The North Carolina Region’s Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner was held on Saturday evening, January 10th, at the Coastline Conference and Event Center in downtown Wilmington. 93 Members attended. Kudos to Elizabeth Severt and John Byers, who did a fabulous job of organizing the event!
The first item on the agenda was a brief business meeting, conducted by RE Rex Deffenbaugh, who gave his annual “State of the Region” report and introduced the Board members who were in attendance, including the only new member on the Board, Assistant RE Mike Spencer.
Membership Chair James Shanks reported that our membership count is 765, back up to where it was in 2009. So, the Region is strong and growing again. This is manifest in our events, which are growing too, often because of how well we treat people. He also showed a copy of our current ad in the February 2015 issue of Grassroots Motorsports (page 174) and also of Pete Hylton’s book The Gentleman’s’ Club, which details the history of the SCCA. He pointed out that, while Hylton’s book is out of print, every member has a free summary of it, along with other historical info on the SCCA, which was published in the February 2014 issue of SportsCar.
Treasurer Steve Keadle then gave a brief financial report. Then, it was on to dinner! Besides a delicious dinner and door prizes, many awards were handed out and I hope I’ve covered them all here. If not, please let me know.
Lifetime Achievement – Ginny Condrey
For years of dedicated service on the eve of her planned retirement. Ginny has been a member of the SCCA and our Region for over 30 years, having joined in 1982, and she has been our office manager and chief registrar for over 25 years. She always has the forms, knows the procedures, and sets up everything in advance for our biggest events. She was instrumental in getting our financial operations off paper and into Quicken, and provides the Treasurer with the figures he needs for our financial reports. She writes the checks that he signs, providing a much needed check-and-balance mechanism. She’s been the glue that held our operations together. Her replacement will have giant shoes to fill.
Lifetime Achievement – Dan Robson
Here in NCR, Dan Robson has been awarded Driver of the Year twice and Hard Luck once. But that just scratches the surface of what Dan has done over the course of his career in the NC Region.
Racer, car builder, fabricator, crew chief, and friend to many, Dan has lent his skills to many, many successful race teams, including 2 Eastern Conference Champs just this year (Chad Bacon in GT3, and Doug Piner in P2). Doug will tell you he wouldn’t have turned a lap out at Laguna if it were not for Dan. Dan was also responsible for Chad’s entire season’s efforts this year and last, including a Runoffs run at Road America in 2013.
Dan has also been a very successful driver himself, having been SEDIV champion 7 times in small bore GT, all in cars he built and maintained himself. He was also twice runner-up at the Runoffs, an event which he competed in as an NCR member an unprecedented 28 times.
His resume also includes many years as a fabricator, mechanic, or crew chief for many pro teams, such as our very own Team Highball, which won the 24 hours of Daytona 5 times in a row in IMSA GTU; Mandeville AutoTech in IMSA GTO; Tommy Riggins in TransAm; Leitzinger Motorsports, a Nissan factory team with legendary Carson Baird as team manager and with Butch Leitzinger, David Loring, and even Don Knowles as drivers; Support Net Racing for Henry Camferdam, with Roger Mandeville, Charles Espenlaub, and Johnny O’Connell as drivers; and more recently Tony Ave and our own Long Road Racing.
He is well known and well respected all across the country. You can’t go to an SCCA event anywhere in the US and not have several competitors come up to Dan to chat or to ask for his advice and counsel on a technical matter. He is a walking encyclopedia of racing knowledge.
We have been very fortunate to have been able to count Dan as an NCR member for nearly 40 years.
Member of the Year – Bruce Dover
For volunteering to take the job of Region Communications Director and figuring out how to make use of Constant Contact as a tool to contact prospective drivers. He took on-line courses to learn how to use the graphical templates and then simplified the process for others. He created and sent out the “meet the candidates” election bios e-mails on his own. Bruce makes certain that the information on our web page is as timely as he can make it. Many times he has the thankless job of having to nag others for information; other times he has to write it himself.
Worker of the Year – Pete Romanowski
For volunteering at our events and at SCCA events all across the Southeast for over 40 days this year. The “iron man” is always there even when his back hurts. He makes it easy for others to volunteer at home or at distant places. For years, everyone in the Southeast knew that Turn 5 at the Daytona 24 was “owned” by Pete and that he could always be counted on to staff it with a mix of veterans and rookies who would work together in superb fashion. When his back began to bother him, the “iron man” tried his hand at Race Control and at Start, and did well at both positions. If you’ve heard him on the radio, then you know what I am talking about. He’s that calm and authoritative voice of experience every Operating Steward wants to hear from when there’s a crisis. He’s been asked about joining the Stewards program but that’s too far removed from the action for Pete. He cannot just watch. He needs a set of flags and fire bottle or he’s just not happy.
Special Service to the Racing Program – Barrie and Mark Coffin
For conceiving of the Production Festival and making it happen for ten years. They conceived of it, organized it, created the special cook out, and got sponsors to help pay for it, as well as to donate gifts to the competitors. This event would never have had the participation it did without them. Anybody wanna step up and volunteer to take over next year?
Driving and Competition Awards
National Driver of Year – Doug Piner
P2 Eastern Conference Champion in the Prototype 2 class and sole representative of NCR at the 2014 SCCA Runoffs. It was an enormous effort to get to the Runoffs. Despite adversity, broken wheels, and abbreviated qualifying sessions, he did not quit and he finished top ten. Could not have done it without help from Crew Chief Dan Robson.
Jim Feinberg National Solo Driver of the Year – Eric Peterson
The National Solo Driver of the Year Award has been renamed for 2014 in honor of long-time member and well-respected national competitor James Feinberg.
The award was presented to Eric Peterson by John Byers, Solo Chair and Chapter Coordinator of the Cape Fear Chapter.
Eric had a phenomenal year in his ES Toyota Spyder. He finished off his stellar year with a huge win at the Solo Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska by winning ES by a margin of .884 seconds over the east and west courses. This was just the icing on the cake as he took the win at the ProSolo Finale as well.
Regional Driver of the Year – Michael Sperber
SARRC Champion in ITA, one of the most hotly-contested classes in SEDIV, with 86 other competitors. He entered and ran in 10 races and won the SIC race itself, an outstanding season.
Open-wheel Regional Driver of the Year – Tim Pierce
Tim was SARRC Champion in Formula B, one of the most hotly-contested open-wheel classes in the Southeast. Tim beat his two closest competitors by less than 10 points, and it was hard-won because two other Region members, Richard Franklin and Alastair McEwan, fought for fourth and fifth, respectively.
Solo Driver of the Year – Chris Severt
Chris had a phenomenal year this year where he was consistently in the top standings of PRO class all season long. He showed his grit and determination many times throughout the year by having to find time on the course on his last run to pick up a position. Chris has been improving year after year rising to the top of his game and it is my great pleasure to present him with this award.
Solo Hard Charger Award – Patrick D’Auria
The Hard Charger award goes to an individual in the Solo community who has made great strides and is turning heads as they master the sport they love! Patrick has been a traditionally quick driver in NCR and this year made the switch to an STR prepared Miata that he adapted to extremely quickly. Patrick ended the year very strong and was in the top 5 in Pax at the end of the year.
Rookie Regional Driver of the Year – William Wallace
William started with an unlikely race car for SCCA, a 1996 Camaro. Long conversations with Chief of Tech Buddy Matthews and long hours in the shop resulted in an SCCA-legal race car in ITE. After getting his school done in another car, William managed to get his own done in time for the Goblins Go double header. He did well overall despite losing his differential in the first race. He got on the phone, found another one, and with the help of his crew chief Kyle Jackson, got it back together in time to win his class in his second race. Sure he was the only entrant but he left with a win and a Regional racing license. We love his enthusiasm!
Solo Rookie of the year – Bob Walker
Bob literally came onto the scene like a rocket. He was full steam ahead in everything the entire season. He was a tremendous help with setting up course and would willingly do any job that was asked of him. Then there was his driving. He came out and consistently got better and better as the year went on. He performed well in ES all season long up to an including NCAC this year.
Crew Chief of the Year – Cameron Conover
It’s a tough job to get a car to finish well in our 13-hour enduro and this award goes to a guy who helped Tyler Raatz use Grant MacDonald’s Miata to take 3rd in ITA and 12th overall. The year before it was VW diesels; having to retire early but still finishing 6th overall. In 2012 it was an outright win in ITA for the Honda Civic team he chiefed. And he’s no stranger to heroic efforts as a Crew Chief in the Pro ranks either. He was the crew chief on Tristan Herbert’s 2011 Rookie of the Year win in the Pirelli World Challenge pro series. They captured Touring Car Crew of the year then too.
Rookie Crew Chief of the Year – Kyle Jackson
Kyle was crew chief for his buddy William Wallace, our Rookie of the year in Regional Racing. He helped prepare Kyle’s car and stayed up till 2am changing a diff in his first event. William would not have finished without him. It’s not so remarkable to help a friend at the track…it’s remarkable to give so much in your first season.
Pace Car/Safety Car Communicator – Ericka Spencer
The Pace Car/Safety Car requires a driver with a competition license as well as a Communicator. While some may think that the Communicator merely talks on the radio, there is much more to it. During a race, the Safety Car may be sent out in a double-yellow flag condition; if the Safety Car was not able to get ahead of the race leader, the Communicator needs to find out from Race Control where the leader is. Usually Race Control will then instruct us to let X number of cars by the Safety Car to pick up the leader.
This can be intense during daylight. At night, such as during our 13 Hour Endurance Race, it is insane: the headlights of the race cars are extremely bright and we cannot see the car numbers, so we rely on Race Control and the Flaggers to let us know where the leader is. Plus the fact that VIR is extremely dark at night.
During this past year’s 13 Hour Race, in the blackness of night, we were sent out well ahead of the leader, and instructed to pick him up, which means to keep him behind us. The leader was in a pack of cars and did not respond to the Communicator’s hand signals to stay behind the Safety Car. Several other race cars quickly decided to pass as well despite the Communicator wildly waving their hands. This happened in the uphill esses which is not a good place for this to happen at night.
The Communicator was livid at the drivers that ignored us, and the situation was radioed in to Race Control, who eventually had us let the entire pack of cars pass us; note that the Safety Car does not stop on the race track to do this, but must maintain a fast speed and must pick safe places on the track to have the drivers pass.
After a few laps, during great stress, we finally picked up the leader, and everything was now under control.
For her part in maintaining her cool under fire and getting the job done, the Pace Car/Safety Car Award goes to Ericka Spencer.
Flagging & Communications (F&C) Awards
Presented by Eric Danielsen, Flag Chief
F&C Worker of the Year –
Brian has deserved this award for many years! With a cheery attitude, he is very helpful before, during and after the events. He also represented the Region well with his work at the 12-Hours of Sebring, getting a close up on TV as a model Corner Marshal. Brian was very humble as he accepted this much deserved award as F&C Worker of the Year.
F&C Rookie of the Year – Patricia Swanson
Patricia started the year with the Flagging & Fire School and worked all 10 days with us at VIR. She arrived as an experienced flagger and fit right in during her first SCCA season. She joins a long list of successful flaggers as Rookie of the Year.
Outstanding Service in F&C – Cj Danielsen
Cj was one of nine people who worked all 10 days at VIR. He was very helpful preparing for the F&F School even though he hadn’t attended one. He has represented the North Carolina Region well at Pro Races, become a conscientious and trusted Corner Captain and recruited newbies. Cj made his dad extremely proud to present him the award for Outstanding Service.
Outstanding Service in Race Chair: Justin Deffenbaugh
New in 2014, the Region has a Race Chair Team, giving perennial Race Chair, Sara Snider, a break. The team consists of Sara Snider, Mark Senior, Justin Deffenbaugh and Eric Danielsen.
Perhaps because Justin Deffenbaugh grew up at the track, he seems to know what needs to be done without being told. He anticipates situations that might arise and solves them before they have a chance to become problems. He has done an outstanding job this year and is presented with this Outstanding Service award.
Outstanding Service in Registration – Barbara Mayes (SCR)
Presented by Ginny Condrey, Chief of Registration
As many of you know, it takes a team of people to pull together an event. The recipient of this year’s Outstanding Service award for Registration is not a NCR member, but she is a familiar face throughout SEDIV and has helped in many areas besides registration during her years of service in the SCCA. Barbara Mayes was a rock for me this past year and a huge part in helping me to make Registration successful. My gratitude and appreciation for her outstanding service go to Barbara for all her help this past year.
Outstanding Service in Timing – Sarah Brookfield
Presented by Anna Crissman, Chief of Timing & Scoring
Sarah is always willing to help in any capacity possible. She is usually there before me and sometimes after I leave. She also has been very helpful in registration on Fridays. Sarah was originally a member of another region. She and her husband have been coming to our events for a few years now because they feel that we have treated them better here.
Solo Worker of the year: Mat Milford
This is a long overdue award for this young man who has routinely gone above and beyond the call of duty for the Solo Program. He has even gone to the extreme of arriving early on the day of events for us to find him asleep in his car awaiting the T & S trailer arrival to start setting up. Thank you for all your hard work Mat!
Outstanding Service in Solo: Mark Miller
The most difficult thing in Solo is finding sites. These days they are becoming more and more difficult to find and retain. If it wasn’t for the tireless effort and community knowledge the NCR Solo program wouldn’t have 2 sites of which we are very proud and fortunate to be able to run at now. Mark, thank you for your help in securing our Blackwater site at CFCC so all of the cone heads can still have a place to play!