We’re publishing the Loud Pedal a little early this month because I’m headed to Bowling Green, Kentucky for the second annual Time Trials Nationals.
The Time Trials program has been going for a few years now, and it’s growing into a full-fledged SCCA competition venue. I think it’s one of the most important things we’re doing to secure the future of SCCA.
We’ve all noticed a cyclical slowdown in Road Racing. It happens. 20 years ago, Don Smethers explained that he’d been observing for 30 years (at that time - up to 50 now) how attendance rose and fell over time. We’re a low point these days, but I believe racing will always come back.
Part of coming back is looking at what new people want to drive, and how they want to race. When we see hundreds more cars show up for marque club track days than are turning up for SCCA events, that’s a big clue.
There’s a large market out there that wants to drive their street car on track. That makes sense, as many current street cars have more power and better handling than race cars did just a few years ago. But it’s also that in the midst of a busy life, a person may not want to invest in a truck and trailer for a dedicated race car. Time Trials gets back to SCCA’s “run what ya got” roots, when drivers taped up their headlights and drove to the track in their race cars. We need to provide a place for people who just want to have fun with cars in their own way.
As I write, the Solo Nationals and RallyCross nationals are complete. We’ve got coverage of the RallyCross champions in this issue, and we’ll get reports from our Solo folks in November.
The Runoffs are also coming up in the next few weeks, over at Virginia International Raceway. The distance has kept a few west coast drivers away, sadly, but I will be there to cheer for our Oregon and Northwest drivers who make the long tow.
I’ve been going to the Runoffs since 2004, and it never loses the excitement I felt the first time I went. This is more than a championship race - it’s a tribal gathering. At least we don’t have to do it in the desert in the middle of summer!
After the Runoffs, we’ll gather once more to honor this year’s outstanding drivers, and then it’s a short wait to the SCCA national convention in January. The fun really never ends, does it?
If you read the 2018 financial report in SportsCar magazine, you know that SCCA needs to save money. Believe me when I tell you that this is top-of-mind for every board member right now.
One way that the board is looking to save money is to change the way we manage our elections. It sounds like a small thing, but it’s significant. Every time there’s a ballot sent to every SCCA member, it can cost the club tens of thousands of dollars for printing and mailing, return postage, and ballot counting.
The problem is, the club’s legal bylaws require that we “mail” out ballots. That part of the bylaws has been rendered obsolete by technology, and there’s no good reason to spend this money when we can hold elections electronically. Oregon Region and many other regions already hold their elections this way.
There will be more next month in SportsCar and here in the Loud Pedal, including a look at the proposed new language for the bylaws. Then, we’ll send out a paper ballot for what will hopefully be the last time, to vote on the bylaws change. I plan to vote for it, because there are much better things we could be doing with that money.
By the time the October issue of the Loud Pedal is released, we’ll be well into national championship season. This year, I’m attending the Time Trial Nationals in Kentucky, and then the Runoffs in Virginia. Next year, I plan to visit the Solo Nationals.
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,