Sunday Times – Motorsports: SLAS on the threshold of FIA membership

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The country’s controlling body for Motorsports, Sri Lanka Automobile Sports (SLAS) is on the verge of obtaining membership of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA), the global governing body. 


SLAS has the affiliation of 9 local Motorsports clubs, actively engaged in conducting events throughout a calendar year, but strangely, the SLAS is not an FIA member.


Interestingly, 2 local entities with long histories, the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka and the Colombo Motor Racing Club (CMRC), are affiliated to the FIA, and of the 2, the CMRC is affiliated to the SLAS. 


“It’s high time the SLAS became an FIA member, as the local governing body of Motorsports in the country. For the new office bearers obtaining FIA membership will be one of our top priorities,” said SLAS Vice President Suranjith Premadasa. 


SLAS President Major Dilhan Jayawardena was resolute that acquiring FIA status is one of the top tasks on the list, but also said there are other things equally important. 


“FIA status is one of the biggest projects we are looking to expedite. However, as the local authority on Motorsports, we have to organise ourselves prior to that. We need to put our house in order and streamline our organisational structure so that, we are in a position to safeguard and promote Motorsports in Sri Lanka,” Major Jayawardena stated. 


The SLAS has a combination of officials from its 9 affiliated clubs and has been functioning under the Director General of the Ministry of Sports (MoS), since early 2016. 


Jayawardena and his team were duly elected under the country’s Sports Laws, 3 months ago, and are recognised by the MoS as Sri Lanka’s main controlling body in Motorsports. 


Formerly known as the Sri Lanka Association of Motor Sports (SLAMS), with a history of over a century, the organisation was renamed the SLAS about 20 years back. 


According to Major Jayawardena, the SLAS has to complete drafting its constitution and rules and regulations, before aiming at international recognition. 


However, Premadasa, a Motorsports veteran, disclosed that all documentations have been prepared and sent for ratification to the higher authorities. 


“Of course, the SLAS had a constitution, even when it was known as the SLAMS, but it needed to be revised to fit in with the Sports Law. So are the rules and regulations. Both documents were revised and redrafted and sent to the MoS for endorsement. The MoS has been really supportive throughout the whole process and like our President Major Jayawardena said, we are taking every possible step to put things in order in all aspects and see that the FIA affiliation is gained soon,” said Premadasa.


For that SLAS President Major Jayawardena has introduced the 3 D strategy — Discipline, Develop and Deliver. 


Currently, the SLAS conducts the National Championship in Motorsports from a list of events picked from the annual events calendar of its affiliated clubs. 


“In everything we do, it is very important that we, as the governing body, uphold discipline. We will only be able to gain respect and credibility from the member clubs if we uphold discipline. As the governing body, it is also our responsibility to develop the sport, have a short and a long term, a simple and an achievable plan. Through development of the sport, it’s important we attract youngsters to enter the sport, provide opportunities for the current drivers and riders to develop, train and up their skills themselves. It’s also important we provide our drivers with opportunities and exposure to international competitions. In the meantime, we should have suitable classes to attract foreign competitors to race on our tracks at events, which would also help our own competitors to develop,” Major Jayawardena explained. 


If the course, Jayawardena, Premadasa and the SLAS Executive Committee have taken, fall in place, and its dividends begin to deliver, Motorsports in Sri Lanka could possibly reach another level. 


Currently, the SLAS is sans its own office premises and are operating from various locations of SLAS officials. 


The present set of SLAS officials will run the office for the next 4 years and surely, the intention is to have its own racing track, where conducting races will be just one of the responsibilities, besides training youngsters, and promoting Formula Car racing and hosting international events.

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