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Is SCCA Membership Still Worth Keeping to Volunteer as a Marshal?

Is SCCA still relevant in 2017 for those of us wanting to volunteer PRO events? Is it worth paying the membership fee to volunteer? Are there alternatives that don’t require this costly option?

Let’s find out…

For the past few years I’ve been seriously debating whether it’s worth it or not to renew my expensive SCCA membership. This year, as of March the price has gone up another $5 dollars. And this season SCCA PRO lost several series they used to sanction. Among the most notable are the Global MX-5 Cup which is now weirdly sanctioned by IndyCar and Pirelli World Challenge which is now sanctioned by USAC (among several other lesser “pro” series, including those on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder).

So why pay $70 bux a year to volunteer maybe one or two remaining SCCA PRO events that now only include Trans Am and Formula 4?

Doesn’t seem like it’s worth it.

In addition, a number of circuits now no longer require SCCA membership for volunteers to participate in their PRO events. Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has had this policy of welcoming non-SCCA members for several years now. Many of them flag for COTA as employees for track rentals and such. But many show up just for the big events and work directly with the more experienced SCCA members who complain how inexperienced those people are. Lime Rock Park is another example that recently changed it’s policy of requiring SCCA licensed marshals to work their events. Now only SCCA-equivalent training is required, but not necessarily a current license. In addition Lime Rock Park pays $50/day for participation. New Jersey Motorsports Park relies solely on employees to staff their events, however it is possible to “volunteer” some of the bigger races there. I’ve had experience where they let me volunteer and others where they actually paid me for my participation. The Moto America event at NJMP gets you a $300 check in the mail a few weeks later. I’ve already talked extensively about volunteering at Watkins Glen where SCCA membership isn’t required, but the local club that organizes marshals requires you to join them at $15/year fee, which I must add is very reasonable. USAC at Indianapolis Motor Speedway charges upwards of $30 per event to volunteer with them. A discount was offered for multiple events the last time I worked with them in 2013. Similarly ACIND in Montreal, Canada charges you $30 CDN to play with them for F1. Many Motorcycle events organized by Flagging by Faynisha pay you for participation, while the bike race at Laguna Seca requires you to pay to join the USARM club which only staffs bike events at Laguna Seca.

There are however events still, very old-school/old-fashioned, that will force you to join SCCA even if it’s the lesser $30/weekend license fee or whatever they call it. Central Florida Region is a stickler for those, ironically they have the most PRO events out there, especially early in the season when the big events don’t clash with any other.

I put together a list of 46 and 1 practice 2017 PRO Event on the Calendar, and my speculation on which of them require SCCA membership, as well as those that don’t…. I even listed those that by my experience either pay you for your participation or charge you a fee to play with them:

Date Event Name Series Location SCCA required? Marshal Organizer Participation?
Jan 6-8 Roar before the 24 IMSA Daytona YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Jan 26-29 Rolex 24 Daytona IMSA Daytona YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Mar 10-12 St. Pete GP IRL/PWC St. Pete YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Mar 15-18 Sebring 12 hour IMSA Sebring YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Apr 7-8 Long Beach GP IRL/IMSA/PWC Long Beach YES CalClub SCCA volunteer
Apr 23 GP of Alabama IRL Barber Mtsp NO Flagging by Faynisha get paid
Apr 21-23 MotoGP/Moto America MotoGP COTA NO COTA volunteer
Apr 27-30 PWC VIR PWC VIR NO VIR get paid
Apr 28-30 MotoAmerica Road Atlanta MotoAmerica Road Atlanta NO Flagging by Faynisha get paid
May 4-6 Sportscar Showdown IMSA COTA NO COTA/Lone Star SCCA volunteer
May 12-13 MotoAmerica VIR MotoAmerica VIR NO VIR get paid
May 13 Indycar GP IRL Indianapolis NO USAC pay to join
May 19-21 PWC CTMP PWC CTMP NO MMS Mosport volunteer
May 26-27 PWC Lime Rock PWC Lime Rock NO Lime Rock Park get paid
Jun 2-3 Detroit Belle Isle GP IMSA Detroit YES Detroit SCCA volunteer
Jun 2-4 MotoAmerica Road America MotoAmerica Road America MAYBE Road America volunteer
Jun 9-11 GP Canada F1 F1 Montreal NO ACIND pay to participate
Jun 10-11 Pocono 400 NASCAR Pocono NO Team Pocono volunteer
Jul 15-16 ePrix New York Formula E Brooklyn MAYBE NY SCCA/NJ SCCA volunteer
Jun 23-25 Kohler GP IRL/PWC Road America YES SCCA Road America volunteer
Jun 29-Jul 2 Sahlen’s 6 hour IMSA Watkins Glen NO RSI Watkins Glen pay to join
Jul 7-9 Sportscar GP IMSA CTMP NO MMS Mosport volunteer
Jul 7-9 MotoAmerica Laguna Seca MotoAmerica Laguna Seca NO USARM pay to join
Jul 16 Indy Toronto IRL Toronto NO MMS volunteer
Jul 21-22 Northeast GP IMSA Lime Rock NO Lime Rock Park get paid
Jul 28-30 Indy 200 Mid O IRL/PWC Mid Ohio YES Lake Erie Communicators volunteer
Jul 29-30 ePrix Montreal Formula E Montreal NO ACIND pay to participate
Jul 30 Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Pocono NO Team Pocono volunteer
Aug 3-6 Road Race Showcase IMSA Road America YES SCCA Road America volunteer
Aug 5-6 Watkins Glen 355 NASCAR Watkins Glen NO RSI Watkins Glen pay to join
Aug 11-13 Utah PWC PWC Utah Mtsp NO Utah Mtsp employment
Aug 11-13 MotoAmerica Sonoma MotoAmerica Sonoma MAYBE Sonoma employment
Aug 12 Mid Ohio 200 NASCAR Mid Ohio YES Lake Erie Communicators volunteer
Aug 20 ABC Supply 500 IRL Pocono NO Team Pocono volunteer
Aug 25-27 GT Challenge IMSA VIR NO VIR get paid
Aug 25-27 MotoAmerica Pittsburg MotoAmerica Pittsburg MAYBE Pittsburg volunteer
Aug 27 Road America 180 NASCAR Road America YES SCCA Road America volunteer
Sep 1-3 PWC COTA PWC COTA NO COTA/Lone Star SCCA volunteer
Sep 3 IndyCar WGI IRL Watkins Glen NO RSI Watkins Glen pay to join
Sep 3 Chevy Silverado 250 NASCAR CTMP NO MMS Mosport volunteer
Sep 8-10 MotoAmerica NJMP MotoAmerica NJMP NO NJMP get paid
Sep 15-17 Sonoma GP IRL/PWC Sonoma NO Sonoma/SFR employment
Sep 15-17 MotoAmerica Barber MotoAmerica Barber Mtsp NO Flagging by Faynisha get paid
Sep 22-24 Monterey GP IMSA Laguna Seca YES SFR SCCA volunteer
Oct 4-7 Petit Le Mans IMSA Road Atlanta YES Atlanta SCCA volunteer
Oct 13-15 PWC Laguna Seca PWC Laguna Seca YES SFR SCCA volunteer
Oct 20-22 US GP F1 F1 COTA NO COTA/Lone Star SCCA volunteer

So this year, I went ahead and renewed my membership. I had $45 in worker credit that I didn’t want to go to waste. However, next year I’ll have to think long and hard to decide whether it’s worth it or not. There are plenty of events out there that I could put that money towards to still have fun volunteering.

I don’t plan on doing any CLUB events this year… though as always that may change.

PWC Season Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the debrief

What an amazing way to end my racing season!

I don’t know if things could have gone any more perfectly than they did, but I’m certainly grateful for the awesome outcome. My station assignment was fantastic. I got to sneak in the day before the event to take lots of pictures which I wanted to do. The weather was picture perfect. We had plenty of incidents to keep us busy over the weekend. And I even got a Mazda rental car which I put over 1,000 miles on road triping the central coast of California… how appropriate for dual Mazda-centric events at a place called Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I am blessed!

As I’ve mentioned before the trip to Cali this time involved two back-to-back events at Laguna Seca. First a massive Miata get together followed by the Pirelli World Challenge season finale which has a huge field of NC Miatas exactly like the car I own (except maybe more racey).

My buddy Ron whom I talked out of booking a hotel during his visit to Watkins Glen and instead convinced him to utilize the RSI campground came through big time by introducing me to some folks (not directly Mazda Miata owners but closely associated nonetheless) who put me up for the full 10 days of my stay. That certainly brought my expenses down and under control… the trip wasn’t cheap though, I paid $129 for the flight out, $159 for the flight home, $196 for the car rental, $120 for fuel, etc. So at the very minimum I dropped $600 bux but it could have been worse. It was totally worth it though.

I had missed the Bay Area and Monterey Peninsula. I missed Laguna Seca so this trip was good for my soul.

The racing was outstanding. We were kept busy. Had some big crashes and spins and cars getting stuck in our gravel. Luckily no one was seriously hurt. The people I worked with were amazing. Super friendly from day one and I really appreciated such warm hospitality.

I was impressed royally with the way the San Francisco Region operates. Including a post I made on facebook that made all the marshals around the world jealous when SFR put on a Steak and Lobster dinner one night for us. What was more impressive was the fact that the dinner was paid for by recyclables. Something so ordinary that any other club in the nation or the world could do themselves, it’s just a matter of implementing the idea.

So after 1,141 miles on my Mazda 5 rental. One trip to San Luis Obispo along the scenic California 1 route along the coast south, and then two trips along California 1 north… first to Half Moon Bay and the other all the way up to San Francisco’s Golden Gate area along the coast. I am really impressed with this experience. There were hiccups along the way to be sure… lick catching a huge nail in the tire on the rental the night before the racing started which got me  a bit worried. But after doing some quick decision making and a $10 purchase at local AutoZone I was all set and secure.

I love this part of California and would love to come back again and again. Hopefully my next trip to Laguna Seca won’t be 3 years away.

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View over the paddock from Turn 2

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SFR folks seem to take great pride in their region, certainly far more than I do with Guam

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And there’s the lobster!

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for those that didn’t want lobster tails there was plenty of chicken

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It was delicious!

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and so were all the lunches

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and other dinners which were served every night

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I brought a whole stash of nibbles for the station… I called this area the mini bar although with all the food provided I hardly relied on mine

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my favorite drink in California!

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I even contributed to the next feast by donating all my empty cans

During the morning meetings we were constantly reminded that 9 out of 10 times we will not respond to incidents. But I was lucky enough to be able to do it… running out on track to pick up a hood that blew off the #37 Mustang in GTS class

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Really happy with that experience, especially on such an iconic track with all it’s elevation changes, high speed corners and lots and lots of dust everywhere which caused some serious incidents

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For the last dinner of the event my bud Ron and I went to the other iconic place in the area, Baja Cantina with all it’s mementos and motorsport memorabilia on the walls, it was righteous!

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After such a great experience for the two weeks spent at Laguna Seca I didn’t want to leave California

I will be back!