Annual 24-hour go kart race in Milton Keynes set to go ahead - despite concerns over Covid-19 spread
The endurance race, which is dubbed the 'Mecca' for go-kart drivers, is set to go ahead in Milton Keynes and could see more than a hundred people from across the country attend.
The race, which was initially delayed due to Covid-19, will be Daytona Milton Keynes' 29th of its kind and will start at 1pm on Saturday (October 17), with drivers and their teams to start testing at around 8am.
A person who is taking part in the race, and wishes to remain anonymous, got in touch with this newspaper with concerns about the possibility of Covid-19 spreading at the event.
The anonymous source said: "Upwards of 200 people from around the country will be congregating in such a small venue with very limited space to social distance.
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"My concern is that these people will be staying in local hotels, using leisure facilities, pubs, and eating at venues before, during and after the event.
"I can’t help think the risks of having this many people in such a small space for long exposure time is not only wrong but, given MK is coping relatively well at the moment, could also increase the risk to the town's community."
The source said there are five teams competing which are all from heavily lockdowned areas such as Manchester, which is in the 'high' tier of the government's three-tier system, and Liverpool, which is in the 'very high' bracket - each team is said to have between four and eight members.
The source said: "Not to mention people from other areas. We all travel as if this is the UK karting Mecca every year. Many of the entrants are from universities, with many likely to be asymptomatic.
"Daytona don’t appear to be addressing concerns of the race planning to go ahead. And it is even planning a further event just three weeks later with a new batch of people.
"An endurance event like this seems wrong to be insisting happening because they’ve got to recoup investment."
The source said they are only attending because their team has already invested nearly £3,000 to take part and spent hundreds of pounds each on hotel accommodation.
"We’ve been given no information about refunds. Daytona has always had a strict no refund policy but in past have been flexible with transfers," the source said.
Daytona boss Charles Graham responded to the person's concerns.
He said: "I can confirm that we will be proceeding with the Daytona 24 Hours race this weekend. In line with all other current motorsport, and with regulations the event will be taking place behind closed doors with no spectators.
"Total numbers of entrants is substantially less than 200. Our site is 11 acres. We have been operating successfully in the Covid environment since May 24 across three venues. Comprehensive risk assessments and Covid procedures are in place at all of our venues and specific procedures and assessments are in place for the 24 hours.
"A good example of this is the provision of ozone cabinets at our venues which kill all known viruses present on our equipment between uses."
Charles said Daytona has engaged in conversations with entrants advising them of safety procedures in place for the event.
He said: "This includes mask wearing at all times for all entrants and staff, other than when drivers are in their karts, at which time they will be wearing balaclavas, crash helmets, race suits and gloves - which is all effective PPE - and are socially distanced by virtue of the nature of kart racing.
"I believe it is correct that people will be staying at local hotels. We have recommended two hotels in particular and have engaged in a dialogue with the hotels, we are confident that they have all of the necessary and legal safeguards in place."
Charles said the allegations that Daytona 'does not appear to be addressing concerns about the event' and 'Daytona can’t back out because it is looking to recoup investment' is 'false' and 'not the case'.
He said: "There has been constant dialogue with the teams, and any entrant that has raised any issues has been properly dealt with. We have made alternative arrangements with a couple of teams that are either unable or prefer not to proceed with their entry for various reasons.
"We have made alternative arrangements with a couple of teams that are either unable or prefer not to proceed with their entry for various reasons. One team for example had a couple of European drivers who now cannot attend for obvious reasons, so we have agreed that the team withdraw.
"The teams paid the entry fees months ago. Under the terms of our contract with the teams we are at liberty to reschedule or cancel the race if we deem it necessary. We will certainly take less gate and hospitality revenue as a consequence of the way that we will manage the event but that is budgeted and allowed for.
"Daytona Milton Keynes has an exemplary safety record, safety is always our first and highest priority. We have thirty years’ experience in managing events and keeping people safe in what could be a dangerous activity if not managed correctly. If it wasn’t safe to run this event, we would not run it. We would simply reschedule it for the spring."
A Milton Keynes Council spokesperson said: “Local people can report their concerns around events. They should email [email protected] as not every event needs to be flagged to the council by the organisers for our approval. These reports will be used to gather intelligence so we can take action where needed.
"We’ll look into this event at Daytona, now that we’re aware of these concerns.”
Daytona claimed MK Council had told them the MK Citizen was chasing a story. This paper was in fact offering Daytona and the council the right of reply on an issue which is clearly in the public interest given rising infection rates in the area against the backdrop of the government's new three-tier lockdown system.