Todd Heilicher Has Done a Lot, and Now He’s SCCA’s 2023 Race Data Tech Worker of the Year

It’s likely that many SCCA® members, including a lot of drivers, have no idea what the Club’s Race Data Technician does. In short, the job is to collect the objective vehicle dynamics data needed for the performance of a car, so Club Racing Board (CRB) committees have a solid foundation to build upon when considering any Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustments. The Race Data Technician job is a vital one within SCCA Road Racing as it provides those who consider performance and rules adjustments with actual data about how specific vehicles build speed – this data tells a far clearer picture than lap times alone.

Chicago Region’s Todd Heilicher has been very active in SCCA for quite a while, most recently as a Race Data Technician. He explains that what they do is attach GPS reporting boxes to a race car to “access GPS information of where the car is – speed points, turn points, [etc.], of different classifications of cars – which is collected and put into a database,” he explains. “That database is massaged to [the format] the committees of the CRB want to see – that is for the Balance of Performance for the classes. The committees request [the data] through the CRB so they can determine weight or restrictors to be added to, or removed from, a certain type of car.”

Heilicher is quick to add that this data is not car or driver specific. “It’s more manufacturer and type of car [specific],” he says. Only the Data Techs see the raw data; the CRB receives the reports.

His commitment to the sport as a Race Data Tech has been noticed, too, with him most recently receiving the Race Data Technician Worker of the Year presented by Mazda award at the 2023 National Championship Runoffs®.

His involvement with SCCA started 46 years ago when he and some buddies went to watch a race and party at Brainerd International Raceway in an International Scout with a removable top. They parked among the SCCA workers and were approached on Saturday morning with an interesting request. “We were asked if we’d like to be involved with the racing on track,” he says. “They needed a vehicle without a top to carry a big fire bottle. We became rescue guys.”

They helped, and Heilicher joined SCCA and continued working Emergency Services. He got more and more involved with SCCA and currently has licenses for National Emergency Services Fire and Rescue, National Emergency Services Course Marshall, National Race Administration, Regional Scrutineering, and (of course) National Race Data Tech.

His family is also involved in motorsports – his wife, Bev, is an SCCA Steward who earned the Steward SCCA Worker of the Year award in 2018 and SCCA’s David Morrell Memorial Award in 2022.

He’s gotten behind the wheel, too. He raced a Rabbit, Spec Racer Ford, and a Miata, attending the National Championship Runoffs® in 2002. After racing, he began driving the pace car, including at the Runoffs. “I had all these tracks on my bucket list, and I wasn’t going to get to them racing,” he explains. “How else can I get on the track? Pace car!”

He was accepted as a pace car driver, and he did that for seven years before deciding to let someone else have a chance at it.

He knew Glen Thielke, who was the driving force with gathering the data on car performance. “Glen needed help, and I was looking for something to do to keep involved,” he says. “I wasn’t going to go back to racing. I still do ES – dispatching – but I’m getting too old to run across the track with a rope to tow a car.”

Heilicher has been a Race Data Tech since 2019, and, he adds, he fully intends to keep doing it – something the SCCA couldn’t be happier about.

Photo courtesy Todd Heilicher