In a first-of-its-kind event, the Steel Cities Region and the SCCA National Track and Time Trials programs joined forces to create the End of Summer Showcase event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex (PittRace) August 27–29, with seven separate events and more than 460 entrants.
The entries were spread across events from each of the departments within the SCCA. The Region hosted a Friday Track Event, a Friday-Saturday Road Racing Driver’s School, a Saturday-Sunday Autocross, a RoadRally and a weekend of Road Racing while the National Experiential Department hosted a Track Night in America Presented by Tire Rack on Friday evening and a Tire Rack Time Trials National Tour Powered by Hagerty on Saturday and Sunday.
“By all accounts it was a resounding success,” said Jon Krolewicz, Senior Manager of Track Events and Time Trials. “We had people getting their first-ever track experience at Track Night, Time Trialers looking for personal bests in Time Attack and TrackSprint, Autocrossers getting to carve amongst the cones, Road Racers including everyone from novices looking to complete their permit requirements to those who were looking to qualify for the Runoffs, and even a RoadRally event for folks who wanted to enjoy some of northwest Pennsylvania’s best roads.”
The packed weekend was enabled in part by a perfect location for such an event.
“PittRace is uniquely suited to hosting an event like this,” Krolewicz said, “the full course design allowed the track to be split into North and South Configurations for Saturday, and the Vehicle Dynamics Area (VDA) is perfect for autocross.”
In addition to the specific autocross space and splitting the courses so that the Divisional Road Race could run concurrently with the Time Trials and Drivers School on Saturday, the weekend made use of overtime available at the track, running until 8pm on Friday for Track Night in America and 6:30pm on Saturday to extend the Time Trials event time.
Despite ample opportunity for complications, both those driving on track, and those trackside organizing and officiating, worked together to create a nearly flawless event. Only mother nature could introduce a hiccup by providing some thunderstorms at the end of the day on Sunday.
An event of this magnitude certainly was more work for the organizers but having a successful event can make it worth it.
“It was about twice as many hours of work before the event. With a traditional weekend, you get to copy and paste a lot of information, but this was like nothing ever done before, so it took a lot more time,” said Bob Albert, Steel Cities Region Race Chair, noting that the Steel Cities team pulled off a great event. “Experiencing the event and hearing the positive feedback made the extra work worth it.”
The key to making it go smoothly was pre-event discussions, a lot of open minds from all organizers, and entrants who understood the complications Krolewicz explained.
“We came in ready to be flexible and work with all the programs and it paid off with a smooth event. There were a lot of moving pieces and needs within the event that we knew could create issues, but in the end, only mother nature slowed down the SCCA team.”
It's hoped that the success of this event can be applied in other SCCA Regions to bolster programs and create more opportunities for SCCA members looking to participate on track and trackside.
“Late season road racing weekends can be hit-or-miss when it comes to entries,” Krolewicz said, “By bringing together so many SCCA program offerings, we can ensure that the event remains viable not only for the Road Racers who need or want it, but to open doors for other SCCA members who might not get an opportunity at a facility like this otherwise.”
Considering the success and smoothness, the event is likely to be back at PittRace in 2022 and a webinar is being planned for the near future for Region Leaders who want to consider adding similar variety to their events.
“The webinar will be a conversation with Region Leaders and National Staff about what we did, how we did it and what we learned,” said Heyward Wagner, Senior Director of Experiential and Solo Programs. “The goal is to inform other Regions before the Runoffs so they may consider if any element of this event is of interest to them. If so, there’s a great opportunity to sit down and discuss ideas and specifics in Indy so that we can plan together for 2022.”
Though the various participants from this past weekend have headed their separate ways — with some going to Solo Nationals, The Runoffs, the next Time Trials National Tour stop at Road Atlanta or to keep filling their Novice Permits — the plan is to bring everyone back together again next year.
“Oh yeah,” said Paula Hawthorne, Steel Cities Road Racing Steward, at the close of the Time Trials National Tour KONI Podium Celebration. “We’ll do this again.”
For more specific details on the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour powered by Hagerty, check out our Weekend Wrap-up article on timetrials.scca.com.