President’s Report for 2005 – Leigh Marston

It’s hard to believe that this is my third president’s report since taking over the role in 2003. Those three years have really flown and have been a mixture of frustration, hassle and hard work, but above all else, extremely satisfying and to be honest, good fun. There have been many challenges and many changes during that time and no doubt there will be many more in the future. This sport is one of continual evolution and much of this is brought about by influences outside of the Club’s control. There are the obvious rule changes from Motorsport New Zealand, stricter requirements for safety plans, greater demands from local councils regarding traffic management, increased costs for road grading, tighter control of access to the forests to name but a few.

To date the Club has coped with these demands very well but the workload for the committee has certainly increased. We have been fortunate to have such an experienced committee, with a mixture of talents, who have been able to steer the Club in the right direction. There has been the occasional committee meeting where debate gets heated but what would we achieve if members could not air their views. Throughout all this we have remained friends and I for one would not have it any other way.

During the 2005 year we ran a mix of autocrosses, forest and public road sprints, a clubman’s rally and our main rally which was part of the Rally Xtreme series. This is a total of 13 events which, if you add in monthly committee meetings, an AGM and prize giving you’ll appreciate what a dedicated bunch of people we have running the Club. The format of events last year followed very much that of 2004 and our intentions for 2006 are more of the same (although some dates are likely to change). The main reasons for this are firstly, it is easier for the committee since existing safety plans and supplementary regulations are already available, and secondly, we have received no feedback from competitors as to whether they like or dislike any particular event.

You will no doubt be aware the Club committee has deemed it prudent to insist that all competing vehicles entering our sprints are equipped with a roll cage to Schedule A (some other clubs have a road car class). This has been at the committee’s own initiative and brought about by the nature of the terrain where we run our events. Although it does not affect the majority of competitors there are some from other Club’s who are affected. Consequently, our events that form part of the Interclub Series are now restricted to autocrosses, so if you intend being part of that series you’ll need to enter the appropriate autocross.

Those who were involved in our main rally last year, whether competing, organizing or spectating, would surely agree it was an excellent event. To this end it is pleasing to know that the rally has been included as a round of Rally Xtreme again this year. Even more encouraging is the fact we can confirm Canary Furniture and The Star newspaper as naming rights sponsors again in 2006. Preliminary talks have already shown a desire from both parties to make the event a bigger spectacle with The Star taking a much more active role in the promotion of the event. This is a real credit to everyone involved and although there are far too many to mention I would like to single out Les and Andrea Summerfield along with Dave McCahon for allowing the rally to take over their lives for a few months each year.

There will be some changes to the committee this year so I would personally like thank those people who are stepping down for their effort – your contribution was truly appreciated. There is one person standing down who will be very sorely missed, so it is with a touch of sadness that I have to announce the resignation of our secretary, Simone. This morning I was endeavoring to find out how long Simone has been on the committee and the best answer I got was “more than 5 but less than 10 years”. Either way Simone’s contribution has been enormous – her knowledge of motorsport and event administration has been invaluable to the Club over the years. For all my time as president Simone has been there looking after the administration of the Club and it has really made my job so much easier. Simone, you will be really missed and I’m sure the rest of the Club joins with me in wishing you all the very best for the future. You know our events as well as anyone so hopefully we’ll see you out there some time. Thanks again.

To the rest of the committee – Dermot, David, Andrew, Les, Kieron, Richard, Josh, Stewart and Chris – thanks for everything you did last year, it was a great effort. There are two others I’d like to thank. The first is John Beasley for creating and maintaining the Club’s web site which is really striking now and a huge improvement over the old one. Secondly, Andrew Wells for finding the time to publish the occasional bulletin. Andrew is a busy man and already publishes another monthly bulletin so his offer to help out when possible is much appreciated. As you will understand from my earlier comments the committee already has a big workload so if members want a more regular bulletin then someone else will have to put their hand up.

My final thanks goes to my wife, Susan, and my mates, Josh and Nick, for their patience and understanding which allows me to be involved in something as time consuming as motorsport.

To finish off I’d like to relay an event from last week. On Wednesday morning Les and I met with representatives from Rayonier, who now own most of the forests in Canterbury and others throughout New Zealand. Also present was Paul Stanley whose company is responsible for management of the forests we use. Paul summed it up when he said to the meeting that “…other users of the forest need to aspire to the standards set by the Autosport Club”. An impartial view which reflects the effort put in by last years committee – well done people! To those standing for re-election I’m sure you’ll live up to that standard also.

All the best in motorsport for 2006.

Leigh Marston