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Ten Out Of Ten For MSV’s First Decade!
Posted by: newsla on Jan 06, 2014 - 03:22 PM
Ten Out Of Ten For MSV’s First Decade!

Sunday 5 January marked ten years since MotorSport Vision (MSV) was formed following the acquisition of the Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park circuits by former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer and his business partners John Britten and Sir Peter Ogden in 2004.


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The four circuits joined Jonathan Palmer's existing businesses including Bedford Autodrome and the PalmerSport corporate event to form the MSV group. The quality and success of MSV's circuits has been transformed under its ownership and we highlight ten landmark events from MSV's first decade.

2005: Brands Hatch hosts the inaugural A1 Grand Prix event

When MSV took custody of Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park in 2004, all four venues benefitted from a major programme of improvements for both competitors and spectators. Brands Hatch was upgraded to FIA Grade 2 status and this enabled the famous circuit to host every major international car event apart from F1. This included the inaugural A1 Grand Prix motor race on 25 September 2005.

The concept, unique in motorsport and founded by the charismatic Sheikh Maktoum, pitted nation against nation and a huge crowd enjoyed a spectacular race day filled with thrilling action and pageantry. Team GB's Robbie Kerr led one of the races before retiring with mechanical problems, whilst Brazil's Nelson Piquet Jr took a brace of victories, and performed a breathtaking pass on the outside of Surtees corner. Since then DTM, FIA WTCC and Superleague have all visited Brands Hatch, with the Blancpain GT Sprint series heading there for the first time in May this year.

2005: MSV Trackdays (MSVT) runs its first event

The concept of trackdays, when drivers and riders take their own car or motorcycle on circuits and enjoy lapping as fast as they like, without the restrictions of the public roads, has boomed over the past 20 years. In order to provide a top quality organisation, MotorSport Vision set up its own in-house trackday company in 2005 and MSVT has now established itself as one of the leading trackday operators in the UK, running more than 250 events per year for over 15,000 participants.

MSVT has also enabled its customers to move into motor racing. Its Trackday Trophy and Team Trophy race series have been a huge success and over 350 new MSA race licence holders have been introduced to the sport since 2010.

2006: MSVR established to run motor racing events

MotorSport Vision Racing (MSVR) was born in 2006, and quickly grew into one of the country's biggest race and event organisers. Attention to detail and a customer-focussed approach are the foundations of its success which was established right from its very first event when a full grid of Lotus cars lined up at Brands Hatch on 19 March 2006. The Lotuses remain, along with a growing portfolio of more than 20 MSVR-run championships.

Under the guidance of the hugely experienced David Scott, MSVR has since organised almost all of the international events that take place at Brands Hatch. It has also broadened the appeal of motorsport beyond its core audience with themed festivals such as the American SpeedFest.

2008: MSV acquires promotional and organisational rights to BSB

MSV took over the organisation and commercial rights of the British Superbike Championship in February 2008 after former rights holders Dorna struggled to make it economically viable. A range of changes implemented by MSV's BSB series director Stuart Higgs and Jonathan Palmer, including a major new TV contract with Eurosport, transformed BSB which has now become the biggest national motorsport series in the UK in terms of both spectator attendances and television audience.

One of the biggest innovations MSV has introduced has been the title Showdown concept, which has been a great success and provided thrilling final-round conclusions to the championship since 2010 and UK motorsport's closest ever race finish when Tommy Hill sensationally took the 2011 BSB championship finishing just 0.006 seconds ahead of American John Hopkins at Brands Hatch. Thanks to strong management and promotion from MSV, a long term global deal with Eurosport, and close co-operation with participating teams, riders, sponsors and manufacturers, the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship is the Worlds' most successful national superbike series.

2008: MSV wins FIA tender to build cars and operate the FIA F2 Championship

When the FIA announced an ultra low-cost international feeder championship for aspiring F1 drivers, MSV won the FIA tender in September 2008 with a car built by MSV, designed by Williams and powered by a 450bhp Audi turbo engine, whilst MSV would run all 24 cars in the 16 race European F2 championship to virtually enable the extremely ambitious FIA target of €200,000 for a season to be achieved. The championship ran superbly for four seasons from 2009 to 2012, with consistently good grids and very close competition proving that very low cost, high performance and quality racing could be provided, though ultimately the central operation necessary to achieve such low costs was not something that was sufficiently popular with the drivers and their funders.

2009: MSV acquires freehold of 800 acres of Bedford Autodrome

Before the formation of MSV, the renowned PalmerSport event had moved to Jonathan Palmer's purpose-built 385 acre Bedford Autodrome in 1999, on a leased site. In 2009 the freehold of not just Bedford Autodrome but a further 415 acres of the former RAE Bedford was acquired which enabled MSV to develop and operate its own CAA licensed airfield, Bedford Aerodrome, with a 1000m concrete runway to accommodate up to some business jets as well as MSV's own King Air B200 turboprop 9 seater aircraft.

The aerodrome mostly serves visitors to the adjacent Bedford Autodrome site, a complex of four circuits designed by Jonathan Palmer that can be run concurrently. It welcomes over 12,000 PalmerSport guests each year, plus hundreds of car and bike trackday participants.

2009: BMW partners MSV for all its UK-based driving experiences

BMW holds a special place in the hearts of driving enthusiasts and has an outstanding motorsport history.

From May 2009 the 'ultimate driving machines' were made available at three of MSV's venues with the M3 Master and RaceMaster retail driving experiences.

BMW also supplies the race meeting safety vehicles at each of its circuits and is now in its fifth year of partnership with MSV. In 2010 the M3 GTP headlined that year's PalmerSport event, and continues to be a hugely popular part of its line-up.

2011: Snetterton redevelopment

The "old" Snetterton had a good reputation as a fast circuit for testing but was not noted as a great driver challenge, for good spectator viewing or aesthetic quality, all qualities close to MSV Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer's heart. A major revamp was therefore implemented by Jonathan, who re-designed the circuit, adding a big new infield section to add a mile of length and create Snetterton 300 (3.00 miles), including two huge new spectator viewing banks. Planning permission was eventually obtained for both the circuit improvements and a major new business park complex, and in early 2011 "new" Snetterton was opened.

The new layout has been a big success and has totally transformed the customer experience and reputation of Snetterton. It has seen a significant increase in demand from car and bike trackday guests, plus a rise in spectators at its British Touring Car Championship and MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship rounds. It has also led to a number of new major events at the circuit, including the British Truck Racing Championship and the FIA-CIK British Superkart Grand Prix.

2012: Brands Hatch hosts Paralympics Road Cycling

On 5-8 September 2012 Brands Hatch further consolidated its standing as an international sporting venue by hosting the Road Cycling events of the London Paralympic Games, following extensive negotiation and planning with Kent County Council and LOCOG. It also marked a return to the circuit's roots, as it was originally established as a cycling course nearly 90 years ago!

A whole new audience was introduced to Brands Hatch during the course of four days and 32 events. As befitted the occasion, history was made when Dame Sarah Storey equalled the modern-day medal record for a British Paralympian, and former motor racing star Alex Zanardi recorded his first and second-ever victories at Brands Hatch. The course was also a huge hit with competitors and was described as the 'greatest Paralympic Road Cycling course', whilst Zanardi's success was voted the number one moment of the Games by the International Paralympic Committee.

2013: BRDC F4 commences with all 24 cars sold within a month

By mid 2012 junior single seater racing in the UK was really in the doldrums with the poorest grids for over 25 years, and MSV recognised that young drivers were clearly not being offered a championship they wanted at a price they could afford. Using their enormous experience gained from running FPA and F2, MSV Group Operations Director Giles Butterfield and Jonathan Palmer created their new F4 concept, got Ralph Firman's RFR company to design a great looking new car, powered it by a 185bhp Ford 2 litre engine and sold all 24 cars within a month at the outstanding price of just £29,750.

BRDC president Derek Warwick and other members of the board shared MSV's vision of helping young British drivers launch their climb towards F1 and the BRDC Formula 4 Championship was born. The inaugural championship kicked off at Silverstone in April, with Mark Webber presenting trophies to the podium finishers. After an intensely competitive season, Jake Hughes claimed the title at the final round at Donington whilst there were 10 different race winners over the year.

The gap in the market has clearly been filled - with grids of more than 20 cars in its inaugural season BRDC F4 is already the dominant series in the UK at this level and its pedigree proven with three of the six finalists for the prestigious 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award being chosen from F4.

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