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The WHO Story

Worthing HO Racing is a great little club on the south coast of England. I like to see it as a slot car club for the 21st century - meeting once or twice a month in a church hall and involving the whole community, not just hardened slot car racers.

It's extremely flattering that other racers in the UK and overseas say they have looked at WHO Racing for inspiration. The most recent example is THORN in Lubbock, Texas, who plan to launch in 2014.


Worthing HO Racing – how we set up our club

Our first event was on 3 February 2010. The idea was there a year before and the serious planning had started by the beginning of July 2009.

We had three broad areas of tasks to tackle:

1. The racing: getting and preparing the track, power supplies, driver stations, cars, barriers, lap timers, race management spreadsheets, racing format, rules, medals, championship points etc.

2. Setting up the club: Finding a venue, setting up a website and email address, getting a bank account, applying for funding, writing a constitution, policies etc.

3. Finding the racers: contacting slot racing and hobby forums, other clubs, producing leaflets and posters for the opening event, posting publicity on ‘what’s on’ sites, sending press releases and getting articles in local papers and plugs on local radio.


1. The racing

We started simple – but that was still an enormous task. The fact that there was just one minor wiring glitch on the opening night was tribute to the huge amount of work Robin put in over many months. And he is best to run through what he did.

 

2. Setting up the club

Robin set up the website and email in the summer of 2009 and also located an ideal venue near where he was moving to in Goring-by-Sea. And we set a date for an opening free event.

The website was a blog set up on ‘Blogger’. Like ‘Google Sites’ it’s simple to use and gives you nice templates. We bought the www.whoracing.org.uk domain, so we had a ‘proper’ web address to put on all our publicity. That costs about £3.50 a year. You can see the original site here.

The email is a hotmail account which we shared access to.

The venue Robin found was a good-sized church hall with car parking, excellent transport links (rail and bus) and was in the middle of vast suburban housing estates where not much goes on. Robin negotiated a reduced rate of £25 a session.

I was delegated the task of looking at the paperwork and procedure of formally setting up the club. I discovered a guide called “Setting up a new sports club” (See pdf file attachment below).

I contacted the local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) who had an advice worker who I met with and who helped talk me through the process of setting up the club.

As well as offering templates for a constitution and financial budget, I was given advice on child protection issues and the need for volunteers (me and Robin) to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check – although the criteria for CRB checks have been loosened a bit, so may not be quite so essential in future.

By joining Worthing CVS we had access to their CRB ‘umbrella body’ and our checks were done for £6 each – because we were volunteers.

I was also encouraged to apply for funding for a local community partnership grant (I’ve attached the text of our application form) and we were given £600 to cover our first year running expenses, including hall hire for all our monthly events. This meant we could set a very low entry fee (£2.50) and if takings didn’t cover our costs, it didn’t matter. Of course, a low fee helps get people through the door.

The constitution (link here) and other policies were written from the templates given to us by Worthing CVS, with the child protection policy adapted from the BSCRA policy (link here).

Our bank account wasn’t set up until just before the first event – just in time to bank the takings. We opened a community group account with NatWest. Both NatWest and the Co-op offer free banking for voluntary groups.

The last thing to do was to set up public liability insurance. This cost us £45 from Finance ReDirect, who specialise in insurance for small community groups.

 

3. Finding the racers

We simply had no idea how many people would turn up for the first event and how many would end up being our ‘regular’ attendance.

Robin knew a few friends might come along. We had some promises from racers at Roedale - the BSCRA club in Brighton – and we had a few possibles from posts and messages on SlotForum.

Most of the 39 people who did show up came from local publicity around Worthing – mainly A4 posters and A5 fliers in shops, cafés, laundrettes, libraries, churches, community centres and take-aways.

I also sent out press releases to the local media. We had a couple of small articles in the Worthing Herald newspaper. Robin appeared on the BBC Sussex breakfast show. The event was plugged of Splash FM through the day and appeared on their website.

One thing I did well in advance was to get the opening event on as many local ‘what’s on’ websites, hobby websites and anywhere else. Having as many links to your site on other people’s site bumps your visibility on search engines – especially Google.

So when people heard about us on radio or in the newspaper and googled “Worthing slot cars” or “Goring car racing” they got our site top of the search list.

A report of our opening night can be read here. There's a link to the video too.


In conclusion, I would say the 3 most important lessons were: give yourselves plenty of time; set a date for an opening free night very early on; and make the club, the opening night and yourselves as visible as possible as early as possible.

You only get one shot at an opening night…


If you're interested in the WHO story and want more details, do get in touch via the club's website.

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Andy Player,
6 Jan 2012, 10:39
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