The Executive of the Australian Auto Sport Alliance Pty Ltd (AASA) notes with dismay, and quite some irony, the application of a reprimand and significant penalty, albeit suspended, to Mr Paul Zsidy, a CAMS State Council Executive member.

Mr Zsidy’s apparent crime against “the sport”, which was admitted, according to a statement on the CAMS website, was that he exercised his right to compete in a round of the Australian Formula Ford Series, held at Winton Motor Raceway on September 24, which happened to be at a race meeting sanctioned by the AASA.

Sources inform the AASA that not enough rounds for the series could be accommodated within suitable CAMS race meetings, and that is where Winton Motor Raceway stepped in, and effectively  assisted the category to achieve its obligations to competitors, by hosting the Formula Fords at a Victorian Motor Racing Championship round.

Mr Zsidy was reprimanded and fined $5000, suspended for 12 months, for breaching the CAMS Constitution, Clause 14(b).

The current Chairman of the AASA, Mr Bruce Robertson, who CAMS attempted to sanction when he too served on State Council some years ago, and under a similar clause, is saddened that CAMS continues to attack its volunteer servants in such a manner. (Mr Robertson forced CAMS to back down, by engaging legal assistance, and he continued to serve for many years.) The offending clauses have since been strengthened within the CAMS Constitution.

“Paul Zsidy is an exemplary competitor, administrator, and investor in the sport,” Mr Robertson said.

“It is appalling that Mr Zsidy is treated in such a manner by using such inappropriate and damaging components of the CAMS Constitution, the existence of which most CAMS affiliated car clubs and members would be unaware.”

“It is a fact that the AASA is a robust and effective competitor to CAMS in the motor sport market place, recognised in its endeavours by government in all states and at all levels.

“CAMS should compete with the AASA on commercial merit, capability and delivery, not by engendering a culture of fear of sanction amongst volunteers and competitors, and with the accompanying threat of commercial disadvantage, and as seen in this case, punishing individuals for participating in and contributing to the sport they love.

“It is most unfortunate that the ability to compete within the sporting framework has become muddied by competing commercial interests in the sanctioning arena. This unfortunate situation, may have been triggered by a commercial and/or sporting decision to down grade the status of the Formula Ford category within the CAMS system, and with CAMS and aligned promoters not being able to provide enough race meeting slots for the category’s needs,” Mr Robertson said.

“The AASA cannot and will not interfere in the CAMS legal process, but can certainly comment on the result. The AASA executive and senior personnel are CAMS members, via their respective car club affiliations, and have had the similar threat or actual charge laid at their feet. It is notable that the CAMS Constitution also announces to the wider sport, that it is supposed to work positively with like-minded organisations. Is the AASA a like- minded organisation? Very probably. The Board, in this case seems to have expended considerable energy to chase down and punish an individual within its own system. I think the wider motor sport public can be the judge of the appropriateness of that action.”

“This outcome for Mr Zsidy is an absolute indictment on the corporate direction and capacity of the CAMS Board to understand the nuances of the sport and the expectations of the wider customer base. The whole sport should be concerned, offended and dismayed at this attitude to the sport’s participants, whether that be by competing, being an official or as an administrator or promoter. The offending Constitutional clauses should never have been added, as a means to ward off commercial threats.

“The Australian Sports Commission needs to be informed of this abuse of power inflicted on the wider CAMS membership, and members need to demand that they immediately force CAMS to modernise its Constitution, and remove the components that can be used to attack members for exercising freedom of action and commercial independence within the motor sport market.

“CAMS does not have a monopoly in the motor sport sanctioning and insurance space. Those days are well and truly over, with more than one alternate body emerging over the past 14 years.

“As an individual CAMS member who was similarly challenged many years ago, I call on the CAMS Board to reverse the decisions against Mr Zsidy, remove the reprimand, and penalty, apologise to him, and allow him to continue to serve the sport in his exemplary manner, and leave his reputation untarnished.” Mr Robertson said.

The CEO of the AASA, Mr Chris Lewis- Williams added: “The AASA is an inclusive organisation. We are racers and participants, and as such we assist competitors to get on track with a minimum of cost, fuss and stress. Mr Zsidy is welcome to exercise his right to compete at our events anywhere, anytime. We recognise the sport has multiple providers, and encourage the diversity of competition that brings.”

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