RallyCross Leadership and You
A Primer from the Midwest Division SCCA RallyCross Steward
A typical RallyCross is hosted by a group of enthusiastic locals on a nearby patch of earth. You’ll see familiar faces working hard to make sure we all have fun in the dirt, but there are also a few folks beyond your region interested in the same same thing.
The RallyCross Leadership Structure
The average competitor may not give much thought to what happens behind the scenes, but the Sports Car Club of America is just that — a club — dependent on its members to run the action. You may be one of the regulars in your area or serve in some sort of official capacity, or perhaps know people who help run events. Most of the dirty work (literally) happens at the grassroots level for the grassroots competitors. A sincere thanks if that describes you.
At the same time, a core of SCCA members is serving the RallyCross program level as a whole. There is a nationwide RallyCross Board of Directors (RXB) that rotates through volunteers, and it coordinates important work like the rules submission process, National-level events, and other overarching ideas to increase participation and safety.
Also, each of the SCCA’s nine divisions have volunteers staffing a Divisional RallyCross Steward position and a backup Deputy RallyCross Steward position. These are basically club members who step up and help promote RallyCross among regions within their division, and help keep it safe and incident-free. In Midwest Division, that includes regions spanning Nebraska to Mississippi. That’s the role I want to share with you.
What it takes to be a Divisional RallyCross Steward or Deputy Steward
The only qualifications for these roles are being an active RallyCross enthusiast and holding (or soon getting) a RallyCross Safety Steward endorsement. You have to enjoy RallyCross and want others to do the same. That’s it. I became Midwest Division RallyCross Steward because my predecessor, Jerry Doctor, had fallen on poor health and was looking for an engaged RallyCrosser to fill his shoes. If you’d like to try it out yourself, just voice an interest. Getting a rotation of fresh ideas and motivations is healthy for the sport, and we actively welcome it.
What the MiDiv RallyCross Steward Actually Does
- Monthly conference call with other divisional stewards, usually on a Thursday evening. Topics span best practices, upcoming events, rules and operational issues, and other RallyCross talk that benefits local programs.
- Make an appearance at the MiDiv Convention every year, which happens largely on a Saturday early in the year around February or March. The host city changes ever year or two. Recently it has been in Topeka, KS, Council Bluff, IA, Springfield, MO, and Kansas City, MO.
- Review and approve RallyCross event sanction requests. A region’s RallyCross chair will send them to you by email, and if everything was filled out correctly, you’ll forward the email to the SCCA national office with your blessing.
- Approve new RallyCross Safety Stewards in MiDiv. These individuals will take a class with you or someone you trust to provide training, then act as a RXSS apprentice at (usually) two RallyCross events. You confirm that they are suitable for the job, then forward the RXSS application to the SCCA national office.
- Help promote RallyCross activity throughout MiDiv. This can take many forms. Often you can promote through electronic means by spending a few minutes sending e-mails or working Facebook every so often.
- Seek a region to host a yearly divisional-level event, or “National Challenge” event, and help them through the details.
- Steer new regional RallyCross chairs through event logistics and best practices.
- Provide guidance on vehicle eligibility where safety is concerned. People hear about RallyCross and want to bring anything with wheels, but not all of it gets to compete.
If you are busy, the deputy steward can often fill in and help. If both of you are stumped, each division is paired with a RXB member who can help talk you through something.
Traits of a Successful Divisional Steward
- Join and frequently visit the various forums and social media outlets among your division’s regions. Join the discussion. Help answer questions related to the sport and encourage participation. Tactfully provide a counterpoint to people who provide misinformation, and hand-hold anyone who needs it. If a RallyCross novice asks for help and gets silence, don’t expect to see them at the next event. If a region offers an outlet of discussion, make sure the “lights are on” when outsiders visit.
- Actively lend a hand to RallyCross start-ups. Established regions tend to schedule and organize events without much need for interaction from the divisional steward. New or dormant programs require extra attention. Check in with the last known organizers in a given region, and see what they need to get moving. Sometimes a call to action is all the spark necessary to build enthusiasm.
- Share pictures and video, especially if you come from out of region. RallyCross is the most photogenic of the SCCA programs, and the action is major sell for the region’s next event. If the locals are busy running the event, snap pictures where safe to do so. See if the organizers have a friend with a photographic or video talent to invite. Just be aware that drones are unfortunately banned in the air space over RallyCross events (it’s an insurance thing).
- Encourage collaboration and local strengths. If a potential site lies between two regions, make sure both show up. Co-events boost headcounts and get competitors in the mindset to travel to neighboring regions. Interaction breeds perspective, organizational skills, driving talent, and all that good stuff. If a region has the fortunately ability to also host a social draw (camping, karting, etc.), add that to the mix. Experiment with elements that excite new and old competitors.
- Be a source of scheduling assistance. I share a Google Calendar with all the major SCCA events around MiDiv, and add a RallyCross event to the calendar every time a schedule is developed. Knowing the weekends with the least neighboring conflicts benefits all. Ask regions to keep you in the loop as early as possible, and provide them with the tools to ensure the best headcounts. A lot of scheduling pieces come together early in the year for racers, so help the regions navigate the chaos.
- Push regions to share their schedules as early as possible. This gets dates on SCCA.com for potential entrants to see, and allows RallyCrossers to arrange their commitments so that they can make events. It also helps avoid scheduling conflicts between neighboring RallyCross regions that could scavenge eligible drivers and safety stewards.
Challenges in Midwest Division
A divisional steward should know the complexion of the division. Geography is MiDiv’s biggest foe. It’s a physically large division, and it’s also one of the more sparsely populated. The dense, linked population centers of the coasts and more populous states outside MiDiv make for an instant advantage in headcount and large regions. Smaller regions can still enjoy successful RallyCross programs, but the pool of potential volunteers to help run events is smaller.
However, MiDiv regions have proven to be a fairly tight-knit bunch. We have a depth of experience, and can put together a slick program when efficiently organized. MiDiv is the perennial home of RallyCross and Solo Nationals, and has hosted ClubRacing Runoffs on numerous occasions. We know racing. Much of the RallyCross population is involved in another form of motorsports, often autocross or road racing. Some RallyAmerica stage rally drivers also RallyCross. There is an understanding that RallyCross often depends on drivers with varied interests, and the regular leaders get to know one another over time. Schedules can be tight and sometimes overlap, but I’ve encountered a willingness to cooperate where possible.
Entry counts often struggle, and that’s the other big challenge. No one expects Solo-level participation, but RallyCrossing with under 20 people on hand is a reality of a young program in a smaller division. Creative promotion, worker coverage, etc., is part of the job as the sport grows.
A lone divisional steward can’t solve everything, but it does give creative license to focus attention, encourage participation, and try new things.
Call to Action
Whether at the regional, divisional, or national level, RallyCross success depends on involvement. Anyone can jump in:
- Drive participation in your region. Learn a “race day” skill like timing, safety stewarding, or course design. Take the initiative and ask for volunteers.
- Travel to other regions’ RallyCrosses. You’ll get experience on different courses and surfaces, learn what they’re doing better or worse, and make friends with a wider crowd. Sell inter-regional involvement to everyone you meet.
- Talk to your divisional steward about where you want your RallyCross program to go. Getting an extra person thinking about it never hurts.
- Serve your division for a year or two as a RallyCross steward or deputy. MiDiv needs bench strength, and it’s nothing taxing when you have help throughout the division. You’ll learn a lot and get to know more of your fellow RallyCrossers.
The final take-home is that we can build RallyCross together, and that you have more help than you may realize.