Editor’s Note: Mark Macoubrie, in addition to being our primary Event Chair and a RallyCross Safety Steward for the Kansas City Region SCCA, is also a member of the National SCCA RallyCross Advisory Board. Last year, he served on the organizing committee for the 2015 SCCA RallyCross National Championships at the National Balloon Festival Grounds in Indianola, IA. His efforts did not go unnoticed as Howard Duncan, Senior Director for SCCA Solo and Rally, presented Mr. Macoubrie with the 2015 Sparkplug award, a national-level award given in recognition of outstanding contributions to the SCCA RallyCross program. Mark returns to his role on the organization committee for this year’s RallyCross National Championship event and gives us some insight into the process of how such an event takes shape and what planning must precede the event.
Picking the Team
Every year 100+ competitors descend on the site of the SCCA RallyCross National Championship to duke it out for top spot but have you ever wondered what happens behind the curtain to bring it all together before you arrive? Just a couple short months after the National Championship the National Office starts looking for a few brave souls to step up and form the RallyCross National Championship Planning Committee (RXNC-PC).
The RXNC-PC was reintroduced for the Championship in 2015 to help the national office plan, organize and execute all aspects of the event. After a couple months of searching and taking applications the RXB selects a handful of people to participate in the committee. The committee will also include a RXB liaison and national office liaison.
The committee members are typically notified in early December that they have been selected and a teleconference is set for early January to allow the committee to meet and start planning the National Championship. After brief introductions the team quickly gets to work on the task at hand.
Establishing the Rules
The first order of business is to review the National Championship and Challenge Supplemental. The RXNC-PC reviews all new changes to the RallyCross rules, the comments made on the RallyCross forums and the response to the previous year’s RallyCross National Championship survey to determine if any modifications are required to the current year rules. The committee goes through a month long process of editing the rules, review the edits and finalizing all changes. All new changes are then submitted to the RXB for final approval.
Chief Search (finding good leaders)
After the rules have been modified the next order of business is filling all the Chief positions. The committee uses there vast experience of previous chiefs and people throughout the program to fill all critical roles not filled by the National Office. This can be a difficult task due to the requirement the Chiefs make committing to be at the National Event and fill a position several months in advance. Positions include Event Steward, Safety Steward, Chief of Tech, Chief of Grid, Chief of Workers, Chief of Timing, and Chief of Course Design. Each position needs to be filled early to make sure the event is well coordinated. Each person is selected due to their expertise and ability to perform this task for a national level event. Assistants are also assigned for most of the positions as part of a two prong approach. First to have a backup in the event a Chief cannot attend and secondly to mentor someone for a position at the national level. The list is then sent to the RXB for final approval.
Setting the Schedule
Now that the Rules and “Boots on the Ground” leaders have been established for the event the committee move on to the schedule. The schedule is coordinated with the sunrise and sunset times for the time of year, amount of racing times, open ceremonies, registration, tech and drivers meeting. Additionally social events including the town hall, special events, and test and tune are all worked into the schedule so people will enjoy the entire experience.
Planning (It’s all about the details)
While the schedule is being worked out the committee moves on to the bulk of the work including the planning and promoting of the event. As part of the planning the committee walks through each detail of the event from the layout of the site, understanding of the agreements with the land owner, and coordination with the host region to provide details on lodging, fuel, and local amenities. This level of detail is provided to make sure each competitor has the information they need for a success and enjoyable event. Untold hours are spent gathering data on all the local business, coordinating with parts stores, and coordinating with local law enforcement and emergency service to make the community aware of the SCCA event. The committee also gathers information on the site to provide to course designers, soil data and local weather patterns for all competitors knowing that many of the competitors are expending significant time and expense to attend the event. Throughout all the planning the committee is in constant contact with the RXB and National Office to keep them aware of the events, and obtain support and approvals as need. The RXNC-PC also coordinates all elements being planned by the national office with the overall plan.
In additional to the planning of the event the RXNC-PC works on determining and disseminating the roles and responsibilities of each Chief. This is done to make sure every element of the event is owned by someone and there is no overlap in the procedure. The RXNC-PC also create training information to help all workers understand what their role with be while working for the event. Each competitors is required to participate in working as well as competing and it takes monumental effort to make sure each person is in place with a knowledge of what is expected of them.
Marketing and Promoting (Raising Awareness)
The committee also gets involved in the promotion of the event. Even though the National Office carries the majority of the load for promoting the event the RXNC-PC provides a much support as they can by helping to write articles, promote the National Championship at regional events, post information on the forums, work on BIO information for some drivers, and provide promotional content as needed.
Putting it All Together
The work done by the RXNC-PC for the 10 months leading up to the National Championship is all done by dedicated individuals volunteering their time to make the National Championship a premier event. Massive effort is put forth by the RXNC-PC, National Office and RXB to make the National Championship an enjoyable event for all competitors. The plan is to create an event where each drive can concentrate on performing at their top level and not worry about the logistics of how the event runs. The work can be daunting at times but knowing the event will run smoothly and people will enjoy the time they spend at National Championship is the biggest reward of all.
Photos courtesy of Patterson Prints, LLP.