RE Report on Mid-Year Meeting – July 2016

It is tradition each year mid-season that SEDIV calls a meeting of all the RE’s, Area Directors, series officials, stewards, and other interested parties to discuss various topics of interest. Also included in the discussion is a rough draft of the following season’s SEDIV schedule. This year’s meeting was held Saturday, July 16th, at a hotel adjacent to Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. I attended along with Past RE Rex Deffenbaugh. I want to say a special thanks to Rex for accompanying me on the trip. His intros and insight were valuable. I won’t bore you with all the mundane details of the meeting, but there were several topics of interest to NC Region members that I’d like to share with you.

First is our 2017 schedule. It was requested that I submit our anticipated schedule in advance by July 10th. I’m sure back in the 80’s when regions had great flexibility in setting schedules, it might have been possible to do that with some certainty. That is no longer the case and we are pretty much at the mercy of track owners in fighting for dates. Apparently that’s not unique to VIR anymore either.

Several RE’s expressed the same experience, and while I’m certain VIR is still the most expensive venue in SEDIV, Road Atlanta and CMS are catching up. That can only mean one thing – expect an increase next year for us also. It is a sellers’ (track owners) market right now.

In any event, I submitted a repeat of our 2016 schedule with one significant change. We have requested of VIR a change off of our one-day November enduro date in favor of a weekend in mid to late summer next year. What we do with that weekend is still TBD, but the encouraging thing is that VIR is considering it. We may still have an enduro of some type as part of that weekend, but we could also include a wide range of other newer SCCA offerings such as a Bracket Enduro, a PDX, a Solo, a Track Night, our Region picnic, a Rallycross, a Hillclimb, and maybe even make the weekend part of a Targa. I’m excited about the possibilities. This could even be a special 60th NCR/VIR Anniversary celebration event. NC Region’s first ever race was also VIR’s first ever race – August 1957.

The other exciting news is that we have been offered the chance to hold the 55th Formula Vee Anniversary as part of our SARRC/MARRS weekend in 2018. Apparently, when they have an anniversary event, lots of them actually do show up, so we may have to add a run group to the schedule. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out and show them some NC Region Hospitality.

Lastly, this is not confirmed yet, but a sixth Majors may be added to the calendar for the July 4th weekend at Roebling. If approved, we will no longer be the SEDIV finale which is sad, but I believe SEDIV is one of the only divisions without a sixth Majors, so it was coming sooner or later.

More immediate is our Hospitality Tent at the IMSA weekend coming up in two weeks. We will be in attendance with a 10’x40’ tent assembly which will include the unveiling of our new NC Region tent. There will be three SCCA race cars on display along with members representing the various aspects of the Region: Drivers, Workers, Autocrossers. The event is being spearheaded by John Lindquist and our objective is to spread the word about SCCA membership. If you attend the event as a spectator, be sure to stop by and say hello.

That’s it for now, but stay tuned.
Small steps, always forward.
Sam Fouse, RE

RE Report – June 2016

We have had a very successful first half to our 2016 schedule and we are now in the seemingly ‘quiet’ period for NC Region racing activities, or so it would seem. That’s not exactly true however, so here’s a rundown of what’s happening.

The New Old Bulletin is coming out today via e-mail. It will be a ‘pointer’ to news and views on our website and should be a fresh way to easily get to new content on our Region site and social media as it comes out. If you’re reading this, you likely got here via The Bulletin. It will continue to be automatically sent to all NC Region members and to any non-members who express an interest in receiving it by allowing us to add their e-mail address to our database.

We are still considering a Region picnic and have the option of doing so at VIR under the big shelter next to the skidpad. Please express your interest at your Chapter meetings this week so we know whether to proceed or not. We have the option of doing this while VIR is shut down for paving during July. Although the track itself will be shut down, other activities are available (hint- go kart racing).

The mid-year meetings occur in Atlanta on July 16. Rex Deffenbaugh and myself will be officially representing the Region. We are expected to give SEDIV our 2017 schedule, realizing that it is tentative and subject to negotiations with VIR. There are some changes in the works being contemplated, but nothing concrete to report just yet. Please – if you have any ideas for new creative events or changes to existing events, please forward them to me directly, preferably before July 15th or at least before our next Board meeting on July 20th. Send them to: NCR55RE@gmail.com. Please, no whiners. If you don’t like something, offer a positive alternative.

We are also conducting our second annual SCCA Welcome Tent at VIR during the three-day IMSA weekend in late August. We will have race cars on display along with volunteers representing all aspects of our Region and SCCA. We were reasonably successful last year, even though we went in blind not knowing what to expect. We have learned from that experience, and John Lindquist has put together a substantial program for this year with a display twice as large. We will also unveil the new NC Region Hospitality Tent during the event. If you would like to volunteer, please contact John Lindquist.

And lastly, the Comp Board will be working on the details of our fall events, Goblins Go, and our Enduro. While the Goblin’s Go event is pretty much sorted out, there are some details still in the works for the enduro and you’ll hear more on that soon.

So enjoy the summer and let’s stay in touch. Small steps, always forward.

Sam Fouse, RE

RE Report – Spring Season Review 2016

On the occasion of the rebirth of The Bulletin, this is a review and summary of our Spring 2016 racing season. It is my intention that this article be followed by more event-specific articles, beginning with the SEDIV meetings in February and progressing through the most recent SARRC/MARRS Challenge.

First of all, let me thank all who have contributed to what has been a very successful start to our year. Ultimately the mission of NC Region’s racing program, as I see it, is to provide a rewarding and positive experience to participants in all areas of involvement (drivers, crew, and volunteers), while returning a sustainable financial return that allows us to continue to do the same for the foreseeable future. The formula is really quite simple. Charge a fair and reasonable entry fee, watch your costs, and treat people well. Do that consistently and the positive word will spread. “Build it and they will come.”

If you were to just look at numbers of drivers, entries and volunteers though, you’d think we didn’t grow much at all this spring. In fact, we only served 10 more drivers with 6 more volunteers, increases of less than 2% each over 2015. Entries were also up less than 4% over year prior, even with the return of the Carolina Cup Pro Series and adding the combo enduros. But, based on the hugely positive feedback from participants, and based on the very positive financial turnaround, we have succeeded on both counts. Growth can’t always be measured just by numbers.

I credit our renewed success to four factors, in no particular order:
First, we are paying attention to our numbers better. 2015’s dismal financial outcome proved once and for all that slashing entry fees to below cost doesn’t insure more entries. The reality is simply that we operate at one of the most expensive racing venues in the country. At the start of 2016, out of necessity, we were forced to adjust entry fees back to competitive market levels. As shown above, there has been no drop off in drivers or entries. In most cases however, our entry fees are still at or below our nearest competition. VIR costs more because it’s a ‘destination’ facility and is worth more. We have to recognize that fact and manage accordingly.

Second, we are communicating our plans better. We now prepare event budgets in advance and put them in the hands of the Race Chairs, so they have guidelines to adhere to with respect to the items over which they have some control. The budgets are based on historical averages with targets for revenues and costs. Every event should have a reasonable chance of paying for itself. I’m happy to report that it appears we have been consistently coming in under budget on the cost side, and meeting or exceeding our revenue targets. I give credit to our Race Chairs for pulling together.

Third, I credit Marketing. You can fuss over entry fees and create all the budgets in the world, but in the end none of it matters if you don’t reach your target audience. The Marketing committee continues to deliver quality eAds to our driver audience as in the past, but they have stepped it up this year. We now have the ability to reach just about every SCCA-licensed driver east of the Mississippi with a message. We are also working to develop a social media presence, and they’ve even branched out creatively by recently making a video at our Spring Sprints that has been picked up by National. Our Hospitality tent concept has also been enjoying success with distributing merchandise, gifts, T&S results, and providing general goodwill to our participants. The prominent players in Marketing have been Eric Danielsen (Chair), Blair ‘Opie’ Deffenbaugh (Social Media), and Jean Quick (Ms. Hospitality). In all, there are about 20 members now actively ‘selling’ NC Region in various areas of specialty. The positive feedback is beginning to show and they’re just getting started.

Fourth is an item we unfortunately have no control over, but that is outstanding weather. If you don’t think that’s a factor remember when it snowed north of VIR in 2013, we had many competitors unable to get out of their driveway for our March event and we lost badly. This year we enjoyed 70 degree weather in March, and along with the factors outlined above, we turned a positive for the first time in seven years. But remember, what Mother Nature gives, she taketh away, and she always wins.

So what’s next? Our fall schedule has both challenges and opportunities in store. For Goblin’s Go I’m excited to announce that we have been selected to serve as the host for the season finale for the V8 Road Racing Series. Nothing can get the adrenalin flowing like a large field of ground-pounders. This will be in addition to the 12th running of the Production Car Festival, along with our usual complement of SARRC and mini-enduros. Add the fall colors, and this year’s event should be another winner.

For the enduro, we all know 2016 is a turning point. We are actively working on some innovations and marketing strategies to turn this event around. Make no mistake – 2016’s event is certain. We have a contract and a date. It’s up to us to make it work. I am confident we can do so if we pull together. I’ve seen us in action.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you soon. Small steps, always forward.

Sam Fouse, RE

My First RE Report

by Sam Fouse, NCR Regional Executive

Date: 17 Feb 2016

I’ve been reading these things for almost forty years and now it’s my turn to write one.
Okay, here goes.

After becoming RE at the Annual Banquet on Jan. 9th, it suddenly hit me that from this point forward – everything’s my fault. I also quickly realized that I was about to embark on a crash schedule for the next three months. Here’s just the first 30 days:

  • January 9: Annual Banquet, Wilmington.
  • January 17: Comp Board Meeting, Greensboro
  • January 19: Board Meeting, back to Greensboro
  • January 21-24: Fly to Las Vegas for SCCA National Convention
  • Feb. 3: Triangle Chapter Meeting, Raleigh
  • Feb. 5-7: SEDIV Meetings, St. Simons
  • Feb. 9: Breathe. It’s only been 30 days. Alright, get back to work!
  • Feb. 17: Board Meeting, Durham

And the above schedule doesn’t include the phone calls, endless hours behind the computer, the e-mails, spreadsheets, etc., etc. Still haven’t cashed my first paycheck (TIC) – haven’t had time. I think this is where I’m supposed to insert an emogi.

By the way, before I go any further, let me give a shout out to our Office Manager and Newsletter Editor, Bruce Dover. On more than one occasion I’ve sent him an e-mail at 2AM, and got a response in minutes! This man is 24/7, literally, and we could not function if it were not for Bruce. So give him a thank you the next time you see him. And tell him I said duh-huh.

So here’s my report on the National Convention. Damned good thing I took notes.
It all went by in a blur.

SCCA National Convention, Las Vegas Jan. 22-23, 2016

Four Board Members represented the Region and split up to attend various sessions in order to maximize the takeaway: Myself as RE, Mike Spencer as Asst. RE, Rex Deffenbaugh as past RE, and Mark Senior, also as past RE and Triangle Chapter Coordinator.

I tried to focus on Marketing-related sessions and I can tell you that SCCA National appears to have finally gotten the message. There were multiple sessions on marketing and promotion, social media, and even the keynote speaker topic was hospitality. Looks like they finally get it.

The most impressive of the presenters for me was Heyward Wagner, who now has a title I can’t fully grasp, but it has something to do with ‘experiential’ which I think means he’s into anything and everything you can interact with via SCCA. I learned lots of tips and tricks regarding e-mail advertising and social media, and have passed most of it on to our Marketing Committee. It gave me an insight into how important social media is and how big of an asset Facebook can be for very few dollars. Blair Deffenbaugh is our social media guru and to him this is not news, but all of us need to understand and become a part of his social media campaign.

The keynote speaker was Chris Robbins (not to be confused with our Chris Robbins), Senior Program Lead for Southwest Airlines and the topic was Hospitality. He gave two definitions that were the core of his message.

  • Customer Service: the minimum expectation. You just did what you were supposed to do.
  • Hospitality: exceeding expectations to the point that customers will spread positive opinions of you and/or your organization.

He suggested we view our Region as a business: Our customers are our drivers, both within and outside of the Region; our employees are our volunteers; and our shareholders are the general membership of the Region (all 750 NCR members). Our volunteers are the face of our Region. They are the ones who are responsible for the opinions others form about NC Region. Both we and they have to remember that.

I attended a session titled Building Your Region for Success. There were several presenters, but for me the one that resonated was Jim Weidenbaum, Oregon Region and Area 13 Director. His entire presentation was one page but it was core stuff, complete with an acronym, SWOT to help us focus on what’s important:

Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

Think about how that acronym relates to your own area of contribution to the Region’s success.
There were lots of other gems on that page and I will share it in another newsletter article.

I also attended a session titled Planning for Majors Success. There were some takeaways from this session that we can and should put some of them in place immediately for our upcoming Spring Sprints. They include:

  • Put a paddock map in the drivers’ packet and on the backside have the track-related facts such as camping, electric, jack stand pads, fuel restrictions, etc. In other words, the VIR-specific rules.
  • Have two helpers available at the victory stand to assist national
  • Have a race car at the Saturday night social (or a sponsor’s car)
  • Have a radio show or local radio station broadcast from the event.
  • Also, Majors–branded SCCA merchandise is available from SCCAGear.com (Rick Poore) at cost for Regions to mark up and sell. I talked with Rick and we may be able to do this via consignment.

By the way, we are required to provide a photographer and a victory circle announcer for this event.

It was also suggested that we not encumber the 90% who ‘get it’ trying to legislate for the 10% who don’t. This is a suggestion we could apply to all our events.

The RE Breakfast was on Saturday hosted by Rick Myers. Some tidbits to share:

  • New members can get a weekend membership for $15, or $45 for a year (first year only).
  • New method for buying a weekend membership is via mm.scca.com, and can be used on smartphone or tablet.
  • Demographics: We are now 47,000 members and growing at a 4.2 % rate. Our average age is 45. Solo adds more new members than club racing, but the retention level is lower, so our composition is currently 55% racers, 38% solo, 7% other.
  • Easiest way to change by-laws to allow e-voting is to simply change wording to specify that ballots will be delivered by a specific date and not specify the method.
  • Live Saturday support from National during race weekends is being discontinued. If we you don’t like it, let your voice be heard!

On Friday I attended a session on the Greenpower program www.greenpowerusa.net, an interesting educational tie-in with STEM. It deserves an article of its own.

On Saturday I attended a session on New Programs including Track Night, Bracket Enduro, etc. It too deserves its own article.

Lastly, I attended sessions on Conflict Management (Stewards) and Risk Management.

The highlight of Saturday evening was the banquet. It was MC’ed by Greg Creamer. He does an incredible job. Two of the several inducted into the Hall of Fame were names you’ll all recognize: Randy Pobst and Roger Penske. Roger especially impressed me.

Roger started out as a racer in college and enjoyed sponsorship from a Chevy dealer in Philadelphia. After winning four SCCA National Championships, and while working as an employee of the dealership, he was faced with a choice many of us have had to make: career or racing. He was offered the chance to buy the dealership and with money he borrowed from his dad’s retirement nest egg, he started what later became the Penske empire. The catch was that GM told him he had to stop racing because it was disallowed as a dealer/owner, so it was either business or racing. The rest is history.

I also had opportunities all weekend to meet other RE’s and SCCA people from all over the country. I cannot put into words the value of the knowledge and future worth that those connections could mean. Those are things you can’t get from an e-meeting.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at VIR.

RE Report – 2014 “State of the Region”

During the 2014 racing season, as a result of unplanned expenditures during the 2013 season, we managed to lose some money, so we were interested in recovering as much as possible during the 2014 season, and we did recover most of it. Since we are a nonprofit, it’s not easy to accomplish this. Many things conspired to allow us to cover some of that money, and some of what we learned will help to control cost of operations in the future as they normally increase. The March race was canceled because of track paving operations, and since we traditionally lose money on that race, that was in our favor. There were many other occurrences that allowed us to save money and some follow.

We saved money by coming up with more effective and cheaper methods to advertise. We saved large amounts of cash not advertising as much in national magazines. We planned to run only one ad, but that didn’t work out when Grassroots Motorsports ran a second ad we didn’t want, but we have received an ad for the 2015 season at no charge as a result, thus breaking even on that cost.

We have had a need for more Race Chairs for years, and 3 members, Mark Senior, Eric Danielsen and Justin Deffenbaugh, stepped up and chaired their first races as a team. The result is that we now have more people to choose from for Race Chairs, relieving Sara, who has often worn the hat of Race Chair and Chief Steward on the same weekend in the past.

We had one member, Bruce Dover, who stepped up and established a system that allows us to execute mass emails. He had help from Board member, Sam Fouse, who helped develop an address list that covers a large portion of the country, and you have seen the results of that labor.

We changed the way we conduct our hospitality to save money there. Some of those changes may seem severe, but that cost was growing to be our second largest race operation expense with no limit in sight. We had some missteps during the year, but things were smoothing out by the end of the season and next year will be even better.

In 2015, we are looking into changing the way we vote in Board of Directors elections and would like to use the internet to accomplish this.

We will expand our event with Tarheel Sports Car Club. We had our first event with them in 2014, and some portions were successful and some were not. We will improve that event for 2015 and have a joint meeting planned with VIR management to help with that goal.

The biggest challenge the Club has to deal with is that Ginny Condrey is leaving. She is the only paid employee of the club, and as a result, many responsibilities found their way to her. We will split her responsibilities amongst a number of people, and if you know anyone who might be able to help with this, please let a Board member know. She has been one of the most valuable assets the Club has, and knows more about day to day operations than anyone else, so it will be important to choose people to shadow her through the year to learn as much of what she knows as we can. We want to thank Ginny for her many years of service and let her know she will be missed.

And lastly, we will start 2016 with a new RE. We need someone in this position who can move the Club forward with innovation and insight. I will never be away from Club operations and will stay involved in many capacities, but it’s time for a change.

Rex Deffenbaugh, Regional Executive

RE Report – March 2014

RE’s Report on the SEDiv Annual Meeting

On January 18-19, the Southeast Division Annual Meeting was held at the Sea Palms in St. Simons, Georgia. Mark Senior and I attended several of the sessions and our reports are detailed below:

Tech Meeting, led by Fred Clark.

Fred discussed the tech tools available to all the Regions. They included a whistler for measuring compression ratio, including a new adapter for Mini Coopers; a special tool for measuring bore and stroke “in-situ”; an electronic meter for measuring roll bar thickness without drilling a hole; and a fuel tester. Fred noted that the best way to have these items shipped is via bus (Greyhound). On the subject of fuel testing, it was noted that NCR’s Chief of Tech, Buddy Matthews, is likely the only one still testing. Others take a sample at the track and send it off to be tested. It was noted that as soon as we come up with a system to test the fuel, folks come up with a way to beat it. Fred brought up the topic of “REM” coating of parts (transmission). It was agreed there was no way to detect it, so we should just allow coatings.

The biggest topic was how to deal with Chump/Lemons cars that want to race with us. The 2 major concerns were safety (both for the driver of the car and for other cars, due to parts falling off the cars) and the performance disparity, due to being allowed to run any kind of car in those series. There was also a minor concern regarding the appearance of the Chump/Lemons cars and the apparent inconsistency with the GCR, which requires cars to look good. The consensus seemed to be to let them run, provided they are safe, with the additional suggestion that we give them their own group. Mark suggested that, if we are to allow them to run, we should be sure to inform them as to what will be expected of them, so they can prepare for Tech and not end up being disappointed when they can’t pass tech.

Planning Committee/Class rules, with John Zucarrelli chair and Mark Senior on the committee.

There were no formal issues to vote on. It was noted that GT2 and GTA are now combined and consequently no $10 fee is required. The issue of the Honda Fit motor as an optional replacement for Club Ford was discussed and considered a non-issue for the time being, as no one was aware of anyone wanting to replace their classic engine with a new one and that replacement parts should be available for some time. The issue of allowing Chump/Lemon cars was brought up again with a similar conclusion as in the Tech meeting. It was noted that we should not finish the race day with the largest race group.  A full 50% of our Majors race entries are in 3 groups – SRF, SM, STL. We should not aggravate the largest group of customers by making them last every day. Also, it was noted that National had changed sanction rules so that only one sanction number per weekend was required. With fewer sanction fees, the Region saves money.

Some folks were overheard noting that the Barber track rent was $29k per day and Lime Rock $25k per day. This needs to be verified, as this may be the rate for the weekend. We’re not sure if that includes all the other fees, such as ambulances and tow trucks. Someone did math indicating that the average track rent in the Southeast was $43 per minute.

Alternate Driver School hosted by Mike Havlick and Mike Finn.

It was noted that Florida Region could not get enough students and were therefore losing money, so they appealed to National for other ways to get drivers licensed. The Alternate School was the solution. An approved instructor (or instructors) will meet with students at any track event, SCCA or other group, and work with them one-on-one to insure that they are familiar with SCCA rules, know how our races are conducted, and are capable of driving a race car to the instructor’s satisfaction. Note that a sanction number from National must be obtained, so that both the instructor and student are covered by SCCA insurance. Instructors must be approved by Mike Havlick or the SEDiv Chief Steward (for now). This is so they can be sure the students receive proper training. Following the school, the student will need 3 more weekends (not races) to obtain a competition license and only one race weekend (one or more races) per year to maintain their license. There is no more Regional or National license.

In summary, a driver may obtain a license through the following processes:  attend a single SCCA driver school, attend a single private school, complete an Alternate Driver School, or receive approval from the SEDiv licensing Administrator based on prior racing experience. Both the Alternate Driver School and prior racing options require, or at least are aided by, documented race results and letters of recommendation from SCCA racers. It was noted that none of the instructors at the meeting charged any fees for their student’s instruction. The students only had to pay the normal fees for the weekend event. For most options, the starting point is obtaining an SCCA membership and Novice Permit. The Alternative School would then require finding an approved instructor and an event that both can attend. It is assumed that any car that would meet the requirements of the particular event would be acceptable and it would not have to be an SCCA log book car. It was noted by most of those in attendance that SCCA needs to be more friendly and accommodating, if we hope to compete with NASA and the other sanctioning bodies. It was also noted that the demographics of our racers is changing with the average NASA racer only competing for less than 3 years, after which they move on to another sport, such as motocross, surfing, hang gliding, etc.

Open SARRC meeting.

The first topic was changing SARRC championship points to start at 25, with bonus points for the number of competitors beaten. This change was suggested by drivers in one part of the Region that could not compete with drivers in another because they won every event due to a lack of completion in their class. There was consensus that this made sense.

The next topic was the move of the SIC to Daytona this year. It was claimed that the change was primarily due to a conflict with the Runoffs. There were also drivers “beating on” Jim Creighton for a change. A number of folks were very concerned about being able to stay inside the track and Daytona’s “no camping on the infield” rules. Jim noted he was pursuing a resolution to this issue, but noted that staying in the garages overnight would never be permitted.

The next topic was the idea of alternating running the SIC at Roebling and other tracks (Roebling this year, another track next year, and then Roebling again). That way there would be some variety, but Roebling would remain the most often raced. Blair Stitt noted that NCR cannot get new dates at VIR, so we would have to host on an existing date such as the Goblins Go weekend, which would necessitate a different SIC date and Jim Creighton indicated that would be acceptable.

The next topic was bumping up the number of races to 8 that count towards the SARRC Championship. This did not receive a good response. It was noted that for 2014 it would only require one sanction fee for weekend no matter how many races or series are run. Insurance may still be separate. There was also discussion about the Alternate License Program, the change to only 1 weekend school, and prior race experience approved by the SEDiv license administrator.

SARRC said that their points system would be changed to match National’s points system. Also, other SARRC rules would shift to allow SECTS races and SARRC races to be run at the same time. A driver would specify at Registration which Series he would run, with no double dipping (i.e., Driver could not run both Series at the same time). At this point, I consulted Anna Chrisman, NCR’s Timing & Scoring Chief, and we determined that conducting both races at the same time would be no more complicated than the way we currently handle our SARRC/MARRS races. I then instructed Sharon Rollow, our SEDIV scheduler, to change Saturday’s SARRC/MARRS race to a SECTS race.

In regards to ECR, it was noted that ECR would “most likely” not be a paying race for 2015. That vote was taken later in a closed meeting, so this was not official at the time of this meeting. It was noted that participation is typically less when the ECR race is the last race on Sunday.

Race administration meeting.

There are new Club Racing stickers required for this year. NCR should probably order a bunch now as we will need to provide 2 for every car. We will also need a sticker on the back of cars if we run a SECS event to differentiate between Series. Changes in the GCR now include: all classes of cars for Regional races and requires us to specifically exclude those we don’t want; allows 3 digit numbers; and the sound limit at the Runoffs will be 101 decibels.

Rex Deffenbaugh
Regional Executive

RE Report – January 2014

Hello and welcome to 2014 and a new era of racing at VIR!

The 2013 racing season was a successful one, but financially it left much to be desired. For 2014, we are definitely going to have to cut some of our expenses in order to balance our budget. That, however, is easier said than done. We need to control costs and our options are limited. The cost of track rent is fixed; our sanction costs and insurance costs are not in our control and about the only variable we have any control over is our efforts at hospitality. That is a peculiar issue, however, since the Pagoda, which our contract with VIR stipulates is the only source we can buy food from, adds a mandatory 18% gratuity. So you may see lighter or even missing parts of our normal fare in the coming year. The one thing not on the table for cutbacks is the beer party – that will continue. You may just have to plan for meals at the end of the day.

We had some expenses, in 2013, which we will not have during 2014. For instance, the Scales Room at Tech required some unplanned repairs and subsequently that structure is now considerably better constructed than previously. Many thanks to Sam Fouse, Buddy Matthews, Jerry Pell and Dwight Cooke for their efforts in making those repairs!

Also in 2013, we spent more on advertising than we have previously. In 2014, that expense will be all but eliminated. Due to the efforts of Sam Fouse, Eric Danielsen, Bruce Dover, Jeff Eng and John Uftring we now have a new email system that you have already seen the results of and we will concentrate our advertising efforts there. We will be letting our potential customers know that, since all SCCA licensed drivers are eligible to run the Majors race, that allows them to get an early opportunity to drive the new track configuration and, hopefully, that will be the catalyst to get more cars on track for the Majors.

Most of you should know by now that our “March Memories” weekend has been canceled due to conflicting schedules. SCCA scheduled their National Convention to be held in Charlotte on the same weekend as we normally have “March Memories”. Consequently, we were forced to try to find a substitute date to hold that race, so as not to deny those members who wished to take advantage of the National Convention being so close by. Last year it was in Las Vegas. We weren’t able to schedule an earlier date, because the renovations on the track would not be completed until March 5th and all other possible dates were already booked. Therefore, we reluctantly cancelled the event. Even though we have tried for years to make it otherwise, this race is normally not profitable for us, and we may actually save money by not having it! “March Memories” will return for 2015, and we will work harder to make it profitable then.

VIR has undergoing many changes over the winter. The Oak Tree, as you know, is gone and there will be considerable modifications to the track configuration as a direct result of the paving project. Several corners have been widened; most of the paddock has been paved; pit road is wider and longer; the Start stand will be all new and moved farther down the track toward Turn One. The old Start stand is gone, as well as the trees at Pit Out, therefore allowing a clearer view down track to drivers as they traverse the “kink” at Start/Finish and to remove any solid objects from the edge of the track in a very high-speed area.  Additionally, we will change the way workers are fed during race weekends. We will initiate a new voucher system to compensate them for lunch and other meals.

Our plan is to make 2014 profitable to offset 2013’s short comings.

Anyone with ideas as to what other measures we might take to cut expenses, please let me or any other member of the Board know. Your input would be considered and greatly appreciated.

Rex T. Deffenbaugh, Regional Executive
NC Region, SCCA
W – 919-467-2884    H – 919-542-1457

RE Report – November 2013

Well, hello. It’s been awhile since I’ve written, so let me attempt to catch up:

The SARRC/MARRS, in May, was a great race, and we always enjoy our friends from The DC Region when they come and help us with this race. They contribute both drivers and workers and this has made for a great tradition over the last few years. It makes for a great racing and social event. We hope to continue that event for many years to come.

On July 20th, the SEDIV midyear meeting was held in Atlanta, again, and that’s the time when all the Regions of the Southeast Division get together and sort racing dates for the next season. A number of our dates were up for discussion because of different circumstances. Our traditional March weekend was chosen by SCCA for their National Convention which moves to Charlotte this year. This was cause for us to explore other dates and the only one available was the weekend before – the first weekend in March. Another date in question is the Major’s weekend and that traditional date falls on Easter. That date is still in negotiation with VIR, at this point. Most other weekends will remain on their traditional weekends.

On September 28th, the NCR picnic was held in Gibsonville, NC. This is a revised version of an event held by the Region many years ago and Buddy Matthews spearheaded its return. It proved to be a beautiful day in a great location, and all enjoyed the event. There was discussion by some members back from the Runoffs and many other items. The Region contributed hamburgers and hot dogs and members cooked them on site and all enjoyed them. The new schedule of circulating locations for the Runoffs was discussed. Many were happy that Mid-Ohio was back on the schedule for 2016, but couldn’t see driving to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next year. We hope to grow the picnic next year, so watch the calendar for it to be scheduled.

Our October rush, with back-to-back weekends, is behind us now. The Goblins Go was a great race with wet conditions all day Saturday, but ideal racing conditions on Sunday. Many tight races were enjoyed by both drivers and workers alike. This was our first time to see turn 11 without the Oak Tree and to see the new worker stations and new turn conditions as executed by VIR. It sure is different, and it called for changes to how our flagers work those turns. As expected, our Flag Chiefs made adjustments that allowed for great coverage and safe racing throughout the weekend.

The 13 hour race was fun and successful, as well. Changes were made in the interest of simplifying the rules package and allowing for new technology available in the area of night time car number recognition. We are still working on these rules to improve them. We softened our stance on late registration and that resulted in 4 or 5 more cars competing than may have otherwise. We also used pit spaces past the opening in the pit wall, allowing for more spacious pit spaces, and those changes helped the race as well. We are working to make this race an even larger event and hope to make it easier to enter and compete in in the future.

Between our May and October events improvements were made to our scales room at VIR. In an effort, spearheaded by Board member Sam Fouse, the siding and doors were replaced to improve durability and resistance to the elements. That project was completed on a shoe string budget and the Region has many members to thank for their hard work. The members are too many to name, but include Buddy Matthews, Dwight Cooke, Jerry Pell, and Steve Martin. Thanks to you guys for helping the Region in such a long and grueling effort.

Sam Fouse also spearheaded an effort to develop an email system that the Region can use to notify and promote our events. He worked through SCCA National and a mass email program to arrange a system that can be used to let everyone east of the Mississippi know about our races, in the interest of attracting racers and workers to our Region to participate. A test was executed prior to the 13 hour race and you may have gotten an email as a result. We owe Sam a lot.

Our Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony has been organized by Bibi Tucker again for the third year. It will be held on January 11th at Caffé Luna in Raleigh. The food and facilities have been great there in the past and we look forward to the same this year. It is traditional for hosts and locations to change on a 3 year rotation, so the Region will be looking for someone to perform this duty for next year’s event. Please consider helping the Region by volunteering, if you can. There are many members with experience with the Banquet that will help in any capacity they can. The Region expresses its gratitude to Bibi for going above and beyond reasonable efforts this year, after moving to Winston Salem and into a new and demanding job. Thank you, Bibi.

Lastly, elections are on us again. The positions up for elections this year are Regional Executive, Secretary and two of the four Member-at-Large positions. The Region is indebted to Jerry Pell for his commitment to the Secretary position. He has served many terms and was the anchor for the Board, with clear thinking in times of high tension and always could be relied upon for the solution that made sense, even when it was evident, but not recognized in the heat of the moment. The Board will miss Jerry. Thanks to our departing Members-at-Large for their contributions, also. The only incumbent running is me – for RE. Please consider voting for me, as I hope to continue the improvement of the Region, as in the past.

Rex T. Deffenbaugh
Regional Executive, North Carolina Region, SCCA
W – 919-467-2884    H – 919-542-1457

RE Report – April 2013

This club is the BEST!

The latest iteration of the Nationals/Majors race is behind us, and what accolades we accumulated! The SCCA National representatives charged with overseeing our operation were practically bubbling with praise after the event. They told us that, of all the regions conducting Majors races so far, our Region was the most receptive, most committed, and the smoothest. They praised how seamless and punctual the races were executed, how good decisions were made on Saturday night, when weather intervened, and how well we recovered from that. They said our Tech and impound was the best executed of any Region so far. OUR PEOPLE ARE THE BEST. I think this race will go into history as one of the strongest and most notable races the Region has ever run, while handling, what may be, the most entries we’ve ever had. It’s almost a benefit that we had weather issues on Saturday night, because it demonstrated how well we handle unexpected and potentially dangerous situations in the attendance of a large number of National attendees. At the end of it all, I mentioned that this race was not operated much differently from any of our races, and that we really didn’t make many changes to comply with National’s requirements.

The racing was great with mostly large groups, close racing, and beautiful, if cold, weather. Many races were decided in late lap charges without rough driving. National helped make race finish events special with checkered flag/victory laps, champagne and interviews on the podium. Every participating Region member is to be applauded for their part in this event. It takes an unimaginable number of people doing their best, behind the scenes and in front, to accomplish a result like this. I think the Region will benefit in the future from our work last weekend. Financially, there is hope that this race may help make up for the dismal result of our March race.

Rex Deffenbaugh
Regional Executive

 

RE Report – November 2012

First I want to take this opportunity to express my thanks to Kerrigan Smith, VIR Director of Operations; Tommy Webb, Director of Security; and David Crumpton, a.k.a. “Cowboy”, Director of Emergency Medical Services for VIR, for the wonderfully cordial and productive meeting we had with them. They came all the way to Graham on Wednesday, November 14, to meet with the NCR Board of Directors and some of our race staff to discuss how we can further smooth out our operations on SCCA weekends and make 2013 even better than the 2012 season. We truly value our good relationship with VIR and this kind of discussion only makes it better.

Next I’d like to thank all the volunteers and race officials in our Region and the SCCA for the incredibly successful 2012 season. Our treasurer, Steve Keadle, is still working on the final financial statement, but all indications are that we will finish in the black, despite declining car counts in a tough economy. This also speaks austerity measures instituted by Region management and endured by our members. THANK YOU ALL! I would also like to extend a special thank you to all the drivers who volunteered on the corners and other spots at our events when their cars were laid up or they were not driving. The driver-volunteer partnership at NCR is one of the features that makes our Region stand out.

I must also thank Chris Severt, Solo Chairman (and Cape Fear Chapter Coordinator) and the Solo volunteers for an incredibly successful autocross season. Our car counts continue to grow at every event and the Region’s reputation grows with them. By now, everyone should have heard about how they hosted the North Carolina Autocross Championship at Cherry Point and raised the bar in terms of site facilities, (and many thanks to the United State Marines for providing that venue!), event preparation, and the after-event social. Congratulations, too, to our solo drivers, who came in second as a team among the four clubs that participated. It was a wonderful showing.

As this season draws to a close, I want to draw your attention to remaining activities, the election of officers for next year, and the annual meeting and awards dinner. Nominations for the offices up for election, Assistant RE, currently Sara Snider (who also heads the Competition Board); Treasurer, currently Steve Keadle; and the two Member-at-Large positions currently held by Ron Gentry and Heather Powers, are due by the close of the November Board meeting, Wednesday, November 28. Nominees must declare themselves in writing and have their nomination seconded by three other club members, who must also sign the nomination statement. Nomination statements may be submitted to any Board member in advance of the November meeting. Ballots will be mailed shortly thereafter.

The annual meeting and awards dinner will be held in Raleigh on Saturday, January 5th, at Café Luna, the same site as last year. This venue has been improved, allowing sound reinforcement – a feature we sorely missed last year. Before then, the awards committee is actively seeking nominations for year-end awards. Do you know of someone who should be recognized for their service to the Club as Worker or Member of the Year? How about a volunteer who did an outstanding job? Did you see an outstanding driving performance? Send your award nominations to any current Member-at-Large or Chapter Coordinator by December 1st, please!

Finally, I’d like to add a personal experience. By now, both of my sons, Justin and Blair have earned their SCCA Regional Competition licenses, so I’m seeing racing through their enthusiastic eyes, and it makes racing even more fun. During the 13 hour race, all three of us worked in various capacities, including competing in the cooking contest. My story occurred on Friday night. For years, the three of us have read and discussed Randy Pobst’s column in Sports Car on a regular basis, as well as followed his racing activities, and we have arrived at the decision that Randy’s way of racing is the right way, so we emulate him as often as possible. On Friday night, after racing activities ceased, we found our way to Millie’s Pizza for the requisite “after racing pizza”, but arrived at different times. I found Randy there first and was engaged in conversation with him when my sons arrived. They couldn’t see Randy, because he was seated at a table with Bill Foster, Heather Powers and others, while many others were standing. I called them over to see Randy, and Blair’s mouth dropped open wide when he recognized his hero and spoke to him. I wish I had that picture. A good time was had by all!

Rex Deffenbaugh
North Carolina Regional Executive