General club news

Tara Arnette Wins a Wendi Allen Scholarship!

The SCCA recently announced that North Carolina Region’s Tara Arnette is the recipient of a Wendi Allen Scholarship. These scholarships, funded by grants to the SCCA Foundation, particularly by Mazda Motor Corporation, are awarded to outstanding performers in Solo. They feature a gift of $1500 to pay travel expenses as well as free entries to any SCCA National Solo competition.

Tara is no stranger to awards for her driving ability. Most recently, she was awarded first place overall in 2018’s Ladies classes by the Region. When asked about her new award, she replied,

I am super excited and honored to be chosen for the Wendi Allen Scholarship.  Many amazing women have had this honor in the past and made great improvements with their racing.  I look forward to an amazing year of travel and racing! 

I am at Charlotte this weekend, then will be doing Bristol and Nationals along with both NCR and SCR events.

Congratulations, Tara!

Welcome to the 2019 Racing Season!

Notes from the desk of RE, Sam Fouse

The 2019 racing season is upon us and it will be busy!

Registration is already open for our March into Spring SARRC and multi-Enduro event at VIR next weekend, March 9th and 10th.

The first item of business to address is the changes we have to made to the Volunteer Incentive Program, popularly known as worker credits. After serious discussions with our accountant on the tax implications, and polling other regions in SEDIV, we have decided to adopt the same kind of system that other Regions in SEDIV use. No more keeping track of your days worked and sending in receipts at the end of the season. In 2019 and beyond, you will be reimbursed directly at the track that same weekend if you so choose, to the extent possible. Depending on when you register, in some cases your check may have to get mailed on the Monday following, so register early.

The next few items to address are the changes we have to make to our entry fees and schedules due to changes in the VIR contract and the ECR series. VIR has raised our track rental by a few percent points, as to be expected. Also, the 2019 ECR rules passed last fall were expected to discourage more than one ECR per weekend, so when we drew up the March and May schedules, that was the assumption we operated under. That has since been rescinded. For March and May, we are continuing to offer one 45-minute ECR on Saturday together with twin 45-minute Tarheel Cup Series races (one each day), under the umbrella label “Enduro”, for one price. We will also still offer the Atlantic Pro Cup option both days for an add-on prize fund contribution. The Enduro will still require one two-minute pit stop to meet all of the series’ requirements.

However, we’re also adding a new twist, specifically targeted at potential Runoffs drivers. If a driver would like to run in the 45-minute Enduro, and is willing to forego any series points and trophies, they may waive all series participation. This would exempt them from any required pit stop and they can go non-stop.

Yes, SARRC entry fees have gone up $5, but that doesn’t even cover the increase in track rental which is up 6% over last year. And though the initial entry fee has gone up, we have expanded the multi-race discount available for drivers who enter four races.  It’s now possible for drivers in most classes to get as much or more seat time at one of our regional events as they could get at a Majors. And we will have the same pricing in May as we do in March, even though the summer track rental rates go up substantially over the March off-season rate.

By now everyone knows that the SCCA Runoffs will be at VIR in October, and we will lose our traditional Goblins Go event date. But our friends in Washington DC Region still want to partner with us, so they have agreed to host two joint SARRC events at Summit Point, the first being the MARRS/SARRC duel in mid-June, and the second (for 2019 only), will be officially known as Goblin’s Go North and occur on Labor Day weekend.

Our Spring Sprints Super Tour will roll around again in April and under the heading of “careful what you wish for”, we have been told to expect 500 cars or more. That was the result of a drivers’ survey taken by Topeka and presented to us at the National Convention. What that means is that paddock space will be impossibly TIGHT.  There will be parking restrictions even for the participants of VIR’s test day on Thursday before the Super Tour. Spaces will have to be assigned during a Load-In period, ala the Runoffs, and we may have more than a hundred in the infield grass. Drivers who have them, may have to park their RV in a different spot than their race car. Load-In will be a huge challenge, so bring an extra load of patience. It will be a Runoffs atmosphere, complete with traffic headaches, etc. And because getting all these cars in overnight will be such a special challenge, we will be looking for many more volunteers to help us. We’ll have a special workday to help with Load-In beginning on Wednesday, April 10th, and yes, you will be reimbursed just as you would be for a volunteer effort on a race day. Details will be available over the coming weeks.

Then in May, we’re right back with our SARRC/MARRS duel with WDC Region drivers, which should result in another full house, and then some, as drivers visit to get seat time in preparation for the Runoffs. Expect overflow again.

And finally, we will be having a 2-day test day event at VIR August 3rd and 4th. This will be aimed primarily at Runoffs-bound drivers who want a simple shakedown event to test their cars, and improve their lap times, without worrying about points and series finishes.

I hope to see you all at the track. Now, let’s go racing!

Sam Fouse

Looking Back On 2018

January 1, 2019

One of the unofficial tasks of an RE is to communicate to the membership from time to time on the state of the Region. I’m not particularly good at this sort of thing, so maybe it’s just as well that I started this report on the last day of 2018, and am finishing it on the first day of 2019.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to report on much about the Solo program other than I know we have outstanding members, mostly in Cape Fear, doing a terrific job. Unfortunately, the RE job consumes disproportionate amounts of time with board meetings, conventions, VIR, etc. I rarely have time to race myself and I don’t have a proper car for Solo. We did however find a way to come together for one event in 2018. More on that later.

2018 in Review

In hindsight, 2018 was a mixed bag of positives, ending with some significant lows. As always, the circus began early in January with our Annual Banquet, and then was followed quickly in succession by the National Convention, the SEDIV Convention, and then three races in three months. It all goes by in a blur and before you know it, it’s mid-May. It’s a torrid pace that no other region in SEDIV attempts to do… probably for good reason.

The big item at the National Convention for us was that the Runoffs were coming to VIR in 2019. Everyone knew it, but the Region contingency was asked not to tell anyone. We tried to honor the request, then Topeka released the news shortly after the convention without giving us a heads up. Can’t say that we were particularly happy about that.

There was also a discussion with SCCA Club Racing at the Convention about using Virtual Safety Car at the Runoffs at VIR. We spoke vehemently against it and followed it with a letter outlining why it was a bad idea, since we are the only place that’s used it, without any definitive way to implement it, nor enforce it. Weeks later, Topeka came around to our way of thinking. Until such time as there exists a uniform national rule and a device to communicate with drivers in-car, there will be no VSC at the Runoffs, nor at any of our events.

About two weeks after the National Convention, we made our way to the SEDIV Convention. One of the more significant items to come out of that was something that occurred at the Sunday RE breakfast. Heyward Wagner discussed a possible new-format Time Trial event, possibly to be held at CMP and asked if any regions might be interested in co-sponsoring it. I didn’t have a clue about anything called ‘Time Trial’, but I figured if it was new and Heyward was involved, NCR needed to be in on it, so I raised my hand. For a few weeks it was just NCR and SCR. Atlanta eventually joined in and the event was held Memorial Day weekend with a lot of help from our Solo leadership and a contingent of our own workers. The event turned out to be a huge success and I believe we actually got a check for about $500 as our share of the surplus. NC Region has a long history of being a leader, and we want that to continue. We’ll be back in 2019.

In March we held our usual ‘thumb our noses at Mother Nature’ March Into Spring. Despite the intentionally misleading name, it’s actually held in the winter in the second wettest month of the year in Danville. Although the event almost never breaks even, in 2018, it actually broke even … I think… I hope. We did have a special race group for Spec MX-5 cars, a new semi-pro series partially sponsored by Mazda. They put on a good show and they returned with us again in May.

Less than a month later was our Spring Sprints Super Tour Majors. Folks, hands down, this is our biggest, most financially important event of the year, every year. It pays the bills for so much of our annual expenses, that without it, we’d have a hard time breaking even on everything for the year. The only activity from which we can produce income is racing, and this event provides significantly more funding than all of our other racing events combined. We have averaged over 300 cars (the equivalent of 600+ regional entries) each of the past three years, but 2018 was off slightly as were most Majors on the east coast due to the Runoffs being at Sonoma. Expect that to explode in a significant way in 2019.

In May we raced again with our friends from WDC Region and the event was another success. WDC region has always been one of our closest partners in SCCA, and they are the source for much of our own origins as a Region. Little did we know at the time that SARRC/MARRS would be the last race we would hold in 2018.

Unfortunately, since the summer break, we have had several setbacks, but none has been more devastating nor harder to absorb than the loss of Buddy Matthews. His untimely loss was a shock that we will not recover from for quite a while, if ever. Buddy was involved in so much of the Region’s operations from past RE, Chapter Coordinator, Board member, Chief of Tech, co-founder of and ECR committee member, and the list goes on. He was the force behind our building a scales facility at VIR and that was his primary domain. He always attended Board meetings, and was usually one of the first to get there. It was awkward not seeing him at December’s Board meeting.

He was viewed by some who didn’t know him as a bit abrupt at times in Tech or in the Scales Room. More than once I had to smooth some ruffled feathers of a driver in impound, but I knew that it was just Buddy’s nature to be direct and no-nonsense in that environment. One on one he was soft-spoken and polite, with a sense of humor. He was always thinking ahead and was already planning for the Runoffs. His knowledge base went back decades, including as a driver and car owner. We all knew that eventually he would have to retire from the front lines, but were content to let it be on his terms, and not like this. He will be sincerely missed.

By now, everyone knows that we had to cancel our Goblins GO event, not just once, but twice due to the most inclement weather imaginable. I was at VIR on Thursday night in October when the hurricane deprived VIR of power, and I was there on Friday morning when they pulled the plug due to inevitable rising of the Dan River, which eventually flooded portions of the track. It was the right call. The hurricane flooded Highway 58 into Danville. Parts of Danville and Roxboro were without power for most of the weekend, which would have made travel and lodging for most of our participants uncomfortable if not impossible. Kerrigan Smith, the CEO of VIR, was kind enough to offer us a make-up date in early December, the first weekend that VIR was not already rented. He gave us the most favorable rental terms imaginable and agreed we could cancel up to the weekend before without penalty.  This turned out to be unfortunate in the extreme, because the worst winter storm of the season hit the weekend of our make-up race and we would not have been able to use the facility at all on Sunday. Our heartfelt thanks go to VIR for their understanding and generosity on this occasion.

In the meantime, we used paper ballots to vote for the last time. A record number of respondents voted to update our Bylaws to permit electronic voting, and we held the first-ever electronic vote to elect our officers for 2019. And then it was on to the Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner, in Wilmington this year, to put the cap on 2018 and kick off 2019 with a bang. Many thanks to the Cape Fear Chapter for hosting that event, and to Elizabeth Severt for chairing it for us.

Look for future updates from me on the 2019 season. It will be dynamite, with exciting racing, awesome solos, and perhaps even a time trial event of our own.

— Sam Fouse

Buddy Matthews 1942-2018

Alfred “Buddy” Matthews, long time NCR member, racer, Chief of Tech, former RE  and current Chapter Coordinator for the West Chapter tragically lost his life in a traffic accident on Monday, December 3rd.
Buddy was RE from 1987 through 1994, Assistant RE in 1986, and seemingly Chief of Tech or co-chief forever (officially since 1989). He was DA for Tech for a number of years as well. The Region presented him with several awards, including a Lifetime Achievement award in 2005.

We will miss him greatly.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the American Heart Association.

NCR Awards Banquet Returns to Wilmington this Year

NCR’s Annual Awards Banquet returns to Wilmington this year, on January 12th at the Brooklyn Arts Center in downtown Wilmington.
For more information, prices, dinner menu, etc., please click here.

Goblins Go cancelled…again!

Fellow Competitors and Volunteers:

As I write this, it’s mid-50’s at VIR with cars on track, but unfortunately, depending on which forecast you choose to believe, for next weekend it looks like a high of 38 to 41 with a strong possibility of wintry mix, to straight out snow with accumulation. Therefore, both NC Region and VIR believe we have no choice but to cancel next weekend’s scheduled race and time trial event.

As part of our agreement with VIR for this event, it was mutually agreed that either party could cancel a week prior due to weather or lack of participation, or both, without consequence, and although we have 102 cars pre-registered, the forecast looks ominous. There are only two things we know of that VIR shut downs for – flooding, and snow. We’ve already experienced one and are now about to experience the other, both within 60 days.

All registrations will be canceled on MotorsportReg and entry fees refunded in their entirety.

Sincerely,
Sam Fouse, RE
Mark Senior, Race Chair
Eric Danielsen, Marketing Chair
Bruce Dover, Office Mgr & Registrar

Mark Senior Awarded National Race Administration Worker of the Year at Runoffs

Mark Senior, NCR Member, former RE, Triangle Chapter coordinator and Race Chair has been awarded the National Race Administration Worker of the Year in Sonoma, Califonia at the 2018 Runoffs.

The SCCA press release stated, “Race Administration Worker of the Year is Mark Senior of the North Carolina Region. Cool, calm and collected, he is a quiet, hard-working guy capable of adapting to handle any situation. He is efficient, easy to work with, has a great can-do attitude and is a great example of how to execute Race Administration duties.”

Congratulations Mark! A well-deserved award!

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