Sweetened, soured

05.05.14 2251 Excellent season opener blighted by unfortunate issues.

 The Scunthorpe club produced exactly the kind of meeting you would expect, but round one of the Kent Cams/Simpson Race Exhausts British Autograss Series wasn’t without its problems.
There was the usual sense of urgency which moved things along at a decent rate, and ongoing track management which kept the racing surface in excellent order. However, the dust levels were unfortunate; not only did it almost wholly obscure the racing for the spectators and photographers at times, but also caused a few accidents as the drivers could barely see where they were going.
 It’s a difficult issue to manage when the track – which has seen a fair bit of racing so far this season – has polished up, as wetting the racing line to suppress the dust creates a surface like a skating rink.
The track was watered on the outside line, and on the inside of the cones, so to say the club didn’t manage the dust effectively would be a little unfair, it’s just a shame that it spoilt some great racing at times.
The first day concluded at just after six o’clock, as complaints about the noise from the nearby village dictated an immediate stop to proceedings, and a few of the ladies races were held until Sunday morning.  The start time on Sunday was brought forward from the usual 09:00 to clear the remaining races, which was a good move; the fact that some of the drivers who were meant to be in those races weren’t told about the time change, and so missed their race, is a little unforgivable.
A finish time on day two of 16:00, however, is very impressive, and underlines their ability as an organiser.
As had been the case at the final round last season, the class seven final became one of the last races of the day because it was rerun so many times, and in the end it was a four car final as the other half of the field all received black flags. The issuing of flags, or not in some cases, was rather a sore point for many over the course of the weekend.
Of course there’s always a lot of talk on social media after each round, but it feels like a long time since discussion was as heated as it appeared to be after this meeting.
Having a complaints procedure in place will invariably invite complaints, and you have to feel incredible sympathy for the complaints officer at each meeting. Whether or not the flag that a driver has been given on track was justified or incorrectly issued, as is sometimes the case, the aggrieved driver will immediately go and complain. Social media is an excellent and informative tool if used correctly, but the fact that there are a huge number of aggrieved drivers using it as an outlet is a disappointing end result that leaves a sour taste to what might, speaking generally, have been an excellent meeting.
It’s always refreshing to hear a driver with the level headed outlook that one piece of bad luck will be balanced at some point by a great result, but those drivers seem few and far between. Too many drivers complain after every single incident they’re involved in, and question the ability of either the marshals or their fellow competitors. If the marshals come under fire too often, whether rightly or wrongly, then drivers and parents lose faith in their ability so the complaints procedure invites them to question any decisions made, and so the circle starts again.
Maybe this first round is just an isolated case, and there won’t be as many issues at the remaining meetings, but the fact remains that the longer the discussions are ongoing, the less likely we are to remember the event for the excellent racing it provided.
Class seven final aside, which became rather silly in its numerous attempts, the finals offered some sensational racing, the highlight of which were the men’s class eight and ten finals, where Dek Traylor and Sean Wright both withstood tremendous pressure from Phil Cooper to take popular victories. Nicola Mackenzie was hugely impressive in the class seven final to hold her nerve against Jo Thompson, and Nicola Jesse is also worthy of a mention for great scores in both class five and class nine.

Main: This incident gave Mark Grice a black flag, which was later recinded, and was one of many attempts at the class seven final.