It's safe to say that we were on an up swing of momentum prior to COVID, and despite the pandemic, we are still confident about our future.
Since being under new ownership since March 2020, we were looking forward to a 2020/2021 full of great events and happy competitors, however, that was not what eventuated.
We have been dealing with event cancellations and disruptions arguably more than anyone else.
While we are a small team of two...we have been able to keep afloat, whilst learning, more than ever, to have a ‘go with the flow’ attitude.
Pam Stables had the chance to have a chat with Luke Whitten, from RallySport Magazine below.
Executive Director, Pamela Stables, explained to RallySport Magazine the difficulties of the past 18 months and teased new events once we are out of this uncertain COVID world.
“Over the last 15 months, Brittany (Smith) and I have seen our fledgling business unable to host three of the events listed on our calendar (completely cancelled) and have rescheduled various event dates at least five times on the hop as Victorian restrictions and lockdowns have come in and out of play,” Stables explained.
“We find ourselves in the unprecedented position of juggling contractors, accommodation and catering providers, as well as working with our local communities and emergency services to attempt to lock in event dates for our Australian Tarmac Rally Championship, knowing full well that we may need to change any bookings we have secured at very short notice. “We really have gone into a lot of the event organising with a “fingers crossed” attitude, which really does not sit well with either of us.”
Despite the never-ending challenges of being an event organiser, the championship’s growing numbers of competitors have been their biggest support.
The commitment of such competitors is always surprising Stables, and she said they’re always appreciative, no doubt making an organiser’s job so much easier.
“The lovely thing about ATR being part of the larger Tarmac Rally family is we have received an outpouring of support and kindness from all our competitors at each and every hurdle we have needed to jump,” she said.
“Our competitors are constantly surprising us with their level of commitment and excitement and their passion for tarmac rally.
“Our work behind the scenes and our own devotion to the sport has only been bolstered by the support and flexibility our competitors have shown in rolling over their entry where possible to any new dates we can secure in our attempt to get everybody out rallying again. They understand the level of work required to get one of these events off the ground and are always extremely appreciative of what we do.”
Financially, the series has survived, but in terms of recouping losses, it’s a tricky question.
“There is no doubt we have taken a financial beating over the last 12 months, with both Brittany and I continuously injecting personal funds to keep our heads above water.”
“We have thousands of dollars of expenses invested in planning and preparing for an upcoming event. From the initial investment with councils and VicRoads to secure the necessary permits through to printing door panels, window banners and roadbooks”
“It’s definitely crushing when an event is suddenly cancelled at the last minute.”
“The flipside to that is we have had such awesome support from many of the businesses we contract. Our accommodation suppliers, our caterers and our local councils have, where possible, held deposits in trust and/or rolled over our bookings to the new proposed dates. It is amazing to see the way everyone comes together to support each other when businesses are so heavily impacted.”
In a post-COVID world, new events are being planned as the still relatively new owners continue to grow the championship, while keeping their core values at heart.
With numbers already at capacity, things can still grow in a number of ways.
“We are very excited to explore new courses that we can develop which will allow for greater numbers of entrants,” she told.
“Although we have been knocked around by COVID19 and last 12 months, we are very confident the future looks bright."
With potential new events interstate also on the cards, the team are continuing to work hard to facilitate better events for their competitors, as well as an iconic location that has never been used before in our tarmac rally world - as well as a style of event that's never been done.