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disclaimer: While I've worked Oregon Trail and done some organizing, I am not a significant player in the Oregon Rally Group. I don't speak for the ORG or the Oregon Region (collective sigh of relief) and my comments have no relation to OT2003, which as far as I know and expect will not be much affected by what has happened with Rim.

Kurt Spitzner is not the problem. The direction he's taken is a problem, and he may not be willing or able to change that direction, but as much as corporate-tool-people get on my nerves, I will try to keep the personal remarks to a minimum. I must admit that I just flat out don't know the guy and cannot say (publicly) whether he truly deserves the contempt we've heaped upon him. That isn't to say we shouldn't squash him like a bug if he gets in our way :).

Steve Johnson is not the problem either. Rally is a little off his radar. He's been spending the last couple years bringing Trans-Am back from the brink and trying to make things better for the roundy-round folks -- who are the majority of the membership. I think he is an improvement over Nick Craw. He is sure as hell a lot less expensive. After working at Hewlett-Packard for seven years, my experience tells me that Steve is, I think, about as good a CEO as we can expect. I trust his motivations, at least.



The faulty part of the national promotion effort has primarily been the desire to secure a national series and broadcast sponsor. This is a noble goal and fits in well with the business model of NASCAR and drag racing. It just doesn't work too well as an organizing principle with the SCCA. I think the big-time racing management types will eventually figure it out, but only after someone else figures it out for them.





I have some reality checks to throw out:
[ul]
[li]The SCCA membership and series are a loose collection of a large number of independent venues, participants, and their fans.[/li]
[li]When push comes to shove, the SCCA central (paid) organization is needed by its membership and series to provide insurance and a framework for safety regulation.[/li]
[li]period[/li]
[li]Other functions are optional.[/li]
[/ul]



Race series title sponsors, membership promotion, corporate hobnobbing, all that is icing on the cake and should pay for itself. Where rally is concerned, our volunteer organizations are capable of putting on safe, professional events without the SCCA's "help". All we really need is the insurance. The SCCA is not the only organization that performs this service.



So where do we go from here? I don't shrink from the idea of continuing to work with the SCCA, but I think it's time we rescope their role. So far the stuff that's worked is the insurance and regulatory framework. I know a lot of people don't like what's happened to the regulations in the last couple of years, but what hasn't worked, as far as I can tell, has come about from distractions provided by the non-functional promotional side.



So, suggestion number one: don't throw away the insurance and regulatory framework. Divorce it from the marketing end if possible. Administering this function should be the A-number-one priority of the paid SCCA organization. All other functions should be left to rot if they don't pay for themselves.



Suggestion number two: if the SCCA continues trying to keep a place for "marketing types", make it successful. Stop sucking. The SCCA promotional folks need to pay their own salaries. There has to be a revenue stream, an actual business model that doesn't look like an Escher print, sponging off our entry fees and dues.



Suggestion two-sub-'a': stop looking at series sponsorship. I see two revenue sources for promotion in rally. Sponsorship is one of them, but big-time sponsors can't exist without media conduits for a sponsorship to make sense. Series and broadcast sponsorship is the most ephemeral revenue source imaginable -- "give us money and you'll make money because we are cool and you will be cool right alongside us!" That works for Subaru and the WRC on SpeedChannel because the WRC truly is cool, with very professional production, edgey soundtracks, green hair and all the rest. We are not cool. Sorry to break it to you guys. Cool costs money. We need money before we can be cool. Most of us don't give a s**t about being cool, so we resent forking over the cash in sanctioning fees for half-assed attempts to make us cool overnight. Cool will have to paid for with other promotional revenue before it flowers into existence and we all start dyeing our hair. Fortunately, there are other revenue sources...



Suggestion two-sub-'b': The SCCA central office could do our merchandising. For God's sake, take the job that none of the organizers want. Please. The markup is 50-100%. With some careful management, merchandising is a simple way to PRINT MONEY. There are thousands of participants nationwide. There are hundreds of thousands of wannabees. Milk us for all we are worth. I mean it! Work with organizers to provide t-shirts, hats, videos, model cars, etc. Don't be picky about the source or the kind of merchandise or the retail channel. Front the stock if necessary. Put links on Internet fan sites. Send a dedicated person (people?) to each national event to sell the stuff. At Oregon Trail this year we practically sold out our single t-shirt design on the first rally day Saturday and grossed over 4,000. With more XLs and XXLs, hats, and trinkets and more people to hawk the goods (Lewana Poirer sold the bulk of them -- I sold a fair amount but I would describe my retail manner as lackluster at best) I think we could have topped $15,000. Add food concessions at the spectator areas and someone could quit their day job to work just one rally a year. Forget series sponsorships, Kurt, organize the concessions. There's more money in it!



Suggestion two-sub-'c': Continue building our broadcast presence. The production values on our shows still lag behind the other stuff on Speedvision, but that isn't the problem. The problem is the expense of big-time broadcasting deals and the inflexibility of our broadcast rights. As an SCCA club member, I could give a flying whozit who has what percentage of what. Until we are cool, all we need is exposure. So we need someone in SCCA central hawking broadcasts to anyone who will take them cheap. Buy local time in areas that hold rallies. Relax the rights issues and allow event organizers to do the same. Send it overseas, etc. Show it on the JumboTrons at the race tracks between qualifying sessions. This Thursday I was watching TBS during the afternoon and there was an extremely poor public-access style show reviewing videogames. They sucked, but not only were they on a cable channel almost everyone has, they had a sponsor I'd actually heard of (Sobe fruit drinks).



Right now our only exposure is on SpeedChannel. I don't have a whole lot against SpeedChannel (I have hundreds of channels to avoid watching NASCAR on), but it isn't good for exposure. Our events are being broadcast MONTHS after taking place. They aren't being shown a whole lot (compared to the WRC, which doesn't really bother me, I enjoy 3.5 timely hours per event!), and a lot of people don't have Speedvision, so we miss out on the exposure.



I suggest we work a deal with someone like TBS and take a crappy but reliable timeslot instead of trying to be "just like the WRC". If we stick to concrete promotion and merchandising plans and take care of the participants of club racing, we will be a significant and healthy force in American motorsports without having to become an FIA extravaganza.



What this whole episode shows, I believe, is that racing promotion has to be done by folks that have the time, knowledge, and gumption to pull it off. The organizers are volunteers with day jobs, they don't have time for anything other than making the mechanics of a rally happen. If they are good at it, that shows gumption, but it is spent on their rally. SCCA central has some folks that are paid to have the time, though I imagine that like any other business in a bad economy, everyone's job duties expand to fill their time and everyone is nervous about "shakeups". It's tough to point fingers and be taken seriously, but I think it's pretty clear that the SCCA could use some shaking up. The central office has to let the membership do what it wants to do while at the same keeping a competant, professional attitude. In that sense, the SCCA is more like a government than a business.



Okay, I'm rambling now. Dare I send this to Steve Johnson? I think it says in the SCCA membership regs that it is verboten to badmouth the SCCA. :)

andy
 

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i dont think that was bashing. you outlined what you see as problems and you offered suggestions on what you think could fix them. i personally like what you are saying and agree. i also applaud you for not attacking kurt and steve like everyone else seems to do. i also have not met them but was at the year end brunch at lspr last year and the seemed enthusiastic and they were eating at the library later sunday night. hopefully they wil be receptive. but change is hard and admitting you made some mistakes is even more difficult. but not as difficult as it is for me to type tonight.
-greg
 

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>disclaimer: While I've worked Oregon Trail and done some
>organizing, I am not a significant player in the Oregon
>Rally Group. I don't speak for the ORG or the Oregon Region
>(collective sigh of relief) and my comments have no relation
>to OT2003, which as far as I know and expect will not be
>much affected by what has happened with Rim.
>
>Kurt Spitzner is not the problem. The direction he's taken
>is a problem, and he may not be willing or able to change
>that direction, but as much as corporate-tool-people get on
>my nerves, I will try to keep the personal remarks to a
>minimum. I must admit that I just flat out don't know the
>guy and cannot say (publicly) whether he truly deserves the
>contempt we've heaped upon him. That isn't to say we
>shouldn't squash him like a bug if he gets in our way :).
>
>Steve Johnson is not the problem either. Rally is a little
>off his radar. He's been spending the last couple years
>bringing Trans-Am back from the brink and trying to make
>things better for the roundy-round folks -- who are the
>majority of the membership. I think he is an improvement
>over Nick Craw. He is sure as hell a lot less expensive.
>After working at Hewlett-Packard for seven years, my
>experience tells me that Steve is, I think, about as good a
>CEO as we can expect. I trust his motivations, at least.
>
>
>
>The faulty part of the national promotion effort has
>primarily been the desire to secure a national series and
>broadcast sponsor. This is a noble goal and fits in well
>with the business model of NASCAR and drag racing. It just
>doesn't work too well as an organizing principle with the
>SCCA. I think the big-time racing management types will
>eventually figure it out, but only after someone else
>figures it out for them.
>
>
>
>
>
>I have some reality checks to throw out:
>[ul]
>[li]The SCCA membership and series are a loose collection of
>a large number of independent venues, participants, and
>their fans.[/li]
>[li]When push comes to shove, the SCCA central (paid)
>organization is needed by its membership and series to
>provide insurance and a framework for safety
>regulation.[/li]
>[li]period[/li]
>[li]Other functions are optional.[/li]
>[/ul]
>
>
>
>Race series title sponsors, membership promotion, corporate
>hobnobbing, all that is icing on the cake and should pay for
>itself. Where rally is concerned, our volunteer
>organizations are capable of putting on safe, professional
>events without the SCCA's "help". All we really need is the
>insurance. The SCCA is not the only organization that
>performs this service.
>
>
>
>So where do we go from here? I don't shrink from the idea of
>continuing to work with the SCCA, but I think it's time we
>rescope their role. So far the stuff that's worked is the
>insurance and regulatory framework. I know a lot of people
>don't like what's happened to the regulations in the last
>couple of years, but what hasn't worked, as far as I can
>tell, has come about from distractions provided by the
>non-functional promotional side.
>
>
>
>So, suggestion number one: don't throw away the insurance
>and regulatory framework. Divorce it from the marketing end
>if possible. Administering this function should be the
>A-number-one priority of the paid SCCA organization. All
>other functions should be left to rot if they don't pay for
>themselves.
>
>
>
>Suggestion number two: if the SCCA continues trying to keep
>a place for "marketing types", make it successful. Stop
>sucking. The SCCA promotional folks need to pay their own
>salaries. There has to be a revenue stream, an actual
>business model that doesn't look like an Escher print,
>sponging off our entry fees and dues.
>
>
>
>Suggestion two-sub-'a': stop looking at series sponsorship.
>I see two revenue sources for promotion in rally.
>Sponsorship is one of them, but big-time sponsors can't
>exist without media conduits for a sponsorship to make
>sense. Series and broadcast sponsorship is the most
>ephemeral revenue source imaginable -- "give us money and
>you'll make money because we are cool and you will be cool
>right alongside us!" That works for Subaru and the WRC on
>SpeedChannel because the WRC truly is cool, with very
>professional production, edgey soundtracks, green hair and
>all the rest. We are not cool. Sorry to break it to you
>guys. Cool costs money. We need money before we can be
>cool. Most of us don't give a s**t about being cool, so we
>resent forking over the cash in sanctioning fees for
>half-assed attempts to make us cool overnight. Cool will
>have to paid for with other promotional revenue before it
>flowers into existence and we all start dyeing our hair.
>Fortunately, there are other revenue sources...
>
>
>
>Suggestion two-sub-'b': The SCCA central office could do our
>merchandising. For God's sake, take the job that none of the
>organizers want. Please. The markup is 50-100%. With some
>careful management, merchandising is a simple way to PRINT
>MONEY. There are thousands of participants nationwide. There
>are hundreds of thousands of wannabees. Milk us for all we
>are worth. I mean it! Work with organizers to provide
>t-shirts, hats, videos, model cars, etc. Don't be picky
>about the source or the kind of merchandise or the retail
>channel. Front the stock if necessary. Put links on
>Internet fan sites. Send a dedicated person (people?) to
>each national event to sell the stuff. At Oregon Trail this
>year we practically sold out our single t-shirt design on
>the first rally day Saturday and grossed over 4,000. With
>more XLs and XXLs, hats, and trinkets and more people to
>hawk the goods (Lewana Poirer sold the bulk of them -- I
>sold a fair amount but I would describe my retail manner as
>lackluster at best) I think we could have topped $15,000.
>Add food concessions at the spectator areas and someone
>could quit their day job to work just one rally a year.
>Forget series sponsorships, Kurt, organize the concessions.
>There's more money in it!
>
>
>
>Suggestion two-sub-'c': Continue building our broadcast
>presence. The production values on our shows still lag
>behind the other stuff on Speedvision, but that isn't the
>problem. The problem is the expense of big-time broadcasting
>deals and the inflexibility of our broadcast rights. As an
>SCCA club member, I could give a flying whozit who has what
>percentage of what. Until we are cool, all we need is
>exposure. So we need someone in SCCA central hawking
>broadcasts to anyone who will take them cheap. Buy local
>time in areas that hold rallies. Relax the rights issues and
>allow event organizers to do the same. Send it overseas,
>etc. Show it on the JumboTrons at the race tracks between
>qualifying sessions. This Thursday I was watching TBS during
>the afternoon and there was an extremely poor public-access
>style show reviewing videogames. They sucked, but not only
>were they on a cable channel almost everyone has, they had a
>sponsor I'd actually heard of (Sobe fruit drinks).
>
>
>
>Right now our only exposure is on SpeedChannel. I don't have
>a whole lot against SpeedChannel (I have hundreds of
>channels to avoid watching NASCAR on), but it isn't good for
>exposure. Our events are being broadcast MONTHS after taking
>place. They aren't being shown a whole lot (compared to the
>WRC, which doesn't really bother me, I enjoy 3.5 timely
>hours per event!), and a lot of people don't have
>Speedvision, so we miss out on the exposure.
>
>
>
>I suggest we work a deal with someone like TBS and take a
>crappy but reliable timeslot instead of trying to be "just
>like the WRC". If we stick to concrete promotion and
>merchandising plans and take care of the participants of
>club racing, we will be a significant and healthy force in
>American motorsports without having to become an FIA
>extravaganza.
>
>
>
>What this whole episode shows, I believe, is that racing
>promotion has to be done by folks that have the time,
>knowledge, and gumption to pull it off. The organizers are
>volunteers with day jobs, they don't have time for anything
>other than making the mechanics of a rally happen. If they
>are good at it, that shows gumption, but it is spent on
>their rally. SCCA central has some folks that are paid to
>have the time, though I imagine that like any other business
>in a bad economy, everyone's job duties expand to fill their
>time and everyone is nervous about "shakeups". It's tough to
>point fingers and be taken seriously, but I think it's
>pretty clear that the SCCA could use some shaking up. The
>central office has to let the membership do what it wants to
>do while at the same keeping a competant, professional
>attitude. In that sense, the SCCA is more like a government
>than a business.
>
>
>
>Okay, I'm rambling now. Dare I send this to Steve Johnson?
>I think it says in the SCCA membership regs that it is
>verboten to badmouth the SCCA. :)
>
>andy
 

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sorry about that, but I heard that the forest service wont let the 2003 Oregon Trail rally be run "their" roads untill May, and that other Pro rallies are having road access problems too. causing a very
differant Pro schedule for 2003
 

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May I remind you that rebellion is the American way! That is what made this country. The people have the right to rebel.


Tom Pinkham
Master Chief
Rabid Rallyesport
#934
 

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>sorry about that, but I heard that the forest service wont
>let the 2003 Oregon Trail rally be run "their" roads untill
>May, and that other Pro rallies are having road access
>problems too. causing a very
>differant Pro schedule for 2003

Actually, what with the effort that went into fixing the roads this year, and with a good road report from the forest service, I don't think OT will have any problem running next year. Yeah, the forest service would like us to run when it's not raining or snowing, but I haven't heard anything about OT 2003 not being viable. :)

(The meetings are held at my office, care of my brother, and I think I'd have heard something to that effect, anyway.... :))

Now, I can't speak for any other event on the schedule.... but there was that flack about Kurt's loose lips in regards to Cherokee Trails and their forest service problems....

Andy, great letter, you should send that to SCCA, cc the PRB and individual members of the PRB so that they can't say they didn't get it. :)
 

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>
>
>Race series title sponsors, membership promotion, corporate
>hobnobbing, all that is icing on the cake and should pay for
>itself. Where rally is concerned, our volunteer
>organizations are capable of putting on safe, professional
>events without the SCCA's "help". All we really need is the
>insurance. The SCCA is not the only organization that
>performs this service.
non-functional promotional side.
>
You Got that right!
>

>
>Suggestion two-sub-'b': The SCCA central office could do our
>merchandising. For God's sake, take the job that none of the
>organizers want. Please. The markup is 50-100%. With some
>careful management, merchandising is a simple way to PRINT
>MONEY. There are thousands of participants nationwide. There
>are hundreds of thousands of wannabees. Milk us for all we
>are worth. I mean it! Work with organizers to provide
>t-shirts, hats, videos, model cars, etc. Don't be picky
>about the source or the kind of merchandise or the retail
>channel. Front the stock if necessary. Put links on
>Internet fan sites. Send a dedicated person (people?) to
>each national event to sell the stuff. At Oregon Trail this
>year we practically sold out our single t-shirt design on
>the first rally day Saturday and grossed over 4,000. With
>more XLs and XXLs, hats, and trinkets and more people to
>hawk the goods (Lewana Poirer sold the bulk of them -- I
>sold a fair amount but I would describe my retail manner as
>lackluster at best) I think we could have topped $15,000.
>Add food concessions at the spectator areas and someone
>could quit their day job to work just one rally a year.
>Forget series sponsorships, Kurt, organize the concessions.
>There's more money in it!
>
>
>andy

Andy is very accurate in his description of generating revenue. I have been envolved in organizing other automobile related events and I have to tell you that T-shirt sales and the like are extremely profitable. So much so that I bank rolled the the entire exspense on my personal VISA and the profit was well over 10 times what I paid. Food concessions I feel have always been over looked plus it adds to crowed control as people are more apt to stay put between stage runnings as food is available, couple T-shirt and video etc. sales at the same locale with videos being played and it could prove to be very profitable if the pricing structure is kept in check. The WRC events I have attended prove this to be true and the prices for food and clothing is at or below regular retail!!
We are after all a consumer driven society with not enough places to spend our money.
 
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