Wimbledon Oval future still uncertain
New emissions laws may still force one of the country's oldest race tracks to close down in spite of a petition that has attracted thousands of supporters.
Wimbledon Stadium, a hugely popular venue in South West London, has been staging oval, banger and stock car racing since 1928 but competitors are now facing a massive hike in costs because of the vehicles they use to transport their race cars in and out of the capital, Motorsport News has reported.
Stringent new emissions laws will come into effect in 2012, forcing the heaviest polluting commercial vehicles to fit particulate filters or face daily charges of up to £200 when entering Greater London. Filters are likely to cost between £1,200 to £3,500 for most vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles. Fitting costs should be included and start from £200.
An online petition, which calls for reduced fees for racers competing at the stadium, has already raised nearly 2,500 signatures but Nick Hughes from Spedeworth Motorsport, which runs the stadium, says more needs to be done.
"We need as many people to sign the online petition as possible. More signatures give us more credence that the Oval could remain open," he said.
"There is a lot of history here. Nothing in London exists that is like our venue and it is one of a kind."
Local MP Stephen Hammond has vowed to support the campaign to keep the venue from closing down.
Spedeworth Motorsports are also exploring why the impending Low Emission Zone restrictions do not apply to circus and fairground vehicles, but will apply to racers.
"Our drivers fill all the requirements that the circus vehicles do, and we're entertaining people in a similar way to them, so why shouldn't we be exempt too?" Hughes said.
To sign the petition, visit the Save Wimbledon Stadium website.
Check out the video below for banger racing action at Wimbledon: