SCCA® has long driven to make wheel-to-wheel road racing accessible. The problem is, no matter how you slice it, there are barriers – drivers need a racing suit, helmet, gloves, head-and-neck restraint, race car, tools, and on and on. You also need an SCCA Competition or Novice License, and to get that, you need a doctor to fill out a medical form. There are some who say wheel-to-wheel road racing can never be as easy to access as entering a Track Night in America® event or participating in autocross – there’s truth there, but not complete truth. It turns out, several of the existing barriers to road racing can be torn down, which is exactly what SCCA’s new Race Experience program is designed to do.
The SCCA Race Experience program is focused on providing enthusiasts an opportunity to engage in SCCA wheel-to-wheel road racing at lower peak levels of performance and pressure than SCCA Road Racing events, all the while focusing on education and the best overall experience.
To achieve this, SCCA’s Race Experience will be structured around two main types of on-track competition, and a few major barriers to entry will be knocked down.
The Race Experience program will involve the Club Race Experience (CRE), a competition type that places a single driver in their race car for a sprint racing format, and the Endurance Race Experience (ERE), which allows multiple drivers to share a race car for longer stints on the racetrack. In both cases, the race car will need to adhere to SCCA’s safety regulations, but neither the CRE or ERE will require the car be in a particular class, and there will be no need for an SCCA Competition License, a Novice Permit, or a medical form.
“As the SCCA has introduced programs over the past decade, including Track Night in America and the re-imagined Time Trials program, we’ve continued to see the importance of lowering the barriers to participation,” said Jon Krolewicz, Senior Manager of Program Development, who is heading up the Race Experience program. “With Race Experience, we can take what we’ve learned from those programs and from where we struggled with previous forays into easy-access motorsports and work forward, all while offering National Office support to build these events which put more drivers and cars at Regional road racing events.”
SCCA’s Race Experience program revolves around access and experience, taking lessons learned from the recent Team Enduro program and the original CRE program to build one product that gives those who want to go wheel-to-wheel racing the ability to do so.
While ERE and CRE events will welcome GCR-classed race cars, that will not be the focus. Instead, safety will be the priority, with vehicle classing a secondary concern. “Normally an SCCA car must be built for an SCCA racing class, and that dictates the specific requirements,” said Krolewicz. “With Race Experience, we’ve focused the rules to a class-agnostic set of basic safety items for cars and drivers. If the vehicle and driver have these items, Race Experience competitors won’t have to worry about being compliant for any specific class to participate.”
A similar approach will be implemented for drivers wishing to get on track.
“Drivers won’t need a license or medical exam to compete,” said Krolewicz. “The events include educational components for those with less experience, and all drivers will have a driver coach available to express concerns to and get advice from, which will enhance everyone’s experience.”
“The mission of this program is to create an event where both veteran and new drivers can feel comfortable going wheel-to-wheel with each other and, at the end of the day, drivers and officials can be proud of participating in.”
Drivers at least 18-years of age must hold a current SCCA membership and a valid government-issued driver’s license. Drivers as young as age 14 can also take part in Race Experience events, although they must meet a few more requirements.
While drivers are not required to have a doctor fill out a medical form in order to compete, participants must not have any known medical conditions or be under the influence of medication that would cause them or others undue risk. Drivers must also state that they are able to handle the physical and mental demands of competition.
SCCA Race Experience events could take place in a variety of ways, from incorporating a session into an existing Regional SCCA Road Racing weekend, to a standalone event. As the program develops, some of the requirements laid out in the initial SCCA Race Experience ruleset will be adjusted.
Region members interested in the SCCA Race Experience can learn more by asking questions during the SCCA Road Racing Department “office hours” session at the 2024 SCCA National Convention. The SCCA National Convention takes place for free online on Jan. 18-26, with SCCA Road Racing’s office hours occurring Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. CT.
Regions can also reach out to Krolewicz directly at email@example.com.
Photo by Jon Krolewicz / Staff