The August 25th Solo Town Hall covered a number of topics including information for Solo Nationals participants — now located on the Weekly Bulletins page of SCCA.com, which you can find from the Solo Nationals page — and the informal announcement of 3 post-season events:
- October 15–17: Champ Tour at ZMax Dragway, Concord NC
- November 5–7: ProSolo at Chase Field, Beeville TX
- December 3–5: Axis v. Allies Champ Tour in Southern GA — Site, TBD
Watch for more formal announcements on these dates as details firm up but, for the time being, make sure to save the date(s).
National Solo Series Direction
The primary topic discussed in the Town Hall was the future direction for the National Solo Series. Across the last two years, COVID-19 has changed the way we do many things, and the way many of us manage our lives. Additionally, the reset of the ProSolo Series has positioned us to rethink how we execute those events. Starting a “what the future is” conversation now, ahead of Solo Nationals, grants the opportunity to survey, collect feedback, and for many of us to discuss these ideas face to face.
The area where staff is most in need of immediate feedback is the concept of expanding the number of four-day, or “Doubles,” events on the calendar. These events would potentially replace back-to-back weekends and/or take both a ProSolo and a Champ Tour to a site that typically only hosts one or the other. Historically, Doubles have been well received over holiday weekends in Lincoln and Bristol. Expansion of the concept would mean also running these events on non-holiday weekends.
In this concept, ProSolo would run first for several reasons.
- It is generally thought of as the program for the most committed SCCA autocrossers, so the ask to be on site for 4+ days feels more appropriate.
- There is a perception that competitors will travel further for a Pro, and this concept is in part about returning maximum value for your travel time. In other words, more days of competition per tow.
- Lastly, running the Pro first would likely mean that the Challenge would become more of spectator event as some of the Tour participants would arrive on Friday.
The Tour experience would likely also benefit from the combination of events, as many of the Pro competitors are likely to also compete in the Tour. This would result in fuller fields and an increase in competition level, making those events feel more like championship level.
From Bristol and Lincoln doubles, we have learned and observed that members of the community enjoy more time and more evenings to cook or dine out with friends. An increase in combined events would not only support this enjoyment, but also put staff in a better position to work with Regions on overall event experience.
For example: a Friday night welcome party can be a challenge to put together if that is the day everyone is arriving. In the Doubles model — where the event footprint is more established — there would be less rush, and better opportunity for everything from parties to specific event-designed t-shirts and swag.
“Less rush” is a big part of this overall idea. As it stands today, the National Solo Staff attempts to execute 24 events inside of a 30-week run. When you consider that the norm is to take some down time to allow the program — and participants — to prepare for Nationals, that window gets even tighter. More Doubles weekends would alleviate some of this, which would allow for more focus and better allocation of resources.
For example: if we can spend less time on the road, staff can better prepare for each event. And, less transit means less cost. Those savings can be used to bring more staff to events (potentially needed to support a Thursday/Friday Pro), to make program improvements (like what has been started with ProSolo timing and scoring) and/or to improve event experience, look and feel.
Another potential benefit is the opportunity to build a better schedule. This is particularly meaningful for the west coast where we often take all the dates we can get. Doubles may mean we can cut the number of weekends in half, allowing opportunity to better space events and decrease the number of date conflicts with Regional events and other programs.
A key element in all of this, of course, is what the host Regions are ready, willing, and able to support. With the assumption that Field Staff will likely need to carry much of the ProSolo load, the hope is that a four-day event may be less taxing on a Region than back-to-back weekends. And, as mentioned above, it may also benefit the Regions from a scheduling standpoint to only need to secure one weekend for the National Series.
Yes, there are cons to this idea.
- The obvious: not all interested members could take the time to do four-day events multiple times a year.
- The reality that some sites would not be suitable for both formats. From that, there is an expectation that two-day, or “singles” would remain a part of the calendar.
- Additionally, there would be adjustments — for example, it would be challenging to have a practice course the day before the Tour at most sites.
These are all elements that will need to be worked out as we move toward the 2022 season, and we are certainly interested in feedback on the “how-tos” of this concept, eventually. What we're really looking for now is an understanding of interest.
Are you more or less interested in doubles than you are in singles?
In the coming days, we will be circulating a survey to collect opinions on this, as well as some other elements of the National Solo Series — like preference toward traditional mirror course ProSolo, non-traditional non-mirror course ProSolo, and ProSolo1. In the meantime, we ask and urge you to take time to consider what is most important to you about the National Solo Series, what would make it better, and what kind of events you are most interested in as we look toward the future.
This is far from a “done deal.” However, we are hopeful this is a concept the community will be able to support. It is our belief that this will allow the staff to focus more time and attention on each individual event (be it a single or a double), and thus deliver a better member experience.