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SCCA Names Brand Builder, Competitor New President/CEO

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#61
dstevens

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Before I had to stop racing I contacted NASA about getting grandfathered in after I'd missed the SCCA deadline.  I told them what I'd done, they told me to let them know which DE/TT date I would attend, bring my car and gear and they'd watch me and see it it was OK.  That had to be 4-5 years ago.  The Skippy route was pretty expensive, a few grand.  I didn't know they filed Chapter 11.  Bummer.  The cost of the SCCA school at Buttonwillow was very reasonable and a pretty good deal in terms of track time.  I would have done it just for that had there been one available.  The school is more about availability than cost.   At that point I'd had about 10 years of shifter kart road race and a couple of seasons local Nascar so I felt OK on a waiver but if someone has never raced they've got to get some seat time before they jump in.  Were I to start at this point I'd go do some DE/TT and a club school just to get back into the swing of things.



#62
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Maybe the SCCA might gain if they allowed veteran Kart drivers the short cut (wheel route of know way around GCR and on track at test day) and some of us provide a car for them to wet their tongue. I'd be game for that provided they signed a damage contract. I mention Kart drivers because to become a veteran Karter they likely have raced side by side with respect. 


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#63
dstevens

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Road racing you race on those same tracks, Portland, Mid Ohio, Road America, many of the rest.  When we were running Portland at the time we were faster than the Spec Miatas.  Big packs, 110 mph plus, no problem. At about 2" off the ground.



#64
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Haven't heard of any Kart racing on the Road America track since they built the Brigs and Stratton Kart track inside the Carousel. In 91 I was one of the techs for Karts during Badger Kart Club races on THE Road America track. At the time they still had Armco, no thank you after that weekend because Armco and Karts don't mix well. 


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#65
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I have okayed a competition license (SCCA) based on karting experience coupled with on-track observation and a GCR/Flag test.


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#66
dstevens

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They stopped running karts on the big track at RA 4-5 years ago AFAIK.  There was at least one fatality and a couple of serious injuries in the years prior.  Last race there I know of was in 2012 or so.  We were there in the early 2000s.   There used to be a couple of big WKA races a year.  Dart still runs at Mid Ohio.  We also ran Sears Point, Thunderhill, the roval at Fontana, the "outside" road course at LVMS, at one time they ran Superkarts at Laguna.  There were several others as well.



#67
Johnny D

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INTERVIEW: SCCA's new President, Mike Cobb
Wednesday, 05 July 2017

 

On June 1, Mike Cobb stepped into SCCA's headquarters in Topeka, Kan., as the Club's new President and CEO – three business days later, I'm chatting with the person whose job is to lead this 67,000-member-strong motorsports organization into the future. But I wasn't so much interested in what the official Club announcement about his hiring described; rather, I wanted to meet the person. Who is Mike Cobb?

 

"I'm a hybrid of car guy, competitor, and business leader," Cobb says with a contagiously enthusiastic tone. "From a car guy perspective, the seed was sown early through my dad who, in the metropolis of Amarillo, Texas, autocrossed a Datsun 1600, Datsun 2000, and MGB GT, and my brother had an Austin-Healey Sprite. Those venues are where I saw my first Lotus Super 7, my first Morris Mini, my first Spitfire, and my first Tiger. Those weekend memories with my dad and brother are where the passion was sown."

 

That passion took Cobb down many roads as a kid, including Soap Box Derby competitions, one of which he won.

 

"Fast forward to around 2007 where I'd attended everything from Formula 1 to IndyCar races to the SCCA Runoffs, NASCAR, Can-Am, AMA, NHRA – all as a spectator, and many of those with my brother and family members. At that time, I decided I wanted to rejoin the ranks of the SCCA."

 

Living in Dallas, Cobb contacted the Texas Region and found an upcoming Solo event. "I'll never forget my first event – it was a rain-soaked Sunday morning at Texas Motor Speedway on the inside course," he says. "My novice coach for the day was the late, great Tommy Saunders.

 

"I was driving my Mazdaspeed Protege, it was raining, and I was scared to death. Of course, I did what all novices do on their first time out – I spun into the infield. People were running and waving their arms at me. I didn't know if they were cursing at me or telling me to stay or go, so I got back on course, finished my lap, and went to hide my shame. Mr. Saunders found me after he completed his run and said that next time I spin into the infield when it's wet, just stay there. I think that was Tommy's kind suggestion that maybe B Mods and the mud I'd tracked onto the course don't mix," he laughs.

 

That damp day, Cobb explains, meaningful relationships were born. "I was so fortunate to come back into a Region that had people like Tommy, Kurt Janish, Matt Lucas, Chris Robbins, Kenny Baker, Jen and Brad Maxcy – a ton of good folks. Not only are they excellent leaders and mentors for the motorsports community though the SCCA, but they're also great counselors, and many became great friends."

 

That's Mike Cobb the car guy – what about Mike Cobb the businessman?

 

"I've been very fortunate to have a lot of varied business experiences, many with Fortune 100 brands like Pepsi, Frito-Lay, KFC, and Pizza Hut, working on both the agency side and client side," he says. "Supporting and growing those brands gave me a lot of experience and a lot of exposure on how to market and position great brands, as well as how to create strong, vibrant experiences from a consumer brand experience perspective. Most recently at Gold's Gym, I was Chief Marketing Officer; our primary focus was building programs that drove attraction and engagement for a membership of around three million. Gold's won back-to-back J.D. Power customer satisfaction awards for the last two years – that was the first time the brand had ever achieved that."

 

Combining his love for motorsports and his business expertise at the SCCA seems natural, but how did this come about? "I wasn't looking for a job," he laughs, "I had a couple buddies who told me this job was available. As I read through the requirements, competencies, and the attributes the SCCA was looking for in a leader, in all humility, I thought I was pretty prepared through my experiences to address many of those things.

 

"The next stop was with my wife," he admits. "I gave her the job description. I gave her a few minutes, then came back and asked her what she thought. She said, 'I think that sounds like you.' It's the answer I wanted to hear."

 

Now, sitting in the office labeled "SCCA President and CEO," Cobb sees there's a lot of work ahead – and he readily admits he doesn't have any immediate answers when it comes to the Club's direction. "My primary directive is to work with the Board and the executive staff to forward the mission of the organization," he says, noting to accomplish that, "You have to take the pulse of the collective body. I've always found it better to do active listening when diving into an engagement, getting as many perspectives as possible so you can get a greater number of solutions to solve with.

 

"I'm very service oriented and customer focused. To me, this job is all about not only providing leadership, but also providing support and service to the Regions and the membership that is the SCCA. In many of my conversations with the Region teams, I'm asking how we can better support them."

 

All of this, Cobb says, involves travel. "I'm going to be wherever I need to be across North America to find those perspectives that will, ultimately, help build a foundation we can build on. My focus right now is learning, digesting, and understanding before I reset any framework."

 

Before returning to work, we chatted about the previous weekend's Mineral Wells ProSolo – an event Cobb competed in – and an observation he made that struck a cord. "It was pouring rain, and the conditions were abysmal," he says. "But we had 200 entrants, everyone was out there, the event was running without a hitch, and the volunteers weren't running away. What struck me was the level of passion and commitment everyone there has to the sport. For us, this is what we define as fun."

 

Then came a word of wisdom, with a motorsports spin – one that I really enjoyed: "At the end of the day, it isn't one of the cylinders firing that makes us powerful," Cobb says, "it's all of those cylinders firing in unison that is really going to make this engine hum."


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#68
Danny Steyn

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Good first read, encouraging, but now the real work begins. Lets all get behind Cobb and see if we can rejuvenate this club, he sure needs all our help.


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#69
luvin_the_rings

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I think there is just the one site, https://www.scca.com/ The other link does not work (at least not on my PC). I recall being able to find my designated region on the site and change to my preferred region, etc. But, I do think the site could use some ease of use design work.

 

 

 

I don't want a full DE program going on within a race weekend, as there is no room to schedule more, unless you start cutting races. :nonono:   That's one reason why I choose the SCCA over NASA. You might be able wiggle in a single Advanced DE group and garner awareness that way, so that's something to consider...

 

 

Chris, respectfully you can't have it both ways.  Either you bring in new drivers every weekend, or your club dwindles away and registrations drop due to lack of new members.  Two Super Schools for all of the West Coast is shameful, and I'm not surprised that we're talking about hiring a compliance chief to deal with on track incidents.  I guess an e-mailed Flag Test and a few laps around an Auto X circuit doesn't cut it for wheel to wheel training.  Huh, imagine that.  

 

Hopefully the fact that your entry fees would decrease proportionately with your decreased racing time offers some redemption. Nobody likes getting their racing time cut, but having the club continue shafting the new racers is worse.  

 

-Z



#70
luvin_the_rings

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I have okayed a competition license (SCCA) based on karting experience coupled with on-track observation and a GCR/Flag test.

 

 

I have a real problem with this.  Sure the kids coming form karts have raced side by side before.  But that says nothing to how respectfully they do so.  Neither does their behavior for a few laps while your observing them on an AutoX course.  Some of the most disrespectful driving that has endangered our season thus far has come from the Teen Miata Challenge kids who came from karting.  Dangerous low-percentage moves is common place when these teens are trying to pass the mid field drivers on an inverted start or after a mistake from the "experienced teen." 

 

To me Its so hilarious that we are OK with giving these karting guys licences right off the bat, allowing them to look at the GCR while they fill out the test e-mailed to them.  Yet we're talking about a contact steward and how the class has too much damage and contact.  We are so soft on the rules when licencing new competition level drivers, yet so hard on the rules of contact.  

 

Here's a thought, if there was mandatory SCCA schooling for all competition licence drivers applicants, the contact when those drivers get into the wheel-to-wheel scenarios will be decreased. Unless you raced wheel to wheel last season in SCCA or NASA, you go through school and you pass before you race.  

 

-Z



#71
Peter Olivola

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Your argument ignores the basic economic reality that schools lose money which means the organizers have to recoup that loss by other means, and that's going to be an increase in entry fees.

 

Before pro schools.  Before other organizations.  It was possible to break even or only lose a little on a driver's school.  Track rental fees are so high now that losses are staggering.

 

I would also challenge your clearly inflammatory comment about observing on an AutoX course.  If that's what's being done in your region, they're doing it wrong.  It should be on a race track, one that we use for wheel to wheel competition for Regionals/Majors/etc.  The easiest way is to observe them racing with another organization.  That's how it's done in RMDiv and elsewhere.

 

As for your problems with young drivers coming out of Karts, my experience as a steward does not support your claim.  I find they're no more likely to make mistakes of any kind on the track than any other age group or experience level and they can be much less confrontational to deal with after the fact (as long as their parents aren't involved,) than many of those who's major talent is being able to write a check from their company's slush fund.

 

I have a real problem with this.  Sure the kids coming form karts have raced side by side before.  But that says nothing to how respectfully they do so.  Neither does their behavior for a few laps while your observing them on an AutoX course.  Some of the most disrespectful driving that has endangered our season thus far has come from the Teen Miata Challenge kids who came from karting.  Dangerous low-percentage moves is common place when these teens are trying to pass the mid field drivers on an inverted start or after a mistake from the "experienced teen." 

 

To me Its so hilarious that we are OK with giving these karting guys licences right off the bat, allowing them to look at the GCR while they fill out the test e-mailed to them.  Yet we're talking about a contact steward and how the class has too much damage and contact.  We are so soft on the rules when licencing new competition level drivers, yet so hard on the rules of contact.  

 

Here's a thought, if there was mandatory SCCA schooling for all competition licence drivers applicants, the contact when those drivers get into the wheel-to-wheel scenarios will be decreased. Unless you raced wheel to wheel last season in SCCA or NASA, you go through school and you pass before you race.  

 

-Z


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#72
wheel

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Z,

Nobody said anything about observing anyone on an AutoX course.  That came from your imagination.  I have been racing for 45 years and have observed bad driving from novice and experienced drivers.  I really can't point a finger at either group as the better drivers.  I do know that had I not helped the new kart/autocross/track night/PDX experienced driver obtain their SCCA licenses, they would be racing somewhere else.  There were NO SCCA driver's schools available to them. See Peter's comments about losing money on driver's schools.  I have also followed the careers of most of the racers who were the initial non-traditional school graduates.  One became IT7 Division Champion and won the ARRC at Atlanta. One is now a pro with the Nismo team.  One raced against me last week at High Plains in ASedan.  Not one single student has had any points added to their licenses and none are on probation or under any other hack.  



#73
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Z, I was a Karter for years 91 thru 92 seriously at Badger Raceway Dousman, WI,. Did the WAK Grand National at Charlotte Motor Speedway Kart track in 92.  Went back in 93 6 times to remind the locals who they had to beat. Started racing SCCA 1st gen RX7 in Spec7 in year 2000 after a GCR test and two day school. Got nailed with two other drivers at Gingerman Raceway in 2002 for passing under yellow for IIRC 3 points after giving the spot back. Yes indeed I had a pretty good idea how to race after learning in a Kart. I didn't loose my respect which is mandatory in Karting for other drivers when I went to a fendered/cage race car.

 

Let me know if you'd like to take a 12 question GCR closed book test. :bigsquaregrin:


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#74
Ron Alan

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I have a real problem with this.  Sure the kids coming form karts have raced side by side before.  But that says nothing to how respectfully they do so.  Neither does their behavior for a few laps while your observing them on an AutoX course.  Some of the most disrespectful driving that has endangered our season thus far has come from the Teen Miata Challenge kids who came from karting.  Dangerous low-percentage moves is common place when these teens are trying to pass the mid field drivers on an inverted start or after a mistake from the "experienced teen." 

 

To me Its so hilarious that we are OK with giving these karting guys licences right off the bat, allowing them to look at the GCR while they fill out the test e-mailed to them.  Yet we're talking about a contact steward and how the class has too much damage and contact.  We are so soft on the rules when licencing new competition level drivers, yet so hard on the rules of contact.  

 

Here's a thought, if there was mandatory SCCA schooling for all competition licence drivers applicants, the contact when those drivers get into the wheel-to-wheel scenarios will be decreased. Unless you raced wheel to wheel last season in SCCA or NASA, you go through school and you pass before you race.  

 

-Z

Ok Luvin...with all due respect because I don't know you, you are talking out your Pie hole!(I will avoid saying Ass to keep it civil!)

 

First off...you are lumping NASA and SCCA together...so your complaints in my book are without a cohesive argument thus I ignore you!

 

That said...I'd like to comment on your thoughts respectfully! 

 

First off...teen Mazda Challenge is associated with NASA. "Karting kids" as you call them can obtain a license at 14(earlier in some cases!) SCCA requires the kids to be 16 before a license is issued...no exceptions.

 

Despite your effort to lump some very good drivers into a group based on age...RESPECT on track knows no age! Experience on track knows no age! Poor decisions on track knows no age!. After 10 years and 100's of races watched nothing is really predictable except this...those drivers who find themselves continuously involved in "issues" will never improve unless the organization in charge as well as there fellow competitors stand them in a corner and kick them in the nuts!

 

With regards to SCCA licensing schools, I can only speak to what I know on the west coast...No one has ever failed the school!!!(that I'm aware of). I'd rather have the kids who drive at speed and may get a little excited at times than the middle aged(mature!)men and women who come out of SCCA school still scared to death or worse think they are doing just fine but in reality endangering themselves and everyone else on the track!

 

My point being...SCCA will not try and scare people off with the threat of failure...they cant afford to! I have seen people kicked out of NASA...of course much easier when only a couple people make those decisions and they can afford to lose some idiots and their idiot friends :)

 

Lastly...those "kids"(and their parents) are the future of racing and frankly keeping this industries head above water! Love working with them, Love watching them grow, Love making a small effort to influence them how to become RESPECTFUL and RESPECTED...what are you doing?  Peace! 


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#75
Danica Davison

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I think if SCCA wants to bring in more youth ... which we desperately need for both drivers and volunteers ... SCCA NEEDS to step up their social media presence at both the national level and the regional level.  SCCA is still stuck in the middle ages and they like to send letters and such in the mail which people just throw out. I am one of those "Millennials" and I can tell you I get all of my news and everything else online such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.  I brought this up to my local region (CFR) and they just started an Instagram and etc...however ... the regions need help with this too.  When there are events are coming up, the National Office needs to start posting about these things (NOT JUST MAJORS!).  If you don't know, on Facebook you can 'Sponsor' posts.  You have several options you can choose from to reach different amounts of people in different areas, etc.  So you could pop up on 10,000 people's news feeds and for a couple hundred dollars or so.  Both the national scca page and the regional scca pages need to start funding these efforts more.  For example, I see NASA and Chin Motorsports ads EVERY DAY on my social media ... and I hardly see ANY SCCA posts.  They also need someone like Preston Pardus who can make really cool racing videos from all classes and areas of the country, and start adding that to their Youtube and FB accounts.  Millenials don't care to read articles explaining why SCCA is awesome ... they want to watch entertaining videos on why its awesome 

 

Another thing they should do is infiltrate all of these gay stance boy car meets and actually get them to have the car meets at the SCCA events.  My peers are way more interested right now in dumping tons of money into their street cars because they don't know any better.  Every city in the country right now has some stupid car meets facebook group.  If you got the organizers of those groups to have them at the SCCA events ... you would attract a lot of youth that had no idea they can spend their money on actually having fun in their cars , instead of sitting around looking at it.


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#76
Danny Steyn

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JD. Agree with everything u and Ron said above. The youth has to be targeted, encouraged, welcomed and retained. And they also need to do a better job of retaining their existing customers.

They need to revisit every process they have, and remove the unnecessary procedures, time wasters, and move into the 21st century, benchmarking existing best practices employed in other industries and introducing them into our club.

It is this part that I am hopeful that Cobb will be able to change with his customer service expertise.
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#77
sentercut

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Great comments above. I agree with most of what all are saying, but as Peter mentioned it is a business and if the SCCA schools are a looser, then there has to be a better way.  In my opinion this club could easily explode....in a good way. The upside of the "car guys" out there taking the next steps to get licensed is a barrier. It is costly, time consuming and for many daunting. All of those obstacles can be overcome and as many have said, the thousands of "car lovers" that would love to get on track is a huge target. The "track night" initiatives and some others seem to have been a good thing to move interested individuals into the arena, but it seems there is still the above obstacles. 

 

I would love to see a feeder program directly out of Karting into the SCCA, because as many have said, the youth is the future of the sport and our club. I also would like to see more schools that are tied into racing the same weekend. I got license/permit during the Blackhawk school/regional event weekend and turned probably 200 laps, met a bunch of SM folks that gave me direction and help and had a blast. I am not sure if this particular school is a loser financially, but I would like to think that having school weekends (Thursday & Friday) with the ability to race as well (Saturday & Sunday) cold work well, especially if the social media push is there targeting the folks that JD mentions in his post, and being staple weekends every year. 

 

Of course, with more members racing it stands to reason that there will be more incidents on track, but that is another matter entirely to be addressed. 

 

Just my 2 cents on all of this as a newbie, but I know most people (in general) would love to race a car and do what we do, they just don't know how and it is not an easy cost efficient process to get them there. 


Senter Smith


#78
Danica Davison

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SCCA would have time on the schedule for School/PDX if they got rid of the fluff.  The fluff being all 53 classes on a regional weekend being split up into 8 groups. Combine formula cars into 1 group for regionals, leave vintage out of it and put them back with the SVRA, combine the IT and Prod classes, and make some more groups out of it. Not every weekend, but you could do that for the lighter turnout weekends.


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#79
Peter Olivola

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How do you know when the lighter turnout weekend will occur?  While it's certainly possible to change the class groupings and event schedule after the Supps are approved, at some point, those entering events want to know what kind of event they're entering and what other classes they'll be on track with.  There are limits to safe class grouping.  They are advisory in the GCR, and each track and event have different experiences with what is safe to group together, but more importantly, there is already evidence that grouping all formula cars in a single race group drives down entries in those classes (it's been tried in several places.)

 

Overall, I would agree that the number of classes, with such wide ranging performance envelopes, needs to be looked at and rationalized, it always gets down to "not my class!"

 

At the regional level it's even more difficult.  Regional classes exist because people want to race a particular type of car.  Other than spec classes that means varying performance envelopes on the track at the same time or driving entries away.  Controlling the performance envelope within a given race group is a safety issue.  More race groups or a smaller, more expensive entry.  Every region rolls that dice.

 

SCCA would have time on the schedule for School/PDX if they got rid of the fluff.  The fluff being all 53 classes on a regional weekend being split up into 8 groups. Combine formula cars into 1 group for regionals, leave vintage out of it and put them back with the SVRA, combine the IT and Prod classes, and make some more groups out of it. Not every weekend, but you could do that for the lighter turnout weekends.



#80
Walter Vetter

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Two of the main reasons I quit racing with NASA was that they only had two racing groups for all classes, and races were frequently shortened to stay on schedule for the HPDE groups. They also occasionally hosted the HyperFest which attracted the "partying" crowd. I'd hate to see that happen to the SCCA.


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