Raleigh, NC – (NCRSCCA) – We had a great time at the November meeting of the Triangle Chapter! Tom Long, co-driver of the overall winner of the Charge of the Headlight Brigade, the Freedom Motorsports #25 MX-5, dropped by with his work buddy, Sean Calton, so Sean could meet the troops and see what we were all about. Welcome Sean! And Justin Deffenbaugh showed up with one of his annotated videos of his brother Blair driving in the Goblin’s Go. The captions Justin added were hilarious, but Blair got his brother back on film with his single digit salute as he rounded Oak Tree where Justin was flagging. Too funny! Well done, guys! And Chuck Hines also provided video of his exciting dice with Jeff Young at the same race. Talk about not giving an inch! These guys went at it hammer and tongs lap after lap. All eyes were on the big screen and there was plenty of cheering as they swapped the lead in ITS over and over again. It was something to see!
We started the business meeting with a report by the annual awards dinner chair, Bib Tucker. She said that arrangements were coming along and that the event would be held in downtown Raleigh at Café Luna again, on Saturday, January 5th. Invitations will go out in the mail soon.
Then the business meeting touched very briefly on the club financials. Coming into the last 2 races, our revenue was down about $16K over the previous year, but our expenses were down about $8K, so we are really waiting on the most recent receipts to clear for a final accounting, due later this month, as Treasurer Steve Keadle confirmed. We are hoping to make up that deficit with the last two events. Tarheel Cup Series Administrator Steve Rose said that his series had done well and that the last checks to class winners would be mailed next week. Then he too would be ready for a final report at the next Board meeting.
In addition to the last 2 races at VIR, which appear to have been very successful, mention was made of the Solo group having hosted the North Carolina Autocross Championships down at Cherry Point last month. They ran 144 cars on Saturday and 125 on Sunday, which is just huge. NCR came in second among the four autocross clubs which participated, but it was said by all competitors that they had really raised the bar with regard to the awesome venue (God Bless the Marines!) and the quality of the after-event social. Way to go, folks!
That brought up a discussion on our declining membership, which now stands at 707, its lowest level since 2001. We seem to be serving our core constituents rather well, but are not growing. Part of the blame is on the economy to be sure, but the assembled members wondered what else we could do to bring in new people. It was lamented that we did not have any solos in the Triangle area, and that we no longer held any TSD rallies. Many members fondly remembered participating in those kinds of events as newcomers; but without volunteers to run those programs and venues to run them on, the events had evaporated. Anybody out there wanna be a rallymaster? Just volunteer!
The discussion then turned to our racing activities and how the National Office was planning to change the National racing program into the Masters Series. It’s clear that they think there are too many Nationals (80) for the number of drivers participating, and that they want to improve the competition by elevating some National races to “Masters” status. They recently announced the formation of various Conferences, composed of SCCA divisions which will hold Maters events (SEDIV and NEDIV collectively make up the Eastern Conference). And they appointed conference-level administrators and chief stewards to achieve some consistency (Gayle Lorenz of WDC is the Conference Administrator, and Bob Hudson of Atlanta Region is Chief Steward of the Eastern Conference). But it remains to be seen what will happen to National races which do not achieve Majors status. If you want to join in the discussion, read the fact sheet out on http:// www.sccamajors.com. The first Majors event in the Eastern Conference is Central Florida’s double at Sebring January 4 – 6, so we are all waiting to see how it turns out.
Our final item of business was to remember one of our greats, John Fitch, who passed away at his home in Lime Rock on Halloween last week. He was 95. John Fitch was a WWII fighter pilot, prisoner of war, and Purple Heart recipient, who went on to an exceptional career in racing and automotive engineering. He was SCCA’s first national champion. He raced professionally both at home and abroad, winning the Argentine Grand Prix in 1951, the 1955 Mille Miglia, and competing at Le Mans 6 times. He drove for Mercedes and for Briggs Cunningham. He helped design Lime Rock Park and was its first general manager. He formed a company to modify and race Corvairs in the 60’s, and another company which pioneered innovations in automotive safety and barrier design. Many people are alive today because of John Fitch. A humble and very approachable man, our members Dan Robson and John Uftring both said they met him at Lime Rock and that he still roamed the paddock there during SCCA races meeting and talking with competitors. So here’s to one of the best we ever had! Read more about his incredible life on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Fitch_%28racing_driver%29 . You’ll be amazed.
It won’t be as amazing but it will still be fun, so why not join us for the next Triangle Chapter meeting, Wednesday, December 5, at El Rodeo. We’ll have the Chapter Coordinator election and some Holiday cheer. I’ll see you there . . . or at the races!