Gold cup cancelled: Yorkshire circuit struggles with safety concerns over crumbling infrastructure
Racing at England’s only road race venue, Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough, has been dealt another blow as the organisers have cancelled September’s Gold Cup meeting.
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June’s Barry Sheene festival and last month’s Oliver’s Mount festival had already been called off after inspections carried out by Scarborough Council following the Spring Cup races in May had concluded that many of the paddock buildings at the Yorkshire parkland track were "structurally unsound and unsafe for public use."
The Gold Cup was rescheduled for September 18-19 and race boss Andy Hayes vowed to run the event "no matter what happens" but safety and insurance issues have now brought the curtain down completely on action at the 2.43-mile circuit for 2021.
"With much regret, we have to admit defeat and cancel the Hill Climb scheduled for September 11-12 and The Michelin Steve Henshaw Gold Cup planned to take place on September 18-19," the organisers said.
"Much negotiation has taken place with Oliver’s Mount Racing, Scarborough Borough Council and the ACU, the sport’s governing body, but the health and safety issues that remain will not be completed before the events are due to take place.
"Apart from health and safety concerns, insurance implications also need to be taken into consideration pending removal of some of the defective paddock infrastructure."
About half of all the paddock buildings - including the scrutineering bay and the shower block - have to be knocked down and replaced with temporary structures before new buildings can be erected. Hayes says the cost will run well into six figures and it is unclear who will foot the bill.
The Gold Cup’s cancellation is a huge blow for the beleaguered Oliver’s Mount club after four seasons of turmoil. Two crashes at the 2017 Gold Cup meeting left several spectators seriously injured and brought racing to a halt at the circuit for the first time since the 1940s.
Racing returned in July 2019 after new safety measures were put in place, including the imposition of a 600cc limit on race bikes competing there.
But the coronavirus pandemic wiped out action for the whole of the 2020 season and now Hayes and his team have been deprived of income for a second year as they struggle to maintain the impetus of their racing revival.
"We are totally committed to the future of Oliver’s Mount, but we now need to take stock of where this leaves us due to the financial hardship the last two seasons many cancellations have created," the club statement read.
"The venue needs significant investment for events such as the Spring Cup, the Barry Sheene festival and the Gold Cup to take place.
"Further updates will be given throughout the winter period and we look forward to working with our landlord, Scarborough Borough Council, to help us to resolve the issues so we can have a full programme of events for 2022."
The borough council had vowed to "do all that it can" to carry out the demolition work "without delay so that the circuit can be given a clean bill of health" but many race fans have questioned why the inspection wasn’t carried out during the two years when racing had stopped at Scarborough- and before a new lease was signed.
A crowdfunding page has been set up to help raise funds for the Oliver’s Mount organisers by Shop4bikers, a Chesterfield-based business. But this latest setback leaves the organisers – and British road race fans – facing an uncertain future.