Who Could Have Scripted 2020?
Added by Kevin on Tuesday 10th November
And just like that, the 2020 ‘season’ is over, well, the main season anyway.
With some high expectations back in February and March for the year ahead, little did we know that a global pandemic was on the horizon and the season as we expected, would be ripped up and thrown in the trash.
The 2020 season kicked off in spectacular style in late February with the Van Bangers battling it out for the Shaun Walsh Memorial. A new race steward, a new stand, and a new tunnel were all in place. A packed venue seen records smashed with a record number of vans on track, and an equally impressive amount of spectators. Within a couple of weeks however, the season would grind to a halt with the UK plunging into a pandemic, and with health and wellbeing of drivers, spectators and staff, the ORCi put a halt to all racing in mid March, just before the UK Government put the country into lockdown for a ‘few weeks’.
The weeks came and went, the headline ‘National Hot Rod European Championship – CANCELLED’ then greeted us a few weeks later as the pandemic continued to grip the nation. This continued through into May, before things started to ease off, and England and Northern Ireland began to return to being permitted practice events – a sign that things were slowly improving. Though, our June speed weekend would also fall foul to cancellation as there was still no sign of events being permitted in Scotland. Mid June arrived with some cautious optimism as practice events were permitted to resume – nobody really knew how these would pan out, but they provided an olive branch for promotors around the UK as a source of revenue, with great support from drivers in committing to these sessions. In England, championships continued to be postponed, including the key events at Ipswich and Skegness in early July. Behind closed doors events began to take place at some Spedeworth venues, with live streaming the events becoming an option through Spedeworth TV, before the English local authorities began to allow the venues to open up, with restrictions.
Mid July arrived in Scotland, and only a few days before our next planned practice session was held, the local council gave the green light for HRP to resume racing, with drive in viewing only being permitted. This set things into motion – cancel the practice session scheduled for that weekend and refund all the drivers booked for it. Plan and implement a way for spectators to book in online with a restriction on the number of spaces being sold. Behind the scenes, this week was hectic, frantic and at the same time, a worry, as we didn’t know what the uptake would be on driver numbers and spectator numbers given the short notice of change! Aside the website, sanitising points, signage had to be printed and placed around the venue. Around 24 hours was spent on redeveloping the website backend to allow driver bookings and spectator bookings online, in line with covid guidelines. To our amazement though, the drivers, teams, and spectators were all keen and eager to get back to racing as they know it, well sort of. The event sold out, with strong numbers of drivers in each of the formula chosen to be part of the ‘return to racing’ fixture. A new experience was set, a new way of working was set.
The new norm of booking online was just the beginning – upon arrival you would no longer go to the reception, instead our friendly (and often cold) staff would greet you at the main gate, masks on, gloves on and checking your registration against our pre-printed booking list. For drivers, it was a similar experience as they were also greeted at the pit entry gate, with bookings checked off and attendee details checked. Our excellent medical team, Fife Medical Group, would check the temperatures of those entering the venue to ensure they weren’t showing any signs of high temperatures. Those in drive in viewing would then have to park up and remain within the confines of their vehicle whilst they watched the racing, only getting out of there cars (with masks worn) to visit the toilet or café. This became the new normal for the interim future.
Some excellent racing was witnessed in the coming weeks, with well supported events, with the Ministox, 1300 Stock Cars, Superstox and ProStocks continuing to provide excellent contact racing, whilst the 2.0 Hot Rods, Stock Rods, Ninja Karts and Junior Productions provided some super non contact racing, with an ever increasing amount of cars on track. In a season where many were staying at home, it was great to see a year on year increase in the majority of regular drivers on track. The much anticipated return of Back 2 Basics bangers had us on a knife edge, as to whether they would take off, especially given the year it had been so far. The formula, dropped from the roster a few years ago due to poor car numbers, was back, with a few fixtures on the agenda. The formula though, has since excelled with numbers multiplying with each passing meeting held with just under 30 cars taking part in the last outing of the ‘normal’ season for the formula.
Early September seen a 2 day event take place with the Rookie Bangers returning to race for the Scottish Championship. Mid September seen the return of ‘Walk In’ Spectators following the local council giving the green light for these events, however, this wouldn’t last as in early October, it was highlighted that incorrect information / guidance had been passed onto us, and that we would have to stop walk-in spectators again. This caused a headache with the Micro Banger World Cup just around the corner where we then had to contact all those that had booked to offer refunds, or an upgrade to trackside viewing. The Micro Banger World Cup, in itself, went ahead as a 2 day event with around 60 drivers participating in the Micro Bangers – again, we are thankful to all the drivers and teams that supported us for this event, despite the challenges around the country.
New Scottish Champions were named through September and October, with Bryan Forrest, Harvey Sneddon, Fraser Clark, Chris Lattka, Ryan Mackie, Kenzie Kopacz and Brandon Gourlay all taking the respective titles in each of our formula; Running, or not running the Scottish Championships was discussed within the promotion, and as a promotion, we felt it gave the drivers something to race for and look forward to, in what had been a season riddled with postponements and cancellations.
The initial end date of the season, 7th November, seen the Van Bangers again in action, with a super Fireworks display to cap off our ‘season finale’. And as if things weren’t strange enough throughout he season, a dense fog descended upon the venue throughout the Saturday afternoon prompting fears that the fireworks and or meeting may have to be abandoned!! Thankfully however, as the meeting went on, the fog again lifted, much to the delight of those attending as it meant everyone got to witness the fireworks in all the glory, as well as some excellent stock car racing!
To give drivers a bit more racing in a season that had seen around half the meetings cancelled, the promotion opted to run a winter series for the first time, all subject to being permitted to race. With Fife now moving into level 3, those plans have now been thrown up in the air, with the possibility of cancellation very real, should things not improve throughout Fife. Should we have to cancel any of our pre-advertised events, we may look to amend the formula scheduled to be in action at some of the other dates, in order to ensure that each formula is given an opportunity to race, whilst not over-using any specific formula.
Upon reflection, it wasn’t too a bad year considering the circumstances – But for the racing side of things, it had its highs and lows, which also unfortunately meant that our Race Steward moved on to pastures new. We would like to thank Mandy for her input and effort throughout the year. This though, was yet another obstacle that 2020 would throw at us, that we would work to overcome and ensure that racing continued.
Plans are afoot for scheduling our 2021 season – with much of the same championships expected to take place as was initially planned in 2020. Driver licence application forms are now available for download on our website, with the Ninja Kart teams being given the opportunity to purchase these through our website itself!
But before all that, we have our winter series to look forward to, with some exciting racing scheduled over the coming weeks and months… Hopefully!!
Finally, as a promotion, we would like close with taking this opportunity to thank everyone that has supported us throughout the year.
- Drivers and race teams; for supporting the venue through the difficult times, and continuing to turn up in numbers to put a show on for the paying public
- Spectators; for sticking with us, supporting the venue and abiding by the guidelines set in place to ensure that we were permitted to run the events. Without your support, there may well have been no stock car racing over the last few months.
- Sponsors; despite difficult times, we have had sponsors come on board and continue to support us despite the economic challenges.
- The raceday staff and officials; for Dean for organising staff on a weekly basis, and for the staff themselves continuing to give up their free time to come along and ensure that staffing is available for the events to take place.
Without all of you, racing would not be possible, so on behalf of Hardie Race Promotions, (William, Ashleigh, Kevin & Tam) – THANK YOU!
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