Why hold one event in a weekend when you can invite everyone to play? It’s that simple-yet-effective concept that thrusts SCCA® mash-up weekends into orbit, leaving participants, workers, and organizers grinning for days. From a driver’s point of view, the paddock is packed, building palpable energy in the paddock and on the track. For the SCCA Region, the events are not only more likely to be profitable, but that same energy ignites the workers, keeping them coming back for more.
A mash-up event is everything SCCA can offer at one facility, all in one weekend. If that means a road race, Time Trials, Track Event, autocross, race school, and RoadRally, similar to what Steel Cities Region does for its successful End of Summer Showcase Festival, that’s fantastic. If it’s a Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour Powered by Hagerty, a Track Event, and a local car show, that’s a winning combination as well.
The latter is exactly what happened during the March 10-12, 2023, weekend at VIRginia International Raceway. This event recap told the story of what happened on track – below is what took place behind the scenes.
The Right Ingredients
Deciding what events will work at any given facility is not always straightforward. “We look to see what the track can handle,” explained John Hunter, SCCA’s Manager of National Time Trials. “Is there an autocross area? Is there road racing in the area? Is it a circuit that Track Night in America frequents? From there, is a Track Night something we can support logistically, or is an SCCA Track Event a better solution.”
One of the first steps for National SCCA programs is to reach out to the local SCCA Region. “We want to be very inclusive of the Regions and what they want or have going on,” Hunter added. “This all started with working with the Steel Cities and Atlanta Regions on the End of Summer Showcase Festival at Pitt Race and ARRC at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Both event weekends have turned out to be very impactful.”
Specific to the Time Trials National Tour at VIR in March, a car show hosted by Driver Motorsports joined the Time Trials and Track Event. While the car show was initiated through an SCCA National Office staff member, the connection was simple happenstance – then seizing the opportunity.
“I met Chris Driver and the team at Driver Motorsports while driving home from the 2022 SCCA National Championship Runoffs,” explained Dan Dennehy-Rodriguez, SCCA’s Manager of Partner Relationships. “I have always loved JDM cars, so when I saw several right-hand drive examples outside of their location, I had to stop. What should have been a 15-minute drool session turned into a three hour property tour, and me purchasing a Toyota Cresta.
“During my time with Chris, he mentioned that they always host an early spring car show on their property that they have outgrown. It was the same weekend as our Time Trials National Tour at VIR, so it made sense to integrate the two.”
SCCA traditionally doesn’t host car shows, but while the concept of a mash-up weekend is to lessen the financial load of any one program, a side effect is increasing the number of eyeballs on a sport they might have otherwise been unaware of.
“Outreach to a new population of car-crazy people was a giant benefit of the car show,” Dennehy-Rodriguez said. “Driver Motorsports had about 150 show cars on site and sold more than 250 spectator tickets – these are people who would have otherwise not known about the Time Trials National Tour, Track Events, or potentially even the SCCA. Furthermore, Driver Motorsports works with a number of younger YouTube content creators who ‘played’ with us, and when they push content out to their audiences, the Time Trials National Tour will be the backdrop. Essentially, this was an exposure play to get younger people engaged with the SCCA – and it all started with a conversation with someone about cool cars.”
The same holds true for the Track Event and Time Trials National Tour participants. “Around 15 percent of the Track Event drivers at the VIR event were also doing the Time Trials,” said Hunter. From a participant’s perspective, that’s more track time in one weekend. The organizer, meanwhile, just experienced an easy up-sell.
Fitting It all
You might think that participants utilizing the same track for different things would result in less seat time, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
“We merely added time to the day,” said Hunter. “We bought an extra hour at VIR to fit the Track Event portion and kept the Time Trials National Tour as close to its original format as possible. There was more downtime between sessions mostly because of the size of the event, but drivers spent time hanging with other drivers, checking out the car show, and making sure their car was ready for the next session.”
Justin Barbry, SCCA’s Manager of Track Night in America, was on site at VIR to lead both the Time Trials National Tour and Track Event, with Nikki Edwards, SCCA’s Communications Coordinator for Solo and Experiential Programs, heading up logistics.
“Several Track Event drivers, car show entrants, and spectators approached Nikki asking about how they could get involved in all the things going on that weekend,” said Barbry. “The Track Event and Time Trials sessions were heavily spectated. There was a lot of energy around the grid, and I know that drivers recognized the large spectator groups watching during their laps.”
From a participant and organizer perspective, these mash-up combo events are such a winning format that they will continue through the season for Time Trials National Tours and some Track Night in America events. “Track Night and the Time Trials National Tour will be partnering at Thunderhill Raceway Park in mid-April and at NCM Motorsports Park in May,” Barbry explained. “Those two events will have a full Track Night event on Saturday following the Time Trials National Tour sessions.”
For Time Trials National Tours that don’t house a Track Night, something else will be present. “We have decided that the entire Time Trials National Tour will be a mash-up of some sort,” said Hunter. “We’re still working on details for some of the events, but our desire is to have two or more ways to play at each event.”
The best part is, combo events are something many SCCA Regions can incorporate into their own weekends. Perhaps it’s as simple as a Track Event tied into an SCCA Road Racing weekend, or maybe it’s something more akin to Steel Cities Region’s End of Summer Showcase Festival. It doesn’t matter if everyone’s there to do the same thing – the end goal is packed paddocks and even more fun with cars.
On-track photos by Tradd Slayton
Car show photos by Dan Dennehy-Rodriguez / Staff