Hagerty.com

Behind the scenes of SCCA’s struggle to endure

The club endures. Eighteen years ago, when I was just a rookie autocrosser attending my first Sports Car Club of America event, one of the old hands took me aside and offered a few words of wisdom regarding the club and its unique qualities. “The SCCA rulebook, like the operations book of the transcontinental railroads, is written in blood,” he told me. “Every safety-related rule you see in those pages, even the ones that seem silly or paranoid—hell, especially the ones that seem silly or paranoid—those rules are there because someone was hurt or killed. Respect them.”


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/05/23/behind-the-scenes-sccas-struggle-to-endure

Racing in a spec series I concur that safety is number one for SCCA and with that comes a cost to have all those workers and safety people ready. In the end, other than maybe autocross, there is no way to make racing inexpensive and unfortunately that keeps many good racers out of the mix.
And doing 100 mph on the freeway in and out of traffic DOES NOT MAKE YOU A RACER !

1 Like

SCCA much like NASCAR needs to draw from those automotive enthusiasts that unfortunately aren’t there in the numbers as in the past. We baby boomers as we are getting older are drawing down the numbers in many demographics related to automobile hobbyists. Harley Davidson is also a big loser as far as this goes.

The percentage of kids that begin to wrench on things as we (baby boomers) did gets smaller every year. These kids don’t tinker. I am a program administrator for three trades in which we hire for an apprenticeship and the percentage of those mechanically inclined continues to drop each year. We train them, but they come in with no skills. Out of a hundred I have under me right now I would say less than ten seriously love tinkering with automobiles.

Not quite sure what can be done to rejuvenate and keep the sport relevant but kudos for the SCCA for trying to keep the sport alive in these times.

Back in the day (early 1980s) I would drive my 1976 Triumph Spitfire in SCCA sanctioned Autocross competitions here in western Montana. Maybe Montana is just different, but the competition centered organization that this article describes doesn’t strike me as an accurate description of the club we participated in back then. People would still drive their road-worthy cars to the meet, compete, then drive home afterward. No one trailered a car to a meet, and no one, at least in my experience, put a lot of money into making their cars competitive. I mean really, how competitive can a Spitfire 1500 be? Well, mine won several events–never with me driving it, I should say.

All that said, in my experience, interest in all things automotive is dying out. Certainly the car shows I attend and exhibit in show a paucity of younger folk. I’ll be 70 in October, and I seem to be one of the younger car owners at most shows. Not sure what the answer is, but a local fellow has suggested donating our older sports cars to local high school auto shop courses with the stipulation that after a class has rebuilt a car, one of the students gets to keep the car. It does seem to work, one car at a time, in regenerating interest.

1 Like

It is just a sign of the times that’s all. When cars were too expensive ( 1900 ish ) people did other things and so it is today that interest in petrol locomotion is becoming a thing of the past as EV’s enter the arena and younger generations focus more on tech than speed and power although that is not completely lost with Tesla going Ludicrous so you could say that things are evolving into something else. Maybe if car shows weren’t just “Classics” but ALL makes welcome you would be astounded by the Honda’s and such that develop wicked horsepower like old F1 four bangers used to have.
I think Gen X’rs and behond feel excluded from most events so yes, most of the people attending are geezers. The last show I went to ( this past Saturday ) there were about three cars that interested me and all the others were just “the same ol’ same ol” thing with the amount of money spent being the primary focus rather than how special and unique it was and with that said the three rat rods there were getting most of the attention !0

I’m afraid there is no real answer for revitalizing the car hobby, including car shows, car auctions, restorations, or car racing. As one who been involved with cars since I can recall, I have seen a steady decline in interest at all levels – amateur and professional. As a current vintage racer (since 1992), fields are shrinking, and rarely do I see drivers and crews under 50 or even 60. Like non-racing organizations such as Shriners, Rotary, Moose, Elk and Mason members, they are drying up, and when we “boomers” go, there will be few to replace. Enjoy while you can. RIP.

@pterodactyl711 - Have you been to a Lemons race? That is a younger crowd of racing enthusiasts, and just one example of younger folks in the hobby.

Vintage racing is exorbitantly expensive for many young folks. Personally, as a 28 year old who has been a “car guy” for decades, I cant handle the costs of the truck and trailer needed to go racing–let alone the entry fees, safety gear, travel costs, consumables…

We (young enthusiasts) are out here, just not in the same place you are. And that’s okay.

There’s something to this…

It’s like, the hobby is kind of evolving…

You will see events that draw in the same crowds you are used to seeing…

And then,

you will see the “Lemons” events

Here, in my neck of the woods, the “Slamology” event usually frequented by lowriders tends to draw the younger crowd and the louder music. It isn’t much about performance behind the wheel, it is more about looks, and performance of the stereo system. If you’re over 30, do yourself a favor and buy earplugs when going to this =)

Guess that’s a sign of me getting too old, when I decide that music is too loud =)

We are out there! I’m 30 and I have a 72 Gran Torino and a 92 bronco. Currently looking at a 79 bronco (although the wife is none to pleased lol)

Granted I have no kids and I’m sure that plays a large role in being able to afford the vehicles I have. I was sucked into this hobby by 2 close friends of mine who were into cars since they were kids.

Although I’m a 68-72 car lover I agree with the idea of trying to open up these shows. No offense to the old timers but it’s tough to relate to endless “shoobop” music and the feeling that you don’t belong. 4 bangers and imports do nothing for me, but it can foster a sense of community to include everyone. Just because I may not understand your sense of style doesn’t make you any less of a car enthusiast. And that’s the message that needs to be sent out there!

Being a club member for nearly 40 years and actively participating in Club Racing, Pro Racing, Solo and Rally I regrettably believe SCCA is in a death spiral. A club that was once managed by racers for racers is controlled by business personnel that have no clue what a camber setting is. The days of Regional/National races with 200+ entries are long gone. In my home region we are lucky to get 50 entries for a Majors weekend. It seems Millennials would rather ride Uber or play video games than to be “hands on” competing or getting their hands dirty as crew or even as a corner worker. I will always renew my SCCA membership but I as well as my seasoned racing comrades have moved on to restoring vintage formula cars and going vintage racing…

@svtfrank - There are plenty of Millennials who would love to go racing–vintage or modern, but the fact of the mater is most of them are just starting to fight their way out of student loan and other debt, which enables starting a family, and there is just simply no extra funds for an expensive hobby like auto racing.

When Heyward Wagner visited the Hagerty office recently, he mentioned that racing is basically $10k a year for most. I feel I am doing pretty good as a Millennial, and I simply do not have that kind of money to spend on a hobby right now. Maybe in 7-8 years. I feel the SCCA will last till then–and beyond.

Well Kyle I must disagree. I joined SCCA in my early twenties when I was an engineering student. I may have not had the financial abilities to buy /build a race car at the time but I did get involved in other ways at first. I worked corners and in scrutineering at races which brought me close to the action and allowed me to meet many of the drivers and teams. I also auto crossed and participated in TSD Rallys. I then went on to working as crew on teams eventually in SCCA PRO Racing and Grand Am Prototypes while continuing full time employment in engineering and as an A&P and having a family. At the age of 3 my son knew how to assemble the sidepods and body work on a Formula Atlantic car. It became a FAMILY interest. Racing was also an option when I was financially able to do it. So these excuses about being a student with loans, family and limited finances is just that, an excuse. Obviously there are many ways to get involved if you are willing to get your hands dirty…