SCCA Governance. Just saying those words, a few years ago, got my eyeballs rolling and my head slowly nodding to the negative, eliciting thoughts of “oh great, what new rule did they come up with now?” Well, over the past few years on the SCCA Board of Directors, I’ve got that pronoun changed from “they” to “we.” I also discovered something else: good SCCA governance does not mean new rules … it means setting new direction when the Club needs it, while staying the course with things that work well.
To say there are competing voices for attention amongst our membership base would be a fair statement. The advantage of being a national (international, when you factor in our members living in Canada) organization is we can see what is working well, as well as what is struggling, across the country to build a better whole. The path forward for SCCA is to strengthen our Regions. Our Regions health and future is 100% dependent upon event participation.
The hiring of new SCCA CEO/President Mike Cobb was a huge step forward in building a Region-focused SCCA. Mike Cobb is one of us, a life-long car enthusiast and SCCA solo racer, who built his career in building dynamic promotions and programs to develop strong regional franchisees around the country. That Mike’s business acumen is off the charts and that he has thrown himself into his new job is just the beginning. SCCA is investing in the future, with soon to be announced programs to strengthen our Regions and build our membership base.
If you missed it, in 2017 SCCA set all-time records for participation at our Solo National Championship, our Club Racing National Championship Runoffs (held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway), and our Rally Cross National Championships. Track Night in America (TNIA) is being lauded as one of the most successful grassroots motorsports programs in the country, with the Pacific Northwest being among the highest attended programs in the country. While now former leaders committed SCCA Pro into stunningly weak agreements, we are slowing working our way out of them. Still, the deliverable of SCCA-FIA Formula 4 is the brightest open wheel path to the big time, running with Formula 1 at Circuit of Americas this year and again this coming year.
The Runoffs return to the West Coast in 2018, running at Sonoma (sentimentally, still Sears Point). While extra Divisional qualifying slots are available to us (NorPac), past entry data shows nearly everyone qualifies via the Majors path of 3 race weekends, while most of the rest enter via the 2 Majors weekends, plus 2 Regional weekends path. When you consider that just a few years ago, particularly if you ran in a highly competitive class, you needed not only to race 6 or more weekends – you needed to finish at the front of the pack – just to have a chance of qualifying for the Runoffs. Now, there is certainty: race 3 or 4 race weekends and you’re going to Sonoma! What that means is you can run all of your qualifying race to qualify for Runoffs with Oregon and NW Regions, without any long tows!
At the other end of things, expect to see a strengthened Time Trials program, with a National Championship race offering a simplified set of rules, while being hands-off to any current Regional Time Trials programs. The intent is to take the success of TNIA and extend it to build SCCA membership and participation. The fact is, the great majority of TNIA participants (totaling nearly 700 different individuals at PIR and ~600 in NWR since 2015) will not be throwing a cage into their car – ever. There are, however, a good number of those enthusiasts, along with numerous “track day” participants, and ChumpCar racers who would enjoy competing in the right Time Trials format.
For the first time in a long time, I can say with confidence, you can expect next year to be a great year for SCCA members, as I anticipate seeing solid action steps taken to develop our Regions. Again, what SCCA can do best to support Regions is to remove barriers to entry and build exciting events to retain and build member participation. In the end, however, it is your participation, your enthusiasm and support, which makes SCCA so special. I want to thank Todd Harris and John Taylor for their hard work and dedication as Region Execs, along with commitment of our Region Board of Directors, to help lead our Club. Congratulations and thanks to Tim Ferrick for stepping up to be Oregon Region’s new RE.
I hope to see some of you at SCCA’s National Convention in Las Vegas. Best of wishes for a happy, healthy, successful New Year. Good Luck & Good Racing!