By the end of the 2017 season, York Raceway, the northern host of drag racing for the last 40 years, was on the brink of disappearing. The involvement of an automotive component manufacturer on the land, coupled with a lack of resources made the continuation of York Raceway untenable.
However, by 31st December, York Raceway activists achieved the first milestone. By raising £100,000; racers, spectators, enthusiasts and supporters of drag racing ensured that York Raceway was able to step up to the next level.
There were naysayers who said this could never happen, but they were shut down by the phenomenal response and this target was achieved. Passing this milestone has proved that there is massive groundswell of support for a prosperous and improving future for York Raceway.
But now, the opportunities are wide open for an outstanding future for York Raceway. There is good progress with negotiations, with an ideal outcome for all parties involved.
The commercial case for York Raceway
But it takes more than the opinion of enthusiasts to ensure the viability of York Raceway’s future. Some of the hard commercial facts need to be considered and it makes a strong case. Estimates vary, but there are possibly 3,000 vehicles in the UK built for drag racing, and possible 10,000 street / strip cars. There are three drag racing clubs. At the moment, there is just one dragstrip, crammed to capacity with drag racing and lifestyle events. Clearly there is the need for another drag strip, there is simply not enough capacity to fulfil the desire to participate in drag racing. An improved York Raceway is absolutely ideal.
The next milestone…
Rome wasn’t built in a day. In hindsight, it was naïve to think racing would commence by Easter 2018. Chairman of the Pennine Drag Racing Club (PDRC), Al Perkins, takes up the story. “Given that a corporation with significant funds has probably made an unrefusable offer to the land owner, we must be very grateful that he is still loyal to the promoters and drag racers and is determined that drag racing should continue to have a future on the site.”
“Not only that, but the land owner has categorically stated that provision for the drag strip has been added to that contract. However, it still leaves much to do and much to achieve to get the venue up to a new 21st century specification, and to ensure continuity for drag racing in the future.”
Because there are the interests of a number of players involved as well as the landowners, the racers, the club, the enthusiasts; it does become a finely balanced act. Sometimes the situation has to be managed with kid gloves and caution to ensure the best outcome for all stakeholders and for the greater good.
“However, we can certainly confirm that the future of York Raceway, the club and the racers, are in a good place and we look forward to telling you more, just as soon as the circumstances allow,” adds Marc Smith, PDRC Communications Officer.
“What we can state is this: the opportunities are wide open for an outstanding future for York Raceway. We understand that there is good progress with negotiations, with an ideal outcome for all parties involved. We are hopeful for more investment in improved infrastructure. Coupled with a new track, this means a wider appeal to more drag racers and lifestyle events too. The PDRC Committee is now fully up to speed on all negotiations and are happy with the planned progress.”
As if that wasn’t enough
There are further significant reasons why there is a positive future for York Raceway’s renaissance. York is a long-established drag racing venue, with no noise issues and it is accessible, not just because of its inclusivity for those who want to go drag racing, but also access from the UK motorway network. Indeed it’s a hop, skip and a jump from northern Europe too. “An improved track and improved facilities is bound to make the track more appealing to drag race teams from Holland, France and Germany, as well as Scandinavia. And they’ll get a proper northern welcome!” adds Marc Smith. Images: Howard Holmes.
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