Following nearly two years of preparation, Solent and the Isle of Wight Car Club have today announced the dates for the first Sandown Sprint. Over the weekend of 28th – 29th March 2020, this new motor sport event will be one of the first of its type to be held on public roads in England.
The concept of the Sandown Sprint was first put forward by Solent to the IW Car Club in December 2017 after a change in national legislation to allow racing on public roads. The two bodies have since been working together to develop the idea with input from a number of motor racing experts. Promoter of the event Tim Addison from Solent commented: “It has been a long road, but after many months of talks with local businesses and organisations, we have successfully submitted our application to Motorsport UK (the sport’s governing body). A team recently visited the Island for a full inspection of the proposed track and has now given our plans a green light.”
As part of its overall evaluation, Motorsport UK also undertook a formal consultation process which included the Isle of Wight Council, Island Roads, Sandown Town Council and the Island’s Safety Advisory Group. “We’ve had a lot of very positive feedback and support for the Sprint, commented Malcolm Smith, Chairman of the IW Car Club. “Our members are very excited at the prospect of being able to host the Sandown Sprint. The approval of the Highways Authority is vital to the process and we are most grateful to both the Council and Island Roads for the support they have demonstrated. Many of our members will be looking forward to competing alongside those that we expect to join us from the mainland. There are very few races of this type in the UK.”
An aspect that makes the Sandown Sprint unusual, is that it will be open to spectators, as the seawall along Culver Parade provides an elevated vantage point. “Our aim is to run a safe and enjoyable sprint for the competitors, that is also great fun to watch. Sandown not only provides a spectacular backdrop for the racing, but the enormous advantage of being able to allow visitors to safely enjoy the action,” added Tim.
Local businesses alongside the track in Sandown have been involved at various stages of planning, but now the organisers are looking to widen the net and get more of them involved. “There’s a few areas where we still need some help. For example, we require a quantity of large straw bales to complete the track at a time of the year when there’s not too many about. Hopefully we can encourage a number of local farmers to set some aside for us to borrow for the weekend”, continued Malcolm. “We will also need a number of track and spectator marshals, so anyone who would like to be involved should get in touch, as we’d love to hear from them.”
Pathe Newsreels still provide a record of motor rallies and sprints being held on public roads on the Isle of Wight in the 1950s, in places like The Cascade in Ventnor and the Esplanade in Sandown. Once the national speed limits were introduced in the 1960s all of this was inadvertently outlawed until a recent change in the legislation. “There’s been a campaign to bring back motorsport like this for the past 50 years and now we could see the Island leading the way. It’s a bit like the Isle of Man, where the UK speed limits were never introduced and motor racing flourishes, but on a much smaller scale to start with. The format of the Sandown Sprint is similar in style to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but it really needs to work for everyone, especially local residents and businesses. If successful it would be great to see how we can build on it in the future,” concluded Tim Addison.