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    1. #1
      Join Date
      May 2015
      Location
      Nashville, TN
      Posts
      99
      Country Flag: United States

      SCCA Solo Nationals

      Confessions of an SCCA Nationals Virgin

      For the last year or so, I’ve been working with SCCA to try and attract attention to the Classic American Muscle (CAM) Class. Trying to extol the virtues of the oldest amateur racing club and their attempt to welcome muscle car ‘guys’ and the muscle car autocross culture. I admit, at first, I was excited about the opportunity to shift change through social communications and group interactions. I was looking forward to experiencing the ‘other autocross’ and learning about why there was separation between Goodguys racers and SCCA racers.
      I’ll be the first to admit, I am pretty sure I have not been successful.
      A little background to give some context: CAM is a master class with three sub-classes for Modern (new) Muscle, Sport (Corvette/Solstice) Muscle and Traditional (old) muscle. Herein lies the first flag of difference – classes. The rules (initially) were kept simple to mirror the other popular muscle car events. Street tires, common safety equipment and street car qualities. Second flag goes up – rules. CAM-only events are conducted three times per year in different regions of the country with tracks that are perfectly suited for high horsepower cars -- these events are called CAM Challenges and there are usually three of them. Regionally, at your local club, you won’t be shunned but you won’t get a track that makes a whole lot of sense and you won’t be welcomed into the Miata fold quickly. Maybe someone will chat you up about your ‘weird’ car, maybe they won’t.
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      Now, to be fair, SCCA stands for the SPORTS Car Club of America. There are fifty years of sports car racing history that have come before you. Change takes time and a willingness to accept change on both sides. The muscle car guys have got to accept that SCCA is pretty serious; there are trophies and jackets and contingency monies at stake. SCCA guys have been doing this since childhood and they are in it to win it. Muscle car drivers are having fun, making friends and learning how to build cars that can do what they were never designed to do 50 years ago. Up until very recently, you were lucky if you got a plastic plaque for winning at a muscle car autocross.
      The only analogy I’ve been able to come up with to describe these two groups, is it’s a bit like the frat boys being invited to the math club – jocks vs. nerds. Both groups bring so much to the table. Both groups enjoy camaraderie and friendship. Both groups attack the course with contemplation, introspection and glee. But, where’s that 80’s movie ending where the geeks wind up joining the jocks by some twist of fate?

      It’s in Lincoln, Nebraska around Labor Day.

      I need to make an admission, I had only considered going to Nationals since working with SCCA but the idea of actually doing it terrified me a bit. I’m not going to lie, once I finally did go (I had excuses for the last two years.) I was genuinely terrified. I was so nervous that I decided that I wouldn’t run my car, I would just focus on working.
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      More context: The week of competition begins with the CAM Invitational where the best-of-the-best compete for two days in the same format as the CAM Challenge events held prior. The only groups racing during this weekend are CAM and the Pro-Solo (Drag start with lights that after a hundred yards or so, goes into a decent sized autocross course.) Everyone has Monday off as the rest of the competitors arrive onsite from all over the country. And arrive they do, by the hundreds. Groups reserve their spots early and rental tents are waiting for them to build party sites and makeshift garages. The theme this year was ‘Game of Cones’ so the medieval theme started popping up everywhere almost immediately. Nearly every day there is at least one meal that is sponsored and designed to bring people together in the “Big Fun Tent” that operates as SCCA Central for the week.
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      Here’s what I learned about running CAM class at Nationals:
      Nationals is huge, if you thought it was huge, it’s huge-er. There are three tracks running near constantly (two for competition and one for test and tune). The paddock of tents, motorhomes and parties seems to go for a mile. I got lost more than once.
      People at Nationals leave it all on the table. The competitors at Nationals are serious …about having fun as much as they are serious about winning.
      Nationals is not for the weak. Let me tell you, there were several times when I questioned my own fortitude. It was blazing hot when I got there and no sooner did racing start that it started to rain. It rained and rained and rained. There were inches of standing water everywhere. Then it got windy. Then it got cold. Rain or shine, these people were in Lincoln to race and compete and by golly they did so. There were times when the cars on track were literally being swallowed by water. And, yes, if your wave knocks over a cone, it counts. There were delays that had racers running in near complete darkness because the track times were so much slower they couldn’t get runs finished in time.
      I did hear some complaints about the running in darkness and removal of a mid-day track walk to keep the racing going, but oddly enough, it wasn’t the actual people driving in the dark who were complaining. Everyone took the excessive rain and track difficulties in stride it seemed. The show went on.
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      SCCA has their **** together. Apparently 50 years of running big events is a good thing. Most everyone had a job and that job was for a specific time period – things ran like a corporation with leaders, supervisors and workers and everyone showed up for work and everyone did their job. I witnessed a generator failure that let to a backup generator failure that in-turn required the retrieval of yet another generator from another trailer across the site. Racers saw a less-than 20-minute delay because of the quick thinking and action of the assigned workers. It was some of the most impressive teamwork I’ve seen in a long time.
      Nationals is organized chaos. I had a reason to be nervous about attending. Unless you’ve attended Nationals before, it’s very hard to find your way around and know what is going on. There are schedules of racing and there are schedules of events, but they don’t seem to coordinate. It’s also hard to make new friends when you don’t really know where anything is – there is a definite lack of signage and maps.
      You need transportation. You need a bicycle, scooter or golf cart or you’re going to be exhausted after the first day. It’s that big.
      Now, the racing. The racing is NUTS. There are several muscle cars there that don’t even race in CAM. They prefer to race in the more race-car classes and let me tell you, they are fast and furious. CAM T was the least attended CAM Class and that makes me bummed. CAM was created to bring old muscle cars to SCCA but for whatever reason, it’s not happening at a National level; maybe not happening regionally either. The CAM Challenge events are very well-attended, and I can see why. Awesome and fast courses that are well-suited for larger and higher-horsepower vehicles. A good number a runs in a fast-moving format. Run times are usually close to sixty seconds and you get at least 8 runs a day. Yes, you have to work a shift, get over it; choose a job you like and do it well. You’ll appreciate when it’s done for you in-kind. There’s always trophies (maybe too many) and dinner is sponsored – and it’s good.



      So, what’s holding you back?
      Rules, classes and arguing about both? Yes, I get that but it takes two sides to argue.
      Here’s my thinking: If it doesn’t conflict with LS Fest (in KY) I would like to pull together a Camp Autocross – like we did in California at Del Mar Goodguys and like we do East of the Mississippi, at LS Fest and Goodguys. Get a whole group of us traditional muscle car folks together and show those Miata guys how we do it. I’m sure this is my grand plan to unite all my autocross friends in one place, but seriously would it be so bad? I know… it’s four or five days on an airport tarmac and away from work, but it’s car stuff! It’s racing. It’s seeing what you’re made of. It’s parties. It’s bringing West Coast friends within a day’s drive of the original LS Fest. Anyone want in?
      To summarize, I’m hooked. I want to be the people with the best food and parties. I want to see how I stack up against the Ladies Class and the Open Class. I want to show how we are serious about driving and serious about our Car Family. I want to unite the debate and stop talking about my car family as though it’s in different species from SCCA car family. I want the happy 80’s movie ending.
      By the way, I also want an aluminum toolbox like Chad Ryker won.

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      Last edited by Trackside-Suzy; 11-08-2018 at 05:37 PM.

    2. #2
      Join Date
      Aug 2004
      Location
      Missouri
      Posts
      334
      Country Flag: United States
      It was a pleasure meeting you and Rodney at the F-body nationals. Thank you for the encouragement and being a total noob that I am I’d be totally there. I’m actually doing a local SCCA event this Sunday because of your, Rodney and Finch. I’ve been reaserching all the different autocross events that I can attend next year.
      Sean James

      69 Firebird - Build Thread
      72 Firebird

    3. #3
      Join Date
      Nov 2005
      Location
      Louisville, KY
      Posts
      54
      I like this.

      My introduction to all of this was my 2002 Subaru WRX. It came with an SCCA membership card in the glovebox. I sent the card in, showed up locally, and was hooked.

      Ironically, I'd had the Grand National for over a year before I bough the WRX, but the GN just went to car shows for a decade while I raced the Subaru and then a Datsun in the SCCA. Until CAM came along, the only place the SCCA had for a Grand National was FS and SM. But then CAM happened. Without CAM, I wouldn't have found USCA.

      But enough about me, let's talk about you. I appreciate this post. The SCCA is oft maligned without the bright points being brought to the fore. The optima Invitational I just attended (which was fantastic) was a big deal, with 100 cars. Nationals was what, 1400? The scale is staggering. The Runoffs put hundreds of cars in wheel-to-wheel racing each year during a week. The logistics are mind boggling, but it works because of the club members and volunteers. Some individual regions may not meet the bar on occasion, but the blueprint is there. If you follow the book, you can put on an event with hundreds of participants. They do fall short on sponsors and exposure. But then again, the scale works against them. Mac's Tie Downs can't cost-justify 1400 tie down kits for SCCA Nationals participants.

      The internet threads on rules minutiae are annoying, but they're also an example of the passion these people bring to the sport. CAM is important to the SCCA. The TT nationals are also part of a movement to bring more fun back to the club. If enough Pro-Touring people continue to join and participate, the culture will shift, at least in areas of interest to us.

      So again, thank you. For everybody else, don't turn your nose up. The SCCA provides thousands of events each year. They're the place to go for playing with cars. It's not perfect. Nothing is. It has some aspects that grate on hot rodders. But here's the thing: The SCCA is a club. When you join, you get a seat at the table. The club responds to member input. It is capable of change and innovation. CAM is proof. Local regions are run by local members. Get on your local region's Board and you can effect change.

      As for CAM-T's attendance, it's worth noting that CAM is not intended to be a "nationals" class. It's a recruiting tool. Bring the people into the local regions where they can have fun in parking lots on Sundays. If/When they get serious, they'll read the rulebook, pick a class, and go after it.

      I haven't made it to Nationals yet. It's my goal for 2019. I hope I see many of you there.
      Andrew Scott
      '87 GN - 12.8 @ 108
      https://www.andrewdscott.com
      Instagram: @andrewdscott12
      Twitter: @Andrew1427

    4. #4
      Join Date
      Aug 2012
      Location
      Peoria, AZ
      Posts
      1,757
      Country Flag: United States
      I first experienced Lincoln and Nats the first year of CAM, 2014...and went for a couple more years after that as well. Suzy is right, just the scale of the event as a whole is mind blowing. Local Regions that use the tricks Nationals use in Lincoln to control and manage that madness (from paddock parking restrictions, to organized grid spots, to a fixed schedule for everything) generally have well run events as well. Personally I can get aggravated a bit now when I'm at an event that does not use those tricks to keep their events flowing smooth.

      I also now have a full host autocross friends from one end of this Country to the other...that I met at Nats and CAM Challenges... For the most part, the SCCAers are just like the Pro-Tourers...drivers that love cars and going fast.

      Now that I live in the SouthWest, pulling my car back to race it in Lincoln is less likely...but if given the chance for a fly in Co-Drive and a chance to hang with a bunch of car family friends while experiencing Nats again...consider me in.
      Lance
      1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

    5. #5
      Join Date
      Mar 2014
      Location
      Nebraska
      Posts
      64
      Country Flag: United States
      I live in Lincoln and I competed in the invitational last year and spectated this year. Nationals brings the best of the best. it's very competitive. We usually have 2-4 cam T cars at region events. I was talking to my region cam c,t,s guys. they skipped cam classes and invitational to go after tire and trophy in other classes and pro solo. I also heard some complain about the cost of 3 runs and didn't come back the following day.
      1968 Pontiac GTO pro touring LS1 T56 9"

    6. #6
      Join Date
      May 2015
      Location
      Nashville, TN
      Posts
      99
      Country Flag: United States
      Great meeting you too Sean! Autocross: The crack cocaine of motorsports. ;)

    7. #7
      Join Date
      Apr 2006
      Location
      Huntington Beach, CA
      Posts
      2,413
      Country Flag: United States
      Great points Andrew! I couldn't agree more.
      Please Subscribe to the AutoXandTrack YouTube Channel

      Autocross and track blog about running autocross and track events with pro touring cars

    8. #8
      Join Date
      Aug 2018
      Location
      Saginaw Mi
      Posts
      94
      Country Flag: United States
      Hell yea im in! especially for another AMC'er. I do have a question though. My javelin is going to be a trans-am replica with no interior besides a dash, Would they even let me compete? i know a lot of organizations require a semi streetable interior.

    9. #9
      Join Date
      Apr 2006
      Location
      Huntington Beach, CA
      Posts
      2,413
      Country Flag: United States
      Quote Originally Posted by Shawn0331 View Post
      Hell yea im in! especially for another AMC'er. I do have a question though. My javelin is going to be a trans-am replica with no interior besides a dash, Would they even let me compete? i know a lot of organizations require a semi streetable interior.
      Locally you would probably be fine. Nationally, throw some carpet on it.

      Please Subscribe to the AutoXandTrack YouTube Channel

      Autocross and track blog about running autocross and track events with pro touring cars