Rathfriland Motor Club named

JLT Sport/MSA Club of the Year 2008

The Rathfriland Motor Club in Northern Ireland has been voted the top motor club in the UK for 2008 by British motor sport's governing body, the Motor Sports Association.

Representatives of the club will receive a trophy and cheque for £1,000 at the MSA's annual 'Night of Champions' awards ceremony at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London in January, where they will share the stage with the winners of every major championship in British motor sport from 2008.

It is the second time that a club from Northern Ireland has won the MSA's Club of the Year award, now sponsored by the MSA's insurance broker JLT Sport, Magherafelt & District Motor Club having taken the prestigious prize in 2001.

"It's a brilliant achievement for such a small club to be voted the best out of over 700 other clubs in the UK," said Wesley Johnston, Club Chairman. "It underlines the hard work that our dedicated committee puts into the club and the events each year and we are all extremely proud to be in a position to accept this award."

Clubs are judged against each other in terms of their general marketing and promotion, initiatives undertaken to attract and retain marshals and other volunteer officials, the attraction to membership of especially the younger age group, examples of partnerships in such areas as road safety and projects to benefit the local community.

Of particular importance to the judges this year was Rathfriland's Safety First schools programme, which highlights to young motor sport fans the importance of car preparation and safety requirements for motorsport and how some of these lessons can be carried over to new road drivers - a direct road safety message. The club has visited a number of schools during the year and plans to repeat this in 2009, as well as expanding the message to other educational establishments.

"Rathfriland's documentation is acknowledged to be of a consistently high standard, whether related to event organisation or the 'Safety First' initiative, and their submission was very professional," says Allan Dean-Lewis, Head of External Affairs at the Motor Sports Association, "But it was the first class content that really impressed the judges, as they demonstrated their excellent organisation of events, generation of publicity, their engagement with the local community, the promotion of their activities and running effective communications to keep members and friends well informed."

Second prize, an MSA Flag Trophy and £500 goes to Clay Pigeon Kart Club. With entries increasing by 20% and club membership by 40%, Clay Pigeon is obviously doing a great deal right.  Regular open days address entry level issues for new competitors and the club undertakes extensive promotion in the nearby towns. They have a community action programme in place to engage the local Youth Club and have developed a programme in liaison with Social Services and the Police to encourage disaffected youngsters who have been involved in car crime to exercise their energy in more productive ways.  It has supported local and national charities in the sum of almost £8,000 to date in 2008.  They operate a buddy system to help train and develop new marshals and have developed a new relationship with a local further education college offering national diploma qualifications specific to motor sport.

Third prize, an MSA Flag Trophy and £250 is awarded to Castle Combe Racing Club which, in just three years, has been responsible for the recruitment of more than 100 new marshals and the training of more than 600. The clubs runs three local championships which are consistently over subscribed and has re-invested £20,000 of surplus funds in marshals' welfare and approximately £100,000 of entry fees has been refunded back to competitors.  The 400+ members benefit from a range of discounts, including cheaper breakfasts on race days and reduced test fees. An enthusiastic supporter of the Volunteers in Motorsport programme, the club has also been an early adopter of the MSA Cadet Marshalling scheme to good effect. Lackham College has recently moved its second year motorsport engineering students into purpose-built premises at the circuit, and the Club has been working closely with the college principals to support a crossover between the education and club motor sport sectors.

The Trent Valley Kart Club and Stockton & District Motor Club were Highly Commended by the judges and will receive commemorative certificates. Trent Valley has become one of the UK's leading kart clubs with its splendid facilities at PF International and is extremely active in the promotion of the club and of the sport in general. Stockton & DMC has arrested a decline in numbers to emerge as a very active club, organising the Croft Historic Rally, liaising well with the local community and travelling widely to cover major rallies for other organisers.

Past overall winners: Knutsford & DMC (1993), Aberdeen & DMC (1994), Ilkley & DMC (1995 & 1999), Port Talbot MC (1996), Torbay MC (1997), Woolbridge MC (1998), North Devon MC (2000), Magherafelt & DMC (2001), Scottish Rootes EC (2002), Dukeries MC (2003), Jersey MC & LCC (2004), Wigton MC (2005), Cumbria Kart Racing Club (2006), Aberdeen & DMC (2007).

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