2008 SCCA National Convention - Reed Kryder
This was my second year attending the SCCA National Convention. Like last year, I was truly impressed with the general focus of the convention. While there were some minor exceptions, the vast majority of the 400+ attendees were all working for the general good of the club. An incredible amount of information is exchanged. The National office has updates from every area they are involved in and information also flows from the members to the officers regarding what is happening in their Regions. Below are some of the activities I attended.
SCCA PRO RACING OPEN FORUM
They actually made money in 2007. And debts were reduced. Pro was told last year there would be no forthcoming financial support and they are making great strides in that direction, but there is a long way to go.
A new series has been added for 2008. It is a VW Jetta TDI Cup and will function as a driver development series. The cars are all provided to participants. There are no teams or individually owned vehicles. The drivers targeted are young people with a desire to go pro racing. This series will provide opportunities to showcase their skills while being trained in other skills such as working with the media. A one-time yearly fee will be assessed to each accepted driver. Driver’s previously holding any type of pro licenses are not eligible.
Someone asked about the Trans Am Series and while there are discussions ongoing it is not currently at the top of the priority list.
A discussion was held regarding how Pro and Regions located near pro events can help each other. Many ideas were given with most of them centering on ways to improve communications.
An interesting comment from the floor lead to a general agreement to eliminate the use of the word “worker” when referring to SCCA volunteers. Using other terms such as “Corner Marshall” and “Pit Official” would be a better approach.
MEET THE PRESIDENT MEETING
A lot of this was a summary of club status.
But Jim Julow did announce the convention was moving to Las Vegas next
year. Details are forthcoming once contracts are signed.
SCCA INC. ANNUAL MEETING and TOWN HALL MEETING
These meetings feature many summaries from different individuals and then the floor is opened to members for comment and questions.
MARKETING OVERVIEW MEETING
This was conducted by Eric Prill, Vice President of Marketing Communications.
Distribution of SCCA Merchandise is being brought back “in house” within the next week or two. One interesting result of this is a sale of merchandise is ongoing. Check the SCCA website.
This was an interesting meeting to sit in on because you find many of your perceptions are not exactly correct. For instance, the availability of TV coverage is shrinking. And not just for the SCCA. The problem isn‘t less available time, it‘s more people wanting time for their particular brand of motorsport. And if you are wondering about “quality” motorsports coverage, you need to recognize there are some big backers (read that MONEY) behind some of what you might consider lower quality programs.
On a good note, SCCA does not pay for Run-Offs coverage. That is rare in the industry. Virtually everyone (except NASCAR) buys their coverage. The downside is SCCA cannot dictate when it is shown.
There are a couple of event marketing tools which should become available in the next 30 days. They include a flier and a poster which can be customized for local usage. The fliers can be done at your local Kinko’s as well as other print shops.
The SCCA also has lots of assistance available
for putting together local print ads. These are customized to usage
and SCCA handles various items including sizing and insertion into the
targeted publication. The cost for this service is a cheap $50.
Contact John Steflik for details.
The Milwaukee area region has had their events televised by the local cable company as part of their local sports programming. It was well done and the region was paid for it. Possibilities?
General: It was obvious that Eric
Prill and his group have a vast amount of material available to help local
Regions. So much material in fact that we, as a Region, need to have
someone who regularly checks with them to discuss ways we can benefit.
This was hosted by Jim Julow. It was an opportunity for drivers to discuss items with Jim. It was a very productive meeting with Jim taking many notes. What started as a discussion as to what topics and activities might draw drivers to the National Convention evolved into at least three possibilities:
1. Some driver related seminars at
the National Convention. But this was not considered the best format
to reach many objectives.
2. A sizeable program with materials and personnel to assist existing driver related functions such as NEOhio’s Comp Clinic, selected races, etc. This idea started small and grew as the discussion progressed. One big advantage of this idea was it minimized travel by drivers.
3. One idea did require travel but the was viewed as a very positive one by virtually everyone. Many racers already attend the annual Performance Racing Industry Show and having one or two days of SCCA competitor driver scheduled in the same area and time frame might be very successful and well attended.
There were many suggestions as to topics for these driver meetings.
One interesting comment was heard from the youngest (and I should say only under-thirty person amongst the 30-40 participants). He stated that the majority of his car crazy friends view the SCCA events as a “service” and not as a “club”. Put another way: they attend because we are offering something they want to do, not because they want to be part of the group. We have seen signs of this attitude before and we must recognize it in our activities.
VOLUNTEER INCENTIVE PROGRAM
There is a plan. After a few adjustments, details will be forthcoming. Most discussion from the floor concerned the simplicity of the paperwork. It is simple. The reason was to assume short, honest reporting by volunteers rather than rigorous, time consuming reporting by both volunteers and chiefs.
CRB TOWN HALL MEETING
In many ways it was “same old, same old” with discussions centering on individual car items or personal wants and needs. But there were several general suggestions to improve the feedback from drivers on items being discussed. Increased use of the internet and targeting drivers by class were both discussed at some length. By the way, if you have not updated your email address with the SCCA you can do it at their website. Apparently there are a lot of people who change addresses and don’t let he SCCA know. It should be easy to do.
CLUB RACING TECH
This was handled by Toni Creighton. There was a list of subjects but the general gist was to see how different parts of the country handled things, not to make everyone do things the same way. For example: When a vehicle is towed in and needs a follow-up tech inspection, where should it be “dropped”? Maurice LaFond pointed out that Nelson Ledges and Mid-Ohio use different approaches. He successfully showed how the two different approaches work best for their individual track requirements and there is no need to have a common approach.
One follow-up to the meeting was that Toni is going to start creating a master list of items which could be inspected at tech. The idea wasn’t to inspect everything all the time, but to try to get some variety in the items inspected during the course of a year.
AWARDS AND HALL OF FAME INDUCTION BANQUET
Stories about the award winners can be found in “SportsCar”. But I do have one final observation.
Throughout the convention you had only to look around to see the “graying of the club”. But that would be a false impression of the overall membership. The membership numbers for the past year show trends indicating a shift to younger members. Hopefully this trend continues.
But there is a natural tilting to the “gray crowd” amongst convention attendees. That’s because the people attending are individuals who feel a duty to return something to the club they love. And when you hear of the accomplishments of the Hall of Fame Inductees you start to realize how rich in history our club is. I’m not sure a new SCCA member would fit in with many of the convention activities. But if someone has been around long enough to know their involvement is not just a passing fad, the convention offers an atmosphere which only reinforces their love of the SCCA.
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