SCCA Solo – A Beginner’s Guide
Beginning to compete in Solo, or most anything remotely similar, usually results from word of mouth and a – ‘Hey let’s (you and I) do this’ OR ‘Come on I’ll help you get started’. This is the way to begin without a doubt. But where does the beginner go from here?
I remember the uncertainty of what to do and where to be and what to do and what happens next……and I knew several of the best young drivers when I started. Unless you are a ‘type A’ personality and also have no inhibitions you stand at best a 50% chance of sticking with anything including Solo for very long unless you feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging. I remember a certain sense of terror at times – of course we used compete at Lancaster Speedway as well as Holland Speedway. But what scared me the most was being a fool or causing problems for others or the event.
Solo is a fairly singular discipline by definition but in reality becomes a communal experience if you let it become so. When you arrive at an event you gravitate toward those people and cars that you relate to most when you choose a pit spot. As you prepare for the day’s event you chat with and walk course with those people that you are comfortable with. As you gain experience and confidence those people will evolve to be different or more varied. As a beginner it is important to associate with knowledgeable drivers that can steer you in the correct direction to be more successful but I like to keep the social aspect as well.
I once asked the most prominent driver in Solo at time, Roger Johnson a BS Corvette driver, - What is the most important thing that an aspiring driver can do to improve? The answer was simple but profound – ‘drive every chance you get’. Roger was correct but he left out or assumed that the driver would do so under proper tutelage. That guidance may not be available in your class though. Look to those people at an event that are successful, personable and approachable. Don’t expect that someone can drop what they are doing at the moment that you speak but coax them to find a little time later to talk with you. Be persistent – don’t wait a month – if at first you don’t succeed try another driver or the same guy with a different approach. My favorite is – “Wow nice run! Can I catch you later to ask you about that turnaround entrance?”
Let’s stop for a moment and look at Solo and any sport for that matter. Why do 25,000 runners participate in the NYC Marathon? Because all of them have a real chance to win the event? Not likely. A marathoner and a Soloist are similar – they compete as a singular being in a large field and they run to win. The ‘win’ comes in many different ways though. One way in the case of Solo is that the driver refines a course maneuver or runs a little faster relative to another driver. The target is to drive at your limit and the car’s limit, win class, Pax well, and have a good time.
I would like to invite the drivers in WNY and FLR to provide their stories and their recommendations to help new and young competitors to be successful for the betterment of the sport. Idea
· Can I take a passenger with me when I run?
· Do I need my own helmet?
· Can I drive my car in the fun runs if I didn't run the event?
· What's the correct way to put numbers on my car?
· How many runs will I get?
· What are fun runs?
· Where are the Steel Cities events?
· Where is Misery Bay?
· If I am racing, what time do I need to show up?
· What time should I show up to watch an event?
· What time does the event end?
· If I can't stay until the end of the day, can I leave early?
· How much does it cost to watch an event?
· How much does it cost to race?
· It's my first time, what do I need to know/prepare/bring in order to race?
Answers· Can I take a passenger with me when I run?
If you are a novice, the only passenger you may take with you is an instructor. No friends or girlfriends. Any others require the approval of the safety steward on site.· Do I need my own helmet?
No, we have loaner helmets if you don't have your own. If you do decide to buy your own helmet, please make sure that it is Snell rated. The year rating changes, so check for the current requirements.· Can I drive my car in the fun runs if I didn't run the event?
No.· What's the correct way to put numbers on my car?
We have been having a great deal of difficulty in timing because of illegible, or wrong, car numbers and classes on cars coming to the start line. While we have no desire to penalize competitors for incorrect or illegible numbers/letters, we are not willing to constantly run around trying to find out who was really in the car that just finished. So, be prepared to lose your run if you have numbers/letters that are wrong or illegible.
Here are some guidelines:
Don't use shoe polish. There are paper numbers and letters available at registration that are legible. Tape them inside the window, not outside where they blow around.
ALWAYS have numbers and letters on both sides of the car.
Do not put numbers across the rear hatch glass, they are never visible to course workers or timing. Put them on the side of the car.
Don't put a strip of tape across a number to mark it out. Cover it completely.
Don't put a strip of tape in front of a number and expect workers/timing to know that it is supposed to represent a 1.
Two driver cars must remember to change the numbers on both sides of the car.
Formula cars frequently have permanent numbers on the car that are not related to the Solo event. Cover them completely, or at least put a rectangle of paper on each side of the car that has the correct number/class for the Solo event.
Go carts have very limited space to put numbers. Attach an appropriate plate to put numbers on and remember to include the class. If all else fails, consider taping the number on the side of the helmet.
Magnetic numbers/letters are readily available and inexpensive.
Numbers should be at least 8" tall with a stroke of at least 1 1/4".
Class letters can be smaller, but remember that they must be easily visible from 100'.
Always use numbers/letters that have strong contrast with the car color. Silver numbers on a blue car may look nice from close up, but can not be seen from a distance. Red is a dark color; do not use red on black or black on red -- this combination is not easily visible. White/red is a much better choice.· How many runs will I get?
There will be a minimum of 3 runs. We usually get 5-6 runs a day. If time permits, there will either be additional runs or fun runs.· What are fun runs?
Fun runs are timed (but not recorded) runs after the 'official' runs have been completed. Each run will cost $2. This is your opportunity to practice and get more seat time or to drive somebody else's car - if they will let you. You could also get an instructor to drive your car if you so choose - you might see something new.· Where are the Steel Cities events?
They are usually at the BeaveRun location, about 30 minutes outside Pittsburgh, PA.· Where is Misery Bay?
It's the SCCA club around Erie PA.· If I am racing, what time do I need to show up?
If you are coming to race, you must show up between 8:30 and 9:30.
Registration closes at 9:30 and you may be turned away if you are late.
If at all possible, use the pre-registration system on the web site. That way if there are changes, we can notify you by email.· What time should I show up to watch an event?
If you are just coming to watch an event, racing will start at approximately 10:30am.
You will need to sign a waiver when you arrive on the premises. There is no cost to watch.· What time does the event end?
Our events usually end around 3:30 pm. The actual end time will depend on the number of competitors and whether there were any delays.
· If I can't stay until the end of the day, can I leave early?
You work once for each run you make. If you fail to work once for each run you take, your fastest run will be disqualified. If you miss more than one work, we may disqualify all your runs.
If you need to leave early, you can go and work BEFORE you take your run. This way you can leave immediately and not worry about losing your time.· How much does it cost to watch an event?
It's FREE!· How much does it cost to race?
SCCA Members $35
Non members $45· It's my first time, what do I need to know/prepare/bring in order to race?
Check out this web site:http://www.tirerack.com/features/solo2/handbook.htm