This article first appeared in the January/February, 2021 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. While much of this information was targeted specifically at Road America at the time, much of it can still be applied to the Runoffs this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and for years to come.
- Most of all, the Club has generously lent me this <I>Pobst Position<I> forum to expound about all things sports car and competition, with a very long leash. To <I>SportsCar<I> magazine and my editor Philip Royle, thank you.
- National-level competition and championships. The National Championship Runoffs and the Tire Rack Solo National Championships are what first led me to the Club (in 1980. Yes, it’s my 40-year anniversary). In autocross, SCCA has long been the source of a National Championship. Back when I first started, it was the only opportunity. SCCA offers those of us with lots of overconfidence the chance to learn that there are also other very good drivers and car builders out there.
- Consistent rules nationwide. No matter where you go in the USA, if it’s SCCA, you will find the same set of rules at the slightly deceptively named “National” events (I’ll get into Majors and Hoosier Super Tours in a moment).
(Climbs up on soapbox.) At National races, that means consistent classing and a points race, but we probably all know that guy (or several) who says he’s a National winner and lets the unknowing believe he’s talking about a National Championship at the Runoffs. This rant is a little outdated what with the Majors and Super Tour point structures, but it still feels good to get it off my chest, thank you. (Steps down from soapbox.)
That little pet peeve aside, it’s so nice that if you move or visit another part of the country, you still fit in. Same Club, same tribe. And, to keep it interesting, there are often special classes created locally in our Regional events.
- The U.S. Majors Tour road race weekends. A chance to race a higher-level event without having to travel so far. The Majors series lends more credibility and sense of accomplishment and meaning to your competition and trophies.
- The Hoosier Super Tour. The highest form of Club racing before the Runoffs itself, adding even more show to the weekend, including live stream and radio broadcasts, and more prizes. Racers, choose your playing field.
In track day driving, it’s about enjoying your car at speed in the safely controlled environment of a racing circuit. In SCCA competition, it’s about going for the win. This is an enormous difference that can make all the difference. For those who choose to race, it can be very, very rewarding. Working to outrun other cars and drivers raises my focus tremendously compared to driving around turning fast laps. This is something I have always liked about SCCA racing and autocross – it magnifies the experience, and SCCA is really good at it.
- Variety. SCCA has long been the ideal place for car builders, both amateur and pro. There are classes for nearly anything you like, and if there are not, you can work with your local Region to create one for you and your friends. As I sat in my hotel watching Sebring’s Turn 7, which I and many others have always known as The Hairpin (It’s only quite recently that I have even begun to recognize the corner as 7. Like Laguna’s Turn 8. What? Oh...the Corkscrew.), I enjoyed the amazing variety of machines roaring by. Formula cars to mildly modified street (long a favorite of mine) to low-slung prototypes to monster tube-frame GT-1 Trans Am-style racers, SCCA has got it all and you hands-on types can build your own.
- So many places to race. In addition to the wide range of cars, there is the incredible variety of racetracks. SCCA runs events just about everywhere. I like how our Club encompasses this entire great country, so no matter where you are, SCCA will be hosting events in that area. All the epic, world-class circuits, and many perhaps lesser known but genuine gems like Grattan up in Michigan, Pueblo in Colorado, The Ridge near Seattle, and Pitt Race outside Pittsburgh.
- There’s the variety of sports car events, too. Road racing, of course, but other adventures like my new favorite, RallyCross. It’s only recently that my eyes have seen the glory of racing on the dirt. After years of watching performance rally, Baja, and dirt track on TV, it has been both a revelation and a dream-realization to slide through corners roosting earth skyward and attempting my own right-left Scandinavian Flings. Bring a car you don’t mind getting dirty – or even better, share a buddy’s car – and just let your inner child hang it out. I find it to be such a rollicking good time.
Speaking of variety, in a wonderful multi-varied challenge called the SCCA Targa Southland (I’d really love to see that event come back – maybe I have to take it on myself?), the event featured Track Night, autocross, Time Trials, and my first real taste of RoadRally.
Ahh, RoadRally. Especially in the age of “The Virus,” we all need to try this socially distant street-driving and brainpower-enjoyment exercise. Often featuring the best and little-known backcountry roads in the area, I found I relished the challenge of figuring out the route and the tricks. Like “Turn after the yellow bicycle,” not “after the yellow sign with the black bicycle icon.” Got me! Clever. I like clever. Normal street speeds, with brain on high alert, that’s RoadRally.
- The high level of safety, race control, and trained SCCA corner workers. Some events have a very low standard of flag marshals, especially when it comes to accidents and injuries. SCCA events are insured and manned by the best crews in the business, something we might not think of until it’s too late. Many of our SCCA workers are the same people who staff the pro races. Everything overseen by SCCA’s national staff and Competition Board. At tracks, the scheduling, the paddock parking, the worker parties, the safety standards and tech inspections all add up to well-run events in which we enjoy a high level of confidence in an organization with many years of experience behind it.
- The great history and heritage of this Club. Your SCCA was the first big national organization for European-style sports car competitions as America emerged from WWII. My recently departed Dear Ol’ Dad was a spectator at the early 1950s Watkins Glen Grand Prix, when the SCCA and Cameron Argetsinger staged the initial races that led in a direct line to today’s events, like the Turkey Trot races I recently attended at Sebring. Seven decades of competition, camaraderie, passion, and checkered flags.
Words by Randy Pobst
Photo by Dave Green