An honorific chairman at the BRDC?

Most companies have a chairman, a board of directors and a chief executive (who is sometimes given the title of president). There are also honorific titles, which sometimes the roles of vice-chairman, president and vice-president. The British Racing Drivers' Club lists as its leadership His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent as President-in-Chief and Jackie Stewart as president. There are nine vice-presidents including Jack Brabham, Martin Brundle, Ron Dennis, Stirling Moss, Tim Parnell, Peter Scott Russell, John Surtees, Henry Taylor and Frank Williams but they played no actual role in the running of the club. The management of the club appeared to be being done by the board led by chairman Ray Bellm.

But that has all changed since a meeting on Wednesday when Bellm was voted out of office by the directors over the question of corporate governance. It seems that Jackie Stewart believes that the president should be running the company and a majority of the directors (albeit a small majority) agreed with him. Bellm resigned from his role but remains on the board. Alex Hooton will continue to run the commercial operations of the club as chief executive and will continue to look after the principal operating subsidiaries of the BRDC: the Silverstone Estates Ltd. and Silverstone Circuits Ltd.

It remains to be seen whether there will be a new chairman but, according to Stewart, it is the president who runs the club.

"In a lot of companies, the chairman is top of the house," said Stewart. "The BRDC is different - the president leads the company."

One must presume that the statutes of the club allow for such a situation and that it is not necessary to ask the membership of the club if they agree to this fundamental change of management structure. It will be interesting to watch developments in the months ahead.

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