With the World going into lockdown in March with this dreadful Global Pandemic, no one knew when we would be able to get back out onto the racetrack and be able to hold another event. Slowly over the months, Australian numbers were going down and our Government restrictions were slowly being lightened and there was a light at the end of tunnel.
BMWDCM had Sandown booked for 14 June and we were all praying that we would be able to hold this event, as we all love a Sandown track day. Weeks went by and things were looking good with numbers growing for public gatherings and especially at sporting venues.
Graeme was in constant contact with Sandown and Motorsport Australia, regarding our requirements and three weeks before our event day, we had our supplementary regulations approved so the event would proceed.
We put out the entries and the registrations went nuts, we sold out within four days and then applied to extend the event to 60 drivers, which was approved, and those further 10 spots sold out within days.
Regulations changed by the day and sometimes by the hour, which made it very frustrating, as things we had done one way and then needed to be done another. There were many very late nights, some into the very early hours but we needed to do this so that this event could go ahead.
We had social distancing signs made, bought touchless temperature gauges, we had hand sanitiser for all officials and drivers, face mask, disposable gloves, you name it we did everything within in our power to make sure all drivers, officials and crew were safe on the day.
We had a limit of 150 people attending Sandown and a list was collated from the COVID attendance forms, which each entrant was sent prior to the event. There was some confusion with these forms and not all were filled in correctly which did cause some delays at the gate, but all got through eventually and I thank you all for your patience.
We had also sent out other official paperwork which needed to be completed and brought to the event and most did this correctly. Knowing that this was something different from our normal check in, I did make sure I had plenty of spare forms for those who had not completed them. There were a few but these few entrants still managed to fill in their forms and get checked in with very minimal fuss.
We had stated in our supplementary regulations that the drivers briefing would be at 9.45am and at 9.45am our Clerk of Course, Graeme Bell, was reading the drivers briefing notes out over the PA system. Shortly after that we had our sighting laps and then managed to have our first car out on track in group 1 at 10.03am. I was pretty happy with the way we managed to get our first check in completed successfully on time.
We did have several heads of other motorsport clubs attend to watch how we managed the social distancing and motorsport. It was so nice to hear so many compliments from everyone on how great the day ran. We did learn a few things from our first event and this was always going to happen. When you have never done anything under these conditions before you just do it to learn what is going to work and what doesn't work.
With our next event only three weeks after at Winton, once we had our supplementary regulations approved again from Motorsport Australia, we put in a few changes that we found took up too much time from our previous event.
All paperwork was to be sent through beforehand so it could all be checked. A formal entry list was collated from the COVID attendance forms with drivers and crew names on there beforehand. Licences were checked through the online licence checker and after some back and forth with members to get all the right forms completed prior to the weekend check in was much easier than Sandown, only taking approximately 30 minutes to complete.
In early June we held a virtual meeting on how to become a motorsport official. We had a massive attendance via Zoom, which enabled us to have a huge amount of volunteer officials for both events.
It is not looking like COVID will be leaving us soon so we all need to be very vigilant on everything we do and how we run all events.
This system we have now put in place may be the new normal for a while and some of the procedures may stay with us as a club moving forward. It does cause more work before hand, but at the track, if we can get the drivers out quickly, then we all are happy and willing to put in the hard yards.
Stay safe, social distance and stay healthy.
Jo Mawson | Member #2
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne