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

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#21
Tom Hampton

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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~

I can't speak to SCCA, but NASA usually doesn't charge at the gate (I think Hallet did, but that was unusual).  NASA Tx always has an awesome dinner and beer on tap Saturday night. 

 

Some tracks open the racing surface up for walking/biking/golf-carts after it goes cold.  Its fun to take a group (family, friends, etc) out and talk about driving on the track: show them line, where you blew the diff, crashed or whatever. 


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#22
Cnj

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I can't speak to other regions, but we have a huge DE crowd in Texas. On any particular weekend I could choose to drive in at least one, but usually two DE's within hours of my home. In fact most organizations battle to find track time (and flaggers) even though we have 5-6 viable tracks in Texas. Many/most of these organizations turn people away weeks before the events.

Between the Marques such as Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Lotus, etc and others such as Drivers Edge, etc, not to mention Lemons, Chump, etc, we have hundreds of people track driving in Texas most weekends independent of SCCA and NASA. These groups are successful largely because they are the easy button. Easy to sign up, easy to tech, easy to get on track and great sense of companionship and fun.

I am quite involved in the PCA group and I can comfortably say that not only have numbers grown in recent years, but the cost of cars has grown dramatically. When people are tracking $160k cars and burning $3k tires I don't think SM is a cost problem. I was at a COTA DE event recently (not PCA) and was shocked to see dozens of DE cars brought to the track in transporters along with mechanics and catering. Really? Incidentally many of the drivers were reasonably young. So it's not money that's keeping people from racing. And it's not that young people don't like cars. Or speed.

So I don't buy that we don't have a pool of potential racers. Clearly we just are not attractive to them (yet). Too invisible (people don't know about us whether it's SCCA or NASA)? Too aloof (we're "special" because we're racers)? Too hard to access (the path to racing is not clear to them)? Too scary (they think DE's are safer than racing)? Too something.

We need to create easy buttons. Of course this is easy for me to say and it's not a fresh idea - but the difficulty of entry to the sport continues to be an impediment to growth.

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#23
mdavis

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This is preaching to the choir since anyone who reads this is already on board but I do have to agree with the multiple comments about being "too hard to access" i.e. path to racing not being clear.

 

At Kansas Speedway there seemed to be an exceptional amount of casual spectators who showed up despite the low car count (likely due to the venue).  I was asked on multiple occasions by strangers about how I got into racing.  They seemed confused when I said I hadn't grown up racing go karts or didn't have to get a "sponsor" before I got behind the wheel. 

 

As a disclaimer: the path to racing was perfectly clear to me having grown up around SCCA.  I can understand why it would be hard for those without that type of experience.


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#24
Johnny D

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Should a brochure of the club and/or this guys be handed out at the gate to the newbies ?

http://www.goaheadtakethewheel.com/

J~


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#25
Todd Green

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In our region NASA holds 8 race weekends (plus one 3 hour and one 6 hour enduro).  If you prepay, a 3 day weekend is $315 and that includes the 3 hour enduro.  (The 6 hour is WERC and has an additional cost.)  Free dinner and beers on Sat. I don't think you can get a much better value than that.  Racers' sessions are never shortened for HPDE.  Generally the group that caused the issue is the one that has their session(s) shortened.  Our races are the first session after lunch and in general lunch will be cut short to get back on schedule if need be.  We used to do two races a day, but most of the locals preferred having an additional practice, so we switched to one.

 

The SCCA used to have two races in our region, then it was cut back to one, and now none.  It's a no brainer which org you'll run with.  (Though we do have a very active SCCA Solo program in our region and often they are running in the paddock on NASA race weekends.)

 

WRT getting new blood.  I'm not so sure that your biological age matters so much as your "racing age".  I see new guys come in who are 15 to ~60.  However what seems to be more consistent is that racers disappear after 3-5 years for whatever reason independent of their age.  Those of us who've been doing this for decades are in the vast minority.  The usual business mantra is that it is harder to attract a new customer than to retain one, but I'm not convinced that is the truth for racing.  The sport is ridiculously expensive (compared to other entertainment options), crushes people's egos, and turns out not to be what they expected.  Retaining people is really, really hard. So as SM director for our region, I've stopped focusing on licensed racers who stopped coming out, and just try to recruit new people and make sure that those who are coming out are having a good time.


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#26
Jamz14

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Easy buttons and what nots are great and needed once the interest is there. But nothing happens without energy put into it. Even half ass energy will yield more results than tilling a nice field and expecting the seeds to jump into the furrows.

 

You want more participation you will have to go out and get it. Who here cares about new young drivers coming into the sport enough to put forth the energy to make it happen? Like parity this is an old conversation, though without quite the interest that the parity debate has. But what I see is a bunch of adults that say they enjoy the young drivers but they demonstrate something else entirely. We don't make them feel welcome, we belittle them and express our fear of driving with them. We resent how fast they are and can't imagine them beating us without it being due to dads check book or a creative motor builder.

 

In short.......if we really wanted them here, they would be here. So how bad do you want it?


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#27
Ron Alan

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Easy buttons and what nots are great and needed once the interest is there. But nothing happens without energy put into it. Even half ass energy will yield more results than tilling a nice field and expecting the seeds to jump into the furrows.

 

 

How many youth...or millennials for that matter would understand this sentence??  :pessimist:


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Ron

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#28
Jamz14

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How many youth...or millennials for that matter would understand this sentence??  :pessimist:

LOL, true.


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#29
Ron Alan

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You want more participation you will have to go out and get it. Who here cares about new young drivers coming into the sport enough to put forth the energy to make it happen? Like parity this is an old conversation, though without quite the interest that the parity debate has. But what I see is a bunch of adults that say they enjoy the young drivers but they demonstrate something else entirely. We don't make them feel welcome, we belittle them and express our fear of driving with them. We resent how fast they are and can't imagine them beating us without it being due to dads check book or a creative motor builder.

 

In short.......if we really wanted them here, they would be here. So how bad do you want it?

I will agree and disagree at the same time. Those like you and I James who love to see the kids excel and mature in front of our eyes are at one end of the spectrum. There are much fewer at the other end. But who's in the middle and how they feel often depends on the young driver and his/her support group. My tips!

 

Never good if a young driver/family isolate themselves.

Never good if a young driver makes poor decisions and drives over his head early on.

Never good if a young driver when caught up in incidents that are his fault(or a larger percentage)does not own his share of the responsibility. For that matter when its not his fault...always seek out the other driver.

Worse yet when a father(usually)does not let a young driver speak for himself and on his own(exceptions but this earns a lot of respect form adults). These kids are in a big boy sport and they need to learn how to manage.

Never good if a young driver cant win or lose with a smile and grace(and NO EXCUSES). There are enough adult jackasses out there...no one wants to deal with a young driver who is!

 

Lastly...the most disgusting thing that penetrates our hobby is the jealousy factor from some. We live in a society where we are bombarded with "lifestyles of the rich and famous". Its one thing if a young driver/support group flaunts or walks around with some sense of entitlement...if so shame on them. But when others hold some sort of resentment or grudge...against a young driver who by for no reason other than simple being a product of a successful family...I feel sad for how miserable you must be. Our youth deserve to have role models that aren't attached to $$$

 

BTW...all this can be said about the 35yr old rookie as well :)

 

We should all be opening up with open arms to those next generations in hopes they will follow our lead. As much as narcissism has permeated our society and it would seem it is all about "me me" I for one am doing my best to fight this. 


Ron

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#30
Walter Vetter

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we belittle them and express our fear of driving with them. We resent how fast they are and can't imagine them beating us without it being due to dads check book or a creative motor builder

 

"We" do all that???

 

I had no idea.


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#31
Jamz14

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Ron,

 

I agree. However these are issues in caring for the sprouts after they have grown in the field. Without the metaphors; these are issues of retention. But how do we get new recruits? In my opinion that has to be a very active and conscious effort to want to do so. By nature racing is an isolationist sport filled with secrecy and fortress walls. It is also incredibly time consuming. With these characteristics, growth programs will more than likely come from those not participating in the class from a drivers perspective. How can someone put forth the resources to run their own program let alone spend resources on growing their competition? For me it is the pure enjoyment of seeing a young new driver "getting it" for the first time. I certainly have an ego though and I am just as motivated to beat them as the next guys. Maybe the key for me is that I have zero problem with my targets and benchmarks being a kid that doesn't hold a drivers license.

 

My daily driver is a lotus elise. Driving around; some people turn their heads to look at the car as it drives by. Some don't even give it another look and have no interest in the beautiful lines. The best is when a very young kid ( 4-5 years old ) is walking while holding his or hers mothers hand, and as they walk by I see that kids eyes glued to the car, head turning around as they walk past unable to stop looking at it. Fascinated by the car without knowing or caring why. Those are the ones that have the bug and don't even know it yet. Those are the ones that will go through heaven and hell to drive. That will last and be retained. How to reach those kids????!!!!!


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#32
Johnny D

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Want some recruits/recruiters, how about this? Maybe it's been done before.

http://www.directv.c...rralProgram.jsp

J~


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#33
Jamz14

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Yeah Walter, we do. Maybe not consciously but we exude it. And that is the problem: "I had no idea".

 

Not saying that this is an intentional thing. But as adults it is extremely hard to know or remember how the world looks from the perspective of the young.How our words with good intentions are received


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#34
Jamz14

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Maybe Johnny. But at the end of the day this conversation will probably be about as useful as a parity debate. If you are motivated to recruit and work with young drivers; you are. If not, then there is nothing I am going to say to change that. Time for me to now put my money where my mouth is and continue my plans for my racing program and my recruitment program.


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#35
Johnny D

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I think as stated it needs to be easier and I don't know if that's going to change, which is big IMO.

 

I don't think the kids are as sensitive as you say, their not in a plastic bubble with internet now and exposed to a lot at an earlier age.

If little Johnny's crying in the corner then I guess I'm wrong.

 

Recruit should have an age but teen challenge is good as well.

 

Different regions are going to have different issues.

$100 tech for the Corvette Museum, IDK,

 

If this isn't being read and learned from and discussed at meeting, then the region deserves to disappear.

Somebody else will pick it up.

 

Really these things need to be asked all the time to keep on top of things and fresh, which I hope they have but seems some have dropped the ball in places.

 

I'm going to lunch

J~


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#36
Walter Vetter

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I'm just going to throw this out there. The number one priority of a young person is to excel at their education. As fun as racing is, it's a hobby and a major distraction to academic pursuits. Young men and women need a career before they need a race car. No one, and I mean no one, is making a professional driving career from club racing.


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#37
MPR22

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I'm just going to throw this out there. The number one priority of a young person is to excel at their education. As fun as racing is, it's a hobby and a major distraction to academic pursuits. Young men and women need a career before they need a race car. No one, and I mean no one, is making a professional driving career from club racing.

I agree with the first part, the last sentence, not so much.  


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#38
Johnny D

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But you see little league and soccer signs up when the seasons starting.

 

Do you see signs for racing?

 

How many tracks have signs out front posting what the next event is? (IDK, just asking)

 

I lived in Novato, CA for a few years and didn't know I was 10min from Sears point when I was in my 20's.

 

Does every track have a safety driving clinic so the locals even know there's a track around?

 

This is just one issue of course.

J~


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#39
Jamz14

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The #1 priority for the PARENTS of a youth is education. Not necessarily the priority of the student. You don't make a career from club racing. You make a career, just like any sport, by participating and cutting your teeth in amateur series. Then when the skills are in place that were built in club racing, you move on to professional series and have a career.

 

Racing needs to figure out how to engage the kids so that the kids will work over their parents to take them to the track. Parents capitulate to the dreams and desires of their kids.......as they should. Anything else is forcing the issue down their throats and you will never have a career in racing if it is a forced career. Use the enthusiasm of kids that like racing to overcome the natural resistance to many and most parents. Few are the parents that actively want and seek out a racing career for their kids.Most examples would be limited to the off spring of existing racers. You want to grow that base? Then you have to reach kids and play on the fact that education is NOT their priority. But speaking of education, most of the student racers I know are also excellent students.


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#40
Jamz14

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I like Johnny's idea and I should give it a try just to see what the response might be; put up a sign at the local school soliciting new race car drivers. Granted the requirements might whittle that down to none able to participate. But I bet the response might be high and if at the right school, it just might yield a new driver. It would be fun to see either way what the reaction would be.


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