MNSW DELEGATES MEETING, BLACKTOWN 27 April, 2017
The meeting opened at 7.40pm, with the Vice President Ron Kivovitch in the Chair. There were around 25 clubs represented at the meeting, many less than at February's climactic meeting.
JACK AHEARN 1924 - 2017
In his opening address the Chairman paid tribute to one of Australia's pioneer World Championship riders. Jack Ahearn died last week at the age of 92. Between 1954 and 1974 he rode at many European circuits including five years at the Isle of Man, mostly on his trusty Manx Nortons, but he also rode for Ducati, Matchless, AJS, Suzuki and Yamaha. In 1964 he came second in the 500cc World Championship to Mike Hailwood.
DAVE COOKE APPOINTED AS CEO.
The Chairman announced that Dave Cooke, who was appointed as Acting CEO by former President Dave Morgan, has now been officially appointed as the new CEO with a contract for 3 years. The Statement of Duties has been amended to overcome some deficiencies in the old version.
The Board has been favourably impressed by Dave's management skill in the troubled period after the departure of the former CEO, the ensuing staff problems, and friction in the Board, which resulted in the removal of the President. Ron said that the office was now functioning well, but expected that service standards to clubs will improve, as the staff are now being "cross trained", to avoid callers being told that the person who handles their problem is away.
PAY CLAIM BY FORMER CEO
A claim for six months pay by former CEO Daniel Gatt has been rejected by the Board. He has been paid all his entitlements including superannuation, holiday pay, long service leave and paid out sick leave. MNSW's solicitor stated the claim "has no basis" after reviewing the employment contract.
NOWRA ROAD RACE CIRCUIT PLANS ABANDONED
In a official press release the CEO Dave Cooke has reluctantly announced that the plan to construct a Road Race circuit at Nowra has been cancelled. After 7 years of negotiations to gain approval for the development, a new discovery of a "vulnerable" orchid on the site has finally left so little of the area useable for the circuit that the plan is unworkable. (A Government plant species distribution map of this threatened orchid, "Cryptostylus Hunteriana" published in the South Coast Register shows that the plant exists from Tin Can Bay in Queensland to the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria).
Despite last minute efforts by local Federal Member Ann Sudmalis and Federal Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash, the plan now appears doomed. This will be a serious set-back for MNSW as at least $800,000, possibly $1Million, has been spent on this proposal.
The Nowra community will now miss out on a much needed sporting venue and a boost to the local economy, an area where unemployment levels are high.
The Federal Government had offered a grant of $9.5Million and MNSW was expected to at least match that building the circuit.
An offset scheme, by which MNSW could buy a parcel of land elsewhere and donate it for conservation to allow use of the proposed site was ruled out as it could cost up to $8.5 million.
As a consequence of the Road Race circuit plans being scrapped, the redevelopment of the adjacent Moto-cross and Enduro circuit will also be cancelled. Part of the agreement with the former owners Nowra District MCC was that if the Road Race circuit proposal did not proceed the lease of the 1000 acres would return to their club, now known as Nowra MCC.
MNSW took over Nowra District MCC to get the lease of that area, which is held under "Permissive Occupancy", and has spent over $150,000 rebuilding the circuit to bring it up to open competition standard.
MNSW running both venues was considered to be an critical part of the overall scheme, as it was planned that the circuits could share parking areas on important race days, as well as using the same staff and equipment, thus avoiding costly duplication.
When this changeover will occur is not known.
In a discussion of the cancelled Nowra plans, CEO Dave Cooke said that he would contact Benalla Auto Club (owners of Wakefield Park) to see if they were interested in a joint venture, or taking over the Development Application. Apparently they had initially shown interest in the same site as a circuit location many years before.
So now the only contender for a new road race circuit appears to be Bathurst, where the latest proposed site, in the valley behind Mc Phillamy Park has overcome the problems of the last few plans, noise affecting local residents. Whilst it was considered acceptable for race meetings two or three times a year as now, the new circuit could be in use every week of the year.
A very promising announcement was that Bathurst City Council has invited MNSW to discus circuit designs.
KEMBLA GRANGE KART CIRCUIT RACE MEETING
In a encouraging sign that Short Course Road Racing might have finally travelled south from the North Coast, a meeting was held last weekend, run by the Mini Supermoto Riders Club. The Kembla Grange circuit was licenced for bikes up to 150cc ten years ago, but has had very little bike competition up to now. The circuit is now re-named "Awesome Drive Kart Track".
This meeting was described as Motostars Road Racing for riders from 9 years to seniors and had 31 riders.
MINIKHANA VENUE TO CLOSE.
In a shock to the Sydney based Mini-bike clubs, the CEO announced that the owners of the Mini-bike training area at Horsley Park, the Western Sydney Parkland Trust will not renew the lease on the 22 acre property, which expires in 2018. The area can cater for up to 500 riders. This announcement arose during a discussion on a bill for council rates of $50,000.
MNSW has invested over $150,000 in facilities at this venue and will also have to pay to restore the property to its original condition when the lease expires.
(The venue has never paid it's way, but this was considered acceptable as it was seen as a training ground for riders before moving on to senior competition)
This will be a serious set-back for these clubs. With the closure of the St Ives Showground area and now the likely closure of the Ian Packer Junior Motorcycle Training Centre, the only remaining venue will be at the Nepean Speedway. This small mini -moto and gymkhana area at the rear of the Nepean Dirt Track is currently used by Penrith PCYC Mini Bike Club, and could not accommodate large meetings.
A search for an alternate venue has already started, with talks with Eastern Creek Dragway and NSW Department of Planning.
MNSW SUPPORT FOR SHORT COURSE RACING.
The minutes of the Board meeting of 23 March discussed the present position of Short Course Road Racing in NSW. It considers that the current situation where the events run by North Coast Road Racers do not comply with MOMS, but are approved by NSW Department of Sport & Recreation is unsatisfactory.
The board agrees that MOMS deals with road racing on full sized tracks and there is a need to include separate rules to manage racing on shorter tracks, such as kart circuits.
A motion was passed that the CEO negotiate with MA to include Rules for Short Course Road Racing in MOMS.
Members may recall that last year a proposed new MNSW constitution was presented to clubs for approval and was soundly rejected, due to a number of serious deficiencies.
Since then the need for change has been highlighted by the recent problems trying to remove Directors and or the President from office.
It was planned to call for submissions on the new constitution after the AGM, but now we are informed that MA believes that all LCB's should have a common Constitution.
I am unable to see how this would work, as each LCB is a registered business in their home state or territory. Some, like Motorcycling NSW Ltd. are public companies whilst others are Incorporated Associations.
Also, in NSW there is a second company owned by the NSW clubs; MNSW Properties Limited has assets of around $7Million, but legally is an entirely independent business. How this would fit into MA's plan is unknown.
Despite previously claiming that the "unity" plan to take over the LCBs' assets has been scrapped this appears to me to be another attempt by MA to control the finances of the states.
LOST CIRCUITS: MOOREBANK SCRAMBLE TRACK.
Here's some nostalgia about another long closed circuit where many of our older readers may have ridden in the 50's, 60's and early 70's. For younger readers, scrambles was the former name for today's moto-cross.
Located on the southern bank of the Georges River, not far from Liverpool, the circuit was originally a training area for WW2 army dispatch riders. After the war it was used by the Army MCC (from the nearby RAEME base) and in 1953 held its first open meeting, in association with Willoughby MCC, the club which continued to run it until it closed.
The circuit was very hard on the bikes of that era, with severe jumps and drop-offs, as well as a deep sand section, which was often under water during floods. Broken frames on ex road-bikes were a common problem.
Recently it was announced that the area will be re-developed as an intermodal railway yard.
This apparently is an area where freight from trains, mainly containers, is transferred to trucks, and vice versa.
This will involve some severe earthworks, as well as a bridge over the river as the rail line is on the other side.
Here are a few old photos from Moorebank.
The sand section after the flood has eased. Casula Sorbent Hill, named after a popular brand of toilet paper.
Power Station is in the background .
NCRR Members Wal Hambly and Garry Thomas, on their Norton Dominator sidecar, when they were members of Ryde MCC.
Wal & Garry doing a lap of honour after a win.
Len Main (Willoughby) very close to the river.
The last race meeting at Moorebank was in November 1970, as the army required the area for equipment marshalling for the Vietnam conflict.