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.
Three years ago, I was elected by fellow Pacific Northwest (aka Area 13) SCCA members to serve on the national Board of Directors. I was still trying to figure out how I was going to balance my work, family, and racing commitments with these new responsibilities, when I arrived at my first BOD meeting -- only to be told it was expected all new directors run for a second term. What?! I’m working out survival tactics one month at a time and they want me to commit to 6 years of this?!?
OK, so now it’s 2018 and I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am at being unable to run for re-election due to my “other job” – the one that pays the bills – requirement to work out of Chicago HQ. It’s not that I’ve grown fond of working long hours without pay or discovered I actually enjoy having my a** chewed by upset members. Nope, what gnaws on me is the sense of a job not finished. I try not to take myself too seriously, but I take my work damn seriously: SCCA has better governance and focus, better Club leadership and sense of mission than has been the case in a very long time. Still, there is much work to be done, more details to be sweated, Regions to be re-energized, and members to be won over.
I now understand why there was an expectation to run for a second term: the forced turnover of the Board (1/3 of the Board is up for elections every year) makes staying aligned as a governing body quite challenging. For the past 3 years, the SCCA BOD has worked incredibly hard to conduct better governance: to stop second guessing every decision of SCCA staff and to consider new paths without viewing change as a threat to their regency. The SCCA Board acts to enable positive change: not change for change sake, but because we must do what’s needed, not necessarily what’s always popular in the short-term. During my watch, the BOD has stepped in to assert fiscal responsibility when it was lacking and made hard decisions to effect change at the top of SCCA. They were the right calls for the right reasons.
I couldn’t be prouder of the process and the outcome of hiring Michael E. Cobb as SCCA, Inc. CEO / President. Mike reports to the BOD, with daily operations of SCCA run under his leadership. The BOD’s role isn’t to second guess subject matter experts: it’s to ensure decisions are on strategy, well-reasoned, and fair. Knowing the candidate(s) for my Area 13 Director seat, I’m confident the winner will easily step into this role of good governance.
I have to warn my replacement, the minute you join the national BOD, there are those gunning for you, some hanging out on chatrooms and public forums, others at various events, who rarely let facts get in the way of their determined opinions: you are now a dishonest, lazy, irresponsible, power-hungry, backroom dealing SOB, determined to ruin the SCCA for your pin-headed selfish reasons – of course, that’s just what your friends are saying
I sincerely wish we could have some of these nay-sayers take the time to listen and see – not what they want to believe – but, what’s actually happening now, today, and then take that energy and apply it to driving positive change. SCCA is a members-first organization – over 67,000 strong – built on fun, and the shared passion of experiencing motorsports up-close and personal.
I’ll close this with a statement of SCCA values, which you’ll be hearing and seeing in the future.
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
These values aren’t new – they are the essence of our membership: because so many of you demonstrate these values in the Club, it makes my contributions on the BOD a drop in the bucket. It is – and will always be – my distinct honor, privilege, and pleasure to serve my SCCA family and friends as Area 13 Director these past 3 years.
Thank you. Good Luck & Good Racing!
I managed to be in SCCA for decades without so much as investigating – or even thinking about – how SCCA worked at a national level, let alone consider how to participate in its governance.
For once, I’m not referencing the critical need to get involved at the Region-level, rather I’m talking about how to drive change (or continuity) on a national basis; think about big topics such as: why do we have so many classes with few entrants? Why is my class getting consolidated? These mandated parts are nearly impossible to find, how do we upgrade to parts from this century? Is a roll bar, roll cage or nothing required in this class? Should this driver/steward/official have his event participation privileges revoked? Not easy answers when dealing with a national audience.
If you think the SCCA National Board of Directors (BOD) decides all of these big issues, you’re only partially correct. Once elected to the BOD, I was able to walk the exalted hallway (at Kansas City Airport Hilton) of BOD meetings, I was able to peak behind the curtain of power and I found … a mirror! What?! There’s regular SCCA members and fellow racers sitting on these committees?!? I mean, where are smoke-filled rooms, double martini power lunches, squinty eyed fat guys and imperious women of high office deciding the fate of my max camber and treadwear rating on my “street” tires?
Wow. Who knew the National BOD works on strategy and broad issues impacting the Club, while the actual rules making is done by the broader membership through Volunteer Committees? I had no idea who, what, or how anyone got on the Club Racing Board (CRB), Solo Event Board (SEB), Road Rally Board (RRB), or any of their Advisory (or Ad hoc) Committees (AC). I never thought about Volunteer Committees and their specialized AC’s (e.g., Spec Miata has a SMAC). As it turns out, the BOD these days, tries very hard to stick to broader issues impacting the Club versus second-guessing CRB, SEB, RRB, etc. recommendations. That’s not to say the BOD doesn’t return recommendations requesting greater clarity or consideration, but we are many years past since the BOD spent it’s time arguing sway bar diameters.
So, how do you get involved on a committee? First, you need to be subject matter expert (SME); just bear in mind, we don’t need – or want – the guy who has laser-focused concern on making his car more competitive. You don’t need to have been racing or prepping cars for 15 years, but you probably need to have been racing sufficiently long that you are known and respected by your racing peers. Typically, you’ll have experience at the highest level of competition (Runoffs, Solo National Championship), but it’s not a mandate. If you feel you are qualified, reach out to current member on the Committees or AC’s in which you’re interested and tell them that you want to get involved, possibly joining the Committee. Once you know you’d like to join a Committee, it’s best to submit your racing resume prior to an opening, as succession planning normally has a year or more head start.
The following are some brief snapshots of the experiences some Committee members from this area:
Derrick Ambrose is on the B-Spec AC, which he helped co-found at a Touring Committee meeting. Derrick found the “understanding of the rules changing process and working on making balanced changes with data instead of subjective driver input” to be real positive. His only negative experience was when a CRB liaison attempted to influence a decision against hard data. Derrick recommends every driver would benefit from serving on a committee, as it “gives a better understanding of how the system works for rules” and the related discussions that impact each class.
Ryan Otis on the STAC (Street Touring Advisory Committee); he was approached by a SEB member who let me know there was an opening on the committee and encouraged him to submit a resume.
Ryan believes the most important thing about being on a committee is the involvement in the rule making process and the awareness that “you are there to serve the membership, not your own personal interests.” Self-awareness also is an important personal attribute for success on a committee: “nearly any topic will invite different opinions, so the ability to communicate clearly and respectfully is key.”
Sean Hedrick is a member of the Spec Miata AC, have been recruited by Todd Butler and others. The positives he’s found are the “ability to help guide the class into the future … continue making it better,” which includes closing unintended GCR loopholes. As SMAC gelled, discussions have become more focused. SMAC has manufacturer involvement, as “Mazda is extremely supportive of the SMAC.” Sean has found challenges and benefits from “different communication styles and personalities … on and around our committee.” Minuses being on an AC revolve around broader membership communication: “no matter what we do, it will upset some people.” Being on a committee may require thick skin, as internet “experts” do not let their lack of facts impact their occasional eagerness to “publicly state what we are doing wrong.”
Jeff Zurschmeide, a one-time chair of the Production AC, was recruited into the position by others on the committee. Jeff gained in-depth insight on both the rules and the rule-making process. The downside to being on a committee was the “incessant lobbying” by those wanting “an easy walk to a championship.” Overall, Jeff found his time on the committee as a very positive experience, building strong friendships, and giving him deeper insights into the way SCCA works [to which I’ll add] and how sausage is made!
Potential candidates generally want to know how much time they would be committing. There’s no hard and fast rule, as it greatly depends on the Committee and the magnitude and nature of the topics at hand. A caveat: it can be incredibly frustrating on some Committees and energizing on others. If you are a fist pounder, with ears serving as much function as an early Fox body side scoop, you won’t get far. When you are selected to be part of a Committee made up of your racing peers, who willingly dedicate their time and energy to make SCCA racing better – it can be a very positive thing for both the Club and you.
Good Luck & Good Racing!
The SCCA National Convention, with a new SCCA President, the highest attendance in years, energized members, and motivated speakers, was a hit with attendees. I expect you’ll hear from Regional leadership in attendance at Convention some of their meeting highlights. At our Convention, I led a packed to brim Time Trials Town Hall meeting where we discussed some exciting developments in Time Trials (TT). TT helps address a critical need for SCCA to develop racing programs that provide additional opportunities to have fun with cars, by allowing:
SCCA is the leader in amateur motorsports in the United States: we need to assert this position in everything we do – or lose it. We also need to look to the future and ensure members have access to motorsports. 70% of SCCA participation is solo racing; it’s no secret the precarious position of many autocross sites, particularly here on the West Coast. Key sites have disappeared at a desponding rate, creating risk to our solo racing community. For us to be confident in our ability to stage highly accessible, time-based competition for the next 20+ years, we need to have a robust product line within a motorsports environment.
Track Events, such as Track Night in America (TNIA), bring SCCA 5,000+ new participants a year. More than 1,000 different participants entered a TNIA event in Oregon and NW Regions since the program started a few years ago. Do you think TT is an opportunity in the Pacific Northwest? Without a robust TT program, we are asking those who wish to compete – particularly those in street cars – either to take a huge financial step up to road racing, take a side step to autocross, or run with our competition.
Let’s look how Solo was built and it’ll shed some light on why we’re taking the path we are with TT. In 1950’s and 1960’s, autocross, gymkhana, etc. were operated by 100’s of unaffiliated organizations, with little or no cohesiveness. In 1972, SCCA planted a flag and asserted a leadership position by staging the first Solo National Championship event. With this National Championship came a rulebook, along with procedures and policies that established standards that SCCA Regions and private clubs have followed. This dynamic of a National Championship event, with its own rules, in effect, created an identity for autocross and established SCCA as the leader in that space
Today, SCCA solo regions have their own identity – and the freedom to execute their program as they see fit. Still, you’d be hard pressed to find a program that does not enjoy benefits from following the model set by Solo Nationals. The National SCCA BOD believes SCCA needs to take the lessons of Solo and apply them to Time Trials. Here’s where we’re going:
It is critically important to recognize the creation of the TTB and the TT National Championship have no impact on any current Divisional or Regional TT or Hillclimb program. Divisions and Regions are free to continue (or start) with rules and classes that make sense for their areas. The only caveat is SCCA TT safety rules set a minimum; Divisions/Regions may add safety measures. What is hoped, however, is local organizers recognize the great benefit of street cars in TT competition and look for ways to reduce barriers to entry to SCCA competition – not create new hurdles.
There is a very real possibility of running a TT competition at an airport. While some may think Hood River, there are numerous SCCA Regions in Idaho, Montana, and Alaska with small airports, zero road racing, but a ton of enthusiasts. What if … we took an airport and created what would be a series of extended Solo courses, one where you run the track in sections, in different configurations? How about scoring PIR not only as a single continuous lap, but run it in segments, so maybe some competitors can smoke the tight turns 2– 7, while others are great at high speed transitions in 9 – 12, and the maximum speed folks romp the straights. Based on the buzz around the country, expect Regions new to TT, to start adopting SCCA National Championship rules to local competition.
Good Luck & Good Racing!