Way back when I was first learning the tech inspection business in the SCCA, I had a chat one morning with a driver who had recently been inducted into the SIT ("Stewards In Training") program. We were sitting in the classroom in the old tower at Lime Rock Park babysitting a batch of highly questionable computers that tech had pulled out of a bunch of Showroom Stock cars at a National Race ("highly questionable" in this case meaning obvious signs of hand soldering, etc., on what were supposed to be unmodified circuit boards).He commented about the fact that when he'd been driving, he'd never really known everything that went on at a race track, but when he became a SIT, he was required to go work with all of the worker specialties and that experience had really opened his eyes about the nature of the club.
Every so often I sit back myself and consider, with some amazement, the fact that we as an organization can pull this off, not just once, but hundreds of times a year. And we do it for the most part with volunteer workers who simply show up already knowing their jobs, who report to their stations and get to work with remarkably little supervision.
The SCCA, at least in NEDiv where I live and officiate, is really pretty remarkable for the relative lack of incompetence and the relative lack of micro-management that characterize Very Large Organizations. I speak having worked at one time or another for Three Very Large Corporations and thus have seen quite a lot of both in action; I think that in the SCCA, there are too few of us for micro-management to be a serious problem as we all have real work to do, and I think the incompetent either shape up or we find quiet places in which to park them. For the most part, Stewards recognize that Chiefs of Speciality know their business and so the stewards depend on the chief's judgement; relatively few Stewards have fallen into the trap of thinking that being Stewards makes them all knowing about all specialities.
I'm bringing this up because of some comments that Randy Lewis, a trackchaser friend of mine, made Here:
"Todayís racing was being sanctioned by the NASA (National Auto Sport Association) group.
I find these guys are not nearly as well organized nor do they bring the car counts that their
fellow sanctioning competitors, the Sports Car Club of America does (SCCA). I did talk to one
competitor who told me he preferred NASA over the SCCA because NASA didnít have the 'BS'
that he perceived the SCCA did."
Now I can at some level understand the attitude of the competitor; racing with the SCCA can be difficult at times, and it certainly wasn't nearly as complicated back in 1948 when we started this whole thing. Yes, the GCR is a unnecessarily complex document, but it got that way incrementally because of things that really happened, and it is the natural result of 50 years worth of committees rewriting committees. Yes, tech can be rough to deal with, but on the other hand during the spring we are charged with making adequate inspections of a Whole Lot Of Race Cars In Very Short Periods of time on the first morning of a race weekend, we have continuing pressure to try to put some limits on "enhanced" race cars, and from time to time (several times a weekend usually) we have racers who believe that we should cirumvent standard procedures for them "just because" (e.g., you can't tell me that a guy that's been racing for years doesn't know that he has to bring his tech sheet and vehicle logbook to tech in the morning at a bare minimum).
I'm not bringing this up to bash NASA, I've never been to one of their events and know them only by reputation. But I do think that we do need to consider such statements for what they say about what we, the SCCA, are doing as an organization, both good and bad.
I'll probably be coming back to this in future postings here, and welcome comments on this posting. Let's not bash, though, let's talk about things that are good about the Club Racing, and things we can do to improve it.