One way to do this is to organise a big event for a charity. Sunday saw the second Great Dunmow Soapbox Race.
This is a big big day. There were 65 entries. This size of field puts it pretty much on a par with the Red Bull race series. And damn me, some of those things were shifting. First out of the trap, a very pretty miniature replica Caterham Seven, got a move on, and clocked a respectable 29.2 seconds. By the end of the day, when teams had had time to see how the track worked, they were turning mid 20s. That’s quick.
There was a huge crowd. Estimates put it at about 20,000. You couldn’t move. You couldn’t move in the town either since the track was laid out on an important route out of the place, so the diversions caused some major aggro and traffic jams. One place you really didn’t want to be living was Oakroyd Avenue, which was the last road before the barriers, became a major turning spot for the dummies who had failed to notice the ‘Road Closed’ signs. That must have been a pain. As it must have been if you lived beside the track and needed to get your car out. I’d have cut my losses, fired up a barbie, and fleeced the punters.
The organisers were pretty lucky with the weather, though there was some drizzle mid afternoon, but by that time all the entrants had done their first run in good conditions, though some did wreck on the chicane in the wet, so I was told.
Which brings me to a bone of contention regarding how to make a stack of cash. Just past the start, there were barriers across the pavement, and a charity was shaking down the punters who wanted to move further down the track to where the action was. I turned on my heel and buggered off. I am not going to pay two quid to get pedestrian access to a public road. I objected even though the charity was Mind, which is one dear to my heart.
Couple of adults, couple of children, it’s going to cost the thick end of a tenner. That’s quite a lot isn’t it? When you consider that the marshals were working for nothing, the disco truck/start ramp came free, the charity made a stack.
Then the organisers, the Round Table, made a stack too, even allowing for barrier hire, the cost of the licence to close the road, and the (minimal) policing. Meanwhile they did very well off sponsors, and a third of that went to Mind too. The bar took in excess of 10 grand.