Interview with Keith Bartlett

One of the traditional parts of our annual Autosport International coverage is an interview with European Championship promoter and Santa Pod Raceway and Trakbak Racing CEO Keith Bartlett. At the 2007 show we were able to grab a few words with a very busy Keith and as ever we asked him about the European Championships and developments at Santa Pod Raceway. What are the latest developments in the European Championships?

Keith Bartlett: Norway will be a round in 2007. To the best of my knowledge Hockenheim won't be an FIA round this year. That is by the promoter's choice - we want to have a round there. We have progressed with Italy in the last year but it is a long-term project. When it happens the track will be built to a high standard and potentially a US-style track. We've also progressed in Qatar. Kjell Pettersson has been out there working to get the track an FIA licence, then we can develop it to a state-of-the-art track. We are very hopeful.

I am expecting healthy entry in all the Championships again this year. In Top Fuel I am expecting to see ten cars per round. That is the perfect amount because we have eight strong teams. In 2006 we had up to thirteen Top Fuellers at some rounds - that wasn't ideal because the teams who didn't qualify didn't get any money and they couldn't afford to carry on. As is the case with all motorsport Championships, if you don't have the budget then you can't compete. To be a winner you need a good driver, a good team, and a good budget.

Pro Mod looks strong, Supertwin has cleaned up its act and is very professional. I am convinced that Pro Stock Bike will grow and will attract manufacturer interest. The disappointment is the number of Fuel bikes in Top Fuel Bike.

We've got a good base of teams, and now we need to lift the level of corporate involvement, television distribution, and more tracks. This is crucial if the teams want to be able to secure sponsorship but more importantly retain those sponsors. I know I seem to say it every year and I sound like a cracked record but it's not easy to get a new track off the ground because of Green isues. Everyone seems to be agreed that the TV was much improved in 2006.

Keith Bartlett: I put in a lot of personal effort to produce the shows in 2006. I agree that the shows were better than in previous years. In 2007 we will be concentrating on distribution. The only thing I was disappointed with was that the facilities company didn't provide the right cameras for on-board footage. I can only work with the footage I've been given. How about developments at Santa Pod Raceway?

Keith Bartlett: In 2007 we are putting three thousand more grandstand seats on the pit side. Then between the 2007 and 2008 seasons we will move the fifteen hundred-seat startline grandstand to the spectator bank side together with a new VIP area. We are doing more pit work and putting in a new drifting area, as that seems very popular. We're likely to replace bankside VIP with a similar unit but newer. We are going to resurface the track to 330 feet and also do some remedial work to remove the bump in the right lane. The intent is then to totally resurface over next winter. Fuel Funny Car looks to be a growth class in 2007.

Keith Bartlett: Seeing more Fuel Funny Cars is the surprise of the year. We've wanted it for several years and it is one of my favourite classes. Some are strong teams with experience. If we have four to six teams this year, and I want to underline that "if", then we would look at structuring a Championship series, which would be refreshing after the cars have under-performed in past years. But at this point in time I can't confirm anything more because until I get together with the team owners I can't say how things will turn out. But if we could get the numbers and if the cars perform then it will be a good year. Thank you for your time Keith.

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