SCCA National Convention - Day 2: Creating a Culture of Access, Inclusion and Fun

Las Vegas, Nev. (Jan. 22, 2016) – Developing a new core mindset to accomplish the fresh “Mission SCCA: Driving. Motorsport.” attitude was the overriding topic for day two of the 2016 SCCA National Convention being held at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Heyward Wagner, SCCA Director of Experiential Programs, began the second day by building on concepts presented by SCCA President and CEO Lisa Noble during the previous evening’s 2016 SCCA Annual Meeting.  During that kickoff event in front of nearly 350 Club members, Noble noted that the SCCA needs to not only maintain its current status as a leader in amateur motorsports, but grow its membership through innovative driving opportunities that engage more people in more ways.

To achieve this goal, Wagner said the Club needs to broaden its activities so anyone who enjoys driving has an opportunity to connect with the Sports Car Club of America.  The Club must make an effort to create events that are easy to join and accepting of everyone from millennials to baby boomers without jeopardizing safety. At first glance it may seem difficult to find common ground between these two age groups, but in actuality everyone is looking for the same thing: fun with cars.

“Our sport doesn’t have to always be about winning or losing.  Sometimes it can just be about having fun,” Wagner said.  “We want to build fun into our Club culture.  And when we say ‘fun,’ we mean an attitude that when things go well or when things go poorly we treat the event, we treat the sport and we treat each other with a level of respect that doesn’t ruin the fun for those involved.”

Developing an inviting culture of hospitality that nurtures fun for all was the topic of an afternoon seminar presented by Chris Robbins, a longtime SCCA autocrosser and Senior Program Head at Southwest Airlines University.  He stated that hospitality goes beyond simple customer service.  It’s about generating a feeling that connects with people in a more personal way, a connection that ensures an organization’s positive image and return visits from new friends.

“When you do great things, when you exceed people’s expectations, that’s what hospitality is,” Robbins said.  “It’s about how a person feels after they’ve dealt with you.  We want people to talk about us positively and talk about how great things were at an event.”

Just for the SCCA, Robbins created a special acronym to guide hospitality initiatives at events.  The GEARS Guide stands for Greet, Engage, Act, Relate and comment, and Solicit feedback.  Each step in the GEARS process makes people aware of the unique needs of another individual, and creates a true sense of concern and connection.

Further instruction for generating an air of inclusion was provided by SCCA Event Experience Coordinator India Bounds.  She helped develop the very successful Champions Program which was a grass roots advocacy program that drove the success of SCCA Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack last year.  Through that program, motorsport enthusiasts with a strong influence on social media or within regional car clubs were engaged to help spread the word about the inexpensive opportunity to drive on a real racecourse through Track Night in America.

“Advocacy programs can help Regions grow their membership and bring new faces to events,” Bounds noted.  “When you have a compelling idea or a new program that you want to get out there, having Champions is a great way to build up support.  For Regions, Champions are useful in recruiting new members, boosting attendance at an autocross event, or just trying to bring some positive change within your group.  Whatever the concept may be, all you are doing is establishing information conduits and incentivizing them to dispense, advocate and reflect positively on your program.”

Along with seminars supporting the new “Mission SCCA: Driving. Motorsport.” directive, a multitude of other sessions where conducted Friday, including: Risk Management, Kickstart Your RallyCross Program, Building Your Region for Success, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention, and Site Management.  Mike King, the Buccaneer Region’s assistant RE, sat in on several of the sessions and believes the information shared can be immediately useful in many Regions.

“Overall, the sessions have been good,” King said.  “There’s so much great information being presented at the seminars that I wish the sessions would actually be a little longer so I could digest even more.”

The 2016 SCCA National Convention concludes Saturday at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with the annual SCCA Hall of Fame awards banquet.  

Image: Chris Robbins speaks to the SCCA Convention.
Credit: Philip Royle

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