General club news

A Long Day at VIR and A Necessary Decision

It’s now 24 hours since I first arrived at VIR around 7:00PM Thursday evening. I’m now back home, the trailer is just now unloaded and parked. I want to run down the past day’s events while they are still fresh in my mind (and awake), because it went by in a blur.

Last evening about 6:30 as we rolled through Roxboro, the entire town was without power and this continued all the way to and including VIR. Fortunately I was staying with Chad Bacon in his motorhome with his son Caleb and Dan Robson, who had convoyed up with me. Robson was going to do the test day with his red car; I was going to do the twin SARRC’s with his white car.

Once we got checked in and unhooked we all took off to Danville in my truck to get some dinner. Milton was completely blacked out and the lower access road was flooded. As we passed, several race trailers were trying to back up out onto Hwy. 62 from that road. We continued on to Danville and the only place we could find with power was the area around the airport. The gas stations and restaurants were packed so full with lines, it looked like Armageddon. We didn’t understand, but continued on. We were stopped just west of the 29 bypass interchange. We were told 58 was flooded all through the Danville river district. We turned around, headed up the bypass to the next exit and turned west over to 29 business. Everything was blacked out but we held out hope we’d find something open with power. We went south on 29 business and made it all the way down to 58 at the river. Everything was blacked out and closed. We gave up, backtracked, went to the Food Lion across from the airport, loaded up with groceries, and headed back to VIR. There were maybe 30-40 trailers in the paddock and the pond was overflowing, crossing the paddock entrance.

I received a text late that night from VIR that the test day would not start until 1PM and that the situation would be re-evaluated at 10:00AM. We all hit the sack about midnight, but I was up at 4:30 unable to sleep and awoken by a text from a member. I should have known it was going to be a long day. The motorhome had a generator so we had power and I had brought my laptop and jet pack with me so I had internet. I found the river gauge site Mark had been watching and it was showing the river at record level above 30′ but starting to fall slowly to 27′ by Saturday 8AM. I went outside and tried to see what I could see with a flashlight but it was hopeless until sunrise.  I texted Tommy Webb at 6:13AM and asked if he would please let me know something directly as soon as he did his drive around. I went back to bed for a nap.

At a little after 7:00 I was awoken by a text alert from Tommy that the test day would NOT start at 1:00 as had been planned, and to expect an update sometime around 8:00. I saw Kerrigan driving back thru the tower gate at about 8:00, so I walked over and he told me that the test day was cancelled. He also said that they could operate our event without power if need be. At this point, we were still on go. At that point, just the test day was to be cancelled.

Turn 1 from the Start Stand

At 8:17AM I was sent a text by Tommy to meet he and Kerrigan at the tech shed. I didn’t see the text immediately so I didn’t head over there until about 8:30 or so. Kerrigan indicated his sources were saying the river had not crested yet, was still rising, and that our event now looked to be in jeopardy also. I asked if he was certain because Mark and I had both seen the river gauge showing it dropping over the next 24 hours. He called his Emergency Management source in my presence to confirm his information. We parted about 8:40 and I went back to our paddock area to start the process of communication. I texted Rick Starkweather at 8:43AM because I knew he had access to the Prod Fest group and he may have not yet bought all their food, etc. I called Butch Kummer and gave him the news so he could broadcast to his people, as I had just talked to him maybe 15 minutes before and told him the event was still on. Those two groups accounted for almost one-third of our drivers. I also texted the 3 Race Chairs and James Shanks.

I suggested to Eric that we wait 30 minutes before sending anything in order to give Mark time to talk to Kerrigan to compare notes on the river data. Shortly after that though (about 9:00) I talked face to face with Kerrigan again and there was no appeal. It was official and final final. I turned and headed straight to the motorhome to write a statement to send to Bruce for broadcast via direct e-mail. It went to him 15 minutes later. We were still operating on the motorhome generator as VIR was still without power.

Turn 17 from Pit in

All during this period and while I was trying to write the statement, I was getting pummeled with e-mails, texts, and phone calls wanting to know what was up. Between 9:03 and 9:32 I received 14 e-mails, plus texts and phone calls too numerous to mention. In all I received calls and and texts from at least 15 of you plus several stewards, often more than once, wondering what was up and were we going to send an announcement. HELL YES, I’M WORKING ON IT! It went to Bruce at 9:15 and I received the e-mail myself back from MSR at 9:32. I had intended the message go to Eric for social media also, but in the madness, I forgot to include him. From official confirmation from Kerrigan to e-mail received was about 30 minutes. I’m not sure how we could have done it more quickly nor why we would need to. I know some of you were going through social media hysteria.

Before I left I took multiple photos, two videos, and headed home. The photos have now been sent to Bruce, Eric, and Blair D. and should begin to appear on the website and thru social media. The paddock was pretty much vacant when I rolled out at about 11:30.

Lastly, Kevin Massey-Shaw approached me and offered the weekend of Dec. 8-9 to us as a make up weekend. This is something for us to discuss. It would be at the regular March rate.

As painful as it was for all of us, I believe VIR made the right decision. I’m also thankful that one of us was there to see first hand what was going on, talk directly with VIR as decisions were being made, and communicate out as quickly as we did. I also want to thank Chad Bacon for bringing his motorhome which served as my electrified base so I could keep my phone charged, run my laptop and jet pack, and thereby communicate with all of you in real time.

That’s it for now. I’m done. It’s been a long day.

Good night,
Sam

Goblins Go cancelled

Fellow competitors and volunteers:

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen flooding of the Dan River, our Goblin’s Go event has been cancelled by VIR management. The river is out of its banks and is up to the edge of and around turn one and is not predicted to subside for the next 24 hours. Although the track can operate without power, it can’t operate with water on it. This area and west of here was inundated with heavy rain for most of yesterday afternoon by Hurricane Michael.

Everyone who registered and paid will automatically receive a full refund. Sadly, some things are out of our control.

Sam Fouse, RE
Anna Crissman, Asst. RE
Bruce Dover, Office Manager and Chief Registrar
Mark Senior, Eric Danielsen, Justin Deffenbaugh, Race Chairs

Updating the Bylaws

A ballot will be mailed to you soon!

A lot has changed since the last time our North Carolina Region Bylaws were updated in 2002. New technology has made some of our practices, like the use of paper ballots for our elections, seem quaint and old-fashioned at best, cumbersome and expensive at worst. There are now on-line services which could handled that for us, as well as using e-mail or other electronic processes which we could anchor on the Region website.  These changes would make voting simpler and easier, and less expensive.

And the composition of our Club continues to change.  North Carolina is now a retirement destination. Many of our new members are some other Region’s former members, and understandably many of those folks want to belong to both the Region where they originated as well as the one where they now reside.  But, our current Bylaws only allow those who specify North Carolina Region as their primary or Region of Record to vote.  That seems overly restrictive, given that some “dual” members are among the most active of our drivers and volunteers. At the same time, we want to encourage participation by younger members in the governance of our Club. After all, drivers as young as 14 can road race, and drivers as young as 6 can participate in the Junior Kart solo program.

Consequently, the current Bylaws Committee, Member-at-Large Heather Clark, former RE and Triangle Chapter Coordinator Mark Senior, and Secretary James Shanks, have proposed updates to the Bylaws to address these issues.  You will be getting a ballot in the mail soon which will allow you to vote on whether to accept these updates or not.

Here’s a summary of those proposed updates:

  1. All members can vote, even Dual Members and the youngest among us.
  2. But officeholders must
    1. Have NCR as their Region of Record,
    2. Be at least 16 years of age, except that the RE and Treasurer must be at least 18, in order that they can legally sign contracts on behalf of the Region.
  3. Elections to office may be held by paper ballot, by e-mail, or other electronic means, by a third-party service, or some combination of these, so long as the process ensures that only eligible members can vote and that votes remain anonymous.
  4. Officers may be removed via the same kind of processes by which they were elected.
  5. Notifications of official meetings, such as the annual meeting, no longer need be by mail.

You can read copies of the Bylaws showing the struck wording and the new revisions in red  here and you can see the final product as posted here.

We hope you will agree that these changes are good ones.  But whether you agree with the proposed changes or not, please return your ballot by October 15, 2018. Ballots postmarked after that date will not be accepted.

Thank you for voting!

VIRginia International Raceway Named 2019 Runoffs Venue

TOPEKA, Kan. (Jan. 24, 2018) — The Sports Car Club of America® has officially announced the 2019 SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® will be held October 8-13 at beautiful VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, Virginia. This will be the very first time the Runoffs has been held at the sprawling venue located near the border of Virginia and North Carolina.

“We’re thrilled to take amateur racing’s most prestigious event to one of the most beautiful and challenging racetracks in the country, returning it to the Eastern United States for the first time since 2015,” said Eric Prill, SCCA Vice President & COO. “The VIR visit continues SCCA’s current practice of moving the Runoffs to different locations around the country each year. And with the amazing track, facility and backdrop VIR offers, we’re sure the Runoffs will be a ‘must-attend’ for our entire membership and racing fans alike in 2019, and a fantastic way to cap SCCA’s 75th anniversary year.”

Recognized as one of Car and Driver magazine’s top six road courses in the nation, VIR draws thousands of spectators each year for some of the best road racing in the country. Its uphill Esses and sharp elevation changes not only make it a fan and driver favorite, but VIR has also received international acclaim and rave reviews as one of the most exciting road courses in all of motorsports.

Connie Nyholm, VIR’s Owner and CEO, noted that the track first opened in 1957 as one of the country’s first permanent road racing circuits. Recognizing greatness, the 3.27-mile track — which will be used for the Runoffs — has remained exactly the same since, with the only change being widening some places to offer safer run-off room.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to welcome the best amateur drivers in the U.S. for the 56th edition of the Runoffs,” Nyholm said. “SCCA sanctioned the very first race here, and again in March 2000 when Harvey Siegel and I re-opened the resurrected VIR. Having the 2019 Runoffs will be an important part of VIR’s history.”

The first official event at VIR was an SCCA race that attracted stars like Carroll Shelby, Carl Haas, Bob Holbert, Augie Pabst, Don Yenko, Dr. Dick Thompson and Walt Hansgen. The track became a fixture in SCCA racing and a favorite among racers due to its high-speed straights, challenging turns and dramatic elevation changes. Today, the venue plays host to the Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge.

While racing is the heart of VIR, the expansive 1,300-acre property is so much more. America’s first true “motorsport resort,” it’s an entire vacation destination with a number of onsite hotel and lodging options. Within the property’s rolling hills and miles of lush forest, guests can enjoy unique amenities such as the exclusive Driver’s Club, dining options, spa, karting, skid pad, and even shooting sports. Located near Danville and South Boston, Virginia, the circuit is within 45 minutes of 1,500 hotel rooms and 100 restaurants. Contact VIR at lodge@virnow.com or call (434) 822-7700 x101 for lodging assistance.

The Runoffs, which caps the Summit Racing Equipment SCCA Road Racing program each year, has evolved into what is now commonly agreed to be the pinnacle of American motorsports. Since 1964, the SCCA has crowned National Champions at the winner-take-all, single race Runoffs format through dozens of separate races over three days. In 2019, there will be three days of qualifying, followed by three days of racing. VIR joins Riverside (1964, 1966, 1968), Daytona International Speedway (1965, 1967, 1969, 2015), Road Atlanta (1970-1993), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (1994-2005, 2016), Heartland Motorsports Park (2006-2008), Road America (2009-2013), Laguna Seca (2014), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2017) and Sonoma Raceway (2018) as Runoffs hosts.

While the SCCA looks forward to the 56th Runoffs at VIR in 2019, racers are currently qualifying for the 2018 Runoffs being held October 16-21 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. The traditional 12-turn, 2.52-mile course layout will be used for that event.

About the Sports Car Club of America:
The Sports Car Club of America®, Inc., founded in 1944, is a 67,500-member motorsports organization that incorporates all facets of autocross, rally and road racing at both Club and professional levels. With headquarters in Topeka, Kansas, the SCCA annually sanctions over 2,000 events through its 116 Regions and subsidiary divisions. Much of the SCCA’s activities are made possible with support from the following Official Partners: Chevrolet, the Official Truck of the SCCA; Hawk Performance, the Official Brake Products of SCCA; Mobil 1, the Official Oil of SCCA; Sunoco, the Official Fuel of SCCA; and Tire Rack, the Official Tire Retailer of SCCA. To learn more, please visit www.scca.com.

Photo: An aerial view of VIRginia International Raceway
Credit: Courtesy of VIRginia International Raceway

NC Region’s New Permanent Home at VIR

At some point early-on after VIR reopened, almost twenty years ago, our F&C team was granted permission to use what became known as the “Flag Shack”. It’s the building back in the corner of the paddock as far from the tech shed as you can get. I believe it also serves as a utility pump house of some sort, and may have had some other purpose at one time.

It became home to F&C, and is where we housed all the radios, coolers, corner station kits, fire bottles, flag bags, etc. With potentially 17 corner stations to supply for, it was a tight fit, but we made it work. It was also the site of our way-too-early-in-the-morning Corner Worker meetings, every day, of every event, for all these years. Our volunteers met, collected their gear, received corner assignments and instructions from the respective Chiefs, along with an occasional pep talk from Stewards, and sometimes even from the R.E. It became hallowed ground for NC Region, and will likely remain so. It was also free, which certainly helped.

In addition to that base, we also had a 10×20 garage unit in the “Club Member Garages” rental section out near the main gate that housed “memories”. By memories, I’m referring to all those assets leftover from the Rockingham days, plus boxes of archives and things we needed then, but which we’ll likely never need again. Garage 36 had become an almost forgotten time capsule from that period before the resurrection of VIR, from 1979 to the rebirth. Parked out front of garage 36 were two or three trailers the Region owned, one of which James Shanks and I re-purposed as the Hospitality trailer a few years ago. I remembered it as the Region’s Solo trailer from the 1970’s and the domain of Phil Hennrich. I could not let that piece of his history disappear. Fortunately, VIR had also been granting us the garage 36 ‘tomb’ rent-free all this time.

First Flag Meeting at Speed Suite

On March 7th of this year though, all that changed. VIR needed and wanted the flag shack back, to be converted to office space for their growing Marketing Department. They offered the meeting space beneath the pit garages for our meetings, but that would not solve our storage dilemma. The timing, just three days before our first event of the season, couldn’t have been worse. Although we were given a somewhat flexible moving schedule, the pressure was on for us to move. The only solution, quick and dirty, was to secure another garage (#34), and move everything to that location. Our F&C crew pulled it off sometime before, during, and after the Spring Sprints weekend. It was a tight squeeze stuffing everything into a 10’ wide cube with little or no walking-around room. To add insult to injury, we now had to pay rent, for both 34, and going forward, 36 as well. Suddenly we were paying $300 per month for 400 square feet of basic unconditioned storage. It was as if VIR had turned on us. We still love you, but…you have to take the bitter with the sweet. Sometimes that’s the way it is with family. I’m reminded that they had allowed us to use the flag shack and garage 36 all those years rent-free, plus last year they had our Scales Room re-roofed and never asked us for a penny.

It was quickly obvious though, that this could only be a temporary fix. A permanent solution would have to be found. Multiple ideas were discussed: everything from buying a good-sized trailer, which would be no larger than garage 34 and could only house F&C assets (sans vehicles), to buying a parcel in the Raceplex and contracting the construction of our own structure. It became painfully obvious to us that our needs for space exceeded the former, and our bank account could not support the latter. Ironically, in a Board meeting, a reminder was offered by a guest, that something called a Speed Suite existed. They were assumed to be too expensive, but we concluded they might be worth a look-see.

So what are Speed Suites? They are semi-finished 30’ x 40’ fee-simple shop space units finished in 2007. Unlike the storage garages, they are insulated, and have heating and air-conditioning. There is also a shop sink already installed, plus stub-outs for an internal bath. There is an owners-association shared community bath, complete with shower, just two doors down. The units all feature an extra wide and tall roll-up garage door along with a separate pedestrian door. Altogether, 1200 square feet of conditioned space available for ownership rather than rent. Member Peter Krause owns a unit himself. Seemed too good to be true,…if we could afford it.

Shortly after that meeting, several of us scheduled a visit with Connie Nyholm, CEO and owner of VIR to take a look at a unit coming up for re-sale in the complex. Ironically it was the property of none other than Harvey Siegel, who along with Connie, were the ones most responsible for the re-birth of VIR. The asking price was essentially the same as the original price when the units were first finished ten years ago – $125,000. The unit (#6) also had an ideal location, being an end unit, next to Ace Drive, the road we all come in on during registration, access to which does not require going through the main gate, making it even more convenient.

It was time to see if we could make the numbers work. After consulting with Steve Keadle’s financial and tax expertise, we concluded that an investor group composed of members was not a realistic approach to buying the unit. The decision was then made to try to go it alone – i.e. let’s see if we can buy the unit on our own. One significant note needs to be made here. Since NC Region was first organized in 1954, we could not find any record of the Region ever having borrowed money for anything. Yes, we’ve bought things on account, short-term, but everything else has either been bought directly via check, or member-financed via expense reimbursement. In short, the Region had zero formal, recognized credit history. Plus, we are a 501c4 Non-profit Corporation. We kind of don’t fit in the usual mold, so it might have been a long shot. But we decided to go for it anyway with our banking partner, BB&T.

Our Treasurer, Heather Powers put together our financial statements, I drafted a loan request, and off to the bank we went. We would ask for an 80% loan-to-value making up the difference with a 20% down payment in cash. To our amazement, BB&T didn’t say no. In fact, they were impressed with our financials and were very positive about our chances, so we made formal application and moved to contract with Mr. Siegel.

After lots of back and forth with the bank, insurance brokers, and the shuffling of papers long-distance, the signing, closing, and recording of documents finally occurred September 5-12, 2017. Subsequent to closing, Mr. Siegel made a generous donation to NCR of $3,000 to help with final cleanout of the unit and the moving of our property from the rental garages. All in all, we think it was a very good deal. At last, we had a permanent home at VIR. Ultimately, we are tripling our available space plus building equity, at a monthly cost under what a comparable unit would likely have rented for, if we could even have found one. And finding one in as good of a location would have been very nearly impossible.

So what can we use it for? I want to point out right up front that this will not just be a new flag shack. It belongs to all of the members of NC Region, and we may use it for the benefit of all of the membership, including, but not limited to the storage of Region merchandise, archives, and both F&C and general assets. We can also use it for worker meetings, socials, even Executive and Comp Board meetings, etc. We may use it occasionally for worker registration, but it cannot be used for general registration because of insufficient parking, and it is illegal under state law for it to ever be used for any kind of overnight lodging under any circumstances.

Now, to enhance its functionality and utility, we would like to build a simple bath, a kitchenette (to include a sink, refrigerator and freezer), and a secured closet. A storage loft above all of that would also allow us to leverage the space to store rarely used and/or bulky items. Everyone will get a chance to invest a little sweat equity in this endeavor over the winter as we strive to make this a useful home for the Region for the long haul.

Folks, this purchase was made possible through the efforts of all of us, as well as of those who have gone before us. NC Region has endured through good and bad, we’re still here, and we’re doing better than ever. Now we finally have a permanent home that can never be taken away, ironically almost exactly 60 years after our founders conducted our very first race at VIR in August, 1957.

Sam Fouse, RE

2017 Tarheel Cup Pro Series Results

The Tarheel Cup Pro Series (TCPS) is a points-based ‘pro’ series sponsored by NC Region. Unlike the also-popular Carolina Cup Pro Series, it does not award prize money and therefore does not charge the additional prize fund fee. Both series are 45-minute races held in conjunction with the usually longer 90-minute ECR series enduro races. While multiple CCPS races are held at 4 different venues around the Southeast, including VIR, TCPS races are only held at VIR. That also means that VIR is the only venue offering both series (for now). TCPS simply offers competitors an additional, but lower-cost opportunity to compete and receive event awards in races longer than a SARRC sprint race, but shorter than a full ECR enduro.

For 2017, 55 drivers accounted for 89 TCPS race entries versus 93 race entries in 2016. While 11 drivers entered the required three or more races to qualify for year-end trophies in 2016, only 3 did so in 2017. Also, 54 of this season’s 89 entries occurred at the last event weekend of the year – Goblin’s Go in October. To be fair, the cold weather and event overlap with a Majors race the same weekend probably curtailed entries in March, limiting participation to just 12. Otherwise the total entries likely would have exceeded those in 2016, and more drivers would have met the minimum requirements.

TCPS points are awarded using the same system used to award SARRC points, based on a declining scale, with bonus points added for the number of competitors defeated at each race.

It’s no surprise then, that the 3 drivers who participated in the required minimum number of races, naturally ended up as their respective class champions and will receive a nice year-end trophy at our annual meeting and awards banquet in January. Don’t worry if you can’t make the meeting. We’ll make sure you get it. Here are your year-end trophy recipients for 2017:

Roger Gillespie, ITE (also 2016 Runner-up)

Robert Mitchell, IT7 (defending 2016 Champion)

Mark Senior, SMSE (defending 2016 Champion)

Thank you all for your participation. We look forward to another successful season in 2018.

Sam Fouse
TCPS Administrator

2016 Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner

MG_4997North Carolina Region’s Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner for 2016 was held on January 14th 2017 at the Vailtree Event and Conference Center in Graham, North Carolina. The food was superb! Steak, seasoned chicken, and salmon were featured at the buffet, along with some yummy side items and glorious dessert items, including a cake made for the occasion.

Some of the eye candy available in the adjoining room!

Some of the eye candy available in the adjoining room!

Before dinner, attendees were invited to stroll through the adjoining room and view the owner’s collection of exotic and luxury vehicles.  A Ferrari, a Bentley GTC and a BMW B7 Alpina, were among the high-dollar European marques, along with an Alfa Romeo 4C and a Fiat 500 Abarth.  American muscle was represented too, with a late model Corvette Z06, a Dodge Challenger SRT (800 hp!), and a Viper ACR.  There was even a 1974 Lincoln Mark IV personal luxury coupe, the ride of choice for 70’s era TV private eye Frank Cannon. What a hoot!  And what an awesome collection!  Art Sinnott of F&S Enterprises, NCR’s official photographers at VIR, and Vailtree’s Stacey Polythress Rainey were on hand to take photos of it all.

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Sam Fouse, NC Region RE

James Buckberry

Ginny Condrey

Bruce Dover

Pete Romanowski

After dinner, we held our annual meeting.  RE Sam Fouse opened with a recap of the year and emphasize the dramatic turn-around in our financial position which was achieved by “right pricing” our entry fees, high enough to cover our costs but still small enough to make our events a bargain, considering the “bucket list” track we use to hold our events.  Sam also mentioned the challenges we faced, with the loss of James Buckberry, our Chief Starter, and departure of our Chief Registrar and Office Manager, Ginny Condrey, due to family illness.  Ginny’s departure left a huge hole, one that we are still trying to fill, though Bruce Dover has done an admirable job stepping in for her. And Pete Romanowski is to be commended for stepping in as Chief Starter, a job he never wanted, when James passed  away.

James Shanks, Membership Chair

James Shanks, Membership Chair

James Shanks then gave a short presentation on our membership, which stands at just over 760. The good news is that one in four members is a licensed competition driver, and one in three a licensed volunteer, so we have the means to put on great events.  The bad news is that our membership has declined since 2008. And unfortunately, dues are going up; though you can offset that by volunteering or signing up a new member.  The important thing to remember, James said, is to be friendly; since at any given moment, twenty percent of our members are new, and they will only stay if they make new friends.

Tim Lyons and Morgan Mehler

Tim Lyons and Morgan Mehler

Morgan Mehler, Member-at-Large and Solo Chair, gave a humorous but informative report on the Solo program, which is in fine shape. He also introduced Matt Decker, the new Cape Fear Chapter Coordinator, and told us that they had an active new season planned, with 4 events in Wilmington at Cape Fear Community College North Campus and 6 at Cherry Point Marine base. In addition, they will be hosting the North Carolina Autocross Championship in October.

There were no questions from the floor, so Sam closed the meeting and turned the mike over to emcee Tim Lyons for the awards presentation. Eric Danielsen put together a wonderful slide show presentation, featuring shots of the winners from our events, that played on a side screen as the awards were presented.

We recognized drivers:

Driver of the Year – Majors and SECS – Al Wheatley

Al Wheatley

See bottom of page for update.

Driver of the Year – Majors and SARRC – Alastair McEwan

Alastair McEwan

See bottom of page for update.

Driver of the Year – SARRC – Michael Sperber

Driver of the Year – SARRC – Ron Earp

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Ron Earp and Michael Sperber

“2016 James “Jim” Feinberg National Solo Driver of the Year”
and 2016 SCCA Solo National Champion
Maria Mayorga

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Maria Mayorga, National Champion

Regional Driver of the Year – Solo – Vernon Geddings

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Vernon Geddings

Rookie Driver of the Year – Solo – Christian Williams

Christian Williams

 Spirit of Mazda award – Alex Phelps

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Tim Lyons and Alex Phelps

And we recognized volunteers:

F&C Worker of the Year – Jan Michel

NCR Annual Awards Banquet 2016 44

T&S Worker of the Year – Megan Smith

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Anna Crissman, T&S Chief and Megan Smith

T&S Rookie of the Year – Richard Mosley

Richard Mosley

Start Rookies of the Year – Rick Edwards and Chuck Stanley

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Chuck Stanley, Chief Starter Pete Romanowski and Rick Edwards

Pit Road Rookie of the Year – Scott Keadle

Scott Keadle

Scott Keadle

Pace Car Outstanding Service – Joedy Pennington

Ed Wentz, Pace Car Chief and Joedy Pennington

Ed Wentz, Pace Car Chief and Joedy Pennington

Outstanding Service to the Solo Program – Justin Arnette

 

Outstanding Service in Tech –
Dwight Cooke, Rusty Matthews, Barbara Mayes,
Jerry Pell, and Chris Schimmel

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Chris Schimmel, Rusty Matthews, Barbara Mayes, Jerry Pell and Dwight Cooke

Plus a few more volunteers who require special mention:

Solo Worker of the Year – Stephen Miller

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Stephen Miller and son Adam.

For single-handedly starting the Solo Junior Karting program and now brining a second kart to allow other kids to try it out.

NCR Extra Mile Award – Brian Huff

Brian Huff

Brian Huff

For making replacement electronic light controllers for the corner station traffic lights without being asked.

Outstanding Service to the NCR Racing Program
Mark Biamonte, Eric Danielsen and David Turner

"The Three Amigos" Eric Danielsen, David Turnr and Mark Biamonte

“The Three Amigos” Eric Danielsen, David Turnr and Mark Biamonte

For ten years of service as flag chiefs and countless innovations.

(l to r) Eric Danielsen, David Turner, Mark Biamonte, Heather Clark, Brian Eldredge, Ben Tyler

On a humorous note, the incoming flag chiefs, Heather Clark, Brian Eldredge, and Ben Tyler, made their own presentation to their predecessors. Since the boys aren’t going away, just returning to duty on some flag station in the future, their successors gave them each a kit of corner worker necessities, new orange gloves, a break-away lanyard, and a bottle opener to name a few, and a cinch bag to carry it all in. Glad to have you back on the front lines, fellas, and thanks for your service!

 

 

Finally, it was Sam Fouse’s turn to present the major NCR Region awards. First up was a surprise presentation to Eric Danielsen.

NCR Member of the Year – Eric Danielsen223A6259

Eric had already been awarded for his service as Flag Chief.  He’s also a race chair and chair of the newly-formed Marketing Committee. He was instrumental in setting up our e-mail tool so that we could reach all the SCCA drivers east of the Mississippi, and he updates it regularly. This puts us far ahead of most other Regions.  But this year, Eric really put us on the map with the famous “Opie Goes Racing” video that he conceived and produced at this year’s Spring Sprints Majors.

Sam next presented

Workers of the Year to The EV Crew
Tim Gardner, Dave Dominguez, and James Matthews

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Tim Gardner and Dave Dominguez

Our EV guys Tim, Dave, and James, have been awarded before.  This last season they have been doing even more, such as giving up part of their lunch hour to help with the lunch-time drive arounds we do for charity at VIR. And when VIR maintenance couldn’t do it, they jumped in at the last minute to deliver all the deep-cycle batteries to the corner stations for the 13-hour race.

Finally, Sam was pleased to award Lifetime Achievement awards to two of his old friends:

Lifetime Achievement – Don Knowles

Don Knowles

Don, Sam said, is a racer’s racer. He’s won six National Championship in just 18 trips to the Runoffs, one out of every three, and he has done it over a forty-year period. He also competed regularly in endurance racing, running in everything from the 24 hours of Nelson Ledges to Daytona, and in every series that IMSA had to offer for small sedans, Renault Cup, Firehawk, Camel GT, and the Bilstein Rabbit Cup. Don has won a world record of fourteen 24-hour races, and he won three 24-hour race in both 1987 and ’88. He is also the all-time SCCA Escort series winner with 19 wins.  And true to form, he could not be with us for the presentation because he was racing at Sebring. Sam had the pleasure of announcing that Don had won today’s Majors T4 race in an RX-8 along with the pleasure of announcing his Lifetime Achievement award.

Lifetime Achievement – Bill King

Bill King

Sam opened his remarks on Bill by relating that it was Bill who had convinced him to join at an autocross back in 1976.  Bill had already been a member since 1964, and has the distinction of being the only active member who attended both the first race at VIR in 1957 and the last before it closed in 1974. In between he was a winning rallyist, a corner worker, a driver, and a writer. He was Bulletin Editor in 1976 and its most frequent contributor, exhibiting a talent for writing that later served him well as PR Manager for the Goodyear racing program in the Nineties. He was SSB champion in 1976, showing he knows how to drive as well as write. He was RE in 1981, and launched the first National at Roebling Road that Year. He was also the guy who convinced Rockingham to build the infield course, and helped design it with Steve Coleman.  That course opened in 1978 and was our mainstay for years. Eventually Bill moved on to the SCCA National Office, where he launched the Sports Renault Program (now SRF) and the Playboy Endurance Series (now the Pirelli World Challenge).  His accomplishments and his influence are too numerous to mention all at once, so it was with pride Sam awarded him his Lifetime Achievement award.

As our Guest of Honor, Bill then gave a short talk in which he entertained us with humorous stories and anecdotes from his time among the big names of sports car racing. It was a hoot! See the 7 min video with Bill telling his “how I got hooked on cars” story. Watch the 5 min video with Bill telling how he met Boris Said and two other anecdotes. Bill explains his book in 5.5 min about the History of VIR.

Thanks, Bill!

UPDATE!

(left to right) Al Wheatley, Don Knowles and Alastair McEwan, who were unable to attend the Banquet, received their awards at the Triangle Chapter Meeting in Raleigh on February 1st.

Bill King to Speak at NCR Banquet

billkingBill King, author of two books about VIRginia International Raceway, will be the guest speaker at this year’s NC Region Annual Awards Banquet. Bill and his wife Gloria are both long time NC Region members and have been involved in the Club on all levels since the 1950s. For more information and registration for the Banquet, please click the link above.

Bill King is/has been a publicist, marketer, journalist, race series organizer, author and raconteur, who has worked for Nick Craw, Leo Mehl, Paul Pfanner and Roger Werner. Original program manager, SCCA Spec Racer/Sports Renault, ’84. Created Playboy Endurance Series (now World Challenge) from clean sheet of paper, ‘85. PR manager for Goodyear Racing, ’86-’92; contributing editor and special projects manager for RACER, ’94-‘01, general manager, Speedvision.com, ’99-’01; and business development manager for Swift Engineering and Morse Measurements. Prior to ’83, N.C. Region F&C Chief, Bulletin editor and RE, ‘80 Area III John C. Reuter Award recipient and “daddy” of the SEDIV Double National. Racing career highlighted by the ’76 SEDIV SSB title and helping launch the Renault Cup in ’82. Honorary member of the Road Racing Driver’s Club.

Report from the 2016 Runoffs

by Sam Fouse

In 2013, SCCA celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Runoffs at historic Road America, which in my opinion is the ultimate ‘bucket list’ road course in the United States, both for the driver and the spectator. That event also marked the end of the line for multi-year contracts for Runoffs venues. Starting in 2014 and going forward, the event began rotating around the country: east, west, and in the middle.  First up in 2014 was Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was the first western Runoffs since Riverside in 1968. In 2015, the Runoffs returned to Daytona, the site of some of the earliest championships (’65,’67,’69). Next year, we’ll be visiting Indy for the first time ever, then back out west in 2018, before returning east again in 2019. Sites for ’18 and ’19 as of this writing are still TBD. Heard lots of rumors, nothing solid.

For 2016, the Runoffs circus visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time since 2005, which at the time was the last year of a 12-year run at the historic track in NE Ohio. You may think of Mid-Ohio as an old line club road course, but it’s actually 5 years younger than VIR (‘62 vs. ‘57). It has a special place for me, as it is where I attended my first sports car race as a teenager in 1967 and was also the site of my one and only (to-date) Runoffs entry, in 1995. If you are interested in the history of the Runoffs and of SCCA National Championship racing in general, I highly recommend you visit www.scca.com/runoffs, go to the sidebar on the right, and scroll down to “Runoffs Media Guide and Record Book”. There you will find a well put together 68 page history in a downloadable pdf format.

As a track, Mid-Ohio offers an appropriate challenge with some off-camber, blind turns, and is best characterized as a mid-speed ‘stop-n-go’ track with only one significantly long straightaway, when compared to Daytona, Road America, or some of our other SEDIV tracks. In the bigger picture as a facility, since all of the paddock space lies outside the track surface, it offers almost unlimited paddock space, much of it paved, which seemingly stretches forever up the hill behind. That also leaves a terrific infield geared to just spectating, and there is abundant camping space. I have seen a lot of change at Mid-Ohio since my first visit in the 60’s, when the paddock was just a grass slope behind a block control tower at start/finish. Most of the change occurred during the Jim Trueman (Red Roof Inns)/CART era when the paddock was leveled and paved, with much of the fill being used to build the spectator hills. One thing that hasn’t changed though, is the scenic village of Lexington nearby. Mid-Ohio is definitely worth a visit and it remains one of my favorites.

This year’s event enjoyed some of the most perfect weather I can ever remember during a Runoffs week, and I’ve attended about 30 of them in one capacity or another. At this point I’d like to thank Dennis Shaw for allowing me to ‘camp’ in his motor home for the week right along the fence just up from turn one and the trailer of Wayne and Jean Quick. We had a great spot to access just about everything.

Understand that a Runoffs effort, whether by driver, crew, or worker, is a major commitment of both time and money, far in excess of any other SCCA event. Expect ten days of lodging minimum for driver and crew, not including towing time at both ends. For drivers, add to that several sets of tires ($) and bringing all your best stuff ($$), not to mention weeks of prep work in advance.  With all that said, 8 NC Region racers participated this year: Eric Cruz in FE, Donnie Isley in FV, Bob Wheless in P1, Doug Piner and Bryan Yates in P2, Alex Phelps in STU, Kirk Knestis in STL, and our 6–time National Champion Don Knowles in T4. Although they didn’t bring home any hardware this year, they all raced well and finished respectably.

Our worker contingent included some of our best: Heather Clark, Ben Tyler, Megan Smith, Mark Biamonte, Anna Crissman, Heather Powers, Mo Overstreet, and of course Wayne Quick as a steward. I’m sure they represented us very well, and please forgive me if I’ve left someone out that I wasn’t aware of or didn’t see personally.

Clayton Condrey stayed busy all week crewing for Doug Piner while Dan Robson and Dennis Shaw supported Chad Bacon in GT3. I’m sure there were lots of other NCR members attending as crew also, but I have no source to reference them.

Overall, Runoffs participation in some classes was lighter than I’m sure SCCA had hoped for, and many races were shortened by incidents that unfortunately resulted in the clock running out early. To be fair, Mid-Ohio doesn’t have a lot of space to safely park cars during a race, so many incidents were worked ‘live’ that we might not have had to at VIR. However, there were still some close, hard-fought, full-length races. Overall, it was an excellent week for spectating and there’s no place that I’d rather be than at the Runoffs in the fall.

The sights, sounds, smells, and most importantly, the people, are why we all attend. Along those lines, of course there were the usual parties and banquets during the week. I attended the Richland County Chamber of Commerce feast in Mansfield on Monday, as did many NCR members, followed by the Mazda banquet on Wednesday, and the SCCA tent party on Thursday evening. And since none of our guys were racing on Friday, three of us snuck away to visit the Air Force Museum in Dayton on Friday. That is a visit I highly recommend. Should be right on the way to or from Indy next year.

Speaking of Indy, I expect the turnout for next year’s Runoffs will easily exceed this year by quite a bit for two reasons: 1. It’s Indy (bucket list), and 2. SCCA has now lowered the bar to qualify. Look for the NCR contingent to grow next year also. As they say, all it takes is time and money.