Motor Racing Coming to a Street Near You?
Many people would agree that the most glamorous Formula One circuit is that of Monaco. The Monaco Grand Prix is a glittering event that attracts an ‘A’ list audience from around the world. There is something special about the powerful cars racing on city streets.
Many people would agree that the most glamorous Formula One circuit is that of Monaco. The Monaco Grand Prix is a glittering event that attracts an ‘A’ list audience from around the world. There is something special about the powerful cars racing on city streets. Perhaps it is the way the cars always look to be going faster when racing by familiar buildings or perhaps it is the wonderful noise of the engines booming off the urban walls. Whatever it is, it has proved to be intoxicating and now the glories of city racing may be coming to Britain’s streets.
Britain’s local authorities are to be legally empowered to decide if they want to hold motorsport events on city streets. Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the decision during a visit to open the new Williams Formula One HQ on Friday 11 July. At the team’s new facility, David Cameron told journalists that the UK had a great motorsport tradition and confirmed that the Government was bringing back motor racing to UK roads. He added: “As part of our long-term economic plan, we are backing our world-leading motorsport industry to support jobs, enhance skills and help us to build a more resilient economy.”
Until now, an Act of Parliament would be required for a motor race to be allowed on a closed road. The new legislation, however, will allow councils to give permission at a local level to allow such road races to go ahead. They will also be permitted to close roads and suspend legal speed limits in order to enable the event to go ahead.
The Government is keen that the UK should enjoy more exciting road racing events but it also believes that such races will bring a substantial economic benefit to the local areas that decide to hold the events. They believe that the races could generate up to £40 million in the first five years.
One possible outcome of the new legislation is the mouth watering prospect of a London Grand Prix. The event has long been proposed and the Monaco-style race could now be much closer to becoming a reality. British motorsport fans would no doubt love to see the race and the event would also showcase the capital, as the cars race past the city’s most famous sights. The track could include The Mall, pass Buckingham Palace and wind through Parliament Square, past iconic sights like Big Ben, the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, is always looking out for new venues that could build the allure of the sport and the London Grand Prix would certainly fall into that category. Ecclestone has already indicated his support for such a project and has insisted that it is ‘no joke’ to consider a London race.
It is not just London that is set to benefit from the new rules, however. The recent holding of Tour de France stages in England has persuaded many that there is a genuine appetite for motorsport events on our roads. More than 3.5 million watched the cycle race and some sporting experts are predicting that demand for road races could be such that around 20 large motorsport events could be held every year on British streets.
This strategy could see events like the World and British Touring Car Championships being held on city streets, recalling past events like the Birmingham Superprix races in the 1980s and 1990s. Many other events could also take to the roads, from large, international races to smaller and more local meets.
Almost 80% of global automotive research takes place in the UK and the country is a centre for international motorsport. Initiatives like the Circuit of Wales are designed to build on this position and further build the infrastructure to take the industry forward. Eight Formula One teams are based in Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey, in an area known as Motorsport valley. The new road racing legislation could see Britain further enhance its pole position as the international motorsport leader.