December 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm #92
So you want to run a Rallycross… but what do you need to do? How do you do it?
Here is just a bit of what I’ve learned from running many Rallycrosses over the past 4 years or so.
Prior to the event:
First thing you need is a venue. Heck, if you don’t have a PLACE, you can’t RACE. Hey – that rhymes! Well, it is the most basic part. I’m not going to talk about finding a venue in this post as it’s pretty much its own topic. . . So we’ll assume you have some place in mind.
Second thing you need is sanction/insurance.
Yes, they’re different things – Sanction gets you recognized as part of something else. For instance, if you’re sanctioned by SCCA, you can be part of their regional series and get points. They know you are running something recognized as an SCCA Rallycross and not just using the name. There are other groups that don’t sanction, but let you run in their points series, like California Rally Series. Sanction is a bit fuzzy for Rallycross as yet and really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. However, insurance is vital!
Please do not try to run a Rallycross without insurance. The two main places you can get it are NASA and SCCA. NASA is nice in that it is flexible – they don’t require you to run any specific rule set and their safety guidelines are much more lenient – too lenient in my opinion but there may be a time and place. . . the main problem with NASA is that they are expensive – $575 at this point. SCCA is much cheaper for most events ($8/driver) although if you get 75 entries . . . well, you can do the math! SCCA does require membership, which is typically around $75+ per year OR $5-$15 per weekend for a weekend membership. There are other benefits to you, dear masochistic organizer, to SCCA – you tend to get the benefit of an existing organization with cones, timing equipment, participants, possibly a crew, etc. The primary detriment to the SCCA is politics – if you can steer clear of politics or don’t mind diving in, SCCA is great; if you don’t like getting in, well just be forewarned. That’s it though . . .
*one quick note – if your event is an SCCA event, you will need a Safety Steward. I’ll talk about what they do in the “Crew” section, but note that you have to have one that is registered with SCCA as a RallyCross SS – RXSS. If you don’t have one, contact Pego at the SCCA and she will happily work with you on it.
There are other sources for insurance, but if you know them, you’re likely connected to them already. For the rest of us – it’s NASA and SCCA.
Third thing you need is a date.
Approach your venue and get 3 or 4 dates from them that you can use. Try to spread them out a bit (I like 1/mo or even every other month. . .) and watch out for bad times of the year – for instance, August in the desert is probably a bad thing. . . you don’t want your drivers passing out from heat exhaustion! Fancy that. January or February in Buffalo might also be bad. . . but it’s been a long time since I was last there so global warming might have taken care of that. . .
Take care to coordinate with others in your area. Be especially careful to work with anyone else running Rallycrosses anywhere near you (and I mean within 4 hours or so. . .) – stay about 2 weeks away so you don’t leach their customers. . . cooperation is a GOOD thing. You might also want to consider local Autocrosses – potential customer base so staying away from at least their big dates is a good idea.
So now that you have a venue, sanction/insurance, and a date, you have an event!
Now you need some equipment.
Remember, if you go SCCA, you MAY be able to use some of their stuff – this will depend on local politics, local scheduling, and local policies. Check with your Divisional or Regional Stewards. What you will need:
- Cones – you need some sort of non-damaging course markers. Cones or Pylons are perfect. Hay Bales? Oil Drums? People? Spare Tires? No.
- Timing System – I keep going back to the old standby – multiple stopwatches (one per car, minimum). You know, they just work. If you’re in a not-so-dusty area, you can use a sophisticated light-beam system like a Tag/Heuer system (we have one, but doesn’t work well in dust. . .) or you can use Rally Clocks (like Timewise, for instance) for a more Rally flavored setup. . . I’ve used about 3568709 different timing systems and I keep going back to stopwatches.
- Scoring System – for this, please be redundant! Have a pad where you write down car numbers, times, and penalties. If you’re just keeping it all on paper (which is fine) then write it down TWICE. You never know when someone is accidentally going to turn on the water truck and DOWSE the timing tent (SORRY Louie and Jayson!!! Really!!!) or spill their coffee (heresy!) or whatever. . . having multiple copies is safe. Even if you’re using a laptop, make sure to also write things down!!!
- Waivers – from your sanction/insurance body. They should provide them to you – but you NEED them. Typically they will ask you to use a wrist-bracelet-thing to indicate who has signed one. . .you can get these either from your sanction/insurer or from a party store. They’re cheap.
- PENS. Yep.
That’s the bare minimum. Heck, I’ve run an event using cell phones for the timing. . . only went down to 1/10 but heck, it worked! We had a BLAST at that event. But for a full event, you’ll want to add some more things:
- Canopy – this helps a TON. EZ-ups are great. I splurged a while back and got a BIG canopy…takes a bit to set up and make sure to anchor anything down…but it provides shade and shelter…
- Chairs – yeah.
- Tables – yep
- Cashbox – a place for money is almost essential. You can use a cash-bag (like banks will give out)… doesn’t matter. Just have a place for dinero!!!
- Radios – this is almost essential. You can communicate without them, but you really want them. Little cheap FRS radios are fine, just make sure you have TONS of batteries ready. Do a bit of orientation on how to use them during your drivers’ meeting (i.e. hold the button, wait for 2 seconds, THEN talk! )
- PA system – really optional, but having a Mic is NICE and piping music through them during the day is also a nice touch.
- Generator – if you’re using a laptop and/or a PA system, you NEED this… and inverter works, but I’ve never really trusted them…
- Caution tape – cheap and helps to funnel people where you want them and away from where you don’t.
- Banners – GET some if you can! They’re really pretty cool and they help make you look more Pro
- Laptop – not necessary, but it helps get results out quickly. I’ll talk more about this later. BTW – I also like to bring an external monitor so people can look at THAT and not over my shoulder… GET AWAY! I’m WORKING!!!
- Heavy Equipment – grader and water truck. . . depends. If you’re out in the desert, you won’t need them (although you may need a porta-potty!) but if you’re in the suburbs or even urban area, you likely will. Check with United Rental or Hertz or a local rental place. You could also poll your local racers to see if any are in the construction biz and have any contacts…
If others have good suggestions, I can add them here. Remember, these can make life easier or nicer during your event, but they’re not strictly necessary. . .you CAN run a bare bones event without them.
Next a crew
While you can run an event entirely by yourself (been there, done that) it SUCKS. Get several people to help. You need someone to help you with safety – a Safety Steward’s job is to watch things while you’re out there doing things. You want someone to help with registration – make sure it’s someone who can count and operate a computer (MONKEY stay away from the keyboard!!! ) You want someone to help with staging and just general organization. You want someone who can drive your water-truck or tractor (if you need them). Basically, you want help – offer them half-price entry or even full entry, depending on how much work they do for you.
Now – market it.
Print up some cheap fliers, spam the boards, etc.
Pre-Registration is nice and there are some options. Many SCCA areas have their own system; there is MyAutoEvents.com which charges either $35 to list an event or a percentage if you do pre-pay as well; there is http://www.motorsportreg.com which is free or does a percentage if you do pre-pay – but it’s more complicated to set up. It’s not necessary, but it helps you know what you can expect. Post the link to your pre-reg if you want to use it.
Post your rules and directions to your event.
You know, the basics. If you’re using SCCA, post those classes and a link to SCCA’s site for explanation. If you’re in California and running FRX or CRS event, post a link there or just cut/paste the explanation of the classes – they’re SHORT and sweet. Whatever you do, publish it early so people know what to expect. Also, post maps and directions (both. . .) to your location. You don’t want people getting lost. Other info – like local motels, local fast food, etc. is a nice touch. You can use a website to do this (I prefer that) or just use a main forum and link back to it.
Okay – day before or early day of
(I prefer day before… but sometimes schedule does not allow it)
Set up the site.
Figure out where you want your timing tent and your basic course layout. I like to use Google Maps, print it out and scribble. Pete (in NorCal) used to just sketch out his layout on a napkin the evening before. . .whatever. Think this out beforehand.
Now, go there and plop stuff where it’s gonna go. You don’t necessarily have to set up any canopies, but at least lay them where they’re going to go – this gives you a reference point.
Set up your course.
Other people have talked about course design and we could go on for hours on this so I’ll leave it for another post. Just remember to make it fun for ALL – don’t make it so open that only the high HP cars have fun, but don’t make it so twisty that the little nimble cars (like mine) are the only ones kicking ass. Try to balance it.
Make sure you have everything.
Lay it out. Check it off. I’m not a list person – but this is an exception… btw – make sure you have your timing system NOW so if you’ve forgotten it, you can get it that evening BEFORE the event…
- Communicate. Let people know what’s happening. When things are happening. People put up with a lot if they know what’s going on.
- Organize. Make sure there is a place for everything – I like a little file-box and have a folder for waivers, for log pages, for pens, for whatever. Also, if you did pre-reg, have the printout there so you can check people off. Also have a place for cars lining up for their runs and a place for cars to finish AWAY from people and then to come put-putting back to the line or the pits.
- Schedule. Try to keep to a fairly decent schedule. If you’re running late, so be it but communicate that and try to not lose much more time. Be flexible with it, but everyone is more secure when working with a schedule.
So have a drivers’ meeting and cover:
- Rules (including cones, penalties, etc.)
- Sponsors (thank them!)
- Working – always have your drivers work. See my other post about working an event)
- Basic Schedule
- Thank them for coming
- Sponsors (thank them again – GROVEL for Pete’s sake!)
Start your lineup and your runs.
How you do your runs will depend on how your event is going to run. Basic “normal” style rallycrosses tend to have a car go about every :45 or 1:00ish, dueling (or pursuit) courses take a lot more staging, pro-solo courses take a different approach. Think it through but just make sure cars never approach each other.
Run your groups together. Basically, it’s best to have your stock classes go first as they tear up the ground less than your intermediate classes which, in turn, tend to tear things up less than your open classes. For us here in California, it’s Street Stock 2 then 4, Street Mod 2 then 4, then Rally 2 then 4. Try to have all cars in the same class run in the same group – courses tend to get faster as the day goes on (there are exceptions. . .) so try to keep people competing against each other running WITH each other. . .in the desert, running later is slower so it’s not as big a deal, if you’re late, you’re penalizing yourself!
We started giving results immediately after the classes are done. We award Street Stock after both SS2 and SS4 are done, etc. You can’t necessarily do that with just paper. . . but it helps.
When you’re done, have people help out just by stacking cones. Running around picking up stacks of 10 or 20 is FAR easier than picking up everything individually. Any volunteer help you can get is good.
Next few days
Post your scores. Tally them up, double check anything that doesn’t look right, then post them and ask for any corrections then check again, correct your results and repost.
Make sure to write up your event
Or get someone to do it for you. People like me (at http://www.rallyxportal.com) will GLADLY post your event’s writeup on their site. Post your writeup on forums. Keep publicizing your event after it’s happened – it generates excitement for the next time.
Ask people you trust to give you input in how it ran. Take that advice and make your event better. My first event was BIG (too big – 85 cars for a first event is too much. . .) I did it pretty much alone and didn’t know how things really worked. A lot of things didn’t go well, although overall the event was enjoyed. But I asked for input, took it to heart, and changed a LOT of things and my events got better and better.
Also – DO NOT try to innovate on your first few events. Get a basic event going first and THEN play with things. (note: this does not apply as much if you’re moving from running other events to running rallycross events. . .) – trying to jump straight in and run a super-quad-pursuit double-elimination drag-start mickey-mouse-loop (we did have a course that looked like that, btw. was really cool) event is NOT a good idea. . . get your feet under you before you try to get all fancy.
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