How the SCCA Saved Christmas

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Dec 25, 2020 | SCCA, Christmas, Time Trial Nationals | Posted in News and Notes | Never miss an article

Photography by Perry Bennett

The end of the year didn’t look good for the SCCA. Due to the pandemic, the club had to cancel a flagship event, the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships, and all associated activities. That meant scrubbing a gathering that regularly attracts some 1200 entrants, many of whom arrive ready to party. 

The decision to skip the 2020 event involved a complex mix of logistics and relationships. The event takes place in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the Lincoln Airpark, a giant expanse of concrete right in the middle of the country.

It’s an autocross site considered to be second to none for its central geographic location and enough space for two competition courses, a practice layout, and acres of required paddock space.

But the site doesn’t have any facilities, and losing access to it would be bad–like, “crossing the streams” bad. “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,” Heyward Wagner, senior director of marketing and experiential programs at the SCCA, explained to GRM just after announcing that decision earlier this year. “The core of the Solo Nats decision was rooted in the fact that this is not a motorsports site.” A different risk, he stresses.

The name of the game was social distancing–in the paddock, in the garage and even on track. Eric Powell’s Miata set the weekend’s top time; full magazine feature to come.  

While the club’s RallyCross National Championship and Club Racing’s National Championships Runoffs largely ran as usual this fall aside from safety accommodations, its third annual Time Trials Nationals at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was a different story–one of growth and maturity, with the entry list climbing from 191 drivers in 2019 to 219 this past fall. 

At one point, Wagner notes, the entry list for the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials Nationals Powered by Hagerty swelled to 260 before attrition kicked in. Some of that, he notes, was due to COVID-19-related supply issues. “We don’t know of a larger time trial event in the U.S,” he adds. 

That growth came from two camps. “We wanted to find people who hadn’t found their motorsports home,” he continues, meaning newer enthusiasts who had done a few motorsports events but hadn’t really committed to a discipline.

Then there’s the second group: “We have also found people who were starting to develop outside their motorsports home”–in other words, drivers not new to the sport yet seeking something new. 

Looking back, Heyward says, he’s comfortable with the outcome: A critical site has been preserved for future events, while another saw growth under trying conditions.

The SCCA and NCM Motorsports park welcomed some 220 participants to this fall’s Time Trials Nationals, with classes for nearly all kinds of production-based machines. Ryan Dussex, in the white Subaru, finished second in the Unlimited 2 class.

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