6 Reasons the SCCA is Losing Members

sports car club of americaSomething a lot of people in the racing community know about but don't like to talk about is the fact that the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), the largest racing organization in the US, has been steadily losing members for many years now.

I'm not just saying this without any numbers.  In the ‘From the Chair' column in SportsCar, the SCCA's monthly magazine, back in February 2012 this was an issue that was addressed.  “The Sports Car Club of America has seen gradual erosion in both membership and event entries and, unless unchecked, the very core of our club will be endangered.” said Jerry Wannarka Chairman of the SCCA's Board of Directors.  “Our membership is around 42,000 –  a number that reflects a drop of roughly 2,000 members a year for some time now.”  he continued in the column.

Is this surprising?  Not not really and a lot of finger pointing in the racing community has been going on.  I am going to tell you 6 reasons the SCCA has been losing members.

1. Terrible Marketing

This is no surprise and most members of the SCCA are aware of this, but their marketing is terrible.  I know from personal experience since I was a member for 1 year.  I tried to work with my local SCCA group to understand why the marketing efforts were not going well.

It seems the people that manage the SCCA's outreach believe that auto writers and journalists will just magically show-up to their events for press coverage.  The reality is if there isn't a really interesting story or I am not going to be able to drive a car, why the hell would I spend all that time driving there and back?  Keep in mind most events they hold are a fair drive away and are held at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia, would take me roughly 4-5 hours of driving.  Somehow the people that run the Washington region SCCA didn't get this and don't realize that auto writers either need a really interesting story or need to get something out of going which they wouldn't get otherwise.  (Also they are not very good at returning calls and getting back to you.)

Look my time is valuable and even if I'm interested in racing not every event the SCCA is putting on is interesting.  When I wrote about Freedom Behind the Wheel it wasn't just a story that racing enthusiasts would enjoy but something veterans and their families would like to read too.  You can't always appeal to a wide audience but you always try to with your articles and stories.  

There is a reason companies pay marketers and salesman the most money and not the people that built the product.  They keep the company afloat.

2. Racing is Expensive

This isn't really the SCCA's fault as racing is just expensive.  However, they are not helpful in making so that people new to the club can understand what they need to do to get started with building their own racecars and getting setup.  I guess they assume everyone has the knowledge and resources to do so.

The SCCA from what I can tell has not worked on keeping the costs low for a lot of their races.  It is prohibitively expensive to just show up to a casual race and they don't have any intention of changing this.   Unless you are just independently wealthy or won the lottery I doubt quite see how some people manage to fit in so much time for the SCCA.

The other issue is that in this difficult economy a lot of guys that have sold their racecars or project cars and have completely stopped racing.  Usually I hear the same story.  Car guy used to spend most of his money on his cars, bikes, or other vehicles but now he has 2 kids and maybe another on the way.  He wants to save up money for a down payment on a house and has decided to stop spending time and money racing and on his toys, so he sells his racecar.  (Not easy to find buyers nowadays.)  No racecar or equipment, why would you keep an SCCA membership or other racing organization membership?

3. White People

Everytime I got a SportsCar in the mail my first reaction when opening the pages was, “Oh, racing is for white people.”

Unsure of how they can change this perception with minorities but the SCCA probably should think about it.  The demographics of the US are changing and if they don't' get in front of it the membership base will continue to erode.  Hey, even NASCAR has a diversity program.  Of course I don't think it's going that well as I have zero interest in attending a NASCAR race.

4. Too Many Racing Classes and Categories

I honestly couldn't tell you the difference of the racing classes and categories in the SCCA even though I was a member and I am an auto journalist.  This is probably because the racing categories were named by engineers, who are bad at naming things.

The reasons I mentioned this is it confuses newcomers to the SCCA and makes their lives harder explaining different classes.  All I know is that they have Road Racing, Rally Racing, and some Open Wheel series.  If you want to race a Miata you probably can do that too.

5. Racing Takes a Lot of Time

Me driving all the way to Summit Point just to write about a race, unpaid, is not appealing.  This isn't the only web outlet I contribute too and write for.  Also currently I am working on several other web ventures outside of the automotive space and I need to focus on things that actually pay the bills and make me a living.

For the average person to drive 5+ hours to attend a race or take part in one basically means you would need to take a whole or half day off from work.  I personally can't do this most of the time since it's just not feasible.  From what I've read it seems others feel the same way about the SCCA events too.

6. Young People are not interested in Cars

Yes, it's true.  All young people are not interested in cars and are much more interested in the latest and greatest smartphones.  😉

In addition all young people are currently working on creating the next Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.  At least thinking that by spending too much time on these social networks.

SCCA is Losing Members

I read in another SportCar issue that while the SCCA gains a fair number of new members each year, a majority drop their memberships and do not renew.  In addition they are losing more members than they gain each year equaling a decrease in members.

It's clear they they need to make some changes and to it aggressively within the next 2-3 years.  If they don't the SCCA might cease to exist.

 

Rush Featurette with Ron Howard [VIDEO]

There has just been a Rush Featurette released with Ron Howard discussing his latest film project. If you haven't heard about “Rush,” which is about F1 racing and the incredible 1976 Formula One season, than you must have been living under a rock.  Gearheads and racing enthusiasts have been eagerly anticipating the movie's released.

The film is directed by Ron Howard, a Hollywood legend, and chronicles the intense rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt.  If the Rush Featurette is any indication the movie should have something for racing fans and even those who don't know what an F1 car looks like.

“Rush” is slated for release on September 20th, 2013 but you know how fickle Hollywood can be with release dates.  Let's just hope the movie's producers will release it in September.

Set against the golden age of Formula 1 racing, RUSH (directed by Academy Award winning Ron Howard A BEAUTIFUL MIND) portrays the fast-paced, action-packed and exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the sport has ever witnessed – James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth THOR) versus Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl INGLORIOUS BASTERDS) and their illustrious Formula 1 racing teams, McLaren versus Ferrari.

Freedom Behind the Wheel, Getting Veterans Back on Track!

Freedom Behind the Wheel, Getting Veterans Back on Track!

For veterans returning home from the war, it can be a difficult to adjust to activities that they used to enjoy. Racing a car can be one of them if a veteran happens to sustain injuries that makes them paraplegic. That's where the great people behind Freedom Behind the Wheel come in.

Started by Ryan Downey and his father Brian Downey the non-profit organization aims to get troops back on track, literally. Freedom Behind the Wheel operates a safe and secure environment where paraplegic veterans can utilize specially built and custom hand-controls for precision race car driving.

Ryan got the idea to start Freedom Behind the Wheel when while assisting a paraplegic veteran in the art of Drifting. He saw that there was a big gap in what was being offered in race cars and vehicles at the time, so him and his dad decided to use their racing experience and vast technical knowledge to build and fabricate something better. The result is a highly modified race cars with specially built hand controls that the Downey's and volunteers put a lot of heart and soul into.

The Downey's have a strong racing and mechanical background and it shows through their passion for helping veterans with Freedom Behind the Wheel. Ryan is a graduate of Ohio Technical College and and grew up working in his father's auto repair shops. Ryan has always loved the mechanical aspect of cars but has always been more interested in designing and fabricating new and innovative vehicles. This lead him to participate in the division Championship at Drift Nirvana, and win.

Brian has over 35-years of experience working on cars and is ASE-Certified. In that time he has managed two successful auto repair shops. Brian has also participated in Endurance Auto Crossing, Drag Racing, Drifting, and many other forms of Road Racing. He was won numerous titles and even placed in the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) National Runoffs several times. He has also worked as a racing instructor at many different tracks and race car events.

Both Ryan and Brian are now helping instruct and get veterans “back on the track” and enjoy racing activities and are happy to do so. Freedom Behind the Wheel offers programs in Drifting, Auto Cross, Drag Racing and various forms of motor sports.

For those of use who want to experience the feeling of using the Downey's custom hand controls, without the worrying of wrekcing a car, you are in luck. At the shop they have a virtual simulator so you can test out what it feels like to drive a car using only your hands. It looks a lot like playing Gran Turismo only more modified and there are 3 screens. I tried the virtual race simulator at the Washington Auto Show last year and it was quite fun. I thought I was not that good at using the custom hand controls but I was assued, “No, you are actually pretty good at it!” At least I know I can drive a race car with only my hands, which might come in handy someday.

Freedom Behind the Wheel received a substantial tool donation from Cornwell Tools in the form of tool and toolboxes which helps maintain the vehicles and keep the program running.

With the Downey's help paraplegic veterans can now regain their Freedom Behind the Wheel and enjoy life without limits. To find out more about the program visit their Facebook page.

Top Gear Unveils McLaren MP4-12C Spider

McLaren Spider MP4-12C

Attention all you high performance enthusiasts and exotic car aficionados, here’s a chance to evaluate the new 2012 McLaren MP4-12C Spider. This is particularly exciting given the number of these cars in the United States. By the time you're done with this, you'll be calling transport companies for bids on importing one of these.

Unveiling the New Model

Just over a year ago Ron Dennis of McLaren replaced the F1 with the newly designed MP4-12C. Sales had increased to over 1,000 units worldwide. Now Dennis has included a hardtop convertible dubbed the “Spider.”

Jeremey Clarkson of Top Gear was on hand in Geneva for the unveiling. Immediately it becomes evident that this car is the ultimate in eye candy. The aesthetics are such that it generates an “I have to have that” response right out of the box.

The car appears to sit low, but the 20-inch wheels fit perfectly high in the body giving the car ample ground clearance. It has huge intake vents just forward of the rear wheels which are functional because the engine uses two radiators — one on each side of the car.

A retractable spoiler adorns the rear hatch and forward of that is a killer-looking glass engine cover exposing the engine and turbo runners. It looks amazing with the Lambo doors open. And those are just a few of the high points — wait until you see the interior.

Going Inside

The interior is space-aged with a custom dash and console unlike any other car. A horseshoe-shaped panel runs vertically from the console up and around the steering wheel and down the door panel narrowing as it drops down. This contains the air vents on both sides at the top and all the switches as it continues down. Right away you will notice something missing — the gearshift. The MP4-12C has a 7-speed transmission with paddle shifters only. The color combinations accentuate the interior perfectly and the quality of the seats and panels are top notch.

What It Can Do

Now things are getting really interesting. The part that makes this dog hunt is a mid-engine 3.8-liter V8 with double overhead cams, port fuel injection and twin turbochargers. It produces an amazing 592 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 443 pounds feet of torque. This was confirmed with a dyno test done by Straight Line.

Considering the size of the engine, it is quite an achievement. Anyone who builds racecars knows that all conventional engines have a fixed camshaft. The camshaft must be installed for either low-end torque or high rpm power. It requires a tradeoff. McLaren uses variable camshaft timing, however, to avoid trading anything. The camshafts run at low rpm to build torque. As the engine revs, a mechanism advances the camshaft to increase air and fuel flow.

The engine is also has a dry sump type oiling system. The oil is not contained in an oil pan but in an external oil tank. This allows the engine to sit lower in the cradle, effectively lowering the center of gravity. The MP4-12C goes from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds and back to 0 in a mere 100 feet. Top speed on the Spider is 204 mph, 3 mph slower than the hard top due to the weight. And good thing too – you can't get them everywhere, so if you're not going to use car transport companies, speeds like that will make your drive across the United States a lot more efficient.

Watch Top Gear's Jeremey Clarkson’s amazing video as he pits the McLaren MP4-12C against the Ferrari 458 in a road course. As you can see in the Top Gear segment the McLaren out-handles the Ferrari 458 in the tight course due to its computer-controlled stabilization.

If you purchase a McLaren be sure to use car transport companies that specialize in hauling exotic cars. The McLaren MP4-12C is a car that competes well with the highest profile exotic cars today, and is readily recognizable as the exotic that it is.

Mini John Cooper Works GP will excite all Mini Fans and Gearheads!

 

Ohhh!

Mini fans, get ready for one of the baddest and sportiest Minis that will ever hit the roads, the new Mini John Cooper Works GP.

What makes the new Mini John Cooper Works GP special? The British premium brand has come up with another car of exceptional design paired with exceptional performance on both the race track and the road.

To be clear when Mini says racetrack, they mean racetrack! The Mini John Cooper Works GP set quite an impressive lap time around the famed Nürburgring’s Nordschleife track in Germany. The time? 8 minutes and 23 seconds, making this one fast Mini! This also means the new version has beaten the lap time set by its predecessor, the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, by around 19 seconds.

This is largely due to the performance which underpins this impressive Mini. The John Cooper Works GP features an exclusive powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics technology inspired directly by racing. It also has a twin-scroll turbo engine which generates outstanding torque, displays remarkable elasticity and demonstrates a healthy appetite for high revs. Specially developed, adjustable race suspension channels this superlative output into spectacular yet precisely controllable handling.

Looking at the Mini John Cooper Works GP, it's hard not to get excited by it's aggressive and muscular stance. The design of the body isn't just for looks though, as it gives the ideal aerodynamic balance in extreme driving situations, a key element in delivering precise handling.

Great Looking Butt!

The large front and rear aprons, striking side skirts and a bespoke roof spoiler are complemented by a newly developed rear diffuser which optimizes airflow around the underbody. The interior of the Mini John Cooper Works GP also contributes to the car’s inspirational racing feeling; with the rear seats removed, it focuses unashamedly on the needs of the driver and co-driver.

The “GP” tag on the model title tells you exactly where the extreme sports edition of the compact Mini most tellingly reveals its potential. The GP’s chassis configuration, the effectiveness of its race-spec braking system, the grip offered by its likewise custom racing tires, and its aerodynamic properties have been honed into a high-performance whole on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, widely considered world’s most difficult race track.

The unadulterated transfer of racing expertise into the everyday driving environment has a long history at Mini; it was this approach that made the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit the epitome of extreme driving fun in a small car when it was unveiled in 2006. Specific output of 100 kW/136 horsepower per liter of displacement and similarly impressive reserves of racing technology have secured its status as a sought-after collector’s item today.

The world will have to make due with only 2,000 Mini John Cooper Works GP though. A very sad thought indeed as this sounds like one seriously fun car.

Adam’s Auto Advice Turns 2 Years-Old Today Along With This 200th Post!

Me and My Dog Cody!

I thought I would share an important milestone with all the fans and readers of my humble blog, Adam's Auto Advice. This blog is now 2 years-old as of today.  Happy Birthday… to myself I guess! 🙂

It's amazing to think that my blog is 2 years old! Honestly it feels like I have been blogging and writing about cars forever, but it really has not been that long.

I look back at all the amazing posts and articles I have written. The articles and posts range from the fun and whacky Charm City Pedal Mill, the interesting Baltimore start-up ParkingPanda, attending the Baltimore Grand Prix, and breaking news about RelayRides. I have even tested automotive products and gone to a few car and auto shows.

Probably the best thing I have written about on this blog was my road trip from Irvine, CA to back to Baltimore.  It was an amazing trip and I hope to do many more road trips and a cross-country road trip again soon.

You know, I started this blog and didn't have set high hopes for my writing but look at me now! I am a full time auto journalist and blogger. I was able to go from writing as a hobby to writing about cars professionally.

Looking back at my first post, and some of my early writing such as this Top Gear editorial my writing has come a long way and fast. I am fortunate to be able to be doing something creative and love what I am doing.

I feel proud of everything I have been accomplished with this blog and other writing I have done.

As well sharing my experience when I appeared on Anderson with Anderson Cooper for the TV show's New Year's Special. I performed “Auld Lange Syne” with my singing dogs, Cody and Sierra, which was an amazing experience which I shared on this blog. (Of course it had nothing to do with cars, but I did drive up to New York-City with my dogs.)

I am glad to have had all these interesting and varied experiences. I hope to share more auto news, advice, tips & tricks, product reviews, with everyone via Adam's Auto Advice. I know I will continue to grow and experience more amazing automotive experiences in the future.

I also appreciate all the people with a shared passion for cars I have meet along my journey. We have exchanged web advice, writing tips, and personal stories of “Auto Awesomeness!”

Someone who deserves credit for my blog is my brother Jason. He helped me get this blog up and running and switch from Blogger to WordPress. He's also helped keep this blog going and updated. Thanks Jason!

I certainly have not crossed everything off on my automotive bucket list. I know I have a lot more great experiences ahead of me.

This is actually my 200th post! I didn't plan that, but it is a happy coincidence.  There will be hundreds of more great articles and posts along the way. I am going to make an effort to post more and most likely shorter articles in the future.

I hope all of you continue to follow my writing and work. Please Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest to keep updated.

I look forwarding to writing about cars and on this blog for many more years.

Tori Praver Creates the Greatest Racetrack in History

I hope everyone is enjoying Valentine's Day.  I am sure most people are enjoying roses, chocolates, cards, e-cards, and… well doing you know what!

If you didn't know the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition went on sale today.  The stunning Kate Upton made the cover.

Another stunning model, among many, in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is Tori Praver.  Her curvaceous body will make men go crazy.  Lexus has smartly capitalized on this in a very interesting way for the ad campaign for the all-new 2013 GS sedan.

In a new Youtube video Lexus features the TORI 500, showcasing a real racetrack that was inspired by the design of Tori Praver's body.  Supermodels curves are finally being put to good use.

The video shows the process of taking the pictures and making the racetrack.  Two professional race-car drivers are tasked with going around the track, in a Lexus GS of course.  They compete for a special prize, a victory lap with Tori Praver.  Winning feels great, but driving on the racetrack inspired by a supermodel with the supermodel riding shotgun, priceless!

The luxury car company also has four-page spread in the latest issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine.  As we all know guys from 13-113 go bonkers for this magazine.  Since it features some of the world's most beautiful women.

Lexus, this is genius!  Actually I would say that the Tori Praver inspired racetrack is the greatest racetrack designed in history. Please give us more supermodel racetracks!

If you want to drive the track, you can with a Tori 500 game for the iPhone.