02 Dec WHY IS DRAG RACING AT KILLARNEY SO EXPENSIVE?
The simple fact is that there are unavoidable expenses involved in presenting a drag racing event, from the cost of setting up the Christmas Tree, the timing equipment and the computers that compile and produce the results, to the lane fencing in the pits – somebody has to be paid to do the work.
Nobody in the drag racing world likes being reminded just how much a litre of Trackbite costs – we use 20 to 30 litres to prepare the track for an MSA drag racing event, before the first car even stages.
Then there are the salaries of the people who work overtime to make the day happen for you – the officials who process your entry, the marshals who keep the day running, the commentators who keep you informed, the scrutineers who make sure your car is raceworthy, the security guards who keep you safe and the medical crew standing by in case of an injury.
Almost all the time the medics sit around all day doing nothing, we are very glad to say – the worst they have to deal with is pit crews who hit their thumbs with hammers and the occasional bee-sting – but it costs R8000 a time just to have the ambulance sitting there.
Most of the officials don’t get paid anything like a realistic return for the hours they put in – they do it because they are just as passionate about the sport as you are. Nevertheless, their stipends add up to a significant total, and that money has to come from somewhere.
Those are just the direct costs; indirect costs include electricity to run all the systems, water to flush the toilets and general maintenance of the buildings and equipment. We don’t even count the huge amount the City of Cape Town charges Killarney International Raceway in rates every month because that would have to be paid whether or not we present events.
Under normal circumstances a significant percentage of these costs would come from the gate money spectators pay to watch you having fun – and even then, the income from race events isn’t enough to cover anything but the most basic day-to-day costs of running the circuit. The simplest of repairs and upgrades are often delayed due to lack of funds.
But these are not normal times; public sports events are strictly forbidden under the government’s Level 1 health and safety protocols. We are only allowed to race under a special dispensation from the ministry of sport – a dispensation that comes with severe restrictions including a total ban on spectators.
And that’s the heart of the matter. Without any gate takings to defray the costs, the competitors are faced with having to pay for their racing without any help from the general public.
Some circuits, notably the Aldo Scribante circuit in Port Elizabeth, have been fortunate to secure sponsorship deals for their Drag Racing events, which enables them to hold their entry fees down to some extent. Killarney has to date been unable to source such sponsorship (although your help in this regard would be very welcome) so the entry fees paid by competitors at our Drag Racing events are in fact a realistic reflection of what it costs to stage these events.