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SCCA Road Racing is in Trouble!

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#1
luckymiata76

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In our neck of the woods of Northern Conference...

125 cars at Blackhawk last weekend and only 88 registered so far for the GingerMan Majors(6 SM) on May 18-19. Talking to fast drivers in Northern Conference and even they are luke-warm about attending the Runoffs at VIR. 

 

We can go on and on about what's wrong, but I need suggestions on how to fix SCCA road racing.

 

I'm heading to a meeting at the end of May to discuss this very topic with SCCA leaders from around the country. 

 

Please provide input.

 

Thanks. 

 

Jeff Luckritz

#76 SM

 

 



#2
Michael Novak

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1. Time --- 3 day weekends race weekends with travel some times on both ends has pushed us to race elsewhere. 2. Tires --- The life has become so short that many weekends are 2 full sets plus. 3. Track Time --- This one is huge as  I feel I spend most of the time walking around not racing. I enjoy the social aspect of the weekend but we have found that with Champcar for example we have the same social interaction AND we got to race a bunch.  4. Too many classes--I think this is what leads to lack of track time ( I have no idea how to fix it but it is part of all of the problems).  

 

 

Gingerman-- I think is a slightly different problem. Many of us don't love the layout---and really don't like the tire wear


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#3
Alberto

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We can go on and on about what's wrong, but I need suggestions on how to fix SCCA road racing.

 

I'm heading to a meeting at the end of May to discuss this very topic with SCCA leaders from around the country. 

 

Um... You need to define what's wrong in order to fix it...  Otherwise, you're just doing stuff that doesn't have any impact or translate to recurring revenue and retaining customers.  Like track night which seems like an answer to a problem nobody ever faced but "look a shiny new idea, let's double down on it!"

 

My gripes based on my experiences racing in SF Bay:

- Pricing is too high comparably

- Scheduling of events could be better.  Local board mentions difficulty getting dates.  You have a national footprint and support pro races.  Why does the region have such difficulty getting dates with that relationship???

- Don't do 3 day weekends for Regionals.  I think my region finally got the message...

- Rules and classification on newer cars suck.  Example: Why does the RX8 and FRS/BRZ have to run an extra ~300 lbs or so?  I'm sure someone can justify that but it doesn't make any sense and would be annoying as a car owner and racer. 

- Deciphering the rules and GCR to get info about my specific car is fudging mind numbing exercise.  Throw out the way you've done it to date and get someone outside the building in Topeka who has experience with information architecture and usability to build something useful and informative.  I can recommend a few people if needed.

- Too much of a focus on Majors / Nationals.  I bet you have more regional only racers than people who race Majors / Nationals or whatever it's called these days.  

 

Not to be too much of a dick but I've been reading that things are broken for as long as I've been racing since 2011 and I don't see that SCCA leadership has an appetite for change.  It's just lip service and ineffective approaches like track night which does nothing to retain it's current membership and does little to attract new members who will actually race regularly and will encounter the same frustrations as current membership....

 

My 6 cents...


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#4
Jim Drago

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In our neck of the woods of Northern Conference...

125 cars at Blackhawk last weekend and only 88 registered so far for the GingerMan Majors(6 SM) on May 18-19. Talking to fast drivers in Northern Conference and even they are luke-warm about attending the Runoffs at VIR. 

 

We can go on and on about what's wrong, but I need suggestions on how to fix SCCA road racing.

 

I'm heading to a meeting at the end of May to discuss this very topic with SCCA leaders from around the country. 

 

Please provide input.

 

Thanks. 

 

Jeff Luckritz

#76 SM

These 3 day super tours need to go completely away.. Its WAY too much time..

Three day events for most of us mean four days with test day, min of 6 days with travel.  Quite simply we cant afford that much time.

 

Scheduling issues.. 

Sprints and Watkins Glen has been back to back for the last 4-5 years? Two of my favorite weekends. To do both, I need to basically work two Tuesdays in two weeks.  That when you consider there is a regional ( and has been for years) at the Glen two weeks later and they refuse to swap dates.  That makes no sense and forces us to chose

 

classes again.. too many...

 

If we cant reduce classes, combine groups of all the smaller classes less the top ones.   Combine until we have room on schedule for min of 5-6 sessions in two days for each


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#5
Ron Alan

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Hmmm...deja vu??

 

My guess is the decline is just following car racing in general? 

 

The attraction of youth would seem to be a key element in any past time like this...and giving them options of mostly very old cars/classes cant be helpful.

 

Technology and the options it brings for people to spend there time and money is life moving on.

 

God bless volunteers but when they get in the way of simple things and at times become a source of frustration...often participants become disenfranchised.

 

Downtime and sessions with 4 cars for 30 minutes has got to stop!!! Keep cars...in as big of groups as possible...rolling from start to finish of the day! Participants are paying for the track...DO NOT let it sit idle!

 

Car racing in general takes a lot of time and effort...the current trend towards the EASY button leaves participation in Motorsports on the fringe. And those who can afford the EASY button by letting others take care of them at the track get easily distracted and come and go.

 

Heavy bureaucracy often comes to mind with SCCA...not a recipe for success IMO.

 

As entries decrease...raising prices is not the answer!! Maintain and give back...my wife will buy things she doesn't need if its a good sale :)  :rolleyes:


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#6
Jim Drago

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As entries decrease...raising prices is not the answer!! Maintain and give back...my wife will buy things she doesn't need if its a good sale :)  :rolleyes:

You are from Ca aren't you?  :)

 

And who pays the bills when it loses money?  where does this money come from?    As entries decrease, the price to play has to go up to cover the costs.

I agree they could and should trim  A LOT of the fat from the program and do what they can to keep prices in check... but at some point.. less entries is for sure more money


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#7
LarryKing

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I can't afford Majors entry fees and the cost to compete on that level. I can have the same fun at a regional for half the cost. At the same time, the SCCA seems to ignore regional racers. NASA seems to have the right idea - no regional/Majors distinction.

 

Maybe someone can explain what makes a Majors entry fee double, or more, than a regional entry fee. I assume the track rental is the same for each.

 

SVRA looks better to me with each passing year.


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#8
OrangeCrush86

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Everyone is asking that question. It's a constant point of discussion in SCCA LOL.

 

I'll make an opinion piece here, take it how you want.

 

Main problems I see:

1. Other than Mazda, none of the large entities put anything into grassroots club racing. All the focus is on the ridiculous pro levels relegated to the ultra rich. Trans Am, IMSA, Blancpain and SRO. Until these organizations use grassroots as a ladder, club racing will be in decline. I personally think the top levels of racing will someday pay a price for this as these organizations are riding on wealthy racing family dynasties.

 

2. Racing is too much work for the younger generations. They need instant gratification and competition alone isn't a source of motivation. If you look at #GRIDLIFE you can see why they excel. It's because the entire ordeal is an entertainment event. There is music, parties, etc. #GRIDLIFE has removed the boring ass downtime of sitting in front of your trailer for 4 hours waiting to drive for 20 minutes and they crank up the loud music after hours. I was at the BHF Majors last weekend, when 9PM rolled around I might have mistaken the atmosphere for a retirement complex in Arizona.

 

3. Value to fun ratio is extremely low by todays standard. My brother is straight up "millennial". He complains about the $40 SCCA RallyCross entry fee because he only gets 9 minutes of seat time. The cost of SCCA Membership is a constant complaint by young racers. They talk about all the benefits of the SCCA card but they should absolutely stop doing that. To a young person its like being sold a $100 coupon card. No one under 30 years old cares about a discount for a Hertz rental car.

 

Now to not be too negative after that, here are a few things we have been looking at in the region.

 

1. Combine our road racing weekend with a Time Trials event. I doubt there will be much crossover, but having HPDE/TT people paddocked next to road race cars can't hurt and it will increase our car counts for the weekends. Downside is we sacrifice some track time for road racers.

 

2. Make it easier for WRL and Champ Car drivers to run our road races. Especially fast track SCCA comp licenses to these people. The current system is "clubby" and if you don't know the ropes getting a license waiver is a challenge for someone outside of SCCA.

 

3. We increase our car counts by running one or two vintage groups in partnership with a Vintage club, but this is mostly out of necessity because car counts up by us are painfully low.

 

Finally, a couple points I would like to see.

 

1. There should be a Majors at every clubs home track at least once a year. The club is committed to this Majors format, and some smaller regions get double shafted by this because they both pull drivers from regionals while never bringing any Major drivers back to them.

 

2. Reduce the number of classes and simplify them. A tall order because you are guaranteed to lose people, but it needs to be done. People that already road race (WRL and Champ Car) can't even understand what class their car might fit in. How are people come from HPDE supposed to. This is a primary reason that SM and SRF are popular, the classing is crystal clear.

 

3. The events should make every driver feel like they are at a pro level event. Pretending to be on a pro race team is one of the funnest parts of the driving experience. I believe this point right here is the only reason why Majors events get more draw. Almost no one cares about conference points except for contingency.

 

 

Unfortunately, it's with much sadness that I don't see a future for grassroots road racing. Road racing is destined to be a hobby for the wealthy, and those people don't need the club level.

 

Edit: I forgot to mention that member involvement with the club is painfully low. Especially drivers. In the three years I have been in the SCCA I have been one of the only Non-Board Member drivers to attend the monthly club meetings. I'm sorry to say but if our members can't even be bothered to take an interest in how events run and the struggles of the volunteers/organizers, they deserve to lose club racing.


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#9
gerglmuff2

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me and orange have had a few discussions about this, but i'd echo a lot of what he has to say. growing local divisional racing is going to be tough but it can be done. but we need to really understand the issues. 

1. cost isn't actually as big an issue as we all think it is. cost perception is way worse than it actually is. there are at least half a dozen time attack guys in our area who spend 2-5 times what i spend to road racing, to do time attack. to do qualifying. in a world where time attack with 50+ thousand dollar builds, running on $1500/set street tires are common and selling out events .... cost isn't actually the problem. the problem is the perception of cost. 

when i tell folks what i spend to wheel to wheel race, esp folks like these time attackers ... they are blown away. they honestly think there are 100 grand spec miatas out there. and that everyone needs one or they will be left for dead. this is a COMMON PERCEPTION even among folks ALREADY doing highly competitive, expensive, motorsports. 

2. track time alone isn't a draw. you can get track time and do time attack (qualifying) for cheaper. the marketable product here is wheel to wheel racing. instead of practice, qualify, race, satruday and sunday ... we should do practice, qualify, race saturday, race, race, race sunday. set grid by finish place. the fun part is racing, the marketable payable premium value added is racing ... so we should spend our time racing, not fudging around. 

 

3. we need to market not to folks who dont do car events, but market to other motorsports. these folks are already hooked, already spending money, already involved. thats our market. it does zero good to market to folks who dont already do motorsports in some form or another. they will at best be a one and doner if they don't have the fincial and moral commitment to do motorsports. 

on this note, we need to accept that there are a lot of folks out there who are lying. they say cost, or time or whatever is the reason why they dont race, but really, they don't want to find out how bad they are. there ego will not let them. they want to be instagram famous, or they already have a pond they play in and can win etc etc. we need to not bend over backwards for these folks. this is again, why we need to market to folks already pulled in by other motorsports, be it drifting, autocross, time attack, ice racing or even 4wd folks. these are folks used to putting in the time and money and investment in skill to be successful and long term patrons of the sport. wasting our time and money trying to market to folks who are lying to themselves as to why they dont race, is wasting time and money. 

4. we need to be out there. there is more action on any given weekend of SCCA club racing than there is is most professional racing series. we need to get folks out to these events. they already are fans of motorsports, and if they knew for 20 bucks they could come by and see some great racing, and meet the folks who do it, that would be huge. 

5. we need to not belittle the new/little guys. the reality is that the peak is supported by hundreds and thousands of mediocre drivers, just doing the best they can with the budget they have and knowledge they have gained. i can personally attest to this on multiple platforms, made to feel super unwelcome because im a new guy. the "old boys club" is so hurtful to the sport its not even funny. we need to do everything we can to have everyone who does actually put there hard earned money down to do this, to have fun doing it. or they wont be back. outsidering folks because they are new, or don't have the budget or whatever, is not conducive to helping the sport. 

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#10
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1. Time --- 3 day weekends race weekends with travel some times on both ends has pushed us to race elsewhere. 2. Tires --- The life has become so short that many weekends are 2 full sets plus. 3. Track Time --- This one is huge as  I feel I spend most of the time walking around not racing. I enjoy the social aspect of the weekend but we have found that with Champcar for example we have the same social interaction AND we got to race a bunch.  4. Too many classes--I think this is what leads to lack of track time ( I have no idea how to fix it but it is part of all of the problems).  

 

 

Gingerman-- I think is a slightly different problem. Many of us don't love the layout---and really don't like the tire wear

 

A lot of this is spot on especially the 3 day events and the tires.  I haven't been to the June Sprints in about 3 years.  It's hosted by my home region at a track I love to drive but it's my own little 1 man protest against too much time and too much tire expense to be competitive with those willing to use a new set and a half or two sets or more.  There is room for some 3 day events.

 

Also, in the past qualifying for the Runoffs was a competitive effort.  You had to finish in the top 6 or so in your division so many competitors made darn sure they ran all of their National division events.  The points standings meant something.  Doing well in your division meant something.  At one time there was significant contingency rewards for doing well in your division.  With Runoffs qualification basically built on participation, it seems as though division (conference) competition means less so there is less participation.  I think we need to do something to make the conference championships more meaningful, maybe have the last Conference Major in each area a championship weekend with double points and crown conference champions. 

 

Fewer classes?  ABSOLUTELY.  That could increase track time per class/group per event.  Also, every race weekend should have at least 1 practice (non Q) session.  Many don't.  Adding practice days is more time and $.

 

Tires, at least for our class something is in the works?

 

The cost to buy/build a competitive car in many SCCA classes is very high.  Only way many classes survive IMO is if we find more wealthy people that want to be racers. 

 

Fresh ideas and formats.  I like Jeff what you've done to schedule the bracket race format at Gingerman in July.  Lots of track time for those entries and it makes it easy for less experienced drivers (and cars) to enter.  There are probably other good ideas for weekend formats that can be sprinkled into a season schedule that racers would find interesting and fun. 


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#11
Tom Sager

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Hey, hey, hey....

I left the track way before 9. 

 

 

 

 

OrangeCrush86:

I was at the BHF Majors last weekend, when 9PM rolled around I might have mistaken the atmosphere for a retirement complex in Arizona.

 


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#12
Ernie Cole

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Maybe its not a Club Racing problem but more of a Mid West problem?  It seems all the driven young people are getting out of the midwest and moving to the West Coast or South East for job opportunities.

 

From the May issue of Sports Car magazine, 2018 membership is up in a lot of clubs:

 

 http://www.sportscar...2019?pg=14#pg14

 

It would be interesting to see numbers from both NASA and SCCA from around the country. 2019 East Coast Majors seem to be having record car counts if you believe the hype. 

 

I just hate hearing the sky is falling 'racing is dying, millennial's are ruining everything' excuses, hasn't it always been a wealthier hobby?



#13
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IMO it's all about costs. Cars keep getting more and more expensive to build. Race tires still get single digit heat cycles, motors seem like they're creeping closer to $10k, and cars keep getting more and more complicated (fancier safety systems, data collection, coolsuits, etc etc). Even support equipment like trucks are getting bigger, trailers bigger, etc etc. 

 

Young generation doesn't have the disposable income to burn on a truck, trailer, car, pro motor, safety equipment, replacing expiring safety equipment, travel, etc etc etc. They look around, see a top tier car, f450, 30' enclosed trailer, 3 sets of sticker tires, $1,500 suit, and don't bother trying.  


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#14
Nathan Pring

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Speaking as a new racer here to SCCA in SM, I can tell you my biggest concern is tires.  On a set of SM7s I got 3 x 30 min practice, 3 x 15m qual and 3x30min races over 2 weekends and I was down to the cord on a tire and couldn't get through the snudayqual/race of the second weekend.  I was also 3 seconds slower than when I did driver school training on the same track on Toyo RRs (which look way better, have dropped maybe a second and have more heat cycles than the Hoosiers).  I've had to use the Toyo RRs I got with the car to supplement friday practice sessions as the Hoosiers wont last.  Having to buy new tires every round is what would have expected at a National level but not a regional level.

 

I used to run Formula Vee in Australia and we could get 2-3 rounds without significant lap times dropping before it was time to replace tires so this is a bit of a shock to me as a club racer on a budget.


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#15
infamousjim

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Speaking as a new racer here to SCCA in SM, I can tell you my biggest concern is tires. On a set of SM7s I got 3 x 30 min practice, 3 x 15m qual and 3x30min races over 2 weekends and I was down to the cord on a tire and couldn't get through the snudayqual/race of the second weekend. I was also 3 seconds slower than when I did driver school training on the same track on Toyo RRs (which look way better, have dropped maybe a second and have more heat cycles than the Hoosiers). I've had to use the Toyo RRs I got with the car to supplement friday practice sessions as the Hoosiers wont last. Having to buy new tires every round is what would have expected at a National level but not a regional level.

I used to run Formula Vee in Australia and we could get 2-3 rounds without significant lap times dropping before it was time to replace tires so this is a bit of a shock to me as a club racer on a budget.


Tires is a big (though not the only reason) I run NASA. I imagine fields in both clubs could benefit a lot if they had one tire across both. Especially if they tire wore like the RR or better

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#16
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What has personally lost my interest to a large degree is "super tour" so we made the super tour and diminished the majors, SCCA just seems to hose up anything they have going good to try find a bigger forum.  

 

I could care less about who even won a super tour points championship!!!!

 

When we had a majors program with divisional championships i thought it brought most of us out to race against each other without driving more then 7-8 hours and we didnt have do a thursday test day or any nonsense.

 

i for one dont buy the tire heat cycle argument. I did not attend Black hawk largly because I dont have a good set of hoosier tires and didnt want to have buy a set to race there when I am concentrating on NASA this year.

 

If competitve guys are racing toyo tires, the tire bill is no cheaper as there is shaving and stickering up for last couple 1/10ths anyway.  

 

We do need to be on one tire SCCA/NASA 

 

My sugestions:

3 races per weekend. one qualifier your race finishes or fast lap time in race should move you forward for the next one

Same tire SCCA/NASA for SM

stop giving out stupid tshirts etc for each event and pass savings on the participants

Stop putting on dinners!  if you want to have a cocktail hour instead

Put on a workers only dinner if you want to

Do away with super tour, go back to divisional Majors with the old tire contingencies for majors

Get rid of some  classes and combine any group that does not get 20 participants.

get rid of registration, we all resgistered on line so why are we standing in line????

get an annual tech sticker for car so we dont have to stand in stupid tech line for someone to fill out a tech sticker

make the single group with largest attendance group 1 so they get rewarded with going home earliest 2nd largest group2 etc

pick tracks where people actually want to go racing, rather then tracks in your local area (this may mean some tracks dont survive)

Get rid of volunteers workers that dont understand that racers are customers!


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#17
OrangeCrush86

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What has personally lost my interest to a large degree is "super tour" so we made the super tour and diminished the majors, SCCA just seems to hose up anything they have going good to try find a bigger forum.  

 

I could care less about who even won a super tour points championship!!!!

 

When we had a majors program with divisional championships i thought it brought most of us out to race against each other without driving more then 7-8 hours and we didnt have do a thursday test day or any nonsense.

 

i for one dont buy the tire heat cycle argument. I did not attend Black hawk largly because I dont have a good set of hoosier tires and didnt want to have buy a set to race there when I am concentrating on NASA this year.

 

If competitve guys are racing toyo tires, the tire bill is no cheaper as there is shaving and stickering up for last couple 1/10ths anyway.  

 

We do need to be on one tire SCCA/NASA 

 

My sugestions:

3 races per weekend. one qualifier your race finishes or fast lap time in race should move you forward for the next one

Same tire SCCA/NASA for SM

stop giving out stupid tshirts etc for each event and pass savings on the participants

Stop putting on dinners!  if you want to have a cocktail hour instead

Put on a workers only dinner if you want to

Do away with super tour, go back to divisional Majors with the old tire contingencies for majors

Get rid of some  classes and combine any group that does not get 20 participants.

get rid of registration, we all resgistered on line so why are we standing in line????

get an annual tech sticker for car so we dont have to stand in stupid tech line for someone to fill out a tech sticker

make the single group with largest attendance group 1 so they get rewarded with going home earliest 2nd largest group2 etc

pick tracks where people actually want to go racing, rather then tracks in your local area (this may mean some tracks dont survive)

Get rid of volunteers workers that dont understand that racers are customers!

 

I 100% agree that the tech process should be reworked. Just do annuals on the car, enter it into a database (MSR can probably even handle this already) and just keep track of annuals digitally. I get a card in registration, walk 300 yards to have another person initial it and collect it is wasteful.

 

I have to wonder if you have actually been involved with your local club because of that last comment though... Volunteering for an SCCA road race is a thankless and irritating job. It's a miracle we get enough people to run a race as it is.


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#18
Tom Sager

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I 100% agree that the tech process should be reworked. Just do annuals on the car, enter it into a database (MSR can probably even handle this already) and just keep track of annuals digitally. I get a card in registration, walk 300 yards to have another person initial it and collect it is wasteful.

 

I have to wonder if you have actually been involved with your local club because of that last comment though... Volunteering for an SCCA road race is a thankless and irritating job. It's a miracle we get enough people to run a race as it is.

 

Another plug for workers here.  It's been a long long time since I encountered one that acted badly.  I'm very thankful for those that participate and make what we do possible and the little bit of TLC (dinner party and maybe some expenses) they are given is a pittance in comparison to the benefit they provide.  Heck, we drivers should more often be at the parties serving them their beer and busing their tables.


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#19
Jim Drago

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I can't afford Majors entry fees and the cost to compete on that level. I can have the same fun at a regional for half the cost. At the same time, the SCCA seems to ignore regional racers. NASA seems to have the right idea - no regional/Majors distinction.

 

Maybe someone can explain what makes a Majors entry fee double, or more, than a regional entry fee. I assume the track rental is the same for each.

 

SVRA looks better to me with each passing year.

should be super tours and regionals.. Majors means nothing at this point


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#20
Nathan Pring

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Tires is a big (though not the only reason) I run NASA. I imagine fields in both clubs could benefit a lot if they had one tire across both. Especially if they tire wore like the RR or better


Would seem to make sense. If we can get a spec shock from Penske you would think we could get a spec tire across the board, scales of economy and all that.

Side note, doesnt SM NASA use RA1s and shave them? Seems crazy when the RR is available.




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