Race boss defends safety standards

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
The scene at Racewars in March.
Camera IconThe scene at Racewars in March. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

A dispute between Racewars organisers and Australia’s peak motor racing body has escalated, with accusations of “anti-competitive” behaviour and “offensive” commentary.

Racewars event director Jon Murray took to Facebook last week to clarify his group’s safety record, after comments from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport that the event’s 1000m speed test at Albany Regional Airport in March was “setting up for an accident”.

This year Brody Ford, 26, died after the Shelby GT500 he was driving in the 1000m speed test left the end of the runway and caught fire.

Mr Murray’s post, shared more than 130 times on Facebook, insisted event safety had been based on standards of “respected, established bodies”, and accused CAMS of attempting to “stifle growth” of grassroots racing.

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“We looked at these entities (like CAMS) and others with a proven track record and took what we needed to form the basis of runway racing in Australia,” he said.

“CAMS is a competent authority on motorsport but should not be seen as the only competent authority capable of managing motorsport.”

Mr Murray said the event was not risk-free, but was a safer environment than public streets for people to drive at speed.

This year’s event saw 400 entries for the quarter-mile, half-mile and 1000m speed tests.

In the latter, one car exceeded 350km/h.

CAMS is Australia’s largest motor sport administrator and a delegate of the governing body for world motor sport, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.

In response to Mr Murray’s post, CAMS chief executive Eugene Arocca said suggestions his group was stifling grassroots racing were “offensive”.

He claimed, contrary to Mr Murray’s comments, he was “pretty sure” CAMS had rejected Racewars’ requests for sanctioning in the past.

“We put on 3000 events a year, 580 clubs, 27,500 competitors,” he said.

“For an uninformed Mr Murray to exemplify his organisation as the vanguard for grassroots development is utter nonsense, and quite offensive.”

CAMS chief executive Eugene Arocca.
Camera IconCAMS chief executive Eugene Arocca. Credit: supplied

Defending CAMS events which had recorded their own fatalities, Mr Arocca said its standards were continually improving.

“What CAMS has done over the last 65 years has made sure that any death which occurred has resulted in improvements in motorsport,” he said.

“When and if there is a death that happens under our watch, they’re investigated and invariably many times they’re put down to human error.

“Even then, we put in place changes that continue to make the sport safer.

“We are at the forefront of motorsport safety.”

CAMS has been in discussion with the coroner’s investigation into Mr Ford’s death.

Mr Arocca said he was pushing for a full investigation.

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