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Update 11-Aug-2017  

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Mildenhall goes to Spedeworth

This is a copy of my comments from my LiveJournal.

I've been following short circuit racing in the UK for many years now and I can remember those far off days back in 1993 when Ron and Dave Coventry first opened a meeting at Mildenhall International Raceway. The brothers Coventry had been a working with the Promotasport organisation for some time and got some help in those early days, one reason why there were so many crossovers between RDC and PRI during the years that followed with staff, competitors and audience though there was a lot of distance between Arena Essex in Purfleet, Essex and Mildenhall Raceway in West Row Fen, Suffolk.

I was somewhat concerned when I first heard about the court case surrounding RDC a few years back when a local resident started a court case against them regarding noise nuisance. The problem isn't unknown to people involved in short circuit racing but it's why many of the circuits are based in out-of-the-way places. When you look at a circuit such as Northampton, a few miles outside Brafield-on-the-Green, or Ipswich which is outside Foxhall, or even Arena Essex, based in what used to be a quarry between Purfleet, Aveley and Stifford, you can see what the idea was - we all know that short circuit racing is loud. Stick large numbers of cars in various states of repair in a small area along with a large crowd of spectators and it's bound to be noisy! In this respect, Mildenhall Raceway is no different in that it is well away from most people up a tiny lane, not to mention that it's under a flight path out of RAF Mildenhall, an operational air base (well it is for now) operated mostly by US supply divisions but at one point was a European base for the SR71 Blackbird.

So when a person moves into a residence not 800 yards away from a known operational stadium, not to mention an air base, then finds out that the noise is pretty loud, the question has to be whether that person ever did a proper search of the area to find out what it was like for things like noise. Or perhaps they did but they underestimated their tolerance for such things. Either way, RDC took control of the circuit in 1993; it was an existing circuit, not a new one. The complaint wasn't lodged until 2009 so the question has to be asked; why so long? Could it be fortitude on the part of the resident which eventually ran out? I'm not party to the actual details of the case itself so the reasoning behind the bringing of the case isn't something I have access to but the application for a "no win, no fee" case against RDC at that point does leave me wondering.

One certain thing that catches my attention is whether this same resident brought a similar case against the USAF for the continual noise from the air base. Probably not, since it is unlikely that such a case would have gone unnoticed by the national press whereas a case against a small company like RDC, where the kind of money being demanded could feasibly have not only put them out of business but could have left them homeless, isn't likely to get much more than a mention or two in the local papers.

Since then, however, RDC has sold the stadium to Spedeworth, a large conglomerate of short circuit racing with a large interest in the sport in East Anglia. What will become of Mildenhall Raceway in the years to come is open to speculation though Spedeworth tends to do things its own way and even if Dave Coventry remains there as the manager, it's likely that we shall see some things change; for better or for worse, time will tell. It's a shame that yet another icon of the short circuit racing scene in the UK is set to diminish or disappear (actually it may continue given that RDC still have Dover), especially given the way in which Spedeworth is gobbling up other promotions including NIR and Incarace (though they do try in some cases to keep the brand going) but then I can't see that there are many alternatives right now.

All I can say, and have on many occasions, is that if you are a short circuit enthusiast, support your local circuit. Now more than ever these circuits are under threat and a lack of support can see them go under so very easily.

To follow my Livejournal as it gets updated, please follow me on Twitter - @mistie710

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