Inside Revolution: Race with Respect 2023

Tuesday 28 February 2023

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During 2014, it became clear to then MSA, that there was a reoccurring issue of antisocial and unacceptable, sometimes aggressive behaviour among some competitors and parents within Karting. As part of the team attempting to respond to this, Cheryl Lynch and Andrea Duncan developed the ‘Race ‘n’ Respect’ programme, which was inspired by a similar campaign run by other governing bodies to tackle antisocial behaviour at all levels of their sport. This was formally launched at the Autosport International Show in January 2015.

To begin with, the Race ‘n’ Respect team focused on the junior competitors within Karting– in particular the Bambino category. This brought on board the then Championship Manager Dan Parker. The original philosophy was to install a code of conduct and quality of behaviour within the youngest generation of karting competitors (and their supporting parents) which would then filter up through the sport as they progressed and developed. The fun-to-be-there approach included stickers for the karts, lanyards for the officials and a complete 360-degree inclusive message across the Bambino Championship. Race ‘n’ Respect was designed to be an effective tool for the organising Clubs to deal with any matters of behaviour outside of the usual Judicial process, which would remain focused on matters relating to sporting and competition incidents.

The first penalty issued under Race ‘n’ Respect occurred when Championship Manager Parker faced a situation at a club event when a parent had refused to turn down their loud music that they were playing at 11pm one evening despite the club officials and other competitors requesting that they turned the music down so that the rest of the campsite could get some sleep. This was a perfect example of where the code can be used to try and educate and improve behaviour at events.

“It was an exciting time to be involved in the sport,” explains Parker, “with this new code launched. We were aware of the work other bodies were doing, and we recognised that Karting needed to have some similar behaviour foundations put in place. The Bambino Class gave us a good opportunity to trial the code, with no teams present, and the six-to-eight year-olds competing, supported by their parents who were predominantly brand new to the sport.”

Additionally, explains Parker, there was an opportunity to help support the officials to deliver a more customer-focused approach. “I was always really keen to promote the fact that the Code was there to work both ways, which we did manage to achieve, despite some early growing pains and misunderstandings.

After learning a lot from the Bambino trial, the next step was to expand the Race ‘n’ Respect framework across the wider Karting community. To help achieve this, the then British Karting Championship Co-ordinator Sonja Game was brought onboard to help introduce this concept and philosophy across the UK Kart Clubs. Prior to the launch of Race ‘n’ Respect, all the motorsport Clubs across the country had been dealing with any issues of antisocial behaviour independently, and in isolation from each other. Race ‘n’ Respect became a tool for the Clubs to use, and as things progressed and more Clubs grasped on to the idea, there emerged an element of standardisation and a general improvement in behaviour across karting.

There were still lessons to be learned, as Race, Speed and Kart Executive Cheryl Lynch points out. “The criticism at the time from the Clubs was that the MSA did not put enough support behind the programme and that there was more work to be done to help the Clubs deliver on these ideals.”

There were some early signs of concern from some Clubs, as Lynch notes. “There are Clubs and Organisers that feel that if they are too heavy handed with competitors, that these people will leave and take their motorsport competition elsewhere. We have learned that the opposite is true, and that if Clubs and Officials are firm and instil high standards, then they can improve the Club environment, and it will actually grow their clientele.

In January 2016, moving on from Karting, Race ‘n’ Respect was then expanded to include Junior Drag Racing, focusing again on the young competitors from eight-years-old. The Santa Pod Racers Club and the Drag Racing community embraced it, and while the competitor numbers in drag racing maybe lower, it was still encouraging to see the positive effects that the code of conduct introduced.

To help build momentum, other junior championships were also brought onboard – with Race ‘n’ Respect launched for Junior Rallycross, Junior AutoCross, and the junior Circuit Racing Championships.

For those clubs – regardless of discipline – that did adopt the Race ‘n’ Respect ethos, and followed through with the reporting of incidents, there was then an input of support from the MSA with guidance and assistance to resolve any reoccurring issues. Unfortunately, where there may have been a reluctance of reporting by a Club, the lack of information received meant that support was unable to be directed where it may have been needed most.

As a project, Race ‘n’ Respect achieved some of its aims and had a positive impact on many people in the motorsport community. However, its influence and effectiveness on the UK motorsport scene as a whole was less than originally hoped, and therefore it needed to be reviewed, revised, and improved.

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