As a member of the Colorado Region SCCA Board of Directors, we are constantly searching for ways to increase car count at our events.
Entries at Rocky Mountain Division events have been fragmented by the elimination of the ‘Rationals‘ and introduction of the ‘Majors‘.
The Rationals combined National and Regional drivers, on track simultaneously. When the Rationals were eliminated, we went from approximately 70 entries at our events to 30,
Many RMDiv racers decided to run Majors exclusively.
An entry of approximately 50 cars is the financial break-even point for the region when you consider track rental, insurance, sanction fees and the dozens of other expenses incurred by the region when hosting an event.
Borrowing the FF Festival concept, as successfully used by the local Vintage club, we decided to have a Formula Vee Festival. We were hoping to get an additional 10 formula vee entries from the Rocky Mountain Vintage Racers (RMVR).
Steve Rogers’ beautiful VDF struggled with an oil leak all weekend
Thus was born, The Air Cooled Sprints
As we began assembling the event, we ran into all kinds of road blocks. First, the vintage club doesn’t require a HANS (Head and Neck Support) safety device to run their cars. A HANS costs about $500. I don’t think anyone would buy a HANS just so they can become SCCA compliant for a one time event.
The FFST cars were at the pointy end of the grid all weekend.
Many of the vintage vees use the 1300cc engine, not the 1200cc engine specified in the current GCR. Some of the cars have expired belts and other GCR compliance shortcomings.
The RMSidewinder Racing Mysterian makes an appearance
Licensing was not a major issue since the SCCA recognizes licenses issued by the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA) and other vintage sanctioning bodies. We can recognize RMVR licenses by adding a line in the event supplemental regulations.
We wanted to invite the local Formula First group. Formula First cars are Formula Vees that use the more plentiful 1600 CC dual port VW air cooled engine as well as formula ford tires and disc brakes from the Karmann Ghia chassis. Formula First is a modern FV and it is currently a regional SCCA class (FFST)
Buddy Lazier (yes that Buddy Lazier) crews for son Flinn in Jaques Lazier’s National Championship winning Mysterian.
The Formula First group are primarily karting graduates which means most of the drivers are under 16 years of age. YIKES! The local NASA group has issued provisional competition licenses to these kids. But lets face it, these racers and racing families are the future of SCCA racing. The sooner we get them in the SCCA, the better.
We began to wonder, is this even doable? Are these hurdles surmountable?
Jim Christian to the rescue!
Jim recalled a little known program discussed at the National Convention in 2014 called Club Racing Experience (CRE).
Paul Eric Taylor suffered bad luck all weekend
CRE is intended to get non-compliant race cars out of garages and back on the track. Could this be the ticket?
We quickly downloaded a CRE manual and voila, right there in black and white. No HANS required, no competition license required. A CRE session is intended to more closely resemble a Club Time Trials session. CRE has relaxed technical inspections and can include older race cars and other competition vehicles. BOOM – the vintage vees are in!
Emails were sent to all the RMVR Vees and a vigorous Facebook marketing campaign was launched. Bonnie Mortimer helped tremendously. She was instrumental in recruiting many of the RMVR Vees to attend our event.
Bonnie Mortimer (QweenVee) is fast in her vintage Zink
Now, how can we get the 14 and 16 year old FFST kids in? This will be trickier.
Working as Flag chief at several events, I know what is required to get minors licensed to be in *hot* areas of the track. The SCCA has a minor release form MS-L. This form has to be printed in color, signed and notarized and be on file in the SCCA National Office (Topeka) prior to the event.
Cameron Wogrin assists brother Conner in his Caracal D
After reviewing the MS-L form, the first line of the release reads;
IN CONSIDERATION of allowing the below MINOR participant to compete, officiate, observe, work for, or participate in any way in the event
The kids could compete in the event as long as the release was on file in Topeka. Race Chair Michelle McColl had many discussions with the National head of club racing, Deanna Flannagan.
Guy Ruse (Divisional Licensing Administrator) held phone interviews with the 14-year old drivers and reviewed their racing resumes. Guy made a positive reccomendation to the National Club Racing Board (CRB) and the CRB consented to allow the 14-year old drivers to participate.
The discussions were held right up until Friday before the event. In the end, all the ducks were aligned and the 14 and 16-year old FFST racers were invited to be part of the Air Cooled Sprints. YEAH!!
Another beautifully prepared Zink
After the dust settled, there were 18 entries in the CRE group. It was a great event. All the competitors had a great time. The racing was close; the corner marshals enjoyed the races and I think Colorado Region may be able to do something similar (but bigger and better) in 2016,
Many thanks to Michelle McColl, Jim Christian, Bonnie Mortimer, Guy Ruse and the many people at the National Office for all their hard work and perseverance.
Thanks to McDonalds Volkwagen (Pace Car), 3R Racing, Painters Grinding, MrGas VW Service and the Rocky Mountain Sidewinders for providing the door prizes.
Photos courtesy: Andrew Melvin