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Thread: 2007 NCC Driver Schools

                  
   
  1. #1
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    2007 NCC Driver Schools

    Unfortunately Steven closed down the November school thread that turned into a discussion of what you would like to see in 2007. So I'll start a new one.

    Much of what Dave Apgar and the Collies said in post #64 is true. One exception is that the chapter CAN afford to lose money on events at this time.

    The truth be told, our schools are organized and run by a very small cadre of people. It is a chore to run one of these events. Any volunteers to help on a regular basis?

    It has always amazed me that the Potomac Region PCA can continue to put on so many schools each year including annual events at Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen and VIR. When PCA's Club Racing program started growing over 10 years ago, the DS program lost many many experienced workers and instructors. Yet somehow they kept the DS going. Anyone want to offer an explanation?
    Anyway, if you want more than the expected 4 events put on by NCC at the Summit Point tracks, follow Steven's advice and get a joint membership with Genesee Valley, Tarheel or one of the Ohio Chapters.
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

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    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodym3 View Post
    Much of what Dave Apgar and the Collies said in post #64 is true. One exception is that the chapter CAN afford to lose money on events at this time.
    Yes we can and that is why we haven't been raising the cost of the driving schools despite track rental and insurance rates going up.

    I don't believe we had a waitlist for the JC school so we were able to accomodate everyone who applied. The main track had a waitlist but I also believe every chapter member who signed up for both days got in. Don't quote me on that.
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    Senior Member FT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodym3 View Post
    It has always amazed me that the Potomac Region PCA can continue to put on so many schools each year including annual events at Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen and VIR. When PCA's Club Racing program started growing over 10 years ago, the DS program lost many many experienced workers and instructors. Yet somehow they kept the DS going. Anyone want to offer an explanation?
    I'll give it a shot even though I do not know most of the history about PCA and DEs.

    First, there are 5 run groups with about 25 cars per, I never felt that it was over crowded at any of the events. The first 2 run groups are instructed, the later 3 are not but you can request an instructor. Moving from group to group is very tightly controlled and requires two seperate instructors and chief instructor's approval. I found that the drivers abilities within run groups are well matched, better than NCC's IMHO.

    The two highest groups are primarily for racers with normal cars, and the highest group is for actual race, cup and pro cars and drivers. There are many pro race teams participating in DEs for test and tune and to learn tracks, and most also instruct lower group students.

    One thing that I find to be great is that PCA has many chapters but if you are member of PCA, you can attend any event at any chapter; none of this "dual membership" stuff.

    They also have many volunteers and use either BSR staff for corner workers or SCCA. I am not sure what the volunteers get, but it seems they do get something. It is not fair for me to sign up for voluteer work, take on the responsibility on a "regular" basis and pay full price for track time. I love the sport, I really like the community, but sorry, I cannot just donate my time in that manner; there has to be a middle ground. Even for autox, we used to allow voluteers to participate for free, something similar has to be offered for DEs.

    One additionaly thing is that I don't think you can increase the number of participants without doing something different on how you obtain instructors for those students. PCA charges instructors at 50% rate, I think that is fair as long as they get the track time just like other participants.

    For $300, I went to VIR for 3 days, 4 30-min sessions each of those days with 1.5 hour rest time between sessions. It was absolutely wonderful, best DE I've ever attended. The SP Main circuit event I went two weeks ago, was $225 with 3 25-min sessions for 2 days. To me those are great deals, and I think that is the reason they are always booked within the first 30-min of opening the registration. I wait until 1 am to get in front of the computer to ensure a spot
    Fatih

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    Senior Member SharkD's Avatar
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    FT,

    PCA's all well and good, so long as you have a Porsche VIN... er, serial number handy. But for those of us who don't own a little piece of Zuffenhausen, the discussion is moot. And the "dual membership" gripe is one to take up with the National Office, since NCC doesn't have much say.

    The fact of the matter is that Summit Point is the closest track for the vast majority of the NCC membership. In addition, while VIR is a spectacular facility, the NCC is not the only organization to figure that out, so it's both difficult and expensive to secure a weekend date. Also, while many of us hardcore track junkies would be willing to drive from DC to VIR, there's a lot of casual HPDE-ers who wouldn't -- while money isn't tight it is a factor and hemorrhaging it is never good.

    Once Dragon's Ridge and High Rock open (assuming they ever get built), it will take some of the pressure off of club dates for VIR and perhaps help to keep the cost of renting the facility a little more stable, but that's at least 2 years away.

    As said in the thread from the Nov. school, the number of HPDEs is largely a function of the volunteers' time and energy and with the shortage of dedicated people, it's hard for the NCC to manage more than 4 HPDE weekends per year. (Which is sad, considering that the NCC has the largest membership in the country, IIRC.) I'd be willing to help, but the commute would be a real bear.

    The same is true of corner workers -- the NCC had volunteers for a long time, but had extreme problems with people electing to not show up, or the quality of the staffing was less than desirable given the important safety role. (Not that BSR's are always better -- in October, I had a flagger point to an oil slick in T3 of the main track, rather than bother to pull out a flag during a qualifying session.)

    In addition, I highly appreciate the separation that NCC maintains between club racing and its HPDEs. Renting run group time out to race teams is not a good idea, IMHO, nor does it send the right message to some students, who might already have a blurred concept of the distinction between a school and a race weekend. (My perspective comes from having attended both NASA HPDEs and Tarheel chapter HPDEs -- where racing is often brought up by instructors).

    While I plan to attend NCC schools next year (something that time, money and broken tow vehicles prevented this year), I will be doing so as a student, not a racer looking for some track time -- even if I am driving the SpecE30 (which I've kept street-legal for exactly that reason).
    Last edited by SharkD; 11-16-2006 at 05:07 PM.

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    NCC offers skidpad time and I would pay for just the skidpad time. I find it more valuable than the track time. With most cars today you really aren't going to learn a lot on the track but you will on the skidpad. PCA has never offered the skidpad as part of there schools going back to the early 80's.

    It is a PITA to run a school. Doesnt matter if you the registar, coordinator or chief instructor. Driving 5 to 10hrs to put on the school reduces the fun factor immensely. When I was coordinator I never got any track time and got 1 skidpad session on a Friday.

    NCC doesnt have the instructor base the PCA Potomac does. Or the the population of potential students. Big difference between doing Summit Point versus the Glen and Mid Ohio if you have family responsibilities.

    I suggest if you are interested in NCC doing out of chapter driving schools is get together find a chief instructor, a coordinator and registar and committments from enough instructors and students to make it economically viable for the chapter and present it to the NCC board.

    Its your club. Chapter is here to serve you. Just one word of advice always check your track dates though because getting stuck with Easter Weekend or Mother' Day is no fun.

  6. #6
    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SharkD View Post
    And the "dual membership" gripe is one to take up with the National Office, since NCC doesn't have much say.
    It is entirely up to each chapter who to accept into their driving schools. Chapters with a high demand will give priority to their own members. We give priority to NCC members, outside chapters, then non-members. Tarheel has an early registration for their members. I'm not sure of the policy of Northern Ohio and GVC. Another $15 for each chapter in the scheme of things is not much money when you consider, motels, gas, brakes and tires.

    PCA, First Settlers Region at VIR as well as other PCA regions who use Summit also have no restrictions. But they may be looking for drivers to fill the school.

    We do not require our instructors to be CCA members as some other organizations do.

    It's difficult to compare PCA to CCA. It seems our driving programs are different. Fatih, you are welcomed to any of our events no matter which car you bring. Unlike when I did my 2nd Zone 2 school at VIR and the CI told us they are no longer having a problem filling their school so they are restricting it to Porsches. Glad we could help.
    ...steven
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    Senior Member FT's Avatar
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    All good points. I think one thing got misunderstood: the DE open to racers and race cars but not to racing. That group, red, still operates under HPDE rules as required by PCA (similar to CCA) insurance rules. It is great to have them and socialize with them as there is so much to learn I think. Furthermore, green and blue groups (lowest two groups requiring instructors) are not allowed to even ride with instructors in the highest two groups, black and red. So, the environment is very tightly controlled, with the help of volunteers

    Also, my point was not to suggest we should all go to PCA events instead of CCA even if they accepted non P-cars, but to offer some basis of comparison. The question is that NCC has the largest membership, is in the black financially, and should have more people that should be willing to participate in DE events. And since PCA can do nearly 3 times the number of events, there must be a way for NCC to do 6 or 8 events, including tracks outside of the SP trio. If do the same things over and over, the results will be the same as well each time.

    There may also be no interest in the general community to have more events, and may be the whole discussion is moot. If there is more interest, and it appears that there are ways to run more events efficiently, may be then we should look at doing somethings differently

    At the end, for the last two weeks, I have been faced with the question of whether to renew my membership or not. The only reason I kept it last year was for DE events as I was not sure how well PCA runs their events and I only attended the Tarheel event at VIR, no NCC events. So, now that I am highly impressed with PCA events and prefer to attend it at lower cost, what's the reason for me to renew. I'll get to answer this questions in the next few weeks hopefully
    Last edited by FT; 11-16-2006 at 11:33 PM.
    Fatih

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    Senior Member FT's Avatar
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    Also, I forgot to add: during my first PCA DE event, we had 2 skidpad sessions @ SP.
    Fatih

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    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FT View Post
    There may also be no interest in the general community to have more events, and may be the whole discussion is moot.
    I think there are people who would like additional schools although there are people not willing to volunteer. It took sometime for us to find a registrar and we still don't have a coordinator. Obviously there seems to be a higher demand for PCA schools than CCA. I don't think any chapter does more than 4 weekends. We do not have big waiting lists even though our schools are smaller. There is a handful of us who go to Mid-Ohio, VIR and the Glen. I'm not sure how many more people would go if it was a chapter event. People are spoiled with Summit being 60-90 minutes away. 4 1/2 hours to VIR or the Glen is nothing for me. 7 hours to Mid-Ohio is a hike. But I make it once a year.
    ...steven
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    Senior Member dbonner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996 328ti View Post
    I think there are people who would like additional schools although there are people not willing to volunteer. It took sometime for us to find a registrar and we still don't have a coordinator. Obviously there seems to be a higher demand for PCA schools than CCA. I don't think any chapter does more than 4 weekends. We do not have big waiting lists even though our schools are smaller. There is a handful of us who go to Mid-Ohio, VIR and the Glen. I'm not sure how many more people would go if it was a chapter event. People are spoiled with Summit being 60-90 minutes away. 4 1/2 hours to VIR or the Glen is nothing for me. 7 hours to Mid-Ohio is a hike. But I make it once a year.
    Yes, 1996 328ti and a handful of other NCC members among us do want more than 4 schools at Summit, and regularly attend 2-4 additional schools per year at VIR, Watkins or Mid-Ohio (still hope to get there!), or even other club events at Summit Main (Ferrari has a great one. When was the last time you received a passing signal from a late model Ferrari? ). After initial skepticism and some dissatisfaction with limited individual driver time on the pad, I have become a big believer in the benefits of the skippad at Summit in NCC schools. But I agree with FT that many drivers outgrow the Jefferson Circuit and like diversity among tracks, and bigger tracks. The opening of the Shenandoah Circuit has added new variety to the Summit offerings, which is good, but NCC still typically has two schools per year on Jefferson, which does encourage many more experienced students to seek schools elsewhere, whether TarHeel at VIR, Marque Madness at VIR in June (combined with Audi/Mercedes but prepare to leave on Wed. for a Thurs./Fri. adventure), or Genessee Valley at Watkins. This of course has repercussions on adequate evaluation and grooming of students for Instructor evaluation in the NCC which is another subject entirely. So would more NCC members attend an NCC Drivers School at VIR or Watkins than do now at other clubs' schools? Certainly! But would they subscribe in sufficient numbers and could we get NCC instructors and administration to participate in sufficient numbers to organize a school at another superior venue? Doubtful. It's been discussed before, and dismissed as unworkable. Our tripartite participation in Marque Madness (led by Audi or Mercedes not NCC) at VIR is as far as the NCC has gone down this path. And even then, Marque Madness isn't even on a weekend, so combined with the 4 hour drive to Danville, severely discourages NCC Member participation.

    All this said, I think FT's yearning for an official NCC DS event at another track is sound, is shared by me (and I believe a growing number of us within NCC), and is something the DSSC should seriously consider for 2008, if not 2007. Hang in there.
    BonBahn

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    Quote Originally Posted by dbonner View Post
    .

    All this said, I think FT's yearning for an official NCC DS event at another track is sound, is shared by me (and I believe a growing number of us within NCC), and is something the DSSC should seriously consider for 2008, if not 2007. Hang in there.
    So get off your butt and volunteer. Talk doesnt get the sheep in the next field. As I said if you want out of the area drivers school you need to do the work. The board and DSSC need to see its is feasible. First big problem is instructors and getting the chief instructor on board. Chief instructor runs his own business and he closes it for schools. And the idea of out of the area driver schools may compromise the chapter's hunt for a new coordinator. A handful of folks interested doesnt make a school or event economically feasible for the chapter. Call and find out how much it costs to rent Mid Ohio or the Glen for three days. Wander how the new registar feels about more schools.

    Did you miss the part that putting on a school is a royal PITA for the coordinator, registar and chief instructor? 3-4 weekends with all the out of region schools is plenty.

    And I can remember when all we had was the big track at Summit Point.

    Dave Apker
    Former DS coordinator And no I am too busy training my collies and running herding trials to do it again

  12. #12
    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    School evaluations usually show that people want more skid pad time, not track time or different tracks.
    ...steven
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    Senior Member dbonner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OwnedbyDuncan View Post
    So get off your butt and volunteer. Talk doesnt get the sheep in the next field. As I said if you want out of the area drivers school you need to do the work. The board and DSSC need to see its is feasible. First big problem is instructors and getting the chief instructor on board. Chief instructor runs his own business and he closes it for schools. And the idea of out of the area driver schools may compromise the chapter's hunt for a new coordinator. A handful of folks interested doesnt make a school or event economically feasible for the chapter. Call and find out how much it costs to rent Mid Ohio or the Glen for three days. Wander how the new registar feels about more schools.

    Did you miss the part that putting on a school is a royal PITA for the coordinator, registar and chief instructor? 3-4 weekends with all the out of region schools is plenty.

    And I can remember when all we had was the big track at Summit Point.

    Dave Apker
    Former DS coordinator And no I am too busy training my collies and running herding trials to do it again
    Excellent points. These obstacles explain why there isn't more impetus for people to get "off their butt to volunteer." Enjoy your collies.
    BonBahn

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    Senior Member FT's Avatar
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    I hope this discussion helps the chapter in some way. I do not have much to add but to say i do not buy the volunteer, instructor or chief instructor stories. If we can identify the issues, then we are half way to solving them. Since the days I have been involved with the NCC, it never lost money and always had more than know what to do with it. If volunteers is an issue, hire people, pay so called 'volunteers', do something.

    I do not want to offend any one, but it is all in the leadership. If the member based wants more DEs, and that is a big if, then find a way to do it. Dismissing even the effort to find solutions right out of the bat due to lack of volunteers or what ever is not the way to approach it.

    On the other hand, I feel particularly lucky that we live in the metro DC area with several other options
    Fatih

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    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FT View Post
    I
    I do not want to offend any one, but it is all in the leadership. If the member based wants more DEs, and that is a big if, then find a way to do it. Dismissing even the effort to find solutions right out of the bat due to lack of volunteers or what ever is not the way to approach it.

    On the other hand, I feel particularly lucky that we live in the metro DC area with several other options
    Who wants more DEs? People are not asking for more schools on the evals. If we had big waiting lists then we are not fulling the needs of our members. But we don't. Anyone who registers the first couple days gets in. And like you say, we are lucky we live in an area with other options. Ferrari, Corvette, Mazda, Audi, M-B, Porsche (except Potomac). Then there is NJ BMW CCA, DelValley BMW CCA. Plus FATT, Car Guys, NASA.

    Or is this about away schools? There are plenty of opportunities there too.
    VIR has Tarheel, Mazda, Audi, Porsche (First Settlers Region).
    The Glen has GVC, Boston, DelValley just to mention BMW chapters.
    Last edited by 1996 328ti; 11-18-2006 at 10:28 PM.
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