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An Open Letter from the Willowbank Raceway Management Committee

Article Date: 19 December 2011

In the last 12 months, there have been a number of significant changes taking place to the drag racing landscape in Australia, not the least being the restructure of ANDRA Ltd board, which we support.

Following a number of years of both ANDRA and the race tracks collectively working together under the Drag Ltd banner, the new ANDRA Ltd board felt that they could do a better job of promoting the top end of the sport itself, and as such, have fully taken over the role of the marketing and promotion of the ANDRA Pro Series.

As a whole, the tracks collectively have sat back and waited for the new board, and the new CEO, to gain their feet and provide us with a plan on how they intend to run the sport going forward.  Recently, as a Management Committee, we met with ANDRA CEO Greg Humphries and had a very productive meeting.  However, to date, we have seen no proposal or plan for the coming season on what dates, events or format the new ANDRA Ltd board wish to run at Willowbank Raceway, and we await their vision to move the sport forward.  In the mean time, we will continue to run a full calendar of events that will add to the profitability of the facility, because it is that profit that ensures the facility is upgraded and maintained.

During this development period, we have seen the conspiracy theorists, come up with any number of alternatives on how the tracks have been attempting to de-rail the new changes within ANDRA.  While we cannot speak on behalf of all facilities on this subject, the Willowbank Management Committee wishes to now publicly state the following:-

Since the gates initially opened at Willowbank Raceway over 26 years ago, the Management Committee and management of the track have continually maintained an attitude to foster and grow drag racing in Australia.  Over the years, this attitude has seen a number of financially un-viable events held for the benefit of the sport, the National Series and the Racers as a whole, which ultimately have resulted in financial losses to Willowbank Raceway.  Something, we as a Management Committee understood before opening the gates, but we were prepared to undertake in order to advance the sport.

To now see the undermining of the sport, and the attack on the tracks, by a number of high profile racers is actually counterproductive and hurtful to the sport as a whole, and is totally against everything that Willowbank Raceway stands for.  These high profile people are trying to use their soapbox to promote an adversarial situation that simply doesn’t exist, and by their actions, are undermining us all, racers and tracks alike.

While much has been said by these people, who should really know better, understand that there has been absolutely no discussions taking place between any tracks to stage a series to run against the ANDRA Pro Series.  We remain committed to ANDRA and to all our racers, but these negative people are affecting us all by bringing down the  sport both within the general public eyes and within the eyes of corporate Australia, and have dragged the sport into places it doesn’t need to be.

It should be understood that it is the responsibility of the Willowbank Raceway Management Committee to ensure the continued financially viability of the track to ensure that both our generation, and future generations, have the benefit of racing at Willowbank Raceway.  The amount of resources, both in time by our staff and financially, that Willowbank Raceway has put into developing the national interest over the life of the facility has been enormous.   This expenditure, together with the amount of rain affected events over the last 2 years, has caused the track management team to look at all facets of the tracks finances.

It is these circumstances that caused the recent decision to adopt our own insurance, in an effort to reduce cost, and not as some would have you believe, to break away from ANDRA. 

Additionally, adopting our own street car rules has been done in an effort to attract back to the sport, those people and vehicles, that have been excluded from the sport by out of date rules - rules that for some time, we have tried to change within the ANDRA system.  It is important to understand that we cannot run a business by continual turning people away from our business, something that has happened for some time under the previous rules.

Furthermore, it should also be understood that Test and Tune and Street Series events, are the life blood of any drag racing facility, and due to the rules and the high cost of both sanctions and insurance, these events have been less cost effective over time, putting even more pressure on our larger events to be profitable.  It should also be understood that these events continue to be weather affected as well.

As a Management Committee, we are getting sick and tired of the continual disinformation being put out by uninformed people who should really know better and are simply undermining not only our position, but the sport as a whole.  Additionally, the personal attacks on our staff and Management Committee members are totally unacceptable and must stop.

This facility has been built and maintained for the racers, and will continue to be operated for all racers both Group 1 and Sportsman alike.  But understand that the current Management Committee has an obligation to ensure that the facility remains financially viable.

To sum up, there is NO plot currently being undertaken by us, or any other facility in this country.  We remain committed to our ideals to grow the sport.  It is up to you all to take on the uninformed and stand up for the sport we all love dearly.

A famous promoter in the USA once said “People who continually talk the sport down will eventually bring it down, it’s up to us all to talk the sport up to ensure it continues to grow”.  We couldn’t say it any better!

Willowbank Management Committee.

For Further Information please contact the Willowbank Raceway Office on 07 54615461 or admin@willowbank-raceway.com.au

 

 

 

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