Need To Know: How Track Events Are Organized

By Winding Road Staff

May 30, 2018

When you are getting started in track events, it is helpful to understand that there are many, many events organized around the country. But, unlike concerts or movies, these events aren't backed by major advertising campaigns, so they can be a little hard to discover. It is probably better to think of any given track event as being produced by a club, but a club in which you are invited to be a member with very few hurdles to cross. The club really, really wants you to "join" and they make it easy and inexpensive.

Who Does Track Events?

The major producers of road course track events in the U.S. are organizations, sometimes known as sanctioning bodies. National organizations include the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), Porsche Club of America (PCA), BMW Club of America (BMWCCA), Champcar, WRL and the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA). There are regional organizations who produce similar events, such as the Midwestern Council of Sportscar Clubs, the Porsche Owners Club and Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR). There are also organizations focused on track days, like Chin, SpeedVentures and MVP. Similarly, there are regional organizations focused on autocross (e.g. Spokes) or time trials (e.g. Octane Society). Most clubs do more than one type of event.

A key point here is that the fragmentation of event organization means that if you want to find out what is going on in your area, you may have to examine the calendars of several organizations. This can be frustrating at first. Add to this that some event organizers are set up in their own small regions. So, with the SCCA for example, you may have to look at calendars for several SCCA regions because near large cities there may be several SCCA regions serving the geography you consider relevant (SCCA has a link to help you find nearby regions: https://www.scca.com/membership_areas).

How Do I Get Into An Event?

The starting point is often to become a club member, at least for racing. So, if you want to do NASA events, you first join NASA. If you want to do SCCA events, you join SCCA. And so on. You can join multiple clubs, if the $40-60 cost of each isn't a deterrent. This just gets you in the information loop.

For track days operated by independent organizers, you don't have to join a club. But, since NASA is a major producer of track days, you would be missing out on their calendar.

Beyond that small hurdle, you then register for a specific event. This is done in advance, like reserving seats at a concert or a popular restaurant (you wouldn't just show up and expect to get a seat).

To register, you use the online reservation system chosen by the organizer, which isn't always the club's own system. Sometimes, especially for SCCA, this will be www.MotorsportReg.com. NASA and SVRA and WRL have their own registration systems. So do Chin and SpeedVentures. Basically, you have to ask the club how they do registration and this can sometimes be specific to a region (e.g. one region might use www.dlbracing.com and another region might use www.motorsportreg.com).

It sounds like a bigger pain than it is, because you won't be considering all events at all tracks of all types. But no one would call this system streamlined, either.

What Do I Need To Do Before I Show Up At An Event?

Generally, there are three possible steps:

  1. Get your car ready. If you are doing a track day in a street car, this probably means getting an approved shop to check it out per the rules. If you are racing, this means building a car to a detailed rule set, which is provided by the organizer.

 

  1. Get yourself ready. If you are doing a track day, and are a novice, you'll probably want to do a High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) event because you can get instruction. Otherwise, read up on track driving so you have an idea what you are doing. Then go to the required meetings at the event. If you are racing, you will generally need to obtain a license. The licensing rules differ quite a bit between organizations, so read the organizer's licensing rules.

 

  1. Get your gear ready. For track days, you will need a helmet and there is other useful equipment. For racing, you will need complete fire gear, including shoes, socks, suit, gloves, HANS and helmet. The organizer rule books have quite a bit of detail on what is required.

 

Much can and has been said about each of these steps.