President’s Report for 2007

Welcome to the Autosport Club’s Annual General Meeting for the year ended 2007. With the end of one year brings the start of another and this one is of particular significance for me personally. After 5 years I have decided to stand down as President of the Club to allow some fresh blood and new ideas to come through. It’s never an easy decision to make to step down from an executive position, or the committee in general for that matter, but you know in yourself when that time is right. Naturally, I will be staying on as Immediate Past President to help guide the Club through the transition where necessary, but I hope to ease away from direct involvement in the months to come. I have been a member of Autosport for some 25 years now, and a committee and executive member on two separate occasions during that time. However, despite this current change, I will continue to be a dedicated member of the Club for the foreseeable future, but now on the other side of the start line!

During my time on the committee and especially as President I have been fortunate to have had tremendous back up and support from numerous people both on and off the committee. To name any one person in particular would be unfair to all those who have worked with me over the years. Consequently, an enormous thanks to everyone who has made this Club the success it is today especially during my term as President.

So as for the year just ended, I would say once again the committee has succeeded in organising a great variety of events. From the autocross series through to our premier event, the Canterbury Rally, competitor numbers have generally been strong and it is reassuring to see an increase in new competitors whether young or “older”. At last year’s prize giving it was notable the number of younger competitors giving the old guard a bit of a hurry up! To me this indicates the Club is achieving one of its primary objectives which is to foster and develop new competitors. Starting with Clubsport Basic and moving through Clubsport Advanced, to then be able to compete at the top level in the various regional and national rally series, shows that the sport is strong and heading in the right direction. There will always be fine tuning to meet this objective, which is done under the umbrella of Motorsport New Zealand, but it is at the Club level that new talent is found and nurtured. And this is where our focus must remain, but with the added proviso that competitors are having fun doing so.

Thank you to last year’s committee particularly those standing down. Andrew, your years of service have not gone un-noticed, and yes I know we conned you back on last year but you’ve earned your retirement now! Drew, you’ve contributed significantly in many areas over the last couple of years, thank you for that. Richard, it’s hard to get off the committee I know, and your efforts organizing events and looking after the Club’s gear has been a big job so thanks for all your input. Lastly but my no means least, Stacey. Over the last two years as Club Secretary, you have had a huge work load looking after memberships, event documentation and secretarial duties. At all times these tasks have been done impeccably. In particular, taking over event documentation from David Fletcher was never going to be easy, but I would have to say you have taken this aspect to and even higher level, such that your successor has a very well documented set of procedures to follow. I know as an organizer, you took a lot of the pressure off by ensuring all the paper work was done well in advance and always presented in the event folder on the day. Many thanks.

2008 will see some personnel changes on the committee, but I have utmost faith in the ability of the Autosport Club members to step forward and continue the high standard set by previous committees. I know there are a number of events already well advanced in the planning stages. Consequently, this year will see a mix of the traditional events in both the forest and on public roads and I know there is a strong possibility of an 8 km sprint on public roads that have not been used for a few years. The main rally is well into the planning stages, however this year it’s not a round of the Rally Xtreme Series, but that’s not to say there aren’t prospects for bigger and better things in the years to come. My main request is that competitors come out to support the events since one of the most satisfying things for an organizer is to see a good turn out.

It also goes without saying that good event support helps the Club financially. From the financial report you will see that 2007 resulted in a more or less break even situation. Whilst one may argue that the Club is not here to make a profit there is the risk that is very easy to turn a break even into a significant loss. Most event expenses incurred by the Club are on the increase whilst at the same time we have maintained membership fees at current levels, for this year at least. The consequence is that the committee is looking at expenses on an event by event basis, so there may be some increases in entry fees where an event has run at a loss in the past. Rest assured this will only occur as a result of increased costs passed on to the Club.

Over more recent years the Club has invested significantly in communications equipment. This is probably the single most important aspect to the safe running of an event. The Club has taken the position that we need to be more or less self sufficient in this area. To this end during 2007 we invested in the purchase of a radio repeater which compliments the range of hand held radios bought previously. Fortunately, with the assistance of the Carlton Bar and Restaurant, a pub charity application was successful in funding most of the $10,000 required for this acquisition. Special thanks to Wayne Banard and Andrea Summerfield for coordinating this application. During 2008 further applications are to be made to further increase our radio capabilities and also to contribute to certain safety aspects of our events.

In closing I would also like to thank the rest of the committee, namely Andrea, Graham, Paul, Wayne, John and Chris, along with our marshals from the Rangiora Rotary Club and first aid services from St John and Red Cross. Also, Tony Witheridge for looking after the timing at our sprint events, Derek Simpson and Peter Quinn for start line and rescue duties, our scrutineers and all the other people who help make our events the success they are. Thank you all.

Unfortunately I won’t be at the Rakaia Sprint on the 16th of March (the Melbourne GP beckons!), but I look forward to being at an event soon and hopefully in the drivers seat. See you all then and in the meantime good luck with all your motorsport endeavours.

Thank you.

Leigh Marston