The future of Silverstone?

British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) chairman Stuart Rolt has admitted in a letter to club members that running the track is too risky a business for the club.

"The inescapable reality is that present day circuit operations, heavily dependent as they are on one high-profile event, involve substantial commercial risk and extensive continuing capital expenditure," Rolt said. "The board's view is that maintaining the status quo is therefore not realistic in the longer term."

The solution appears to be to lease the operation of the circuit to Staffordshire-based Northern Racing, which currently operates nine racecourses. This company would take over as the promoter of the British Grand Prix after the current deal ends in 2009.

"Although not involved in motorsport, we have been particularly impressed by Northern Racing's venue management and in particular its success in driving up attendance and profitability," he said, adding that the BRDC board believes that the deal will "unlock the full value of Silverstone, safeguard members' rights and benefits and lay strong foundations for the club's future."

Northern Racing hosts more than 200 race meetings a year but has been particularly successful in expanding the use of its facilities for business and hospitality events while also looking at developing land which is not used for the races for residential, leisure and commercial activities. The company has invested heavily in its racecourses in order to attract bigger audiences to events and make money from corporate hospitality, venue hire and event management when there are no races taking place.

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