This article first appeared in the August, 2020 edition of SportsCar Magazine. Everyone can read the current and past editions of SportCar digitally here. To become an SCCA member and get SportsCar mailed to your home address monthly in addition to the digital editions, click here.
A friendly and welcoming tech inspection experience can set the tone for the entire RallyCross weekend
Tech inspection is one of the most important specialty positions of a RallyCross program. While the general duties of any tech inspector may seem obvious, there’s a lot more to the task than shaking a few wheels and making sure everyone’s helmet is up to date. This month, we’re going to examine tech inspection at an event as not simply a way to enforce rules and regulations, but as part of a holistic approach to making your events run smoothly and be approachable to newcomers.
At a basic level, the job of tech is to ensure that competitor vehicles and safety equipment meet the rules and guidelines of the program. That said, the goal of tech should not be to toss cars that do not meet safety regulations. Rather, the goal is to make sure competitors understand the rules and regulations so they can consistently show up with a vehicle that is ready to compete. Helping competitors understand how to ensure their vehicles are safe to run helps removes any anxiety someone might have about tech inspection – especially newbies.
Ohio Valley Region member and longtime RallyCross tech inspector Orion Fairman offered up some of his advice on best tech practices.
“For a small event, say the typical Regional of 25 to 30 cars, keep it a bit laid back,” he advises. “Have one of the regulars walk the paddock area to do tech. You may not have a lot of extra space for a drive-up area just for tech. When you have larger events, say 40-plus entries, it can be easier to have a tech station set up as is often the case with Divisional or National events.”
Also, Fairman notes, be on the lookout for competitors who have shown interest in the tech program and offer training. “One thing that can be a drag is always having the same people in the same positions over and over,” Fairman says. “Have a pool of knowledgeable people to pull from to give others a break. Burnout is real.”
One of the simplest ways to help remove some of the mystery surrounding tech is to post a basic description of what is inspected at the event in the Region’s supplemental regulations or on the registration page.
“It’s very helpful to have access to the most current National RallyCross rules and Regional supplements,” Fairman notes. “People don’t always take the news from tech well and it helps to have a hardcopy of your rules should questions arise.”
It’s also a good idea to have tech inspect for more than just vehicle safety. One of the biggest ongoing issues in almost any program is non-compliant or illegible numbers. Tech provides a great opportunity to inspect numbers for compliance and to help competitors rectify any issues with them long before the event starts, which will also help keep timing and grid happy.
Fairman’s most important piece of advice on tech, however, is to keep everything friendly. “We are making sure everyone is there to have a good time in a safe manner,” he insists. “If you find a safety issue, give some suggestions about how they can rectify the problem in a manner that will allow them to compete.”
Words by Matt Wolfe
Image by Rupert Berrington