Is today's motorsport 'too loud' for our generation?
If you look around yourself today, you can see the world is a rapidly changing place. Electricity is fiercely becoming the norm to power the everyday automobile and a 17 year old girl continues to shout at politicians about climate change (at the bemusement of our own Jeremy Clarkson.). It's becoming a world where offence is caused with every click, every word or every expression we make. Is it for the better or for the worse? I am not sure. My concern is however, that various motorsport we know and love is becoming one of those offending factors.
There is always constant articles streaming the internet on a daily basis about how people come to complain and protest about various events and circuits making too much noise. To be honest I never really took it into account or paid attention to it, until it hit home at a recent event I was at. During the Drift Games Bash in Mondello Park two weekends ago, Noise complaints forced officials to test every one of the 100+ cars during Sunday's afternoon session, forcing some drivers to sit out the remainder of the event or to even pack up and go home.
I understand that there is a noise limit in place and yes, some cars did exceed it but it forced everybody to lose a lot of track time, and it was discouraging to those men and women who come down to use this amazing facility we have in Ireland, the only FIA accredited circuit we have in the country. We do have a problem of the 'boy racer' trend in Ireland with a lot of people stupidly thinking that it's okay to take racing or drifting onto the public roads and considering the strict rules in place over the course of that particular weekend and most drifting weekends of where you cannot start your car before 10am and must be shut off and packed up by 6pm, I cannot really see the problem in complaining. Maybe I am just being ignorant about the situation. What do you think?
Mondello Park in particular, has a noise limit of 105db, a limit that is actually higher than most circuits in Europe at the moment. Drift Games bossman Dave Egan revealed in a recent Instagram post that it's not Mondello that are forcing the noise rules on the cars, but the neighbours and that it's not only affecting us idiots that slide and more often than not, crash into each other for fun, but that the complaints are hitting the various motorcycle and car championships and races that also take place in Mondello. Dave also noted in his post that it was essential to keep the peace with those in the locality and suggested to drivers of how to lower the noise of their machines with minimal performance loss, but I feel this issue will not go away that easily.
Considering what interest these events bring to the public worries me. Various bike and car racing here in Ireland such as the ITCC, Irish Rallycross Championship and the Dunlop Masters Superbike championship on the rise for the first time in years, with events such as Japfest, which usually holds the final rounds of the Irish and European drift seasons, attracts crowds of 10,000+ over the weekend, so when you consider what this could bring to the locality in terms of filling stations, restaurants, shops, hotels etc., it is worrying how this could affect the circuit as a whole. It's worth noting that Mondello Park is less than a fifteen minute drive from the major town of Naas, and less than an hour from Dublin, Ireland's capital city with a number of towns and villages around the vicinity of the circuit, so plenty could lose out from Mondello Park losing what it is.
It's not just us hitting problems either within the national or club racing scene. These protests are a constant factor being hit by multiple circuits in the UK also such as Donnington Park, and even the most major series are not restricted to hitting problems. The most recent example being within Formula 1, where the proposed Miami Grand Prix for 2021 has hit constant problems and protests from locals around the Hard Rock Stadium. After the circuit layout was tweaked to not include any public roads, locals protested about noise and pollution even more, even going as far as protesting at the recent Super Bowl. Again, like my point with Mondello Park, an event such as an F1 Grand Prix could attract a major boost to amenities and tourism within the area and could benefit the local economy to no avail, but it looks unlikely that this proposed race might not even go ahead.
So now you're thinking, take away all the noise and we're good, right? Well, funnily enough, you're wrong. Such as was seen during the first two seasons of the all-electric FIA racing series, Formula E. The series hit controversy during it's second season as it attempted to hold the season finale in Battersea Park in London to be met with fierce protests from locals. Although noise was not the problem this time, the public claimed that disruption to the circuit and the public area was the idea behind the protests and with the agreement that the season two weekend would go ahead, Formula E was forced not to return to Battersea Park, with London itself only managing to return to the series for this season, the series sixth season so far.
Even Formula E is subject to protests as seen during the series' early races at London's Battersea Park. (Formula E Media Area.)
So, what can be done to keep all parties happy? Well, I think it's just what Dave said. It's about trying to keep the peace with the locals and making sure everybody is happy, or even relatively happy at least. I get the feeling as this goes on and we edge ever closer to an all-electric future, the world of motorsport as we know it will take a very drastic turn, if even cease to exist in it's current form at all.