Why Did the SCCA Only Cancel Solo Nationals?

At 8:37 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, August 5, the SCCA announced the big news via an online town hall meeting: The 2020 Tire Rack SCCA Solo Championships and all associated events would not take place. Blame COVID-19. 

The big risk in addition to getting people sick: losing access to what the Solo community considers a one-of-one venue. “The city and site and have had tremendous support for this event,” Heyward Wagner, senior director of marketing and experiential programs at the SCCA, tells GRM. “Don’t believe those relationships are at risk and don’t want to strain them.”

The Tire Rack SCCA Solo Nationals takes place at Lincoln Airpark, a giant concrete expanse located in Nebraska—a nearly perfect flat surface right in the middle of the country. While big on concrete, the Solo site is short on amenities: no bathrooms, no restaurants, no buildings. For many participants, that means leaving the site for the basics: food, water and shelter. 

Even at diminished capacity, that also means some 700 people—give or take a few hundred—from coast to coast descending upon a college town for an event that’s as socially active as it is competitive.

We also don’t want to bring a bunch of people to a town where they are dependent upon the town for lodging and food and water,” Wagner notes. “The core of the Solo Nats decision was rooted in the fact that this is not a motorsports site.”

Compare that to most dedicated motorsports facilities, including those set to host the SCCA’s other three big national championships. 

Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, will host the DirtFish SCCA RallyCross National Championship August 14-16. The entry list has been capped at 120 entries, meaning, according to Wagner, likely no more than 150 people on site. 

The Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials Nationals Powered by Hagerty will visit NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, September 23-27. This entry list will be limited to 250 entrants, meaning, Wagner figures, maybe 500 souls on site at the most. But as another dedicated motorsports facility, NCM Motorsports Park is self-sufficient, meaning the SCCA can better keep people there. “We’re able to be a lot more insulated from the community,” he adds. “There’s fuel and ice on site.”

This year’s final SCCA championship, Club Racing’s National Championships Runoffs, rolls into Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, October 3-11. Entries are still coming in, with some 450 already registered; a healthy Runoffs can easily see 500-600 entrants. 

But again, Wagner explains, this is a dedicated motorsports facility, and many participants—on both the competitor and worker sides—regularly camp at the event. “Certainly, if there’s an SCCA population that’s well equipped for this, it’s the road race community,” he notes. 

Furthermore, Wagner notes, the Elkhart Lake community’s culture is baked into motorsports, with the track welcoming 467 drivers to the SCCA’s WeatherTech Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints earlier this season—the largest SCCA Majors event on record. The track also hosted spectator crowds for the NTT IndyCar Series July 9-12 as well as the WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman July 23-26. 

The Runoffs, he continues, will be just another race weekend for the track and the community. 

Motorsports is their core business,” he continues. “The Airpark’s core business is being an airport.”

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Comments
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Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/7/20 1:22 p.m.

heart john's datsun so much.  

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/7/20 1:31 p.m.

A cornerstone of Solo Nats is all the social events.

the hardcore competitors can claim all they want that the 6 minutes of seat time is the only thing that matters...

but it's NOT, and lots of people were already going to stay home anyway.

Had the event gone forward it would have been a shell of what it's supposed to be.

I personally believe the event would have been unable to survive a PR nightmare of anything related to a covid uptick in the city.. even if it wasn't related to the event.

I went to a event last weekend at mid Ohio that was the size of TT nats.. maybe not even that big.. and it's close to the limit of any event I am going to attend for the near future.
 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/9/20 11:25 p.m.

Yes, totally, a big part of the event is the socialization. Sadly we missed last year's event due to a hurricane. Personally, I'm really bummed to not go this year. We can chat over the internet, but there's something about working a corner with a buddy. 

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