Earlier this year, Badger GP came across a unique cycling event – the Silverstone 24hr Cycling Grand Prix where teams of keen cyclists can take on the challenge of cycling for 24hrs around the home of the British motorsport. It sounded epic and so we formed 3 teams of 4 riders to take on the challenge.
After the massive success of ride2spa last year, where we raised over £23K for charity by cycling 400 miles in 4 days to the Belgian Grand Prix we were keen to do another F1 related challenge this year and Silverstone 24 looked to be the one.
So we registered in January, paid up and formed our teams. The past few months have consisted of a rigorous training schedule, strategy meetings and essentially getting quite excited by it all.
….and then an email came in (26th July) from the organisers saying that the whole event was in doubt due to a lack of participants. Not great news. They said they had 700 or so registered cyclists, but needed more to make the event viable – i.e. to pay the costs of hiring a venue such as Silverstone. The initial email talked about finding alternatives such as Goodwood, but none of these really worked – the main appeal of the event was lure of taking on the same F1 circuit as our favourite F1 drivers.
A few days later on July 29th another email came in saying how things have been moving quickly, with a positive tone saying how they (Sportworks) were working to find a solution. This email also included a paragraph;
We’re convinced that the event can grow year on year to become a huge fixture in the cycling and charity calendar. With this in mind we’re interested in seeing if external support of investment is possible. Time is short but we’ll listen to all reasonable proposals.
And then it all went quiet.
The phone number for Sportworks (0114 224 2620) just rang out. Emails were not being replied to and their Facebook and Twitter pages vanished too. We (as in the 12 of us taking part) became a bit nervous. After multiple attempts to contact the so-called organisers, we were beginning to wonder if they’d just skipped the country and enjoying our money in lavish playboy style drinking champers on a yacht in Monaco. You can’t blame us.
Finally, after much Googling we found an alternative number for the main man behind the event and tried calling that. After several attempts one of our team managed to get to speak to him. As far as we know he wasn’t on a yacht drinking champagne, but the overall report back from the phone call was:
Just spoke to Tom Wenham via the mobile number. He said an email will be sent out soon to basically inform us that they are passing it on to liquidators who we can then chase for the money. The reason he gave for this was that Silverstone have not and will not refund him, due to the contract he is in with them.
He didn’t seem to give a care, and openly said he is washing his hands of it all to get himself out of trouble.
So there goes our money. Yes it’s not thousands, entry fee was *only* £128.10 each including fees with our British Cycling Members discount, but it’s enough to miss – put it this way, that’s nearly a general admission ticket to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix!
More to the point, the organisers have said that there were 700ish registered riders, so they will have each of paid a minimum of what we paid – potentially up to £200 each without group discounts or British Cycling discounts. So that translates as at least £89,000 which has been effectively flushed down the drain. That is a LOT of money, for nothing. We dread to think what’s happened on the charity front – especially those participants who started raising money already along with the official charity partners.
We’ve spoken with British Cycling too, who are also chasing the organisers and British Cycling have stressed to us that it’s in their interests to help us get our money back because the S24 organisers used them for entry mechanism.
Why are we writing about all of this? Because people need to know what’s going on and we wanted to share our experience so that the other 700 or so entrants know what’s going on in the absence of any further emails from the organisers.
To say that the Silverstone 24hr Cycling Grand Prix turned out to be a complete shambles is an understatement. It’s a complete joke.
If you’ve been affected by the Silverstone 24hr Grand Prix debacle, let us know in the comments.