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Checkpoint Chat from the RRB – May 2014

By on May 20, 2014
What is the experience of serving on the SCCA Road Rally Board really like? How is it different than my expectations? What are the challenges and rewards?

I had been reading the RRB minutes in FastTrack for about 10 years prior to joining the Road Rally Board in January 2012. I had my impression of what it would be like to serve on the board. I envisioned it as similar to the US Supreme Court – reasonable decisions made by reasonable people who’ve done their research and seek to find the best answers through intelligent debate. This misconception lasted until about 90 seconds into my second RRB conference call. The actual experience was closer to the serving in the US House of Representatives…. in 1858. (Two years prior to the Civil War, for those who don’t know their US history).

By serving on the RRB I hope to enable the growth of the sport/hobby that I have cared passionately about since I was 17 years old by making events easier to organize and making more potential participants aware of the sport.

There are several inhibitors to achieving that goal. First among these is the minutia trap that is all too easy to fall into. Sometime people raise questions that, frankly, don’t deserve the time of the board. I won’t go into specific examples in order to avoid yet other time squandering argument.

All of the RRB members are volunteers and there is a finite limit to the amount of time we have to work together (22 hours of conference calls and perhaps 4 hours at the convention) each year. Our strategic priority (growing the sport) takes a back seat to  lesser issues too often. As chair of the RRB I can prevent some, but not all of this mis-prioritization.

The second major inhibitor to growing the sport is the amount of time the RRB takes to administer the National Program. Yes, we’ve delegated sanctioning, liaison assignment and other routine matters to the National Events Committee and that has served well in freeing up the board’s precious time. Yes, the SCCA Operations Manual puts the RRB in charge of administering a National Championship, but I’ve found over the past two years that too much time and energy is spent by the RRB working on this small tip of the membership pyramid at the expanse of growing the base.

Colan Arnold, SCCA VP Membership presented a “membership experience pyramid” to the BOD in Charlotte.  (See March FastTrack BOD minutes). At the top are the competitors trying for a National Championship at the Run Offs or Solo Nationals, in the middle are those who are very serious about the sport on a local level – think of the solo competitors who have a second set of race, I mean solo tires, and upgraded shocks and sway bars. At the base are those who don’t spend a lot of money on the sport; those who just want to have a good time, compete and socialize on the weekend.

The road rally community has a similar pyramid. At the top are the organizers and competitors of SCCA National Road Rallys. In the middle are the 14 regions that have strong rally programs (4 or more events per year). At the base of the pyramid are the regions who are offering one or two events per year as a low cost, competitive activity for their local clubs and regions with a strong social aspect.

Spending too much RRB time on the top of the pyramid takes away time and energy that should be spent on growing the base.

There are many aspects of serving on the RRB that are rewarding. I am really tickled when members of the board or the broader community see a need and they get it done. There are many examples to cite (and at the risk of omitting a significant contribution): Cheryl sees a need for more communication from the RRB to the broader community and now publishes the RoadRally eNewsletter; the RRB minutes are the main communication channel between the RRB and the rally community and Jeanne gets the minutes out in a timely manner each month so they can make the FastTrack deadline; Sasha sees the inappropriateness of the Safety Steward manual for GTA events so he creates a GTA checklist and goes on to write a GTA Safety Steward section for the manual; Len thinks the Toolbox section of the web site is overwhelming to a new rallymaster so he organizes an outline for the material; Patrick realizes that flyers at car shows and the SCCA web site are not going to get new entries to events in the day of Facebook and Twitter so he writes a document on how to publicize your rally.

What do you see that needs to be done and what are you going to do about it?

The most surprising aspect I’ve found from serving on the RRB these past 2 and a half years is the amount of sniping and back-biting in the rally community. Since becoming RRB chair I have been told, literally, in separate phone calls, emails and personal conversations that this or that member of the RRB should be kicked off the board or not renewed for another year for one reason or another. These suggested dismissals cover every member of the RRB. I’m certain that one or more of you have that same opinion about me, I just have not heard it yet.

Members of the Road Rally Board are appointed annually by the SCCA Board of Directors with recommendations for appointment coming from the RRB. RRB members are expected to serve for a three year term with a maximum of two terms.

I anticipate one or more vacancies on the RRB for 2015 and we had a RRB member resign before the May meeting. If you share my priorities, have a desire to contribute to the growth and health of this sport at all three levels of participation, and can set aside your personal agenda and work on growing the sport in all of its flavors then I encourage you to apply for appointment to the RRB by sending a short resume via email to — Rich Bireta

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