“At the start of this year people made a conscious decision, in their mind and in their pocket, that this is what they’d be doing. It’s difficult to imagine they are going to make the same commitment this winter, certainly now Boris Johnson is saying these measures are going to last up to six months. So which championships will want to run, how many entries do they think they’ll have, what track time does that equate to? And what circuit bookings will we have?”
Taylor has been heartened by how “grown up” British motorsport has been this year. “We’ve all pulled together, from venues and clubs to competitors and sponsors, to rescue what we can out of the year,” he says. “Contracts went out of the window on 23 March; it’s been a handshake, a case of ‘we’ll work it out’, without fear of being taken to court about non-payment of an obligation for a contract signed back in January. That’s been reassuring. But it’s also been underpinned by furlough money, rent rebates or rate holidays. You wouldn’t expect that patience to continue if you haven’t got the help in the background enabling you to be so [considerate].”
The loss of spectators
Taylor estimates the loss of spectators at most, but not all, meetings has cost the BARC £1.5 million in turnover. “Every race meeting costs money, but we’ve got to do it,” he says. “People want to go racing and they are our customers. We need to get back to some sort of normality as quickly as possible.”
There’s understandable frustration that so many events remain behind closed doors for an open-air activity at venues where social distancing measures shouldn’t be insurmountable. Taylor points out that isn’t the problem. “Every venue is different,” he says, “and it’s the local authorities who have the power, who can shake you down or give you permission. We all know it’s possible to look after people safely in a big outdoor environment. That’s not the debate. It’s whether you can persuade your licensing authority that it is all okay, and [with restrictions returning] now everybody’s nervousness is only going to be heightened.”
Taylor is a realist, but you could never label him a pessimist. He’s adamant some positives have come out of the crisis. “Our competitions department has gone digital,” he points out. “Now everything is online and it’s brilliant. No more paperwork. And not running at a million miles an hour has given us some head space to think about the business and its future. My challenge now is to make sure we are as well-equipped as possible for 2021 and beyond.”
Motorsport people are by nature resilient and adapt quickly to change. At a time when life might well get worse before it gets better, we could all do with a dose of that racing spirit.