BSB » 29 October 2013
Stuart Higgs (BSB Race Director) - Q&A
"Airwaves Yamaha were flying data guys over with laptops just to start the motorbike, it was crazy" - Stuart Higgs.
By Christian Tiburtius
An exclusive interview with MCE British Superbike Championship series and race director Stuart Higgs…
Hi Stuart, what's your background?
I've been active around motorcycle racing literally my whole life. My father in particular was a big part of racing here [at Brands Hatch] in the late '60s and early '70s running the marshals and that sort of thing so I was always there from a very early age. I was always looking and listening when it came to the organisational side of things even though it was very different then and you could say rudimentary.
I never rode a race, it never occurred to me, I got so involved in the organisational side of things. It's one of those things I've grown into. Part of the job I do now I was essentially doing as a volunteer back in the early 1990s on the sporting organising side and it wasn't really until the year 2001 that I became professionally employed in motorsport. At that point I moved into car and bike racing retaining my BSB responsibilities and then developing more and more into the commercial side of things from 2004 when Dorna became the promoter of BSB. I was looking after the sporting side and working closely with Dorna in the UK.
At the end of 2007 the commercial rights transferred from Dorna to Motorsport Vision and that's where we are today. So much of my role has been the same since the early 1990s but they've just increased every year.
It's a very interesting job and if I stop and think about it as we get to the end of the season you feel as if you're on a huge pressure ride from the start of the season and you get the most incredible comedown after Sunday night. It's like flying an airplane; you're just watching all the instruments and all the facets of the championship, the commercial side and the operational side.
So you run the whole series, everything?
Absolutely, so from the day I report to my CEO Jonathan Palmer before the beginning of the season I do it all.
It's a very small dynamic organisation I report directly to Jonathan, Jonathan is the head of the business and the head of MSV. MSV are the commercial and organisational rights holders of BSB. If you look at some of the other championships in the world, say MotoGP, they have Dorna, the FIM and IRTA and they're all separate entities but at BSB these are all combined in MSV. So it's very, very small but incredibly wide reaching in its roles and responsibilities.
We deal with sporting safety and the operational side of things at the event itself, and then pre-event it's the management of the commercial side - TV broadcast, sponsorship, teams, media and the whole thing really.
I'm very busy and I'm sometimes slightly worried that I'll look back in 20 years' time and think that I've missed key moments in my children's lives. It's one of those jobs which is never advertised and as I've grown into it and as the championship has got bigger so have my tasks and responsibilities. It's incredibly rewarding though knowing that you were there from the start. There was a dream by the late Robert Fearnall [Donington manager] to make BSB as successful as British Touring Cars was at the time with packed crowds and many manufacturers.
Everyone knew that BSB had the potential but it was just realising that. Since that time in '95 I've been the enabler putting it all together and sometimes doing things which were considered revolutionary. Up until then, if you had a race at Brands Hatch, the local Brands Hatch club would run it and likewise with other tracks and between the circuits nobody really spoke to each other and standards were all over the place with even basic things like flag protocols not being standard.
One of the big things we did at the end of '95 was to create the MCRCB which was a new governing body for the British championship and Racesafe which is the marshalling organisation. From a career point of view, I'd say that's joint second in my career highlights.
So MSV, the series and Racesafe are essentially the same body?
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