British Club-Level Driver Banned for Life From Racing After Threatening Official

At Brands Hatch, an Audi A3 racer threatened to kill a race official as he pointed a steel chair at him.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Matt Buck

How angry have you ever gotten playing a sport with nothing on the line? Would you furiously swear at an opponent in front of their child? Would you threaten to kill an official while pointing a weapon at them? A club racer in the United Kingdom did exactly that and got banned for life from racing in Britain, Europe and the rest of the world.

Autosport reports Motorsport UK’s National Court banned Bernard Baxter after a Classic and Modern Motorsport Club Southern Super Saloons and Tin Tops race at Brands Hatch in November. Baxter didn’t appear or have a lawyer present at the hearing that determined his fate in motorsport, effectively choosing to be tried in absentia. Though considering the details of the altercations that took place, I wouldn’t have shown up in court either.

The official account published by British motorsport’s highest governing body is damning. The incident was sparked by mechanical issues that Bernard Baxter was having with his Audi A3 during a race. The A3’s engine was cutting as it went around the track. Another driver confronted Baxter afterward, and Baxter, in front of his 10-year-old daughter, began swearing back at him. Eyewitnesses said that Baxter’s daughter was visibly upset by her father’s actions.

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This incident was then investigated by Andy Stevens, the clerk of the course. Stevens invited Baxter into a meeting room at the track to hear his side of how the altercation took place. Stevens said that Baxter was agitated when he entered the room, and it quickly escalated to “stratospheric rage.” The court report’s description of what happened next is startling. The report states:

“Mr. Stevens has described his concern at the escalating seriousness of Mr. Baxter’s behavior which culminated in Mr. Baxter picking up a substantial metal-framed chair, pointing the legs close to Mr. Stevens chest in a threatening manner, and threatening to kill him, before throwing the chair to the ground with such force as to bend one of the heavy metal legs. We have seen a photograph of the damage to the chair and are satisfied that substantial force must have been used.”

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Yes, Baxter threatened to kill the clerk of the course with a steel chair as if he were a professional wrestler. The court decided, “Accordingly, Mr. Baxter is permanently forbidden from taking part in any competition whatsoever, nationally, and internationally.” He was also fined £1,000 ($1,200) and has the right to appeal his lifetime ban. The driver who initially confronted Baxter was disqualified from the event and given six points on his racing license. This kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere, especially in a place where cars are raced for fun.