two-day meeting there for the last 8 years. As a result of declining support from the members for this meeting, we agreed to forfeit one of these days to allow another Club a chance to race there. This obviously produced a dilemma as to how we could allow as many drivers as possible to race there whilst making the financials work.

 

All Future Classics cars are eligible to race in the JMC Racing Special Saloons and Modsports by means of their age and we thought should therefore be a good fit. We announced that Future Classics would have two sprint races at Thruxton on the calendar, back in December. It must be said that some of you are embracing this variety, at Thruxton and Silverstone National only.

Comparing Thruxton lap times from 2022 (when it was dry), the pole time for Future Classics would put that car in 4th for the Special Saloons grid. There were only two Future Classics cars that were slower than the last Specials too.

If drivers are not happy doing two 15-minute races, which we thought might be fun for a change, and cheaper, they are of course most welcome to enter the Modern Classics 40 minute race, where there is no additional cost for series registration. Currently, there are still 10 spaces left (out of 42) on the grid for that race with the Tin Tops.

 


With some regret, we felt it likely that by combining Tin Tops, Puma Cup and Modern Classics could result in an oversubscribed grid. Given a limitation of hours in a day, the only other choice available to us was to not take either series to Thruxton, but we felt it better to give all three series the chance. Neither grid was full in 2023, with laptimes surprisingly close, as they should be, given the development of the Tin Tops cars and similar eras. The Pumas should get to enjoy a battle with some of the Modern Classics cars too, if past years results are anything to go by.  

 

Conclusion

We are in this together, we will continue to provide great levels of service from the office and visit a broad variety of circuits on rotation each season. We have perhaps the most intensive focus and time dedication to driving standards of any racing club, this will continue. Despite this, contact will happen from time to time, that’s the nature of humans behind the wheel of high-powered machinery in a competitive environment. Fees will be kept as low as possible for as long as possible. We will never be the cheapest, good service costs time and therefore money.

We have already seen a number of clubs that offered racing fall by the wayside, whilst others are struggling. Times have changed and the reality of cost increases outside of our control and some members feeling a financial squeeze means you have a choice between low grid numbers but a high entry fee, or larger grids (in some cases combined) and more sensible costs and a longer-term future for your club? We feel it is better that your costs are kept lower and that you have good numbers of cars to race against, whether they are in your class or series, provided they are suitable.

As mentioned above, we have our crystal ball out and are already planning next seasons calendar. The vast majority of you enjoyed Donington and we did witness some close, clean racing, the Co-ordSport Tin Tops and Puma Cup were both a particular high. 


Signed, CSCC Directors Hugo and David, Treasurer Richard Wos and Chairman, John Hammersley.



 

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3 Comments


Steve Hodges
Steve Hodges
Apr 05

Let's hope that your explanation of what some of us already appreciated is taken on board and any criticism or negativity disappears from social media and elsewhere, the Club is enormously popular , just look at the Donington grids! Well done to all Directors and staff for their efforts!!

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David Cornwallis
David Cornwallis
Apr 04

Dear Hugo and David,

All jolly well explained thank you - money stuff etc. I'm sure it can be a worry sometimes if not all the time.. - not at all surprised and you guys deserve serious credit for what you've done over the last few years making it all work SO well. I do mean SO well. and I'm not on my own.I promise you.... Just the general every day detail must sometimes be maddeningly detailed urrrgh! Loved going to Anglesey for the 24 hr jobbie - sorry it was not a financial goodie - pity that..............

Other thing is that one can actually come to one of your CSCC meetings and just crash out, racing or not, really…


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Dean Halsey
Dean Halsey
Apr 04

A great explanation of the current situation and yes all of us may not be happy from time to time but explanations like this help us all understand.

Keep up the good work

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