Manx Grand Prix in need of better marketing, say organisers
The Manx Grand Prix needs better marketing to improve its profile – that's the message from the organisers.
After an economic survey of the Manx Grand Prix revealed it gave a £5.9m boost to the Manx economy but made an overall loss to the government, organisers are facing the challenge of attracting more visitors to boost income from the event.
The event made an approximate loss of £369,000 for the government last year and a spokesman for the government’s Department of Economic Development said the £5.9m brought into the economy was still not a good enough return.
The department's chief executive Colin Kniveton said total subsidy for the event – taking into account costs incurred in all government departments – was approximately £1.1m but in return for that they would hope to generate nearer £10m in the Manx economy.
Manx Motorcycle Club chairman Harvey Garton said they were very happy to work with the department but added it was also very important to make the right decisions so the event was not diminished. "I don't think at this stage we should jump the gun and destroy the event by starting again," he warned.
"The balance (of different racing classes) is about right.
"There has been some pressure about having more classics but we already have a classic race for each class as well as the post classics.
"Unfortunately we have a situation where entries in the classic classes are in decline possibly because of the cost of running a machine on the Mountain Course. The other factor could be the age of the competitors who are not being replaced by younger blood coming in."
He added: "The main thing really is more advertising: we have to increase the profile – get the message out to the UK and Europe and to all those who don’t know about it."
In recent years the Hailwood Foundation and a team of Manx Grand Prix ambassadors have organised regular trips to the island for prospective newcomers to tour the circuit, speak to competitors and find out more about taking part.
"We have a fantastic success rate for getting over the newcomers lately so that is the life blood for the future," Mr Garton added.
David Taylor, who is both a regular Manx Grand Prix competitor and an ambassador for the event, said he thought there was no single 'magic bullet' that would solve the problem.
But he said a clear line between the classic and modern races would be popular with both competitors and spectators.
"Run the classic races (and this includes the Post Classic race) in the first half of the week and the modern bikes in the second half of the week," he suggested.
"The type of spectator that derives enjoyment from watching Manx Nortons, AJS 7Rs, Ducati 350 singles, is likely to be bored by the spectacle of modern machinery hurtling by (and vice-versa).
"There may be a nominal argument for having a mixture of old and new every day to keep spectators on the island for all of race week, I am unconvinced.
"Inevitably the congestion this results in at the end of the fortnight results in people being put off coming to the island," he said.
By John Turner