It’s been a busy summer so far, and here on the final day of July, things show no sign of letting up - we’ve got a Triple Regional and Solo events coming in August, and then more events in September, leading right up to the Solo, Time Trials, RallyCross and Road Racing national championship events.
One of my jobs on the SCCA Board of Directors is to be board liaison to the Time Trials program. This year, that program will hold its second national championship event at NCM in Bowling Green, Kentucky at the end of September. I’ll be there, and I’ll be at the Runoffs at VIR a few days later in October.
If you have never attended an SCCA national championship event, I strongly encourage you to look into it. These events draw the top competitors in the nation, and you can gain a year’s worth of experience in your preferred racing venue in a matter of days. Plus, the elation of seeing champions crowned can’t be matched.
If you can’t manage to compete at one of these events - and it can be expensive, for sure - then consider going as a volunteer. Working at the Runoffs or Solo Nationals is a wonderful experience, and you’ll make friends that last a lifetime.
Finally, I want to congratulate Oregon’s Rose Cup Champions. Peter Baljet won the 59th Rose Cup race, but Will Schrader, John Black, Ken Sutherland, and Eric Dolson all received well-earned victories that weekend. You’re what it’s all about.
If you’ve been around Oregon Region for any length of time, you probably met Monte Shelton, and it was probably memorable.
I have two memories of Monte that, for me, perfectly illustrate who he was. The first happened some time after he survived a heart attack. He was telling me how he went to the gym six days a week, working out and running for a couple hours each morning. I said, “Gee Monte, I wouldn’t want to run a hundred-yard dash against you, and I’m half your age!”
Monte looked at me, smiled, and said, “I’d kick your ass.”
The second happened in the same era. I had a pretty hard day on the annual Monte Shelton Northwest Classic rally. Two of my old cars had broken down on the rally that day, and I finally rolled into the hotel in my daily driver during the “beer wash” car washing party.
I went into the hotel to check in, and when I came back out, there was Monte washing my car for me. I said, “Monte, you don’t have to do that.” He replied, “You know, my first job was washing cars at a lot on Sandy Boulevard, and I still love to do it.”
Those memories are pure Monte - equal parts competitive and gracious. He had a big heart and a genuine affection for people. That’s how I plan to remember him, and I hope the memory helps me become more like Monte Shelton.
As we head into June, we’re coming off of two great events here in the Pacific Northwest. First, the SCCA Super Tour Majors at Portland were a great success, and you can find the results of those races in this issue.
The very next weekend, Northwest Region held their most successful Majors event in years. Thanks in large part to R.E. Scotty B. White’s efforts to attract Conference and SOVREN drivers to the event, Northwest pulled about the same number of cars as came to the Super Tour. Scotty is proving that outreach and a relentless focus on a good customer experience really works.
I attended both events and entered the Time Trials group at the Pacific Raceways event. We were fortunate to get coaching from ProFormance Racing School founder Don Kitsch throughout the day - that’s a value you won’t find on the entry form, but it’s real. Just taking a couple laps with Don to coach me about the newest racing line at Pacific was worth the price of my entry.
So, that’s all a lead-up for my pitch to all SCCA members - SCCA’s newest competition program is Time Trials, and it has a National Tour like Solo, and that show is coming to PIR on the weekend of June 8-9.
Drivers will race for the best single lap during TimeAttack lapping sessions and combine that with a furious no-endurance needed point-to-point TrackSprint event. The best times from each will be combined to determine finishing order and the top three overall and in each class stand on the KONI Podium and take home the trophies.
The entry fee is just $250, and you can register here. You can run this event in your street car with just a helmet. I’ve been competing in my Subaru this year and having a great time.
There will also be a Track Night in America in conjunction with the Time Trials National Tour, so there’s really something for everyone.
Our focus in SCCA nationally is Fun With Cars. That’s leading the club to create new kinds of events in Rally, Solo, and Road Racing. Some of them are just rediscovering old formats that were abandoned. But times change, and what didn’t work in the 1990s may work better today.
Whether you plan to enter or not, please come out to PIR for the Time Trials National Tour - maybe there will be something there for you that you didn’t expect?
The motorsports community in the Pacific Northwest is one group. As I write this column, SCCA workers from Oregon and Washington and British Columbia are at Pacific Raceways near Seattle to support the SOVREN vintage event happening there this weekend. Many of the drivers at this event are also regulars at Oregon Region and Northwest Region SCCA events.
In the month of May, Oregon Region will host the SCCA Majors Super Tour once again. That’s a big deal and a great honor for Oregon Region and Portland International Raceway. I encourage everyone to plan on spending the weekend of May 18-19 at PIR for this event. I’ll be there helping out in any way I can.
The very next weekend, Northwest Region is hosting its own Majors event, and it’s absolutely vital that we get as many entries as we can to Pacific Raceways for this event. Northwest Region has had its struggles with participation, and under the able leadership of Scotty B. White, the organization is making a dramatic turnaround.
After 28 years of involvement with SCCA, I know that regions are not in competition with each other. There’s plenty of opportunity for every region to prosper, and healthy racing programs in Oregon and Washington are necessary for each to succeed.
I’ll be up at Pacific Raceways on the weekend of May 25-27, competing in the Time Trials group and supporting motorsports in the Pacific Northwest with my money and my time. I encourage everyone in Oregon Region to do the same.
Did you see the news that SCCA Pro Racing has become the sanctioning body for Global Time Attack? Flip back to Page 10 of this issue to read all about it.
Here’s why this is important: Across America, new motorsports competitors have been voting with their entry fees and a lot of them have been selecting Time Trials/Time Attack forms of competition. SCCA has been late to the game, honestly, even though we had Solo 1 decades before Time Attack became a thing. But with developments like this, we’re grabbing our share of that business.
The biggest benefit is not just selling a few more entries, however. It’s introducing a whole new set of people to everything SCCA has to offer. That’s the bottom line.
As I sit down to write this column, Oregon Region’s first event is less than a week away, and I’m even more excited than usual for the start of racing season.
That’s because for the first time in many years, I’ll be racing this weekend, in the Time Trials group. This new invention fits my needs perfectly because I don’t have time to build and maintain a race car at this point in my life. Does that sound familiar?
What I want to do today is get into my trusty old Subaru 2.5RS and enjoy some track time. I plan to drive well within my limits and see if I can set a good baseline lap time.
Then, by participating in TT events in Oregon and Northwest regions throughout the season, I’ll see if I can shave some time off, or I’ll see if a few carefully selected modifications to the car really pay off or not.
Mostly, I plan to have fun with a car I really like, see my racing friends, and get some track time. For most of us, that’s why we joined SCCA and why we keep coming back year after year.
The point of all that is to say this: If you’re not racing for whatever reason - your race car is busted, your wallet is skinny, or you just don’t feel like full competition any more, why not pick out your favorite sports car (or your race car) and come run some laps in Time Trials?
You might find that it rekindles your interest in cars and in racing.
On another topic, did you see the announcement about SCCA and iRacing partnering to promote online racing?
If that puzzled you, there are a few things you should know. I was surprised to learn that iRacing is a huge business, and that there are people out there who are becoming champions and winning races who have never turned a wheel on a race or worn a helmet.
Here’s the kicker: they’re also earning real money doing it. Many iRacing series pay purses to their winners, and vendors seek their endorsements for equipment and games.
If SCCA is going to stay relevant, we need to grab a chunk of that online racing business. The reason is simple - it’s not the core of what we do, but here we’ve got thousands of people who dream about racing and spend time and effort on the sport.
What better group of people could we possibly attract to SCCA?
Snow is falling as I write this column, and it sure feels like the middle of winter, but in fact it’s almost the end of February and the first events of the competition year are just three days away! I’m pretty sure Pacific Northwest Solo drivers can handle ice and snow, but a quick course in the Pro Drive SkidCar would help anyone under those conditions.
For me, the first race is still a month away. I’ll be competing in SCCA’s new Time Trials program this year, and I’m excited to get back on track in a car I enjoy just for the fun of going fast and driving a good lap. My plan is to run the whole season of Time Trials in Oregon and Northwest Regions.
Time Trials entries const only $150, plus an extra $20 to rent a transponder if you don’t have one of your own. I encourage everyone who enjoys having fun with cars to consider entering. It’s just about the best deal on open track time that you’re likely to find.
Serving on the national board of directors is keeping me busy - there are scheduled phone meetings every week, and a steady flow of e-mails. As I gain experience with the rhythms of the conversations, I’m seeing the workings of the club more clearly.
The first thing I noticed is how hard the club’s national staff and our program board and advisory committees work, and the depth of knowledge that is encompassed by all these people.
For example, I am a board of directors liaison to the Time Trials Board, and I am watching the incredible amount of time and effort that goes into classing cars appropriately. It’s easy to take classing for granted - or to complain about it - in Road Racing or Solo. But if you think about it, you’ll see that it’s an incredibly complicated jigsaw puzzle because different cars make speed differently.
On the Time Trials Board, we’re trying to define classes for cars as they’re actually being built and used in the track day and street performance world. So rather than asking drivers to build or adapt a car to a set of rules, we’re attempting to tailor the rules to fit around the cars as they already are.
My own car will be competing in the Tuner class, even though it’s almost stock, because of one nifty part that solved a problem for me. I’m viewing this as a positive, however, because it means I can justify some fun performance enhancements over the course of the competition year.
If you have an interest in deep learning about your car’s class or category, consider applying to join the relevant advisory committee. It’s a lot of hard work on occasion, but I think you’ll find, as I have, that it’s worthwhile work.
See you at the track!
It’s been about 18 years since the last time I went to the SCCA National Convention. I didn’t think things would have changed very much, but it turns out that they have - a lot, in fact.
Mostly that’s because we have a much more engaged national staff these days, with people like Chris Robbins, whose job it is to promote regional development.
There were more educational sessions than anyone could possibly attend, all packed into three days of non-stop activity. There were sessions specifically designed to teach regional officials how to begin or grow Solo, Road Racing, and Rally programs, as well as programs for stewards from all disciplines, race workers, and just members who want to become more involved.
From my end, the convention was a week-long affair that started with a full-day session on team building and understanding the function of the Board. We learned a bit about how we operate and what our challenges are. That was a fun and informative day, and it was followed up by a full-day board meeting where we put our new skills to use. Then we had extended meetings with the Club Racing Board, Solo Events Board, and the Road Rally and RallyCross boards, and Pro Racing.
I knew that being a Director was going to be a lot of work, and this week proved it!
Area 13 was well-represented at this convention, with REs from Arctic Alaska, Northwest, and Oregon Regions in attendance. I got the chance to meet Kent Hamilon from Alaska, and to work with Scotty White of Northwest on his region’s plan for the Majors in May.
And I was particularly proud to see Oregon’s RE, Tim Ferrick receive the Jumbo Region of the Year award.
Oregon’s Solo director Rio Rios was there to learn and share, as was Joe Harlan from the Northwest Region Board. Several members from Arctic Alaska also came down to Las Vegas to give their region one of the largest per-capita turnouts at the event.
But don’t go thinking that it’s all work at the convention! The evenings were fulled with activities including go-karting, pinewood derby racing, and a great awards banquet! I got to sit at a table with Dorsey Schroeder, which is a great honor.
As we move towards the start of the 2019 competition season, I feel better than ever about the future of SCCA and the quality of the regions in Area 13.
Thanks for your support,
By Jeff Zurschmeide, Area 13 Director
The first thing I noticed when I was elected to represent SCCA’s Area 13 members on the national Board of Directors is that many SCCA members don’t know what the board actually does.
Here’s a short primer - we’re not the bosses of the REs, the stewards, the CRB or the SEB, or any specialty. In fact, the board is only sort of the boss of one person: the President of SCCA, Mike Cobb. I say “sort of” because it’s not like I can call him up and give him orders, either. The board gives big-picture direction and goals to the President, and then evaluates him on his performance.
Similarly, we may ratify the decisions of the CRB, SEB and every other competition board, but we don’t write the rules for your class. In fact, I think we meddle a little too much with the people who have stepped up to manage the rules of our competition venues.
I’m not an expert in the competitiveness of various cars within any class, be it GT-1 or F500, E-stock or A-Mod. The people who volunteer to sit on the CRB/SEB and the individual class advisory committees are the experts, and as a rule I plan to respect their wisdom.
Okay, so that’s all the stuff we don’t do. Here’s what we actually do:
1) We keep an eye on the bottom line for the national organization. Being on the board involves a lot of spreadsheets that detail the financial operation of the club. This is the unglamorous work that is absolutely critical to the mission of SCCA. If we run out of money, we’re out of business.
2) We evaluate new opportunities for the club, whether that’s sponsorship deals, Pro racing series, and new venues like TNIA and Time Trials.
3) We sit in on the meetings of the committees of the club we’re tasked to monitor. I am the board liaison to the Road Rally Board and the Time Trials Advisory Committee. My job is not to run those meetings, but rather to answer board-related questions and bring the point of view of the committee back to the board.
4) We form subcommittees of the board to handle the details of various issues. I have been appointed to the Strategic Planning and Governance committees.
Strategic Planning is where we look at new opportunities like Time Trials, and try to offer ideas and guidance to the SCCA staff and committees on how we might capitalize on those ideas and open new lines of business.
Governance is more prosaic, being concerned primarily with keeping the Club’s bylaws up to date. At 75 years strong, the bylaws don’t generally need a lot of work these days.
Coming out of my first three-day marathon board meeting, here’s what I know:
1) The SCCA board is composed of people from all parts of the club. We’ve got Solo folks, Club Racers, Rallyists, Officials, and racing business owners. We’ve got a member who has a PhD in Economics and several members who get their hands dirty for a living. It’s a good group of smart people.
2) The major challenge facing the club is Pro Racing, and 2019 will be a pivotal year. Formula 3 and Formula 4 have been launched, and need to prove out to repay the investment made.
3) The regional solo racer and road racer is the economic backbone of the club. That’s where we make our money. I already figured that, but it’s nice to see it proven in numbers.
I’ll know more next month after the convention. We’ve got another two-day meeting scheduled there. I’ll report in again at that time.
By Jim Weidenbaum,
SCCA Area 13 Director
Anyone in the racing community understands there’s a ratio of the amount of time spent wrenching to
amount of time racing which varies greatly by race class, but also by individual within class. Some folks
love working on the car: they have attention to detail and apply mechanical understanding on every facet of their car. Some classes simply demand a ton of wrenching, but even classes where higher levels of engineer ingenuity really doesn’t give you a clear advantage, there are folks who apply Penske-like attention to detail, who are amazing at problem-solving, and know how to dial in a spec/formula class car to be prepared to the highest level of legal competitiveness. These dedicated people not only have specific knowledge, they understand the importance of a disciplined, focus approach to car prep; they literally reprioritize their lives to find the time and money to execute their plan.
OK, you know by now to expect an analogy from me, this disciplined, focused, applied knowledge
approach is how the national Board of Directors works with SCCA staff to deliver on our Mission: fuel a
safe, fun, and exciting motorsports experience for automotive enthusiasts. Most of our 60,000 SCCA
members don’t actively race cars, but they are all auto enthusiasts. When you see programs such as the wildly successful Track Night in America, Solo Spec Coupe, Sprint Rally, and the next big thing: SCCA National Time Trials you can see our outreach to not just racers, but auto enthusiasts – future SCCA members!
If you don’t think growing the membership base isn’t important, take note of the diminishing numbers who show up at each high school reunion. Reunions can be a lot of fun, catching up with old friends, but reunions are not a growth model. SCCA sort of took that model for way too long, but no longer. With Mike Cobb as SCCA, Inc President/CEO, working with a BOD dedicated to good governance, we will continue to make old friends feel at home, while welcoming an influx of new and younger members.
Going back to the wrenching to racing ratio. Wrenching can be enjoyable, catching things before they go wrong, repairing problems, and making things better.
At other times, I have maximized my use and volume of “colorful” language while working on a car. In all cases, I find myself highly focused when working on a car, so when my wife wanders in to the garage to know why I haven’t surfaced all weekend – it’s hard to say anything other than, “well, there’s just a lot to do.”
That’s the same way I feel the SCCA BOD has been operating the past 3 years: wrenching on every critical component, retorquing every nut (homonym intended), which when combined with other actions, deliver on SCCA’s Vision: to be the preferred motorsports community in the US, built on fun, shared passion, and access to an exhilarating motorsports experience.
I truly believe SCCA will get there, but it will require us, as Club members, to get the right folks in leadership roles and to actively participate in Club activities.
So, congratulations to Jeff Zurschmeide on his election to Area 13 SCCA Board of Directors. I have already been in deep discussion with Jeff regarding his transition. I believe Jeff will be an outstanding member of the national BOD and will do the Pacific Northwest proud.
Thank you, Monty Holt for running for the Board: competition for leadership seats makes the Club better.
When I look at our SCCA values (listed below), they absolutely are consistent with the best part of SCCA.
Thank you for letting me represent you as your Area 13 Director these past 3 years.
Good Luck & Good Racing!
Excellence: The Spirit of a Competitor
Service: The Heart of a Volunteer
Passion: The Attitude of an Enthusiast
Team: The Art of Working Together
Experience: The Act of Wowing our Community
Stewardship: The Mindset of an Owner
Hi, I’m Jeff Zurschmeide. Most of you have met me before, but if you haven’t met me yet, I’d like to introduce myself.
I’ve been an SCCA member for nearly 30 years, and in that time I’ve been a driver in Road Racing, Autocross, RoadRally, and RallyCross. I ran my first Autocross at age 16.
Within SCCA I’ve been a race worker, a steward, and an elected regional official responsible for budgets and participation.
In my life outside SCCA, I run a small business in automotive and motorsports publishing. I write stories and take photos for magazines, newspapers, and websites.
Here’s why I’m running to represent SCCA Area 13 on the national Board of Directors. and what I plan to do if elected.
SCCA is a complex organization, with elected leadership at both the regional and the national levels. The two layers of club leadership have very different jobs, but the end goal is the same: to foster a healthy and growing community in all the forms of racing that SCCA sanctions.
At the regional level, we’re concerned with raising attendance, controlling costs, and providing events that are safe, fair, and fun. I’ve lived this first-hand while serving as Road Racing Director and Regional Executive of Oregon Region.
At the national level, the goals are the same, but the national board is charged with looking after the health of SCCA nationwide.
I believe that in order for SCCA to thrive nationally, we need healthy regions that have the freedom to decide how best to meet the needs of their members.
The primary job of the national organization is to support our regions by providing a solid foundation of rules and support, with the flexibility to allow regions to provide the types of events and the competition classes that their members prefer.
To do that, SCCA needs a board that makes smart management decisions. The current board is doing a good job, and my goal is to keep the national board focused and to keep SCCA financially sound.
That means continuing to listen to the regions and individual competitors on national issues such as the location and nature of national championship events, and keeping the board focused on SCCA’s core mission of providing the best motorsports opportunities in North America
To do that, SCCA must adjust to the ways people want to enjoy their cars today. Therefore, I think our new ventures like Track Night in America and the Time Trials program are important and have the potential to keep SCCA in the lead in amateur motorsports.
I’ve got the time and the experience to represent the needs of Area 13, and to keep SCCA healthy for all our regions everywhere.
Thanks for your consideration.