As of January 2015 I have joined the Guam Region of the SCCA
On this page, I will share what I have learned over the last three years of membership with the SCCA. And why joining the Guam Region may be an option for others. I will also list the volunteer marshal specialties available to SCCA members. And why it may make sense to give something other than F&C a try.
So, the many other pages on this blog will tell you about the best way of becoming a US marshal, and whether or not you should join the SCCA or one of the many other organizations that organize marshals in America. But say you have your mind set on SCCA…
How do you go about joining the SCCA?
The logical thing to do is to go on SCCA.com and fill out the online form, make your payment and voila! you’re done. Right? Wrong… After filling out the forms and making a payment you must call the 800 number to request an F&C license. F&C is flagging and communications, that covers your traditional marshal roles including flag marshal, safety or track marshal, communicator, observer, etc. If you wish to work in Pit Lane, you may wish to request the Pit & Grid license. For the starter role a Starter license. Timing & Scoring you get the T&S license, etc. Or as I noticed a young Brit proudly wearing on his SCCA ID card, you can request all of the above… which is what I did this year. I have had people always tell me that you can come out and volunteer for whatever position you fancy. But once you decide on that position you should have the appropriate license for it, so might as well request it form the get go.
You’ve got your SCCA license, now what?
Whatever license you pick you’ll see a little “Reg” written next to it. That’s your license grade. Reg is Regional. Div is Divisional. Nat is National. and Sen? I guess that’s Senior… not sure if age is a prerequisite for that one, or experience, but you get the idea.
Depending on what kind of training you get at your home track, one of my major gripes with NNJR was lack of training in the three years I was a member, you should theoretically move up the SCCA ladder. You’d “upgrade” from Reg to Div, Div to Nat, etc. That is, if you want to. If you are only interested in flagging and have no interest being a corner captain, you can stay at Reg level. If you are happy being a corner captain but have no interest in working Race Control you can stay at the Div level, etc. The higher up the ladder you go, the nastier the politics of the club you may be exposed to. So upgrade at your own risk. In order to keep the higher grade you are required to participate more days at Club events. So if you’re only interested in Pro events and have a limited budget, you’re put in a position where you must choose whether to keep your license and work Club or risk the threat of losing your grade by working Pro.
In my opinion, you should do whatever you want to do with the club. If you are only “Motivated” to volunteer, by working Pro events, who are they to tell you that you must work Club events instead? All that will accomplish is possibly you not volunteering at all. So work the events that strike your fancy.
But how can you volunteer Pro events if you only have a Reg license? How can you not? Every event in the US I have worked over the last three years, has been desperately short on marshals. And while I met overzealous people that claimed only Nat license is required to volunteer F1 in COTA, the reality is they will gladly take a Reg license holder to bring the numbers up and have sufficient coverage. I am not saying you will work F1 on your first day volunteering as a marshal (though I have heard people say they were while on the bus being brought to stations during last year’s F1 race), I am saying that you can work a major Pro event with limited experience, just make that perfectly clear to your Corner Captain and I’m sure he or she would be happy to help you throughout the event. If they don’t, well then shame on them!
You should also supplement your training by downloading the SCCA.com Marshal Training Manual from the File Cabinet in the Member Section. You’d think that joining a particular region would result in someone providing you with the manual and other training material, but no… they don’t. At least they did not in NNJR. Be sure to download the 2012 version of the manual that is 70 pages long, and not the 2002 version with only 30 pages. The manual will help you better grasp the concepts that will be shown in on-the-job training. It’s worth noting that each person you work with will show you how they do things. And two different people may have two different approaches to the same problem. So it helps understanding the concepts before you get really confused on how each person wants things done on their station.
If you wish to volunteer overseas, and you joined SCCA in May, but the international event is in June of the following year and the foreign ASN wants to see proof of a valid license assuming you apply before the renewal process with the SCCA is initiated, be aware that you can change your renewal date with the SCCA three months from your original join date. This applies to either three months before or three months after. The example I used above happened to me, when I registered for Le Mans 24h with the ACO they wanted to see a valid license for the event, and as luck would have it mine expired on 5/31 while the event was on 6/23. After two years of really frustrating back and forth, I managed to change my renewal date to 2/28 which allowed me ample time to renew my card so it’s valid for the biggest race of the calendar in endurance racing.
What does it cost to join the SCCA ?
National membership dues are $65 annually, while I was a Northern New Jersey Region member, they charged $20 bringing the total to $85 every year. Guam Region does not have a regional fee, so my new annual total is $65. Volunteering a certain number of club events earns you worker credit of up to $45 for 12 days worked. Less days, less credit. You do not have to be a member of the region hosting the club race to participate in it. So if you are not interested in getting involved with the regional club politics, or you are happy to stay at the Reg level, then Guam Region makes perfect sense.
The biggest plus I can think of is being from Guam region makes you feel exotic!
I had received much better reception from various SCCA people when they thought I was from New Zealand (I moved back to US from NZ when I first joined the SCCA), then when they found out I was from New Jersey.
So go be exotic!
This page is a follow up to my original post about Guam: http://myroadtrip.net/guam/
Top image credit: http://www.united-states-flag.com/state-territories-guam.html feel free to buy one of their flags!