RE Report

As 2020 is upon us, I thought I might revisit my most recent (and too infrequent) RE Report, and write an updated one with where we are as of now.

First of all, we may be in the best financial position we have ever been in. When I joined the Board almost 7 years ago, I was told the Region’s goal was to have one year of VIR track rent in the bank. I’m happy to report that we are pretty much there, despite losing our October event each of the past two years, along with ‘investing’ (losses) in a new Time Trials program, as well as a Runoffs Test Day weekend that came up short. Going into 2020, even though our Spring Sprints won’t be as big as in 2019, we get Goblins Go back, so we’ll have a fourth racing event at VIR again for the first time since 2017. With that, I expect we will be just as successful as in 2019.

Our race dates at VIR for 2020 are set, and we know the base rental rate. However, we don’t yet have the actual contract in hand, so we don’t know if there will be any other changes to the add-on fees for various items. What we do know is that the base rate is going up about 3% over 2019, which is a smaller increase than last year.

However, SCCA is adjusting fees upward also.  A new $20 Appearance fund assessment is being added to all Super Tour/Majors events. The insurance fee will also increase slightly for the Spring Sprints, but the other fees, including the Super Tour fee ($70), will stay the same. With all of that added up, in 2020 the first $149.25 of every driver’s entry fees for the Spring Sprints will go straight to Topeka, not to NCR. For 2019, that number was $125.75 – a significant increase.

For regional events, the sanction fees and insurance will increase by $7 total per car per weekend. In addition to the increase in the insurance fees, beginning in 2020, SCCA will impose a new $1,000 deductible for all damage claim filings. Until now, we’ve been able to file track damage claims back to SCCA and get close to 100% reimbursement, and those have been significant. We will now have to absorb the first $1,000.

With these increases, it’s no surprise that race entry fees will not be going down for 2020 events at VIR (nor anywhere else for that matter), but we will strive to keep the impact on our entry fees to the minimum.

I’d like to give a quick reminder about what racing at VIR means to us as a region. With the exception of Solo, which is self-sufficient, our few days of racing at VIR are the only means by which the Region can raise any surplus to pay for everything else we do that doesn’t pay for itself – for the entire year. Just breaking even at races won’t keep the region alive. I have been a region (and previous Board member) long enough to remember when NCR essentially went broke and had to cancel all racing. We are first and always a racing region. Without it we cannot survive and grow.

So what is on the horizon for 2020? Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights:

  • March 14-15: We are joining forces with South Carolina Region at our March Into Spring event at VIR. SCR lost its March race date at CMP, so we’ve reached out to them. SCR has allowed us to joint venture at their Time Trial at CMP each of the last two years, and we may be working with them more in the future. There were many regions that helped NCR survive when we didn’t have a track. Sometimes you pay back by paying forward.
  • April 10-12: The Spring Sprints (first so-named in 1958) will again be our feature three-day Super Tour event. Although we expect the field to be more ‘normal’ this year, we think it will still be a biggie on the national schedule. A lot of new drivers at the Runoffs may want another shot at VIR. Since the track (with help from SCCA) has installed paved paths in the infield, and with a smaller field, we shouldn’t need a dedicated load-in this year nor endure a repeat of 2019’s mud sling.
  • May 9-10: SARRC/MARRS Challenge. As always, we’ll be working with Washington DC Region. We continue to explore new ways to grow our relationship, and have agreed to allow them to run their Sprint Bracket Road Racing (SBRR) entrants within one of our traditional run groups. SBRR is an effort to bring new drivers into SCCA, without the hassle of having to fit into one of the existing GCR classes. In addition, we have been chosen by Mazda as one of only 6 venues on the East Coast to feature their new Spec MX-5 Challenge Series for the NC generation of cars.
  • August 15-16: NCR Time Trial. We are returning to the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) in Garysburg, NC for our own Time Trials event. We ran there twice in 2019 and we hope the snowball keeps growing in 2020. We learn and make improvements each time, introducing new twists. Although it can’t yet pay for itself, we are committed to making Time Trial a successful program in NCR. If you haven’t yet, you should come play. Just about any car will qualify and the best analogy I can make is that it’s a good cross between Solo and Racing, and a good stepping stone between the two. It’s also a logical complement to Cape Fear’s already hugely successful Solo program which will be running a full series of events again at Cherry Point in 2020.
  • October 10-11: Goblins Go returns – a tradition in NCR since 1962. This means the return of Prod Fest and the V8RRS Championship along with the usual full range of SARRC and endurance races. This fall classic has been one of our most successful events over the years and we look forward to getting it back after a two-year absence.

Speaking of endurance racing, ECR, APC, and Tarheel Cup all get a makeover for 2020. First, both ECR and APC will adopt a 65-minute race format in order to allow two drivers to each get a 30-minute stint behind the wheel plus the 5-minute pit stop. Tarheel Cup will drop the ‘Pro’ name as it doesn’t pay prize money anymore and will simply become known as TCS. It will continue with a 45-minute format and be targeted at drivers for whom a single SARRC race per day just isn’t enough and would like more seat time. All three series will also add more eligible classes, so be sure to check on MSR when these events come on line to see if your class is included.

Elsewhere in 2020, we hope to outfit the Speed Suite with a bath, a small kitchen, and a storage loft. With our very own pace car, possibly a bigger Hospitality trailer, and all of our worker support assets, we’ve already grown to fill it. I don’t know how we used to stuff everything into little rental garages, but the Speed Suite may be the best investment we’ve ever made. We have a permanent home at VIR that will have lasting value for many years.

NCR is also establishing a new scholarship fund, suggested by, and under the leadership of member John Lindquist. The program will promote awareness among young people about motorsports in general and SCCA in particular, through a modest (at first) scholarship fund for entering college freshmen. More on that will be coming in the near future, but as a 501(c)4 non-profit, giving back to the community is part of what a region’s charter is supposed to be about, and this will be another way we can fulfill that obligation.

So there it is and I’m now at the end of my last RE Report as my term ends this weekend and I decided some time ago (with my wife’s encouragement) to not seek a third term. Anna Crissman will slide over from Asst. RE into the RE chair, and I will move over to ‘Past RE’, which is an official position in NCR. Anna has been Asst. RE and Comp Board Director since I asked her to fill that vacancy three years ago. She has been an integral part of our success ever since and has reinforced my confidence in her many times over. I believe we have the best person for the job and I intend to help her.

As for me, I will still be an active voting member of the Board, a driver, and a volunteer, so you’ll still see me at NCR events, but it’s time to let others pick it up from here. I’m proud to say, as I enter my 44th year as a member, that with younger people assuming some of the leadership, nobody can accuse NC Region of being run by a bunch of old guys.

Small steps, always forward…

Sam Fouse, RE

Wrapping Up 2019 & Looking Forward to 2020

First of all, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers who made NCR’s support for the Runoffs so successful. Thanks especially to Stephen Miller for the outstanding job he did cooking for the North Carolina Region block party. His barbecue and roast pork were the talk of the party-goers. And thanks to all the shuttle drivers who assisted me as the unofficial Goodwill Ambassadors for the Region:  Dean Bumgardner, Jan Castelluccio, Ginny Condrey, Eric Danielsen, Rex and Trish Deffenbaugh, Bruce Dover, Natasha Euliss-Uftring, Ron Gentry, Neal Harrison, Frank Killian, Joe Lyons, Tim Lyons, Robert Mayes, Jerry Pell, Dan Robson, Mark Senior, Chris Schimmel, James Shanks, and Mike and Paul Spencer. We heard your praises all over the paddock. We also came close to running over NCR member turned VIR traffic cop Johnny Dunbar multiple times, but despite our best efforts, we succeeded in missing him. Many thanks too, to Mark Senior, for conceiving of an NCR-provided coffee and sweet rolls breakfast for the flaggers, and then helping execute on that for the three race days. It was a huge hit.

I’d also like to acknowledge all the others from NCR who contributed in their chosen specialty areas: Ben Tyler who worked his tail off as the official Assistant Flag Chief for the Runoffs, before, during, and after. Also, Anna Crissman, who served in an official capacity in Timing & Scoring, along with Megan Tyler. All of the following also contributed on behalf of NCR: Judy Davis, Chuck Stanley, Jamie Dzencelowcz (Start); Clayton Condrey, Heather Powers, Fred McKinney (Grid); John Lindquist, Jerry Pell, Frank Killian, Natasha Euliss-Uftring, Lee & Pat Hill (Paddock); Ed Wentz, Joedy Pennington, Erika Deffenbaugh, Tim & Brenda Lyons (Pace Car); Brian Eldredge, Chris Robbins, John Davison, Mo Overstreet, Mark Biamonte, Jan Michel, Gary & Deb Spunaugle, W.A. Wells, Cj Danielsen, William Little, Randel Sink, David Turner (F&C); Jean Quick (Driver Info); Sally Blackburn (CSC); David Dominguez, Chuck Matthews (EV); Patricia Biamonte, Bruce Dover (Registration); Ken Blackburn, Morriss Pendleton, Steve Keadle (Stewards); Sam Neave, Dwight Cooke, Sam Moore (Tech). NCR was well represented, but forgive me if I’ve overlooked anyone.

One I can’t overlook is Buddy Matthews, who we all know was there in spirit in Tech while looking after his Scales room. His name was honored during the “Toast” after the last race on Sunday, as was James Buckberry’s.

Lastly, I saw Peyton “Gloves” Johnson and Thomas Guest’s smiling faces often, and was photographed with them multiple times in multiple places, so despite what you may have heard – I know they were there.

Hats off to all the drivers who participated in the Runoffs and the Solo Nationals. You made those events successful, even if you did not do well, just by being there.  Congratulations especially to our new National Champions, whose victories you can read about elsewhere on this site, Broderick Bauguess, Jennifer Bedell, and Anthony Seaber. You did us proud!

Looking Back at 2019

Now that the Runoffs (and most of 2019) are over, it’s a good time to take a breather and review where we’ve been this year overall and where we’re going in 2020.

On the racing side, it’s hard to believe, but we have only had three race weekends at VIR since May of 2018. And by the time next March rolls around, we will again not have had a race at VIR since the previous May. The Region was not permitted to participate in this year’s Runoffs financial success (or failure). We were only granted a small service contract which we fulfilled without financial gain. The Runoffs were completely Topeka’s event. The new reality is that the local Region no longer has any input or authority. We provided cheerful service, but losing Goblin’s Go for two years in a row hurt. Fortunately, the race events we did have this year were successful enough that, as of this writing, we are in good shape financially going into 2020. It should come as no surprise that the Spring Sprints were again hugely successful in 2019, and it has become one of the premier SCCA road-racing events in the entire country. Make no mistake, the Spring Sprints pays the bills for us as a Region and helps subsidize other non-revenue-producing events and fixed costs associated with the Region.

The Cape Fear Chapter’s Solo program continues to be successful in every regard, and consistently produces winners on the national stage. While it does operate under our Charter, the Solo program is essentially self-sufficient financially. The members who make the Solo program work deserve a huge thanks for their efforts. This year the Region is also trying to bridge the gap between solo and racing via our own Time Trial program. Although TT is not yet able to pay its own way in NCR, we hope to continue to develop it towards becoming a viable program. There are multiple opportunities developing on the national stage in this area and NCR needs to be a player, now and in the future. Along those lines, we are conducting our second Time Trial at the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) in two weeks (Nov. 9-10), and I hope you can join us.

Looking forward to 2020

Looking ahead to 2020, our VIR race schedule is now set. Our April (Spring Sprints) and May (SARRC/MARRS) events will continue and we are all excited to announce that we are getting Goblin’s Go back on its usual October weekend date, after a two-year absence.

For March, while we have our traditional date and program again, there is some news to report with regard to this event in 2020, and possibly beyond. A change of ownership of Carolina Motorsports Park (CMP) is either in the works or has been completed. Along with that change, South Carolina Region (SCR) has lost its traditional Buck Muse SARRC date in late March, at least for 2020. Having partnered with other Regions for race dates back when NCR didn’t have a track, we have reached out to SCR and offered to partner with them at VIR with our March 2020 event. We think it’s a win-win for everyone involved for two reasons. First, it frees up a log jam of SARRC races early in the calendar year. Neither our event nor theirs could realize its full financial potential being just two weeks apart. Merging the two should produce a better event for drivers and workers. Second, assuming SCR gets its late March weekend back next year, we have verbally agreed to partner with them at CMP next year, which should allow us to pursue an alternative program at VIR in March 2021. This could be the return of endurance racing in some format, Time Trial, or some other combination of competition events under VIR’s off-season rate schedule. The objective here is to offer non-traditional motorsports offerings while not giving up any of our traditional racing events.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you soon,

Sam Fouse, RE

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

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.