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Motorsport: Call to Arms

4 December 2018

In the run up, it seemed that it had the opportunity of being the most significant one to date, and in the event, it proved to be so. The 14th RACE TECH World Motorsport Symposium in London at the end of November saw presentations of the very highest calibre delivered to a star-studded audience of important decision makers and influencers.

Part of its success is that it is held under the Chatham House rule whereby nothing can be attributed to anyone from within those four walls. The level of trust that has been built up over the years leads to free and open discussions without the fear of being misquoted or misrepresented.

A number of important issues were discussed with one of the major concerns being that if the motorsport industry is not careful, it could find itself being on the wrong side of the argument as the climate change debate grows ever more intense. The fear is that it is not those who either work in the sport or are fans who will challenge its existence, but the greater public at large.

Pretty well everyone knows about Formula 1. They may have no interest in it whatever, but they will know just enough that teams spend hundreds of millions putting two cars on the track to race every year. They will see this as a profligate waste of resources. They will not know about the good work and technology advances that are developed from racing which are then fed into other industries, all they see is a rich man’s sport doing its bit to ruin the planet.

While motorsport is very good at promoting its glamour lifestyle, it is next to useless at promoting the serious side of the business and just how good it is at developing new technologies that can help save the planet. There are individual case studies but no  comprehensive strategy to deliver the message, and this absolutely needs to change.

It may be a small step, but we need to spread the word to the bigger wide world, not just ourselves. As Sir David Attenborough said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Poland this week, climate change is humanity’s greatest threat in thousands of years and the world has to do something, and do it fast. This is something that we touched upon in detail at the Symposium, recognising both the urgency and the threat.

Motorsport is the only sport that can help, is helping, and must seen to be helping before it’s too late in every sense.

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