Three Regions, One Race Weekend: How the ’24 NOLA Super Tour Came to Be

How do three Texas-based SCCA® Regions – known for individual personalities the size of, well, Texas – come together to put on an event at a racetrack that’s located in yet another Region (and state) entirely? The simple answer is, it was for the good of the Club and its members.

That’s exactly what happened for the recently completed and very successful Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour at NOLA Motorsports Park – an event located just outside of New Orleans and hosted by a joint collaboration of Lone Star Region, Texas Region, and Houston Region.

The event has roots in the track’s opening back in 2011, when the Southwest Division (and, of course, the Regions within) hosted events at the new track. This shared weekend was for good reason: Why take a Region with no infrastructure for road racing, which has never had a track nearby, and which may not have much experience with the program, and expect its members to burden all the risk? A false start could have made growth and use of NOLA unsustainable moving forward so, for five years, the Southwest Division hosted a Super Tour at NOLA, successfully.

Then, for a variety of reasons, the event went on hiatus.

Starting Up Again

Fast forward to 2023, and the Lone Star Region was at a crossroads. The success of Circuit of the Americas was a mixed bag – it’s fantastic that the track is so popular, but that popularity comes with a shortage of available dates and, of course, a (shall we say) “financially challenging” weekend price tag for an SCCA Region to shoulder. Lone Star Region’s suggestion? Explore a reboot of the NOLA event.

It was settled – Lone Star Region would take the lead in the initial stages, with Regional Executive Nadja Pollard, previous Event Chair and recent organizer of an event at the track in her “professional” motorsports life Sydney Davis Yagel, Texas Region Race Chair Sitara Wilson, and Houston Region Race Chair Darryl Wills on the planning committee.

Lone Star Region agreed to be the “bank” for the event, but Houston Region and Texas Region agreed to share in the loss or profit at the end of the day. Each Region had input on the budget, and each Region’s board got a vote before it was approved and presented to the SCCA National Office. It was win-win-win for everyone, most importantly for the racers who could stay in the Southwest Division while also meeting up with and hosting those who came from the Southeast and across the country to participate.

The committee settled on Yagel as the Race Chair leading up to the event, with Wilson serving in the role on-site during the weekend.

Making It Happen

With the organizational arrangement out of the way, attention turned to how each of those members could actually pull off the event. With no locals on the planning committee, they depended heavily on local contacts and history, along with the always popular (and mostly accurate) Google Maps – and a prayer.

The specialty chiefs, always important at an event, took on a larger role out of necessity, including coordinating equipment that wasn’t housed on site like it might be at other events.

“When we previously raced at NOLA, we could coordinate equipment and supplies to be brought over, but we used specialty chiefs from across the Division,” Yagel explains. “This time around, with Lone Star taking the lead, the dynamics were a bit different. We still used specialty chiefs from across the Division, but some areas we wanted to make sure were specifically Lone Star. Registration is one example, since they’re the ‘bank’ for the event. Because Sitara is the on-site Race Chair, she coordinated a fair bit of equipment to be brought down, and we leaned on our specialty chiefs to bring what they could as well.”

Regions that host their own events at the same venue have a routine. In this case, that familiarity was out the window, and everything had to be confirmed and planned for – nothing “just happens.”

“With all of the planning team in various cities, we held several conference calls and video calls in the beginning to get the basics down,” Yagel says. “Once the event was scheduled, approved, and signed off, we made a checklist of items that needed to be taken care of, and delegated those tasks appropriately. Because neither myself or Sitara are members of Lone Star Region, any financial decision was run through Nadja and the Lone Star Region board, if needed. It added some time to the process, but I feel like we were able to find a rhythm to get everything generated and approved in a timely manner.”

(Caption: Hard work behind the scenes led to great action on track)

It also let each Region play to their strengths. Have a strong tech staff? That Region takes the lead. Is your team better at something else? You’ll get the call. It was important for each Region, and their members, to put their best foot forward and, if necessary, do the hardest thing: Check the ego.

“Let’s be honest, when three groups get together, there’s going to be some bumps in the road,” Yagel adds. “Whether it’s members of a Region board questioning whether or not something is smart financially to figuring out the profit/loss split to naming chiefs of specialties, we had to navigate various things to ensure that we put together the best event possible. In the end, each member of the planning team worked together and with their boards to help make this a success.”

You Can Too

Because multiple Regions were involved, each Region had members who wanted to step up and participate. The best from all three Regions could take charge, which made it even easier to cultivate new relationships and bring new participants into the fold. The location of the track and the division of labor took all of the burden off of one person or one Region and made it more palatable to manage.

It's a model that can carry over to any Regions, and any event, that may need some assistance. For that, Yagel has some advice on lessons they’ve learned.

The first is to identify leadership that is willing to delegate, otherwise it all falls back onto one person – defeating the purpose.

“Micromanaging doesn’t work when you’re collaborating with multiple Regions,” Yagel says. “For us, this meant a main Race Chair with a co-Chair to support, and deciding a main Region that’s predominately financially responsible to serve as the bank. The main Race Chair communicated expectations and boundaries to the rest of the leadership team.”

The second is to use the available resources – not just racing resources.

“Digital collaboration makes things so much easier,” she continues. “We created a folder in Google Drive to house all of the event files. We used Google Sheets to budget, track specialty chiefs, coordinate the master packing list, and more. The planning committee and key specialty chiefs had access to the files.”

And, finally, don’t mix the message – the “outside world” must know who to go to for needs or questions.

“We decided on who would be the ‘voice’ for various audiences,” Yagel says, adding that it was a conscious decision. “Who speaks on behalf of the group? The audiences we had were the track, the SCCA National Office, the drivers, the specialty chiefs, and the volunteers. With multiple parties involved, especially once you get the Super Tour staff and event staff included, it helps tremendously to have one person communicating with a particular audience at a time. For us, since we had co-Race Chairs, we copied each other on any emails or had conference calls with people when needed.”

In truth, the lessons that came from a multi-Region event also apply to successful single-Region events. Communicate, delegate, and use the strengths of the players involved to put on the best event possible.

Most importantly, remember that there is strength in numbers – especially when it’s utilized efficiently.

Photos by Arto Kazakov