Rockingham Motor Speedway

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Rockingham Motor Speedway's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Rockingham Motor Speedway is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Peter Hardman, CEO
Motorsport is still at the
core of a diverse offering
Based near Corby, Northamptonshire, Rockingham is the
newest motor racing circuit in the UK and serves thousands
of customers – of every kind – all year round. Although their
core purpose is hosting motor racing events, they’ve expanded
their services dramatically – something their chief executive, Peter
Hardman, saw as necessary to reverse the previous decline of the
venue. His first task as chief executive was to share his vision with
his team, seeing enormous untapped potential for Rockingham,
wanting others to realise this too. Just half a decade later, he
turned a declining, unprofitable venue into a thriving commercial
network of offices, logistics hubs and experience activity venues
– all centred on a still-active motor racing circuit, indeed, the
fastest motor racing circuit in Europe. What follows is Peter’s
own description of Rockingham’s journey to success.
Where we began
Before describing Rockingham in its current form, it’s first worth understanding
what preceded it. Only by understanding its origins can the scale of our
achievement be fully appreciated.
Before our existence, Rockingham was – true enough to its name – a quarry: a
blank canvas if there ever were one. A number of proposals for what should come
in its stead were put forward, including an automotive-based theme park and a
research and development venue for the motor industry. Investors’ ambitions soon
grew, however; they wanted a racing circuit.
»CEO: Peter Hardman
»Established in 2001
»Based in Corby,
»Services: Motorsport,
conferencing, serviced offices
»No. of employees: 27
permanent and 50 casual
»Fastest motor racing circuit in
Rockingham Motor
Ten years of planning, £70 million
of investment and 23 months of
construction later, Rockingham
was born. Initially just a venue for
American IndyCar races, the stadium
reaped far less financial reward
than was anticipated. Attendance
was satisfactory, but this didn’t
translate into the kind of revenue
investors wanted, so the series was
discontinued. Other similar automotive
events continued to be hosted for
a time, but it soon became clear
that remaining tethered only to this
industry was manifestly a bad idea.
Financially, the company was in decline
– something else was needed.
Our business model
This is where my team and I step
in. New revenue streams had to be
created or else this venue would
suffer the same fate as the quarry that
preceded it. The goal was clear; this
had to be a multipurpose site for as
wide a segment of the marketplace
as possible. I was clear on this, as was
my team. It was now just a matter
Our first expansion was into the
corporate marketplace. Many
corporations now engage in corporate
experience activities, and in tandem
with this are meetings, conferences
and exhibitions. We knew this was
a previously underexploited area,
so we went about supplying it. Of
course, hospitality also comes along
for the ride in such cases, meaning yet
more expansion in this area too. We
also offer fully serviced offices in our
Rockingham Building Business Centre
(RBBC), which now house every type of
business from car auctions to software
development. In addition to this, one
of the initial ideas of Rockingham
– that of being a research and
development venue for the automotive
industry – also became further realised.
The ideas didn’t stop there, with all
the car parking space available; car
storage facilities exist here; indeed, in
excess of 5,000 vehicles are currently
Corporate experience
business is growing
RBBC is a
great success
with 80 per
cent of the
office spaces
now let
Highlighting best practice
Alongside revenue developments,
we have worked hard to improve the
venue appearance and presentation,
introducing a new brand colour and
ideas to enliven the visitor experience,
all at minimal cost.
All of this, moreover, has occurred
without us sacrificing the raison d’être
of Rockingham – namely, that of
being a motor racing circuit. Trackside
business is busier than ever before.
If there’s a lesson in best practice to
be drawn from this, it’s as follows: be
creative, dynamic and accommodating.
By possessing these traits, we’ve
turned a failed business into a now
constantly growing and profitable
enterprise. Over the last half-decade, in
fact, we have grown 80 per cent.
Contextual considerations
However, this growth has not been
unaccompanied by challenges. As a
large, somewhat imposing venue, we
have to deal with local stakeholders and
take into account their interests. For
instance, the degree of noise emitted
by our venue has been under scrutiny
by those looking to develop housing
in the area. In close consultation
with these developers, and the local
authorities, we managed to reach an
agreement on noise control, and this is
an area on which we’ve been improving
over the years. In fact, we’ve become
one of the better venues for noise
management – something which the
local authorities now appreciate.
Another challenge we’ve faced was a
lack of new capital. All of our growth
has been organic – yet another reason
for us to pursue expansion on our
own terms. Recently, the motor racing
industry has been buoyant, but be
that as it may, we cannot rely on
circumstances beyond our control. Our
approach is, and will remain, to be
proactive and always to look for new
revenue opportunities.
Part of this proactivity has its basis in
the fact that we are not a historically
established brand like Silverstone or
Donington Park; we cannot rely on
tradition. We have to therefore be
innovative and always on the look-out.
Indeed, this is an approach that reaches
all corners of the business; it’s in the
air, so to speak. Knowing this, all our
staff are always professional, friendly
and approachable – everyone who
comes to Rockingham will be met by a
body of staff, all sincerely committed to
providing the best possible experience
from arrival at main entrance security,
to event delivery and beyond.
With regard to the future, we have
nothing but optimism. The last five
years have been a phenomenal
journey, and the rate of success
we’re achieving now shows no sign
of deceleration. As we speak, further
opportunities are being pursued,
including new racing series and
exciting events. Indeed, we have
just staged our first ever 24-hour
race event, which, in part due to
our own participation in the race,
was a tremendous success and
brought together even further an
already committed and enthusiastic
Rockingham team. The plan as of now:
continued growth.
Our approach
is, and will
remain, to be
proactive and
always to look
for new
New uses include
car auctions via CAG

This article was sponsored by Rockingham Motor Speedway. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy