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Thread: Getting Rid of Regional/Majors Distinction?

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    Default Getting Rid of Regional/Majors Distinction?

    I know some of you guys are saying getting rid of the distinction between Majors and Regionals will "save" SCCA Club Racing, but exactly how? i.e. - what benefit is there to SCCA (specifically you) to eliminate the distinction?

    Also recognize that if you feel strongly about this, you need to tell your Area Director as well as posting here.
    Butch Kummer
    Former SCCA Director of Club Racing (July 2012 - Sept 2014)
    2006, 2007, 2010 SARRC GTA Champion

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    That's a good question Butch and worthy of contemplation.

    Why I'm contemplating, can someone explain to me the advantages the racer enjoys with the current National/Regional distinction? The advantages or benefits are probably obvious to some of you long-timers, but for a relative new comer (ten years, all regional) they are not at all apparent.

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    Same history lesson I've preached many times in the past: We have Nationals classes that are eligible for the Runoffs. We allow regions to create any other classes that they feel fit their local needs.

    Improved Touring was an idea that hit various regions in the early 80s and took off, and other regions picked it up. Because there were varying regs in varying regions, SCCA (Englewood CO at the time) agreed to publish a separate book* for IT with a nationally-consistent set of regs, all so that competitors could travel intra-region and not worry about compliance differences, but with the caveat that this was just a convenience and the class was never intended to be considered for participation in the Nationals program.

    Time moved on, all nationally-compiled regs were combined in a single book, including IT, and everybody began to wonder why IT couldn't play at the Runoffs.

    IT exists in the same plane as Super Production, ASR, SSM, SMT, ITE, ITEZ, ad nausea: regional-only classes. By virtue of historical evolution it just so happens it has a nationally-consistent ruleset (Butch tells me there's others in there, but nothing to the extent of IT).

    GA

    * The GCR used to be one book, and each category had its own physical book. You had to purchase each separately, only scrutineers got "the bible" with all in one binding...
    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

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    Good information to know.

    But again, how is the national and regional distinction within the SCCA a benefit to the racer? Or, put another way, what are the advantages of the SCCA's system over NASA's flat system?

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    - Fewer classes in the National/Majors racing program;
    - Complete flexibility for local regions/division to create/edit/delete classes that meet their local needs.

    The alternative is to restrict all SCCA classes to only those in the National/Majors racing program, and all class creations/edits/deletions would be handled by the big central eye in the sky...errrr, Topeka.
    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

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    I didn't even know there was still a distinction. I thought we now have categories that can run regional events, and only some of those can run in the majors. Easy enough to me.
    Dave Gran
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    Let's put it this way: without the Regional/Majors distinction, there would be a ton of classes/categories that simply would not exist. Improved Touring for one, and others like SSM, SMT, ITE, ITEZ, Super Production, ASR, Club Ford, Club S2000, etc.

    Be careful what you wish for.
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    Being an old time racer (started in early 70's) the "National Races" were something that the Regional drive aspired to, the ability to run well regionally and show you had the skill to compete (and maintain a car) got you the ability to get a National license. Back in the 70's -- 80's and perhaps the mid 90's running the Nationals implied that you were well skilled and willing to put out your best effort to complete for the top 3- 5 positions in you division to be "awarded" an invite to the Runoff. That was a well respected situation. However as the years went by, and the number of classes swelled and the number of drivers in a class shrunk, it was just a matter of showing up to an event and you got to go to the Runoff's, so the mystique was gone and the only real achievement became a title win.

    However since all of that is diluted, even the Runoff's doesn't generate that much interest (sort of like the regional races, the only spectators are the entrants and their family & friends). So IMHO there is no benefit to the club and as far as the racers are concerned there is obviously no desire to aspire to a National license. Part of this is why IT is so popular, it is easy to get involved, doesn't require a lot of effort to enter, and ultimately since a lot of the races are poorly participated the non-hard core racers give up and go do something else.

    So if we eliminate the National/Regional program, provide understandable rules for a realistic number of classes (not having 15 variations on a Miata), the drivers will want to work a tad harder on their cars because they entered a race where there were 25 cars in the class, the race weekend could take two days which means that you get much more track time then 20 minutes at a regional, the drivers improve their skills, and then want to build and maintain their cars. So it's a win win, the region gets more entrants, the drivers have more fun, and the world is a happier place.
    Tom Blaney
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    Not necessarily. They might still exist. They just wouldn't go to the Runoffs.

    More and more, maybe it is getting older, I like simplicity. The idea of taking the top 10 or 14 or whatever classes in a particular year participation wise and having them go to the runoffs makes sense to me. The cream, and popular classes, rise to the top, like the English soccer leagues, with relegation.

    We made a mistake five years ago not pushing for that I think, all of us, and instead got more classes (all of which have good ideas).
    NC Region
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    Good post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Blaney View Post
    Being an old time racer (started in early 70's) the "National Races" were something that the Regional drive aspired to, the ability to run well regionally and show you had the skill to compete (and maintain a car) got you the ability to get a National license. Back in the 70's -- 80's and perhaps the mid 90's running the Nationals implied that you were well skilled and willing to put out your best effort to complete for the top 3- 5 positions in you division to be "awarded" an invite to the Runoff. That was a well respected situation. However as the years went by, and the number of classes swelled and the number of drivers in a class shrunk, it was just a matter of showing up to an event and you got to go to the Runoff's, so the mystique was gone and the only real achievement became a title win.

    However since all of that is diluted, even the Runoff's doesn't generate that much interest (sort of like the regional races, the only spectators are the entrants and their family & friends). So IMHO there is no benefit to the club and as far as the racers are concerned there is obviously no desire to aspire to a National license. Part of this is why IT is so popular, it is easy to get involved, doesn't require a lot of effort to enter, and ultimately since a lot of the races are poorly participated the non-hard core racers give up and go do something else.

    So if we eliminate the National/Regional program, provide understandable rules for a realistic number of classes (not having 15 variations on a Miata), the drivers will want to work a tad harder on their cars because they entered a race where there were 25 cars in the class, the race weekend could take two days which means that you get much more track time then 20 minutes at a regional, the drivers improve their skills, and then want to build and maintain their cars. So it's a win win, the region gets more entrants, the drivers have more fun, and the world is a happier place.
    NC Region
    1980 ITS Triumph TR8

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffYoung View Post
    Good post.
    It's a nice post...but it's filled with wrong-wronginess. Tom, you need to come visit the track again.

    - the "National Races" were something that the Regional drive aspired to...

    Maybe you did, brother, but I didn't and a lot of others didn't. I raced IT because I liked IT. You've fallen prey to that old "national drivers are better" mindset (or maybe you're part of the old guard that created/perpetuated it?) None of us decided to race Improved Touring - or any regional-only class - with the "goal" of going to the Runoffs. Regional classes have never been "starter" classes, except for those that decided that was their path.

    - the ability to run well regionally and show you had the skill to compete...

    Um, no. The only "ability" you needed to get a National license was to finish three Regional races and $50. It had nothing to do with skills, ability, or ultimate goals. Hell, once you had a National, that and ~$100 got you an SCCA Pro license, and that and another $200 got me an IMSA Pro license; did that automatically increase my skills level?

    - Back in the 70's -- 80's and perhaps the mid 90's running the Nationals implied that you were well skilled and willing to put out your best effort...

    Um, no. Again, "projection". Old Guard s**t.

    - it was just a matter of showing up to an event and you got to go to the Runoff's...the only real achievement became a title win.

    I'll agree with part of that: with the exception of the top three classes (SM, FV, and SRF) today all you need is a pulse and a checkbook to qualify for the Runoffs. But even back then when it was much more difficult, you think most sat on their laurels and called that invitation a "win"? Hell no. Qualifying was the first step, and we all went there to compete for the title win. Just because it's easier to get in doesn't mean the achievement of competing and winning means less.

    - even the Runoff's doesn't generate that much interest (sort of like the regional races, the only spectators are the entrants and their family & friends).

    Dude, you seriously need to get to a recent Runoffs. I don't know about the 90s, but the last several years at Road America, and this year At Laguna Seca, had a s**t-ton of spectators. Place was packed.

    - no desire to aspire to a National license.

    Need to keep up, grampa. there's no longer Regional and National licenses, only a "competition license".

    - you get much more track time then 20 minutes at a regional...

    Again, come visit an NER event. You're really missing out if you think that's all they are. Seriously, come visit.

    So...how would removing the Regional/National (classes) distinction affect this in any way?

    GA
    Last edited by Greg Amy; 12-12-2014 at 07:54 PM.
    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

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    Greg saved me a ton of typing. Tom had me seeing unicorns and rainbows for a minute.

    You had a hardcore group of drivers that their entire year was dedicated to testing for the runoffs. Start and park was, and still is very common to get "starts" for the runoffs.

    Then you had the other 95% of drivers that raced for the love of racing and championships, etc were just a bonus. Went to the track with their families and just enjoyed racing with friends. ECR and other series had all the same drivers and teams you see today in IMSA. IT was a big deal then.

    SCCA racing will not return to that regardless of the number of classes. Same group will still be on track with slightly different letters on the car, but same number of drivers and same time needed on track as the current grouping. More track time is BS as you assume the groups you run now at Majors are full. At a double SARRC weekend a driver will get 100 minutes of track time in my schedule, 20 minutes is a talking point that is way overused. Get out more and see the world.

    Here is the problem with class consolidation. Not saying it is bad or good, just the proven results over time.

    Driver has a car he loves and has developed for years to get to the front. Has collected all the hard to find go-fast goodies. Class is consolidated or killed and now he has a whole new set of rules to learn. Now instead of a stock gearbox he needs a pimpy CR box, because it is allowed. Weight might go up to level him out in the new class so tire wear, brakes, etc get more expensive, or like ST now need to be upgraded (because it is allowed) to stay competitive. Other option is an SIR that now has to be tuned around and most likely will require a new cam, etc to be fast. No big deal you say as it looks like the other sedans in the class. Weight is lighter to speed him up so maybe he now has to go lexan and fiberglass body in the new class, just stroke a check, no big deal. Of course the other cars can run any motor by the manufacturer so most likely the one in the car is not "THE" motor to have so out it comes. Just toss that earlier collection I spoke of. God forbid they read the rules and put a Rotary in a Miata and kill the whole damn category. How is that cluster working out with a definition of a sports car and now we want to further shove a ton of cars in fewer classes. Truth is he does none of this and just goes to vintage, another club, or quits. Now you lost him, his family, and every friend he can tell how the SCCA screwed him.

    We had a chance before ST was created to take a restricted ruleset like IT and build a good foundation for a sustained category. Further we could have opened Production up with a spec wing, motor swaps (already allowed in the Bugeye, etc) and never needed ST at all.

    Look at F1000 where all the slow formula cars were going to put a 1000cc motorcycle motor in and it would bring out all the old FA,FF, etc to race again. Then Stohr built a new car and class was DOA. Follow similar theory with all the classes that skipped regional to national requirement and you have a list of failures. Now classes that did it the right way and are at the top of participation in the Nation are supposed to just sit and watch? Right.

    As I said I will watch the sparks fly as the genie is forced back into a bottle. Only good thing they did is institute the 3 year freeze we asked for to give the runoffs rotation a chance to show what classes were popular. BOD is not the one that should be coming up with a plan, the members should. Then and only then would it have a chance. Without buy in from us you have nothing but pissed of customers that have little faith in the broken promises of the past and definitely no faith in the few on the BOD that are really pushing this agenda.
    Last edited by seckerich; 12-12-2014 at 08:00 PM.
    Steve Eckerich
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butch Kummer View Post
    I know some of you guys are saying getting rid of the distinction between Majors and Regionals will "save" SCCA Club Racing, but exactly how? i.e. - what benefit is there to SCCA (specifically you) to eliminate the distinction?

    .
    The benefit to me...more people to race with.

    I think we need to make SCCA simple. Make it so everyone gets it and can easily get involved. Have a ladder system in place for the cars themselves that allow competitors to go faster and do more with the car if they want to... like ss to it to prod to gt back in the day. Make simple divisional championships that include every single race in the division. Make every race in the country eligible towards the runoffs... gasp I know crazy idea! Make the points benefit those that beat more cars so the larger the field the more points... this will allow everyone to race each other whenever and let the cream rise to the top. Let regions create their own little championships within the divisional championships if they want a more local thing. That I think will make it simple to understand and drive competitors to race more.

    Stephen

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    It would be interesting to know just how many people seriously want to attend the Runoffs. With it being such a drawn out event, usually large towing costs, and all of the other expenses including vacation time... I realize there are some tracks like Laguna which have a bigger appeal.
    Dave Gran
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    I suspect the runoffs participation would benefit from regional racers taking advantage of the runoffs coming into their area. With the runoffs coming to Daytona next year I'd head down there to race, that is, if my car was eligible I would.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Earp View Post
    That's a good question Butch and worthy of contemplation.

    Why I'm contemplating, can someone explain to me the advantages the racer enjoys with the current National/Regional distinction? The advantages or benefits are probably obvious to some of you long-timers, but for a relative new comer (ten years, all regional) they are not at all apparent.
    Posted my original question around noon on Friday, then headed out for happy hour before the first replies came in. Greg has offered his thoughts, but here are mine:

    1. Granted there is certainly crossover in the middle, but IN GENERAL the level of preparation and intensity is greater at a Majors/National event than at a Regional event. I understand that spending more money on your equipment does not necessarily make you faster, but look at the support equipment that shows up for a Majors weekend compared to a Regional weekend. They may not drive any better, but many of the folks running Majors have serious equipment around them. Not everyone running a Regional weekend wants to (or can afford to) invest that much into their efforts.

    2. If everyone is allowed to run every event, where does someone starting out in W2W go to get racing experience? Again IN GENERAL, there's more disparity at the Regional level and thus people IN GENERAL are more patient when dealing with traffic and/or newbies. Bottom line - some (many?) people don't want to put forth the effort necessary to run at the front at a Majors event, so having lower-key events (Regionals) gives them the opportunity to race where they want.

    3. I know most of you don't care about publicity and think Topeka does a piss-poor job of covering things, but "promoting" over a hundred weekends of racing events is pretty much impossible. Last year there were 25 Majors events and every one is covered on the Majors website with pre-event and post-event articles, live timing, and in most cases live play-by-play audio for those that can't make it to the track. They also experimented with live video at a couple of events in 2014 (Mid-Ohio for sure) but I don't think that made it through the 2015 budget process. Of course the individual regions can do this on their own, but 95% of the regional events are not covered in any way. By way of example, before 1972, NASCAR Grand National (the highest level) ran over 70 races a year - that's part of why Richard Petty's record of 200 wins will never be broken - but when Winston got involved they realized there was no way they could make that many races "special" so they cut it back to 31 weekends. The creation of US Majors Tour in 2013 is SCCA's attempt to reduce the number of events to a manageable level, which allows better publicity for each of them.

    And while StephenB thinks removing the distinction will give him more people to race with, I believe the opposite is true. Right now IT classes are not part of Majors weekends, so if you suddenly allow them are more IT drivers going to show up? People say we already have too many weekends, so adding 25 more events is going to increase participation at each event?

    Finally, the distinction is part of the culture of SCCA ("the way we've always done things") and while I believe my past performance in multiple positions of leadership in the club shows I'm not adverse to change, there needs to be a valid reason TO change. Again, why would allowing everyone to run every race be better than what we have now?
    Butch Kummer
    Former SCCA Director of Club Racing (July 2012 - Sept 2014)
    2006, 2007, 2010 SARRC GTA Champion

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Amy View Post
    It's a nice post...but it's filled with wrong-wronginess. Tom, you need to come visit the track again.

    - the "National Races" were something that the Regional drive aspired to...

    Maybe you did, brother, but I didn't and a lot of others didn't. I raced IT because I liked IT. You've fallen prey to that old "national drivers are better" mindset (or maybe you're part of the old guard that created/perpetuated it?) None of us decided to race Improved Touring - or any regional-only class - with the "goal" of going to the Runoffs. Regional classes have never been "starter" classes, except for those that decided that was their path.

    - the ability to run well regionally and show you had the skill to compete...

    Um, no. The only "ability" you needed to get a National license was to finish three Regional races and $50. It had nothing to do with skills, ability, or ultimate goals. Hell, once you had a National, that and ~$100 got you an SCCA Pro license, and that and another $200 got me an IMSA Pro license; did that automatically increase my skills level?

    - Back in the 70's -- 80's and perhaps the mid 90's running the Nationals implied that you were well skilled and willing to put out your best effort...

    Um, no. Again, "projection". Old Guard s**t.

    - it was just a matter of showing up to an event and you got to go to the Runoff's...the only real achievement became a title win.

    I'll agree with part of that: with the exception of the top three classes (SM, FV, and SRF) today all you need is a pulse and a checkbook to qualify for the Runoffs. But even back then when it was much more difficult, you think most sat on their laurels and called that invitation a "win"? Hell no. Qualifying was the first step, and we all went there to compete for the title win. Just because it's easier to get in doesn't mean the achievement of competing and winning means less.

    - even the Runoff's doesn't generate that much interest (sort of like the regional races, the only spectators are the entrants and their family & friends).

    Dude, you seriously need to get to a recent Runoffs. I don't know about the 90s, but the last several years at Road America, and this year At Laguna Seca, had a s**t-ton of spectators. Place was packed.

    - no desire to aspire to a National license.

    Need to keep up, grampa. there's no longer Regional and National licenses, only a "competition license".

    - you get much more track time then 20 minutes at a regional...

    Again, come visit an NER event. You're really missing out if you think that's all they are. Seriously, come visit.

    So...how would removing the Regional/National (classes) distinction affect this in any way?

    GA
    Greg

    Funny thing is that I still attend the races, in the spring I instruct at the drivers school in South Jersey, and get a feel for what the newbees are looking to get out of club racing. Additionally I attend a number of the NE regionals because I support the drivers who use my motors, gearbox builds, and suspension parts (all stuff that I make, not resell). So I know first hand what the series has become. A lot of the races are poorly subscribed, and I can't recall how many "Miata" races I watched that had noting but freight trains. I encourage my guys to push harder, experiment with lines and breaking points etc.

    All of that knowledge came from getting my ass wiped when I started to race against "National" drivers, if you recall when we ran the Runoff's in Atlanta in SSA (where I believe I left you in the dust) the races were fierce, and the drivers were pulling moves that were not only impressive, but getting them places up the grid.

    The point is that going to the track to just run laps and have a gay old time is fine if that is what you want to do, but when somebody really tries to push themselves, or focuses on trying to learn why he just got blown off by some old timer he will become a better faster driver. That is what made club racing exciting and spectators come to lots of events.

    Sitting on the hill at Lime Rock, and watch 25 identical cars lap the track in 6 car trains only to wait for a last lap shot is not exciting to watch or seeing a race that has 10 cars in it and there are 5 car classes will not keep new drivers or spectators interest for a long time
    Tom Blaney
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    you're all right in my book, Tom! I just wish you'd come up here more often, we miss having you around.

    If your point is that competitors running Nationals/Majors consider it "more serious bizness" you'll have no disagreement from me. But I've seen and experienced some, such as yourself and me at times, that spent just as much effort on a Regional program. I guess in the end it's all about an individual's goal, and if the Runoffs is their goal, then you have to do Majors. In mid-00s the ARRC was my goal, so I did Regionals.

    But is it the chicken or the egg? Which causes what? I disagree that we do, or should, consider Regional racing to be a stepping-stone, or that Majors/National drivers are necessarily more experience or better drivers, though they tend to gravitate that way. Me, I went STL because I liked the ruleset, I wanted a good excuse to drive Road America, and I wanted a strong event to do it in (the Runoffs). But I'm thinking that after I check Daytona off my list in 2015 I may be looking at dialing back the traveling and doing more Regionals (dude, Palmer is going to kick ass, you need to come up here and drive it). We'll see where the Club goes for the Runoffs in 2017 onward.

    There's strong competition in Regionals, and there's weak competition in the Majors. It's all about what your personal goals are...

    GA

    P.S., yeah if your SSA run was in '89 you tanned me pretty good; I think I finished 25th? I wasn't aware of where the strategic resistor had to be soldered in to keep the car from going into low-boost limp mode from high IATs. But I figured it out for '90 and finished 7th and 5th the two years after that... That CSX is for sale, if anyone's looking for a project car...
    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

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    Butch,

    I didn't say to add race weekends to the schedule, just make them all eligible. Since I don't participate in any major weekends then short term I do think those none major weekends would gain some participation but still not in my class. Long term I am banking on the fat that if SCCA was easier to understand, more accessible and/or welcoming then we can grow our customer... I mean membership base. I am not saying this is the answer by any means but it's working for bmw club and NASA pretty well.

    Also note that just because every race is the equivalent of a majors weekend doesn't mean every class is eligible for the runoffs. I agree that IT should stay as is and not head to the runoffs but if it did I wouldn't be upset or happy...

    Lastly, I think your marketing point is pretty valid and I never thought of that. My only thought if the whole confusing major/divisional stuff went away is that we could still market a few races to help drive excitement and new membership, rather than pick random races we are trying to increase attendance at.

    Good topic, I plan to stick with what I am doing as long as I am racing no matter how you all figure it out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenB View Post
    I agree that IT should stay as is and not head to the runoffs but if it did I wouldn't be upset or happy...

    My only thought if the whole confusing major/divisional stuff went away is that we could still market a few races to help drive excitement and new membership, rather than pick random races we are trying to increase attendance at.
    You're contradicting yourself. The two underlined phrases are mutually exclusive.

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