CAMS casts doubts on Racewars’ claims

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
An aerial view of the Racewars runway event.
Camera IconAn aerial view of the Racewars runway event. Credit: Brad Harkup

The head of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport says he is not aware on what grounds Racewars organisers claim to have been involved with “key personnel” from within his organisation.

CAMS chief executive Eugene Arocca said Racewars had not contacted him, the organisation’s head office or its WA office seeking advice on running its Albany Regional Airport event.

Racewars had claimed to have spoken with personnel from CAMS and other bodies as part of its preparations for a 2020 event.

CAMS is Australia’s largest sanctioning body for motor racing, and sanctions major events including Supercars, Australian GT, and the Australian Rally Championships.

Smaller sanctioning bodies exist across Australia.

Mr Arocca said he suspected the group had contacted low-level CAMS officials for advice, but warned that would be “a slippery slope of dangerous exposure and liability for those individuals”.

“We’ve warned and informed our WA office to remind people holding a CAMS officials licence to understand two things,” he said.

“Giving advice at a non-CAMS event is dangerous, and they’re not covered for liability by CAMS.

If they think by having a CAMS licence they can give advice on motorsport . . . and be protected by the CAMS licence, they’re wrong.

Racewars plans to not seek CAMS sanctioning for future events, according to a City of Albany report.

That report said the group “has advised they have ongoing dialogue with race event specialists and key personnel within CAMS and other bodies to ensure Racewars continues to operate to a standard in line with or surpassing the requirements set by CAMS for grassroots-style events.”

The group had confirmed from 2020 it would require cars expected to travel over 300km/h to be fitted with mandatory roll-over protection, frontal head restraints, international-standard racing seating, harnesses and driver protective clothing.

However, Mr Arocca said Racewars would be unlikely to meet a standard that CAMS would consider safe without major changes.

He said equipment required to maximise safety in a 1000m street car speed test would need to be “Formula One-level”.

“Even with roll cages, helmets and safety suits, and parachutes . . . there’s nothing that’s going to stop somebody travelling 350km/h down a straight without all the appropriate safety barriers down the side and protections on the inside,” he said.

This year’s Racewars airport event was cut short after the death of competitor Brody Ford following a crash in the 1000m speed test event.

Another driver was taken to hospital with injuries after the parachute on their car failed to deploy at the end of a run.

It is believed CAMS has been approached by the WA Coroner to provide advice on Mr Ford’s incident.

Racewars was contacted for comment.

Car race gets funding boost

Mr Arocca’s comments came a day after the City of Albany voted through a $105,000, three-year sponsorship package for the event.

The agreement was passed by council on Tuesday night.

It will see organisers of the popular car racing event receive $35,000 a year until 2022 on the condition the event goes ahead.

Council’s decision represented an upturn in fortunes for the non-profit street car racing group, which in May announced it faced insolvency following a shortened 2019 event.

At Tuesday’s meeting councillors stressed the City’s ability to back out of the sponsorship agreement if “event conditions are not complied with or a breach of the sponsorship agreement occurs”.

Specifics were not publicly available.

Councillor Greg Stocks called the offer “a clear signal to Racewars ... that the City and its council are highly supportive of their event”.

“If the City’s not happy ... we have the ability to terminate that agreement,” he said.

In a post on social media after the vote, Racewars organisers said they were “thrilled to be able to continue to call Albany our home”.

“This gives us the clarity, support and consent required to move forward with our plans for Racewars in 2020 and beyond,” they said.

Event organiser expect Racewars to return to Albany from February 28 to March 2, 2020.

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