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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly in SCCA and NASA

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#1
Johnny D

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https://www.youtube....h?v=5PgAKzmWmuk

 

I know they'd love to hear from you. :D

Go ahead make their day.

J~


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#2
Johnny D

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we used to have races in Memphis that would get 10-16 Sm, 17-25 at Gateway.. 25 plus at Hallett every race. Now we don't even have any races in Memphis, Gateway is 2-5 cars if that and hallett still our best race but nothing near what it was. Total attendance is down.. Yet, when our division is basically all but dead, we appoint our area director as president of the club? It is bad enough we stayed within the old school SCCA for this position to move the club forward. But I have no logical explanation as to why would choose the person who headed the weakest and failing division within our club?

The club ABSOLUTELY needs some new direction and new ideas.. When I am still below the "average age:" at 48, we have an issue. We need to generate new members and keep them. We lose as many members as we gain yearly. Collins had some numbers and they were STAGGERING as to how many we lose yearly.
If regional racing falls, it is the first block, majors and racing in general will be next. For the club and club racing to be successful we MUST have a healthy regional program.


I think there are a lot of moving parts that contribute to car counts from the "peak". Economy, natural rise and fall in popularity, my personal favorite the" Majors". It would be best if we looked at the SRF data over the same time period to see if there are correlations. Is it region specific, is it Regional/Major specific, is it competition from competing organizations (in Texas NASA is kicking SCCA's A$$, it was not so when I started racing in 2010.


Jim is right on with this. The SCCA runs off the younger people before they can experience the best the SCCA has to offer. The Blue Hairs make it very unwelcome from a teenage standpoint. A very talented young driver was just telling me how he thinks he may change to racing NASA because it seemed a better fit. This isn't like me and the other nuts who will race anywhere anytime, with any organization. This is the "customer" that pays the bills. Without many of these younger people joining and staying the organization may be in trouble.


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We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+

#3
Johnny D

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Jim is dead on. The secret to car counts is attracting younger drivers to repopulate the aging racers that are exiting. But what would appeal to young drivers? Not sure, but I think I can guess a few things that turn them off.

1. Bureaucracy - Racing is rule intimidating by nature. Adding unnecessarily to that wont help.
2. Cost - Young people with money is an oxymoron. Young people with parents that have money is not.
3. Clunky use of technology and computer systems - Young people crave information. Racing is again fundamentally in opposition for information sharing. Young people are also more independent than when I was young. They expect that the information world is there for when they are ready to receive and integrate information. Take a look at the recent topics of discussion here. I have almost written a new post titled "I am bored" . Though constant discussions of parity might be interesting to a few, younger people are not as engaged by those conversation ( with the exception of Cresci :) ) . Young people expect to be able to learn how to become an expert on a subject by researching it on the internet in real time. Racing does not lend itself to sharing with others the secret to success. How many setup threads do you see? Race craft threads? Pro motor prepping? Data acquisition, tire inflation and temperature classes? Our conversations tend to revolve around parity and whos fault it was for an accident. How long does it take to post race results and points totals? A young person expects it to be almost real time, not a couple of days before the next event if you are lucky. What other ways have the organizations used social media to draw in young drivers? Motorsports registration and NASA's website registration are wonderful exceptions to this. If I really wanted to engage a younger crowd through the use of technology, I'd be sitting down with Brian Ghirdanelli to discuss it. He is tech savvy and young enough to understand the mystical mind of the youthful for those of us that have forgotten.
4. A lack of fun will drive off all but the extreme gear head.

Anyway, my two cents. I am not just casting stones. I am currently building a car specifically for young American drivers. I am trying to figure out how to engage youth and trying to figure out the economics of providing opportunities in a resource demanding sport like motorsports to a demographic without money. Not easy. But as with winning, you must first participate before you can expect to win.


I raced my first NASA event this passed weekend at Sebring. 5 Races in one day and I am registered for the Championship Race at VIR. Everything took, including tech, 30 min. They got it figured out. Think of the cost saving to SCCA using technology, but maybe all the workers like to come to a SCCA weekend.


I will say that Sidney has the SW stuff in SCCA better than anywhere else I have raced. Nola was the best SCCA registration/tech I have seen.


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#4
Johnny D

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On a Saturday with NASA, assuming that you already have your annual, you will have driven the first practice session and qualifying before you are required to see an official ( drivers meeting is the first mandatory interaction if registered on-line). At least this is the way it is with Socal. I'd bet it is similar across the country.


Same in texas:

Saturday: practice, qual, <SM drivers meeting>, race1 (25 min), race2 (25 min)
Sunday: practice, qual, race3 (50min)


On majors/regionals participation (or whatever names you give them):

1. In the SW pretty much most who race in the "majors" in their area also race in "regionals" in their area so this idea that there are separate groups (thus allowing lower levels of prep for "regionals") is largely not relevant here. If you want to be at the front in any race you had better bring game.
2. SCCA SM participation is dropping slowly, but not with terrible speed. SCCA is clearly getting its butt kicked by NASA in the last 2-3 years in the SW. I race NASA infrequently, but when I do, it's the user friendly choice. If it were not for (a) the pain of having 2 types of tires (b ) my belief that the slightly better drivers still go to SCCA - and I obviously like getting my butt kicked, I would swap to NASA. I may swap anyway.

On technology (where do I start?):

1. Registration is better than it used to be, but not by much. With the exception of when Sidney is running it (what is she doing?) it's slow as molasses. Really nice people, but slooooow. This drives me nuts because it's not hard to make it better. Paper files should not exist. Tablets are cheap and simple user friendly wi-if networks easy to set up if the infrastructure does not exist.
2. Tech/rules are way behind the times. The idea that one needs to memorize the GCR and follow monthly updates in a linear fashion would be laughed out of the tech industry. In a world with context rich, intelligent, visually intensive databases, the best we are able to do in club racing is use searchable written PDF's. No wonder there is confusion about rules. Sigh.
3. Engagement is low. Video streaming via cell (or wi-fi if a DAS system is present) has been available for a couple of years to post real time in car video and data to the web. However as I understand it, this is not legal (racing advantage if a coach is providing real time feedback). We need to think past this to the broader picture of viewer interest beyond purely the drivers. Place a large video monitor with real time race results on pit wall (or anywhere you can get race support team members to congregate) and encourage some fun competitive trash talk. Tie in a wireless camera or two. Put up a Twitter wall (might need some moderating software to keep it clean....)
4. Reporting is slow. We all watch race monitor (or similar) to figure out where we are in quali and then wait 30-60 minutes for the official results to post in paper form. This is nuts. The system should be one and the same with officials able to put out their final within minutes. The lag is not race officials making their decision, it's getting that decision down to the results room, get it printed and get in stacked nicely in a paper box. Talk about volunteer intensive. I have waited often when the printer ran out of paper, would not print or the person who knew how to make it work was at lunch. Aargh.
5. Communication should be digital. If I had to write a protest or defend against one at my next race I would be lost. This should be available via a web portal with intelligent (context sensitive) guidance and all the rules/procedures. Instead it feels like a coming of age gauntlet which is totally biased to those who know the system. If the race officials need to send out a message to all or some participants they should be able to do so digitally via at least texts. Software for this has been around for years. Instead messages are spread in mysterious fashion with apocryphal results.
6. Contract to get better (or at least healthier) food options at the track. I'm not at the track to save money - I don't mind spending good money to get a decent meal. Yeah, this is not technical, but I just wanted it in.

Ok. I'm off my soap box. I really do greatly appreciate the tremendous efforts of the volunteers in the SCCA and I don't mean to harry them at all, I simply hope to see us move into the future with greater participation.

CNJ


Our region (NASA) is similar, but you have to see an official first thing of the weekend to get a wristband and sticker for your windshield so that pit out knows you should be let out on track (and the wristband gets you in the gate). How are you guys doing that?


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#5
ChrisA

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Young people today are less motivated to drive and get their first cars than previous generations. I'm not sure what all the reasons are, but it seems the economy, social media and to some extent environmental concerns are deterring factors. We know how a slow economy can impact people spending, but we fail to recognize that this younger gen. doesn't need the car to get out and socialize like we did. Large portions of their social needs can often be filled via the computer or phone. This downward trend of new or delayed drivers is even impacting state revenues; fewer cars being tiled and drivers licensed. We need to ensure those that are drawn to motorsports have the opportunities to get involved and are challenged once involved. Some SCCA regions don't have PDXs or even offer Driver Schools to get their Comp Lic. Or they only offer a couple in the region in late Winter/early Spring. NASA seems to do a much better job in that regard. You can't get new people involved, young or old, if they don't have the opportunities.


Chris

 

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#6
FTodaro

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Track night in America is one of the ways SCCA is trying to set the hook with new younger members. If you have one of these in your area you can participate and invite people to go.

 

One of the strongest assets we have is us to network, invite people in. invite them to the track and expose them to what we do. Rather than limit our crew to 3 people or have tracks trying to charge spectators fees we should demand all that be lifted and open the doors.

 

Maybe have spectator day at the track and have some kind of a show and tell for people who show up and buy them lunch. It takes effort.


Frank
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Chairman, SCCA Great Lakes Divisional Series Committee.

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#7
Tom Hampton

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 Some SCCA regions don't have PDXs or even offer Driver Schools to get their Comp Lic. Or they only offer a couple in the region in late Winter/early Spring. NASA seems to do a much better job in that regard. You can't get new people involved, young or old, if they don't have the opportunities.

Ding, ding, ding.  And THAT is exactly why I went the NASA route.  And the tire difference is what will keep me out of SCCA, now. 


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#8
Johnny D

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Is it Jr or is it Daddy flipping the bill?

Maybe make the whole father/mom son/daughter (didn't want to leave out anybody) more attractive.

Offer Danny to take pictures of them out in the woods.  :rotfl:  ( <--only this part not serious)

J~


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#9
Walter Vetter

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I ran NASA events for six or seven years. Two race groups and too many shortened races to stay on schedule for the HPDE groups is why I left.

Chris A is dead on. Generalizing, today's yutes aren't into cars. Also, we live in an increasingly risk-adverse society. Kids are taught to not take risks. "Hey kids try motorsports! It's big fun and you can get seriously injured or killed!"

Hoping Johnny finds work.
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#10
Tom Hampton

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I ran NASA events for six or seven years. Two race groups and too many shortened races to stay on schedule for the HPDE groups is why I left.

Chris A is dead on. Generalizing, today's yutes aren't into cars. Also, we live in an increasingly risk-adverse society. Kids are taught to not take risks. "Hey kids try motorsports! It's big fun and you can get seriously injured or killed!"

Hoping Johnny finds work.

Hmmm....I'm sure it varies from region to region...and maybe from year to year.  But, we generally have 6 run groups: 4 race groups, HPDE3/4, and TT.  Sometimes there is an HPDE1/2...but, not always. 

 

I haven't had an SM race shortened this year in NASA Texas <period>. 

 

$350 for 3 races (2-25m, 1-50m) and 2-ish total hours track time.  I always do the test-n-tune which is $150-ish for 6-7 30 minute sessions.  So, $500 for about 5 hours total over the 3 day weekend.  Seems like decent value to me in our region. 

 

I've heard that NASA is very region dependent.  Dunno the truth.


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#11
Parity

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$350 for 3 races (2-25m, 1-50m) and 2-ish total hours track time.  I always do the test-n-tune which is $150-ish for 6-7 30 minute sessions.  So, $500 for about 5 hours total over the 3 day weekend.  Seems like decent value to me in our region. 

 

I've heard that NASA is very region dependent.  Dunno the truth.

 

NASA NE is 695.00 for the three day deal. We have several young car guys at work and one of them is just starting to do track days. I posed the question to them about hurdles to participation. Main reason given was cost of registration. What if the clubs offered a deal to first time members that for their first year of membership registration would be discounted 50%?  


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#12
Johnny D

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We have some "teams" running in SM.

Works with people on a budget/busy, etc.

Have to work one day.

Could afford half that amount.

Wanted to the run the whole season but had issues making it for whatever.

 

J~


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We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+

#13
Johnny D

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Sound familiar?
http://www.usatoday....ssues/29525283/

J~


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#14
Bad Rusty

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Mazda raceway laguna seca will be an awesome race one day soon! Maybe a spec miata can be the pace car??
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#15
Walter Vetter

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What if the clubs offered a deal to first time members that for their first year of membership registration would be discounted 50%

 

I've had satellite TV for 20 years. Every week I get offers in the mail for $29.95/month for the first year. I call them and ask, "can I get that deal?"

 

"No sir, that's only for first time customers."

 

So the people that sign-up for events year after year, the core group that keeps things afloat, where's their discount?


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#16
Walter Vetter

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I'm sure it varies from region to region

 

NASA regions are franchisees which can be good, bad and ugly. (see what I did there?) <question mark>


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#17
Parity

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I've had satellite TV for 20 years. Every week I get offers in the mail for $29.95/month for the first year. I call them and ask, "can I get that deal?"

 

"No sir, that's only for first time customers."

 

So the people that sign-up for events year after year, the core group that keeps things afloat, where's their discount?

 

That's a pretty common marketing approach borrowed from drug dealers: Get 'em hooked then start charging. 


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#18
Diller

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That's a pretty common marketing approach borrowed from drug dealers: Get 'em hooked then start charging. 

 

Yep, one hit of the go-fast-crack-pipe and it's all over. Think of the children...

 

 

To be honest I think a lot of the issue with the "kids" not getting into motorsports is the lack of information on HOW to get involved and what all is available. Mazda newsletters are filled with ways to get into the sport but that newsletter is mostly going to people who are already in the sport. When I tell friends about how easy it is to go to a NASA HPDE, they can hardly believe it.

 

In my area, the "Cars and Coffee" or "Caffeine and Octane" Saturday morning car shows are HUGE. Setting up a display of actual club race cars with some information would go a long way. It is not enough to bate people to come to the track, the track/racers/cars need to go to where the people are.


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#19
Johnny D

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Walter, if you switch service for a few months, you get that deal when you come back.

 

On another note...

On tech...

Some of our local NASA race car shops are certified (NASA) so they fill out the sheet at the shop with our cars and I bring the signed sheet and logbook over to tech.

The Tech guy checks a few things and I get a sticker.

 

I know SCCA has mobile techs. Get a few guys over for beers and bring your car, he/she comes and signs them all off.

 

This thread is to show what works well and what people like and then there's what's not really working that well and a PITA.

J~


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#20
Johnny D

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Track night in America is one of the ways SCCA is trying to set the hook with new younger members. If you have one of these in your area you can participate and invite people to go.
 
One of the strongest assets we have is us to network, invite people in. invite them to the track and expose them to what we do. Rather than limit our crew to 3 people or have tracks trying to charge spectators fees we should demand all that be lifted and open the doors.
 
Maybe have spectator day at the track and have some kind of a show and tell for people who show up and buy them lunch. It takes effort.


For us SCCA doesn't charge at the gate, NASA is $10. But each has a nice dinner with Adult beverages.
It was explained to me, even for the $10, how are you going to get an infield/pit pass and dinner with drinks for $10.

You guys had at Mid-O fresh brews on tap, a nice dinner with a cookie, don't forget the good people.
All well worth the cover charge in my book, but YMMV.
J~


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We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+




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