Seems as though a good deal of people in volunteer leadership positions like to tell folks how long they’ve been at it. The challenge of being a long-time member is often you want to keep things the way they were … or move things back to what “normal” is supposed to be in your memory. But, something “funny” is happening with SCCA leadership: we’ve got a bunch of progressives in leadership roles. Look no further than our new SCCA CEO/President, Mike Cobb. Mike was hired for his business acumen, yet he’s a long-time Solo competitor and passionate “car guy.” The BOD could have easily gone with an insider, but we chose to think differently. Nothing speaks to change more than the Club Racing’s 2017 National Championship Runoffs.
Anyone around the Solo racing world can’t help but notice the outstanding success of the SCCA Solo National Championships: it is a huge party, a celebration of having fun with cars, and top notch Solo racing. But, a funny thing about the Solo Championship: while many competitors are there to bring home a trophy, a good many are there for the competition and just happy for a clean run and to participate. SCCA Club Racing looked at the fun, camaraderie, and terrific competition of the Solo National Championship and opted to try something new, adopting a participation only requirement to race at the Runoffs.
You know the Runoffs: totally serious competition for all the marbles. The Runoffs are an expensive, intense, and long week, and for those in the PNW, one heck of a long tow most years. Even rotating the Runoffs to “bucket list” tracks such as Laguna Seca and Daytona or returning to favorite Mid-Ohio still resulted in many classes struggling to fill Runoff fields. Yet, in large classes, such as Spec Racer Ford, SRF3 III, and Spec Miata you could be beating 20 or 30 or more cars every weekend and not qualify for the Runoffs. So, for 2017, to celebrate SCCA’s first national championship crossing the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we’re doing things differently by having an open invitation to race based on participation at Majors and/or Regional races during the regular season. As of this writing, we are already at 895 entrants for the 2017 Runoffs!
At this year’s convention, a number of former racers and stewards angrily complained about how we will “ruin competition” by allowing anyone to participate at the Runoffs. Well, what’s interesting is we’ve yet to hear complaints from SRF, SRF3, Spec Miata, or Formula Vee drivers – you know, the folks who in race in large fields and may never qualify for the Runoffs under the old system? In years past, we were inundated with requests for waivers -- not from participants in large classes, but from darn near everyone else. In fact, in 2016, I believe the entire Runoffs qualifying field petitioned to allow any and all B-Spec comers to race simply to support the class, create additional competition, and have fun racing together. What a novel idea: racing for fun, competition, and camaraderie. Ask most any SRF 2/3 or SM racer why they love the class and those are the same reasons you get!
Crossing the bricks at Indy for the 2017 Runoffs will be a forever memory for anyone fortunate enough to do so. For our volunteers, the big fields will mean non-stop action and a ton of work … but it is a moment you’ll want to experience yourself. I’m sure there’ll be challenges, but enlisting Motorsports Reg to build our paddock plan for us will be a very good thing and I’m hoping that despite the pressure and expense, having what may be close to 1000 competitors will make for an amazing event. Success at Indy in 2017 will prime the pump for our 2018 Runoffs return to the West Coast as we run at Sonoma Raceway. I hope to see you at Indy!
Good Luck & Good Racing!