Long-term planning for any activity can be a challenge, and as
technology evolves and the types of vehicles and modifications
change, it becomes an even more daunting task for the Solo
Events Board. (LEFT) As manufacturers like Tesla, which
offers over-the-air performance updates controlled by the
manufacturer, become more common, autocross classifications
turn into a moving target. (RIGHT) It’s important to maintain a
place for cars with wild modifications, although as those mods
increase, the number of required classes often decrease.
classes, seven classes in Street Prepared,
three in CAM, three Street Modified
classes, five in Prepared, and only two
Modified classes for production-based cars.
Question: Do these numbers make sense?
As many a Facebook relationship
status states: It’s complicated. You see,
each category needs to consider history,
forward vision, Tire Rack Solo National
Championships participation, Regional
participation, and more. It’s always great
to make use of metrics but, in this case,
the only metrics the SEB has available are
history (which is arguably of limited value),
plus participation at the Solo Nationals.
History brings forth interesting trivia,
but does it really matter how many first-generation Lotus Elans were entered in
Stock, Street Prepared, and Prepared
categories 20 years ago? Does it matter how
many people entered the Stock category
before it changed to a 200-treadwear
limit and became the Street category?
You could argue that no, it really doesn’t,
although it might be worth comparing
the general breakdown of participation
levels between the various categories to
judge overall category and class health. And
yes, the implication here is true: The SEB
does not have class metrics for Regional
competition. I suspect Regional Executives
have enough on their plates already, but
that sort of information would be awfully
useful in overarching strategic discussions.
Next topic: technology. Car tech will
always advance. We’ve gone from carbs
to fuel injection, bias tires to radials, and
ABS has gone from a serious handicap to a
beneficial feature that disqualifies a car from
being eligible in certain classes. So far, most
traction control systems are not competition
friendly, but that, too, will probably change.
One aspect of new technology that may soon
impact autocross is cars where everything
is integrated in such a way that it won’t
allow for owner-defined modifications. We’ve
gone from all-mechanical engine systems
where rules enforcement is relatively easy,
to electronic engine controls that were
essentially unenforceable; and soon, we
may have a world where modifications
are impossible to make by the owner, but
possible at any time “over the air” by the
manufacturer. Case in point, the Model 3
Performance received a significant “over
the air” acceleration bump in November.
As I said at the beginning, none of
these topics are being considered for
immediate action by the SEB, but all are
on the radar, plus much more. To that
end, the SEB wants your thoughts.
Speaking of offering input to the SEB,
that is one thing that has not kept up with
technology. There was a time when letters
were mailed to the SEB, and each SEB
member was mailed a packet with copies of
submitted letters. That evolved into having the
letters scanned and e-mailed to SEB members,
and that progressed to the current system of
a web interface at sebscca.com that allows
letters to be submitted digitally. The future
of commenting to the SEB, however, may
eventually morph again, as many people want
to offer input in different ways, and there’s
definitely room to develop a better way for the
SEB to receive input from the membership.
So for now, put on your thinking cap,
ponder some big picture topics, and then
head to sebscca.com with your thoughts.
“A simple strategic principle that
applies to autocross is that as
preparation levels increase, the
number of classes should decrease”