The role and need for LARA
Motorsports are a product of twentieth century leisure patterns and technology. They constitute a set of legitimate activities whose attributes fall clearly within any commonly-held definition of sport. For participants and enthusiasts they are exciting, involving skill, physical exercise, achievement and great fun.
Motorsports have over 500,000 active participants and some disciplines may attract equally as many supporters and friends. More details can be found in the Appendix IV of LARA's Planning GuideNotes for Event Organisers, which were published during the period of the Forward Plan 1996 - 2000.
Motorsport faces external problems, such as the loss of sites because of agricultural change, environmental legislation which presumes against motorised recreation, wider social pressures which fail to recognise the legitimacy of motorised recreation, resistance from powerful and articulate interests in the planning and non-statutory processes, and the inability of public authorities to understand or provide for the many motorsport disciplines.
At the time of making this Forward Plan motorsport was responding to Government consultations on radical changes to access and highway legislation. Regardless of which proposals become law, motorsport faces a period of change and retrenchment requiring specialist knowledge and skills.
These pressures, working contrary to the demand for motorsport and recreation provision, create an adversarial climate which makes it difficult for motorsport to ensure that a broad spectrum of participation will be maintained into the future.
As LARA has progressively drawn motorsport into proactive engagement with the land use planning processes, and other consultative and responsive processes, the workload, and need to handle large quantities of data, have increased significantly. Motorsport must take advantage of developments in information technology to assist its internal and external communications.
The enduring popularity of motorsports, especially at the grass-roots club level, where some of the pressures are most acutely felt, would seem to merit support and assistance from both the national motorsport community and the representatives and agencies of sport in general. And, as managers of social, cultural and economic activities which benefit the public and the country, from the Government itself.
The Motor Sports Association (MSA) and the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU) are the recognised representative organisations of British motorsport within the international motorsport community.
The role of the MSA in respect of the use of the public highway for competitive events has been endorsed in statute. The MSA acts as agent for the The Department for Transport in authorising the use of the highway in certain types of competition. This function is non-discriminatory, applying to all potential users of the highway for motoring competition, not solely those clubs affiliated to the MSA.
Some other LARA member organisations act as agents of the The Department for Transport in accordance with The Motor Vehicles (Off Road Events) Regulations 1995, which exempts those taking part in 'authorised' motorsport events from prosecution for careless or dangerous driving when driving in a public place other than a road.
Most motorsport activities are governed and controlled by these two national bodies (the position is not always the same in Scotland), to whom the bulk of motorsport clubs are directly affiliated for advantageous reasons based on representation and legitimacy. However, there are some aspects and disciplines of motorsport which have evolved structures and governing bodies outside of those created by the MSA and ACU, such as the Amateur Motor Cycle Association (AMCA) The National Autograss Sport Association (NASA) and the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF).
These various governing bodies remained, at least until LARA was created, almost totally independent of each other, and increasing specialisation over past decades had led to fragmentation of effort where consultation and co-ordination would have been useful, and an overall weakening of motorsport's position in the national decision-making forums. These forums had largely excluded the motorsport fraternity from their decision-making processes because motorsport could not provide a common channel through which to communicate.