|In the build up to the UK`s flagship motor racing event, the British Grand Prix held this weekend at Silverstone, the MSA has outlined its commitment to ensuring that Britain continues to hold a pre-eminent position in world motor sport. In so doing, the MSA hopes to utilise the attention that has greeted Lewis Hamilton`s stunning F1 debut to stimulate interest among the public in the various motor sport disciplines.
The MSA`s significant investment in talent development has seen the launch this year of the MSA British Race Elite scheme. Building on the success of the Rally Elite programme, the Race Elite has selected six of the UK`s brightest young prospects to benefit from an intensive training programme, led by internationally-renowned racer David Brabham. The six were at Silverstone on Thursday to witness first hand the world of Formula 1 and to rub shoulders with the teams, drivers and the media at the pinnacle of the sport, including Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Christian Horner.
The MSA is also targeting new recruits to the sport. In recent weeks the level of enquiries to karting venues around the country has increased dramatically and this will inevitably create a surge of new young drivers. By breaking down the barriers to entry, the MSA hopes to attract as many of these newcomers as possible into official competitive motor sport, rather than simply the ‘arrive and drive` leisure activity.
One particular initiative will see the MSA in effect offering free licences to competitors who are under 16 years of age. Having purchased their initial ‘Go Racing` or ‘Go Karting` packs, competitors will then be credited for the cost of their first licence when they ultimately make their application.
But it`s not just behind the wheel where the recruitment drive for younger participants is taking place. It is also within education, and into volunteer officials and administration that the MSA is seeking to spread the word of motor sport.
To reflect the importance of attracting the younger audience into the sport, the Motor Sports Council has recently announced the creation of a new advisory forum aimed at young people. It is anticipated that membership of the ‘Next Generation Forum` will be limited to people under the age of 25 and the group`s recommendations will be presented to Council for consideration.
The Council has also recently approved the creation of Cadet Marshals. Aged between 11 and 16, these cadet marshals will be permitted to join the ranks of the 12,000 registered marshals in the UK. While always safeguarding them from unnecessary risk, the MSA will allow the cadets to assist with limited duties on certain events and it is hoped that this will bring valuable new blood to the vital groups of volunteer officials without whom motor sport simply could not take place.
The Volunteers in Motorsport programme has been working hard with the motor clubs in this area, signing up a staggering 800 new marshals in the first two years. With particular relevance to the youth market, however, ViM has worked closely with universities and colleges to establish recognised vocational training and qualifications in motor sport marshalling.
Colin Hilton, Chief Executive of the Motor Sports Association says:
“The youth market is vital to the ongoing strength and success of UK motor sport, both on the track and off it. It is absolutely essential that we do everything we can to attract more young people to this fantastic sport.
“We know that the licence fee is one of the smallest costs in terms of starting competitive motor sport, but we also know that we have to address all potential barriers to entry. Subsidising the initial licence fee gives a very clear indication to young people that we want them in our sport.
“Lewis Hamilton`s achievements so far have been a wonderful boost for everyone involved with the sport. We must now use this renewed interest to drive up participation across the board, but not just in our flagship disciplines like circuit racing. There are 22 disciplines and thousands of motor sport events taking place every year across the UK. Many of them are low-cost events and some are undertaken in one`s own road car, so we need to get the message through that there is more to our sport than just Formula 1.
“The UK boasts the best motor sport in the world. We have a glorious history of British success and our championships have always been the proving ground for young competitors from around the globe. No fewer than nine of the current F1 grid cut their teeth in British championships and that is great news for our sport.
“It is critical for the future that we ensure continued UK representation at the highest level of international motor sport and that we bring more people into the sport, either as participants, spectators or volunteer officials. We will continue to develop our programmes to deliver these results and I hope that these initiatives will make a big impact.”
Release MSA07-043: 8 July 2007
For Media Information Purposes - No Regulatory Value
Notes to Editors:
• The Motor Sports Association (MSA) is the governing body of UK motor sport
• The MSA is sanctioned by the world governing body, the Federation Internationale de l`Automobile (FIA), as the UK National Sporting Authority
• There were 32,312 UK competition licence holders in 2006
• There were 4,993 registered motor sport events held in the UK in 2006