Written by: Carl Couric
As some of you may or may not know, the SCCA board has decided to cut all ties with Equipe Rapide and not honor the contract they agreed to at the beginning of the year. My first reaction was to think of how this affects all SCCA members, especially the Florida Region autocrossers, and it made me angry. All I could see was SCCA Florida Region’s board was being short sighted again. I then looked at it from a simple business standpoint, and from an ER perspective, I said “Thank you! More money and freedom for ER”. Let me explain what has happened and why.
A little history first, SCCA Florida region was very popular back in the late 80s to early 90s. We actually had three clubs, SFSCA [South Florida Sports Car Association] headed up by Bob Rabatie, SCCA Florida Region, and Equipe Rapide. All three clubs worked in harmony towards providing the best events to the South Florida Autocrosser. Around 1993 to 1994, SCCA Florida Region hit a bump when Christy Whitte became the Solo Director. At an event, she lost the money. Many people believe she may have kept the money, but nothing was proved either way. This left SCCA Florida Region stagnant. The board at the time decided to drop all autocrossing, even with many others willing to come in and help. This was abandonment at its greatest.
Around 1998, Equipe Rapide led the autocross charge for South Florida. Al Wicht, then President of Equipe Rapide, working with Bob Rabatie, held a “Combined Autocross Series” which featured races from all 3 groups. The SCCA Florida Region events were put on under Bob’s management, while there were only 2 SCCA events, at least Florida Region of SCCA was doing what the SCCA charter asks for.
Move the clock to 2002/2003; Equipe Rapide was left as the only autocross focused racing group in South Florida (East Coast). Our venues were drying up, and autocrossing was running downward with fewer cars. Events were down to 40 to 50 people. ER was surviving on Speed Trials, but autocrossing was falling apart. Al Wicht pulled a brilliant business move; he went to SCCA Florida Region, offered to bring SCCA Florida Region back into the autocross venue working in conjunction with ER. This would allow ER to hold the events, and both profits and loses could be shared. SCCA brought with it the cheaper insurance when you look at an event that may only be 50 cars, and ER would share its profit when the events started to fill back out. With ER running the events, and NOT the SCCA Florida Region board, autocrossers in South Florida knew that the moneys raised would be used towards autocrossing and not to pay for Pizza for drivers at the next road race, or worst yet, removed from autocrossing for good as it had been in the past.
I’m almost up to today, and if you’ve been reading it so far, at least I’m not like Link giving even more details.
Around 2004, ER had inked a deal with SCCA that is what is supposed to stand today. ER would hold different events, and be allowed access to the SCCA insurance. The events would be held in both names and run per SCCA format [Safety Stewards, SCCA waivers, etc]. Both ER and SCCA members would have access to a discount on all events and obtain points towards championship in the local events. This meant that for the SCCA member who pays $80 a year for their membership, the $25 region part of those dues is returned within 5 autocrosses. This $25 comes out of ER’s pocket, while SCCA Florida Region gets to keep all $25/member per year. When people asked me if they should be an ER member or SCCA, I ask if not both, and then decide if you’re going to run events outside of South Florida. If so, SCCA membership is best to allow you go to remote SCCA events. ER membership was cheaper for the year overall, and within 7 events, would pay for itself. But let’s look at the deal, we were to pay SCCA national insurance, and to the LOCAL SCCA FLORIDA REGION, we were to pay $1.00 car. At the end of the year, SCCA Florida Region was to return 1/2 the money paid with the sole use going towards trophies.
Now, let’s do a little math. If ER holds events that are around 150 cars average. We hold 10 events in a year. That 1500 cars or $1500 dollars paid out in 10 chunks of $150 to SCCA. SCCA would then pay back $750 that goes to those nice “End of Year” trophies everyone enjoys. SCCA Florida Region is UP $750 for doing what?? Come on, think about it, SCCA Florida Region gets $750 to use anyway they want, free from ER, for doing NOT A G.D. thing [well, the SCCA Florida Region board gets to sit on their A** with your money, and use it for road racing]. Simply put, we were paying the local region for putting on events which allows them to be in alignment with SCCA Nationals (providing road race, rally and autocrossing).
Time to bring this home Carl… O.k., I’ll do that now.
I got a call from John Zuccarelli, who is the SCCA Florida Region “Regional Executive”. Our last event was held at Moroso, and we decided to use the insurance provided by Moroso. ER kept its deal with SCCA, all SCCA members were allowed to have a discount of $5 and their points would count towards the end of year trophies. John goes on that since we did not use SCCA insurance, there was no sanction number assigned and therefore the SCCA entrants points do not count towards National events.
Now, I hope you’re sitting down while I continue this. I tried my best to explain to John that SOLO II has NO NATIONAL POINTS. Unlike “Road Racing”, SOLO II does not hold any points to allow you to go to divisional or even Nationals. People, I’ve seen some hard headed folk, but John kept on saying that without the National Points, how could they go to divisional or nationals. I almost was going to tell him he’s like a neutered dog, he just don’t get it. But then I realized that either Mike Finn or John Anderson had put John up to this without enough information, so John was going to fall on his sword based on Mike and/or John A.’s bad information. The only points are for ER’s local championship. Anyone that’s a SCCA member can show up at any Divisional or National and can run. Including NOVICES!! The board had convinced John that ER was blocking any local SCCA autocrosser from obtaining national points. At that point, I just finished the phone call and said good-bye.
Where does that leave us, Carl?
Simply put, I’m not going back to the SCCA Florida Region board. While Autocrossing gained more understanding, the overall board is having so many issues with Road Racing, they are just upset we can make money while they can’t fill their events or get workers. Maybe if they would listen once in a while, they could learn. I was promised by John that I could handle SOLO at board meetings first so I did not have to stay to listen to the fighting going on the board for road racing, but the last two times I was there, I was next to last on doing my reports. People like Mike Finn and John Anderson, who just try to beat you down verbally. John Z, Mike Finn and John Anderson made it clear that “ER was provide corner workers…”. Yeah, right. I offered to the board so many times to come out, setup a tent and recruit workers, but we never saw that. The board expected “Carl” to magically make this appear. See, kiddies, the SCCA board is worried because NASA and the other clubs take good care of their workers, SCCA treats workers like, well, something off the back of the horse. ER knows to take good care of everyone at the event; maybe SCCA board needs to come learn from us. The SCCA figured they could get more lackeys, err, workers to beat on and use up and treat as second class citizens.
So, where do we go from here? ER will continue on without SCCA. SCCA members have points up to the last event dated June 24th 2007 as ER is honest and will honor the points up to the last event. If a SCCA member wants to continue to run for a Championship in the series, please get with Jim and/or Justin to become an ER member quickly. SCCA membership will no longer be rewarded with a $5 discount on each event. ER is going to do it’s best to find insurance for the July 15th event at HMS (even HMS has offered us insurance, but it may take to long to make the 7/15 deadline). We may have to postpone the event, but we will get the insurance resolved. This is a temporary setback, and one that can still lead to a continued future for autocrossing.
My recommendations, if as a SCCA member, you feel outraged at how the Board has treated autocrossers as the second level citizens, only good for possible workers at their road race events, I suggest you call and or contact the following people that have proven to be less than understanding on the SCCA board (all of this is taken from there website http://www.floridaregionscca.com/contacts.htm ) :
Regional Executive John Zuccarelli JZuccarelli@FloridaRegionSCCA.com
No calls after 11 pm
Race Director Mike Finn MFinn@FloridaRegionSCCA.com
No calls after 9 pm
Properties Director Chuck Lonsdale CLonsdale@FloridaRegionSCCA.com
No calls after 9 pm
Rally Director Bob Ricker BRicker@FloridaRegionSCCA.com
No calls after 10 pm
DIVISIONAL PEOPLE (NON Florida Region SCCA, higher ups):
firstname.lastname@example.org Heyward Wagner, Divisional Chair.
I recommend you start with those people to try to get your voice heard. I also recommend you send a letter to the National and to the Divisional SCCA regions. Let them know that Florida Region, who’s so concerned with getting workers and running road races against NASA and others, has no time for your autocrossing. They welcome your money, but will put no effort into support the sport.
I am resigning the position of SCCA Florida Region SOLO II Director because for all the time I put in with the SCCA Florida Region board, most treated me nice while others just tried to verbally abuse me. I guess they have to make up for their short comings by trying to belittle others. Please, do not get me wrong, the majority of the board members were nice, even able to see that autocrossing is a great sport and continues to grow, but the few that think “Road Racing” is the all and mighty, well, in the words of Richard Nixon, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”. I am also changing my region from 11 (Florida Region) to 83 (Central Florida) because Central Florida supports autocrossers, and I want my SCCA money going to where it supports the sport. Many of you know that I’m a very level headed person, I love to laugh, and I love to autocross. For me to want to leave the group, well, you can draw your own conclusions.
John Z. expressed that SCCA Florida Region would hold its own events. I wish him luck in that endeavor.
President, Equipe Rapide Sports Car Club.