You may or may not have heard about MERCC’s plight at the moment regarding the Braxted venue. Like ‘Chinese Whispers’, reports circulate and often get distorted en route so let me set the record straight once and for all. In a nutshell, we have lost the venue but it is definitely not the end of MERCC! Before I am inundated with e-mails/telephone calls, we are not selling off any of our equipment or track materials!
Broadfield Fruit Farm, where the track is (was?!), originally comprised a series of large fields. Springfield Radio Controlled Car Club, as the club was when it moved from Chelmsford, was fortunate in being able to take over use of the facility from the Colchester Club in the 1990’s. Over the years the MERCC has, apart from holding Club, Series, and Open Meetings, hosted Off-Road Regionals and Nationals and has developed a good reputation for efficiently-run, friendly race meetings. Following the death of the landowner some years ago, some of the land was sold off. In 2010,the son became the owner of the field in which the track was situated. The club had enjoyed a very good relationship with the family over the years and was assured by the son that there were no plans to sell off the rest of the land for the foreseeable future – in short, MERCC’s future for several years at least seemed assured.
During late Summer last year, I found out ‘secondhand’ that the field had been sold off without the owner having the courtesy/decency to inform the club. I approached him directly (“Ooh, sorry – meant to tell you” – yes, pull the other leg!) and was assured that the field had been sold – wait for it! – on the understanding that the club would be allowed to continue to use the facility – again, pull the other leg! Shortly before Christmas I spoke to the new owner to ascertain where we stood, and was told that the club would have to find another venue as he had plans for the field. The moral? Be very wary of verbal assurances!
You can imagine how we felt being dealt a severe blow like this at the start of the Winter and realising that it is probably going to be March/April at the earliest before we can get onto the field to move our equipment, etc. We had plans for track renovation ready for 2014, and were looking forward to hosting a Regional Round again this year. The club held its AGM on 4th January and, of course, Braxted was the main item on the Agenda.
It was agreed that we would not entertain suggestions that had been made by some that MERCC could approach another club in the area with a view to (a) a merger or (b) perhaps using their facilities but rather that we would be patient and wait until a new venue was forthcoming before continuing with racing. Members have already started making enquiries and, being the main club optimist, I am confident that MERCC will – like the Phoenix – rise from the pile of ashes left at the end of 2013 and continue where we left off. The Committee and members will continue to liaise to maintain continuity.
In the meantime, I should like to thank all those Committee and Club Members, and non-members, who have helped over the years to make MERCC the successful club it is today. This has meant a lot of hard work, but it has been well worth it. I know I can speak for the vast majority who have raced with us – indoors and outdoors – when I say that our Meetings have been enjoyable. I should also add a big “Thank You” to all the drivers who have supported us and sincerely hope that it won’t be too long before we can start up again. I do know that many of our members will be supporting other clubs in the interim.
In conclusion, I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope you will enjoy your racing during 2014. Our website and Facebook page will continue to be maintained and I will keep you informed of any developments. Any Clairvoyants out there?!
Watch this space!