Our “English Contributor” Roger Gorringe spoke with several teams on that side of the world about how the COVID-19 is affecting teams over there.
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Terms we were quite unaware of just a few months ago but are now totally weary of constantly hearing. They are words that cause anger, frustration, much anxiety and fear. We are all in the same boat and the need to follow the directions of our governments is paramount. We will get thought these nightmares, then the challenges are to get ourselves, our families, friends, work and businesses back to normal therefore getting our countries and nations back on track. These are a few responses from racers, track operators and a website new editor operating across Europe in these trying times. A big party will be on the cards when get back to the eighth-mile, 1000 foot and the fabled quarter-mile that we love some much. We posed the questions of how it’s affecting some teams here.
Finland’s Anita Mäkelä the 2019 FIA Top Fuel Dragster Champion.
I’ll answer on behalf of my team! This situation sure does hit our sponsors, like Levin Iglut, Northern Holiday Resort Area; they all have had a sharp cut in their cash flow after Finland´s borders were closed. That was suddenly the biggest problem.
We have ordered about 95-percent of the needed parts for the 2020 race season. Most are already here in Finland or on the way, so we are ready whenever there is a race to go to. In the future I expect longer delivery times and higher shipping costs for the parts. But maybe it will be easier to get parts, as there won’t be so big a demand from American teams.
The picture is still unclear as only the first race, The Main Event at Santa Pod Raceway in England is cancelled. If we don’t race, there is no income. The bills are still there to be paid. But savings are made when not travelling and the paid parts are still good, even for next year.
We need to be patient to see what the race world will be after this. Are the tracks still standing and operating? Do the people have money to come to the races? Can we travel between the countries smoothly?
We do this sport as we love it. At this point we are getting ready for racing as normal as in previous years.
Denmark’s Stig Neergaard Top Fuel Dragster fifth place in 2019 FIA points.
I'm in quarantine after my return from Gainesville, Florida recently. Everything is closed down here in Denmark; all sporting events are cancelled until the month of June right now. In my grandstand business I have lost a six figure sum at this moment in time, I can get a state compensation of around £9,000, so it’s not good business. This will affect everything here for several years to come.
I do not expect that there will be any races or other events until we have passed the summer holidays, so the first race could be in August, I have proposed to host The Main Event on the weekend separating July and August, but no one has responded to my proposal.
We usually have work in the racing workshop for five to eight men every Saturday all winter, and spring, this has also stopped for an unknown time, but we can be ready in two or three weeks when it opens again.
We must hope that everyone limits the infection in the best possible way so that we can get back to normal soon.
England’s Jon Webster – owner: Webster Race Engineering & driver of a turbocharged Ford Mustang Pro Mod.
No doubt this is a bad situation that we’re all in. Due to the general affect on the economy, not just here but globally, it’s almost as if at some point a reset button will have to be pressed.
Work wise I have eight to ten months work ahead of me with adequate parts and materials to cover the majority of the requirement. So far, parts from the States have been accessible, albeit with a massive increase in shipping costs.
I am the sole person within the business so I am following recommended guidelines for self isolation with a very limited, to no access policy to the workshop. Sanitizer is in frequent use on items delivered and relevant surfaces, masks and gloves being worn and changed regularly. We have a few smaller projects completed and ready for collection, but have discouraged customers from collecting until such time as it seems appropriate.
The general mood with customers seems good and philosophical, some have said “at least we’re not wearing our parts out” or “I wasn't quite ready so it gives me a bit of breathing space.” A couple of customers were hoping to get in while it is “quiet.”
I would like to think that the situation is in the hands of people who are best equipped to understand it, but realistically I have a suspicion that while there is no majority testing or vaccine that it’s going to be a long haul. Meanwhile we need to err on the positive and take a break from our normally hectic life and take the opportunity to get in touch with family and friends (even if it is remotely).
It goes without saying that I wish everyone good health and minimal disruption and please stay safe.
England’s Laura Turburville in a Super Pro ET 555ci Dragster.
All the family are fine but wonder earlier in the year if they caught a dose of the virus after returning on a flight from New York. “The dragster is in the trailer and ready at the drop of a hat” for action when necessary but Dad Ian feels we are vulnerable in Britain as we now have only one track.
England’s Caitlin Wilson 2018 Junior Dragster Champion.
Dad, Duncan, Mum, Rachel and Caitlin say they have been getting the Junior Dragster “Miss-De-Meaner” ready since late last year and it has been sitting ready to go since January. The lockdown came around mid-March and all the family have now been at home keeping from going stir-crazy by gardening, housework, study and the latest project to rebuild Rachel’s old VW Beetle, last raced in 1998. It’ll be in the Production class with eldest daughter Morgan better known as Emmy at the wheel. Rachel says Emmy will find it a bit slower than the Junior Dragster she ran a couple of years ago but it will now be over the quarter-mile and known as Miss-De-Meaner Havoc with Havoc being the car’s original name back in the day.
Simon Groves Editor of Eurodragster.com
Not exactly the way I wanted to start my editorship of Eurodragster.com, but at least I'm safe and isolating.
The current virus has hit the 2020 European season hard from the start. The season starts later than the US because of the climate and little racing normally takes place before April. Santa Pod Raceway managed to get in four Run What Ya Brungs and a Dial-In Day before the lockdown occurred, but few attended the Run What Ya Brungs. The Dial-In Day for novice bracket racers was a success as racers were still looking forward to the season at that stage.
After the lockdown, those racers that were still able to work on their cars posted updates to social media. In Europe the use of social media is more focused on Facebook than in the US. A higher proportion of teams post and there is less use of forums and Twitter. As Europe's main independent website supporting the sport, Eurodragster.com has received a number of stories from teams about new cars for the season which has helped maintain interest. But constant announcements about cancelled events are likely to pall. Some have posted historic material; others devised a competition with drag racing related words to songs, which we are promoting.
We run articles for sponsors at every opportunity, if they are still open for trade. And we support our friends in the media by posting links promoting newly posted content. For example, Santa Pod Raceway have posted to YouTube and Facebook videos of their FIA Championship rounds in 2006 and 2007, and others have posted new material going back decades. Where these videos are streamed “live” it does promote a sense of community with comments able to be added as the stream takes place.
We are holding our breath for a July recommencement. When that comes, the media will go into overdrive and there will be a sense of relief and celebration that it's over.
Keith Bartlett Chairman of Drag Racing Europe and CEO of Trakbak Racing Ltd. & Santa Pod Raceway.
As a result of the Covid-19 virus and its impact upon the whole of the UK, outside events and sporting activities, it is with deep, deep regret that we have to suspend all events at Santa Pod now until the end of May.
Motorsports UK (formerly MSA) alongside the FIA has already cancelled our FIA permit to hold the first round for the FIA European Drag Racing Championship on May the 22nd-25th but of course, we will be monitoring government regulations closely to see if they remain in force or if the lifting of restrictions comes into force before then. If event restrictions were to be lifted (which is most unlikely as we sit today) we would look to put on as big an event as we possibly can on the Main Event weekend (with Nitro cars) plus any other events sooner if at all possible!
All of the staff at Trakbak Racing and Santa Pod Raceway are devastated to cancel ONE event, let alone numerous consecutive events as far as May 31st.
On a more personal note, most people both racers and fans alike, know that I am a total Drag Racing junkie and the sport of Drag Racing is my life. It’s also my hobby, my passion and my sole business. Santa Pod today is a very successful business and one that I have built up to where it is today and of which I am very proud of. We employ many full time and seasonal staff all of whom I have had to lay off for a period of at least six to eight weeks – that hurts me on a personal level greatly.
In the 24 years that I have owned Santa Pod, we have never cancelled any major event or even medium sized event – yes, we may have had to postpone a couple of events to another date due extreme weather, but that is the exception not the norm.
I need not go into the huge losses that Santa Pod is incurring month on month currently. I also very much appreciate that all our racers, suppliers, spectators and fans are also going through exactly the same suffering – yes, we are in it together, but I know the that the drag racing fraternity is one big family and that in times of crisis always “steps up to the plate.” I hope that we count on all your support in these very difficult weeks and possibly months – and will see you all, racers and spectators alike returning to Santa Pod Raceway in force once we open our doors to the wonderful world of Drag Racing.
I am going to say that Santa Pod, as we all will, will come through this and will be fully operational at some date in the future and I sincerely hope that will be in the near future! Our drag racing family can then be back together where we all belong – at the race track!
For sure, some of our planned future improvements and development will now be delayed since those funds will be eaten up in surviving this crisis.
On a more positive and possibly interesting note, I am toying with the idea of some winter events in the period of 2020/2021. How does ‘Fuel & Fire’ sound? Or, the ‘Winter Nationals’? All I will say right now is think about keeping ‘New Year’s Day’ free!