COM Sports Car Club News

Here you will find club news and announcements.

2017 End-of-Season Newsletter

The COMSCC 2017 season seemed to fly by, and now we are into our off-season.

First, I’d like to take a moment and thank the entire COM Staff, Board of Directors, Instructors, and all of our members for what was a really special year… a year packed with change.

Let’s take a look back to see what we did…

Pricing

Yes, this is a touchy subject, but in this region, where there seems to be new race tracks popping up every year, there is something happening that has been unexpected; track rental prices are still on the rise, even with the market dilution of new tracks and the perception of available inventory. COM had to adapt to this by raising fees in 2017. This is always a very difficult decision to make, but a necessary one to keep the club in the black. When we close the books for the 2017 fiscal year, it will look like a break even year, with perhaps a few dollars on the plus side. As a not-for-profit organization, my feeling is that as long as we aren’t losing, we can pay our bills, and have the cash for the next season’s contract deposits, we are okay – but 2017 was pretty tight for a number of reasons, most of which we all are aware. As we do every winter, the Board of Directors will review the fee structure for 2018 and make sure we are the most competitive in the market for what we do, while at the same time doing what is right for the club and membership.

During 2017 we rolled out an entirely new tiered discount structure that rewards the amount of participation. Pretty simple: do more events, get a bigger discount. It seems like the membership has responded well to the program, and I think there is enough of an interest amongst the members, officers, and Directors to repeat it in 2018.

Advanced Coaching

By now, you have been made aware of the coaching aspect of what COM offers, and a large percentage of the membership has taken advantage of it – whether that be in 1-on-1 sessions with our coaches (over 50 drivers!!), or in the classroom where we have looked at safety aspects of lapping in addition to tips on the fastest ways around the tracks.  This was a very difficult task to accomplish with very limited staffing – we wanted to make sure there was a large enough demand for this activity without pulling more of our valued instructors away from our student groups.

To address this, we have trained and moved a few individuals from our licensed ranks into instructor roles and we will continue to do so.  This is a slow but steady process that also pulls instructors away from the student groups to train candidates.  It is slow, not only because staffing is tight, but also because it has to be slow.  Candidates have to show long term commitment, the character traits and other intangibles that make a good COM instructor.  It isn’t only about teaching someone to drive. It is really about guiding students through the entire process of what it is we do, and providing a solid foundation for their development as drivers and as good citizens. Please bear with us as we continue to address staffing of these critical programs.

Club Motorsports

We did it.  We made it happen. It was the most challenging thing our team faced this year.  Brand new track with brand new track management, brand new flaggers, no PA, no garages, no central location, no legacy classroom materials or video, no data, and only a handful of individuals that had ever driven the track before.

There were a few spots where we stumbled, but in general COM did what it always does. Field good drivers that are fast and safe. We had several instructors out running lead laps to bring not only our students, but also our licensed groups up to speed (those first couple laps I did in my lead session might be the only time I was considered fast in Group 1 :)…  Of course – it only lasted a lap or two before I began holding up our fastest licensed group.

I credit the success of that event to two things; our staff of dedicated folks that spent months developing the materials and figuring out how to make it all happen and…

The COM Mobile Application

At first, to our BOD members it seemed like we may or may not have needed the capability, but as time went on, we started to see the benefits, and in fact, whether we realized it or not at the time, was the other reason why we were able to get through the CMI event smoothly. We had full run groups with drivers reporting to grid on time, to the classroom on time, and also using the in app messenger to contact their instructors and other members. I used the application exclusively for internal staff communication, and to stay in contact with our key players who were spread out at each end of the facility.

We will continue to use the mobile app, and refine our use of it going forward.  The app is available on both The App Store and Google Play.

The 2017 Season Results

The results are posted. Congrats to the class winners, you earned it this year!  There was quite a lot of competition. It was great to see drivers battle it out all season, make changes to their cars, changes to their driving, changes to their strategy to gain any advantage over their peers. This, while at the same time helping those same competitors by turning a wrench, or lending a car, or towing them home after a breakdown.  Our membership is packed with good people that care about each other… while at the same time wanting to completely destroy each other in the TT… then finishing the night off with food, drink, and track talk. It is a beautiful thing.

The 2018 Schedule

This might sound early, but things are going so well on this front that we will likely publish our preliminary schedule before the holidays. Most of the dates at our typical venues are locked in, contracts are just awaiting signatures.  We will be hitting up Thompson for a test day, and one full event mid-summer. We’re returning to Palmer twice, NHMS twice, will return to Watkins Glen, and…

We are working on one VERY exciting addition for 2018. I don’t want to jinx it, but I guarantee once confirmed, you will not be disappointed.

The Election

You will see updates for the winter Board meetings in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for instructions on seeking a nomination for the BoD.   These jobs are by election every year.  There are no life time appointments.  I will be seeking re-election, but welcome anyone to seek nomination to be on the ballot for any position, up to and including President. This is how the club works as specified in our bylaws.  We have a number of very dedicated folks that have put in many years of service, and they continue to do so, but would welcome new people who are taking ownership of their club as a Director on its Board. Please do not feel as though you are unfairly unseating someone, think of it as a natural progression. None of us can do this forever.

The Banquet

I sent out a save the date message on the mobile app.  The banquet will be held on Saturday, January 27th.  We’re working out the details for a return to F1 Boston, and I think we’re going to need a bigger room.  There will be a track rental, food, all the stuff we did last year, and maybe a little more.

We will officially be celebrating the Club’s 60th anniversary, and we hope to do a few more things than just a typical banquet. I’ll keep you informed of the pertinent details. The rest will be a secret…

See you in January,


Troy Velazquez – President

Registration for NHMS3- South Oval is open!

Registration is open for our final HPDE school and time trial event of the 2017 season.   It will be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on October 14th and 15th.  You can register HERE.

We will be running the NASCAR south oval configuration. This is one of the most thrilling and challenging corners on our entire schedule.   This is both a great venue and configuration for first timers and seasoned veterans.

All event details and information can be found HERE

 

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Club Motorsports registration is open now!

We are very proud and privileged to open registration for our very first HPDE and time trial event at Club Motorsports in Tamworth, NH.  The event will be held on September 29-30th.  From their website:

“On hundreds of rolling wooded acres with breathtaking views, we’ve built a heart-pounding ribbon through the woods: 15 turns over 2.5 miles with an elevation change of 250 feet. The road course is over 40 feet wide with a mix of long straightaways and left and right turns both uphill and downhill. It is designed to provide a thrilling driving experience, yet built with safety as the top priority.”

COM will be hosting one of the very first club events at this track.  This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be one of the first to drive such a unique, enjoyable and challenging track.  Do not miss this opportunity.  Register now as we expect this event to sell out.

The event cost & other information can be found at the registration link: Club Motorsports Registration Page

If you have any specific questions about event registrations please contact our Registrar: comregistrar@comcast.net

If you have specific event questions (entry / gas / etc.) please keep an eye on our Event Annoucement Section on the forum or contact our Chief of Event Operations: comoperations@comcast.net

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A 2017 Competition Update… FINALLY!

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Teams lined up for the 2017 relay rally.

Yes, yes this is long overdue let’s just get that out of the way now.  All that free time I had in years past, well it doesn’t really exist anymore!

This has been an amazing season on so many levels.  Under new club president Troy Velazquez we have seen the implementation of an advanced coaching initiative for licensed drivers, we brought back the relay rally, we have established a relationship with a brand new track in the area (Club Motorsports) and oh yeah there has been some phenomenal competition happening in our time trial series.  Let’s do a quick overview of what has been going on and where the seasonal class battles stand:

Super Unlimited- Despite only having four competitors in the first five events we have had three different drivers win an event.  Dan D’Arcy took the win at Palmer 1 while Nick Coutu won his first appearance at Palmer 2.  Tom Greer has cleaned up at the NASCAR tracks winning at both NHMS events and at Thompson.  With the drop Tom holds an eight point class lead over Dan on the season.

Super A- Both Dana Johnston and Charles King have two event wins but it is the 2016 Most Improved Driver Kellie Greer who is currently leading the class.   Kellie has been to every event placing third at her first event and second at the next four events.  With the drop factored in she holds a slim four point lead over Dana for the class lead.

Super B- Jacob van Gelder has only been to two events but he podiumed at both finishing second at NHMS 2 and third at Thompson.  Dan Preston has made the full schedule so far and has four podiums and has finished second three times.  But it has really been the Jake Wile show this year in Super B so far.  It has been pretty exciting to see someone build a car to the full potential of a Super class.  Jake has won all five time trials as well as bring home three FTDs and set track records at NHMS CC, Palmer and Thompson.  Despite all that hardware Jake only leads the class by ten points so he can’t take any days off.  His pursuit of the perfect season will continue at Watkins Glen.

Super C- Super C has a shallow field but a very talented driver pool this year.  Ryan Catucci almost broke the two minute mark at Palmer in his 8000 lb Porsche Cayenne aka his tow vehicle!  Will Martins has one win at NHMS2 where he edged out Nick Fontana by six tenths of a second.  Nick had to borrow a Miata due to a mechanical with his M3.  Chris Parsons is currently in second with one win at Palmer 2- a nice recovery after losing a wheel bearing (and wheel!) on day one.  Nick Fontana currently leads Super C with three wins in four events setting a blistering track record in his M3 at Palmer 2 with a 1:42.915 which was just shy of FTD.  Nick has a slim four point lead with the drop over Chris Parsons although rumor is Nick has eloped with a T50 Miata.

Super D- Super D didn’t see more than three participants until Palmer 2.  A rejuvenated Mark Swinehart has run the table so far with five wins so far.  One more win will seal the class championship for Mark.  Can he get it done at Watkins Glen?

T100-  Dan Croteau has one class win at Palmer 2 and sits in third place with 23 class points.  Bob Cairns has three wins in three events and set FTD at Palmer 1 and NHMS 2.  Due to a mishap at Thompson however his class lead has slipped away to none other than Laura Fleming.  Laura has three second place finishes and took home first place points as the only entrant at Thompson.  Laura currently holds a five point advantage with 38 points over Bob’s 33.  Bob will need to finish at least two points better than Laura at each of the last three events to take back the class lead.  You better make it to Club Motorsports Bob!

T90- 2016 T90 class champion Jon Harris has had a strong follow up season with one class win at NHMS 1.  With the drop however, David Lapierre leads Jon by four points for the class lead at this stage.  David has three class wins in four events at Palmer 1, NHMS 2 and Palmer 2.  This will be a good battle down the stretch especially with Victor Larin on the T90 scene now who finished first at Thompson and second at Palmer 2 in his E46 M3.

T80- Having bailed on T80 for T90, Victor Larin has left a path for Marc Epstein to pursue the class championship.  Marc has podiumed at the four events he has attended with a win at Thompson.  He holds a fifteen point lead over James McKenna for the class lead.  Second place is wide open with three events to go.  Who will show up to make some noise?

T70- T70 has had some phenomenal competition this year.  It was great to see Jason Gannett back out there at Palmer 2.  Shiv Joshi stormed onto the scene at Palmer 1 with a very strong second place finish at his first COM time trial event.  Greg Hosselbarth was the class leader after two events with a second place finish at NHMS 1 and a win at Palmer 1.  Unfortunately a slight mishap at Thompson has sidelined his M3, but not his attitude.  Dan Durusky is currently in third place with 26 points with three third place finishes in four events.  2016 T70 class winner Jon Cowen was MIA in the first two events but has two wins in his three events since.  Nelson Barros is the current class leader with 38 points, seven more than Jon.  The only real difference is the one extra event Nelson has attended.  Dating back to last year, either Nelson or Jon have won the last ten T70 events where one of them showed up.  Nelson has a grip on the lead but this is one of the best head to head battles in the club.

T60- T60 has had deep fields all year long averaging over eight entrants per event.  Roe Cole has only made three events but has two second place and a third place finish good for fourth place with 25 points.  Stephan do Penasse has put on a great showing leading off the season with a win in wet conditions at NHMS1.  He has 30 points with the drop, only two behind 2016 T60 class winner Troy Velazquez.  Troy has podiumed at all five events this year highlighted by a photo finish at NHMS2 where he finished 0.041 seconds behind class leader Peter McParland!  Comeback-player-of-the-year Peter McParland has been on a rampage in T60.  After NHMS1 he went on to win the next four events. Peter sits with 46 points and is also the current leader for overall driver champion by a slim margin.

T50-  Only four drivers have competed in more than one time trial in T50 this year.  David Wittmer sits in third with 29 points in three time trials highlighted by a win at Palmer 2 and two second place finishes at Palmer1 and NHMS2.  Jeff Baker sits in second place with 36 points finishing 2nd or 3rd at all five time trials.  Jeff Wasilko had a dominating start to the season with four wins in the first four events highlighted by a track record at Palmer1 with a 1:48.431.  He leads the class with 44 points.

T40- AKA the Greatest Show on Pavement.  In my entire time with COM I can’t recall such a deep, diverse and competitive class.  In the four dry time trials The top four T40 finishers have all been within 1.5 seconds of each other.  T40 has had four different event winners and six drivers are within 13 points of first place with three events to go.  Auto-X convert Matt Daniels sits in fifth place with 23 points.  Matt cleared the T40 field at NHMS in the rain by over 2 1/2 seconds and has been in the mix ever since.  If I asked you who was the only T40 driver with two wins on the season I bet you would guess wrong.  Well Robert “The Palmer Whisperer” Smigiel is that driver.  Robert edged out Scott Rosnick at Palmer1 by only 0.106 seconds.  That was a little too close for comfort so he cranked it up at Palmer2 to beat class leader Sash Dias by a massive 0.167 seconds!  2015 & 2016 T40 class champion Scott Rosnick has yet to win an event but sits tied in second place with Tom Cannon with 28 points.  Both have two seconds place finishes.  COM sophomore Sash Dias has been the one to pull away from the pack however.  With one win at NHMS2 and three more podium finishes he sits in first with 36 points in his BRZ.

T30- Three-peating class champion Stephen Hosker will not four-peat this year as he is in the middle of showing cancer what a T30 dominator is made of.  We are thinking about you Steve and can’t wait to see you back out here.  COM sophomore Andrew Grigg sits in third place with 34 points after the drop highlighted by a win at NHMS1.  It may look like Emily Berthier really likes to come in second place but we all know that is not the case.  She has been less than a second from first place in two out of the last three events.  She sits in 2nd place with 38 points after the drop with five second place finishes.  Mikhael El-Bayeh probably wishes he had his Civic ready at the beginning of the season.  He has gone 4/4 in the last four events since getting it back on track setting track records at both Palmer and Thompson.  One thing is

Pete McParland owns a slim lead in the overall driver championship standings.  Who will blink first?

Peter McParland- 61.4

Jake Wile- 59.0

Mark Swinehart- 57.8

Mikhael El-Bayeh- 56.6

 

It should be exciting to see how these battles play out over the remaining three time trials.  We are anticipating one of the highest attended Watkins events we have seen in a number of years followed by our first event at the brand new track Club Motorsports in Tamworth, NH.  Sign up for that event now it is already filling up fast!  Don’t forget about NHMS3.  Rumor is we may be running south oval.

See you in the paddock.

~Dave W.

Register now for Watkins Glen

Registration for Watkins Glen is now open!!!  This track is only two years removed from a complete repave of the racing surface. Gone are the teeth-shattering concrete patches. The new surface is so smooth and grippy!  Sign up soon as this event will fill up quickly.  This is also a great opportunity to check out the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix on September 8-10th.

The event cost & other information can be found at the registration link: Watkins Glen Registration Page

If you have any specific questions about event registrations please contact our Registrar: comregistrar@comcast.net

If you have specific event questions (entry / gas / etc.) please keep an eye on our Event Annoucement Section on the forum or contact our Chief of Event Operations: comoperations@comcast.net

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2017 Mid-Season Newsletter

Fellow COM Members,

Time seems to be flying, and we are already at the mid point of our 2017 season.  There has been some tight competition.  For now, I’d like to give an update on some of the happenings in the club since the open of the season.

Advanced Coaching: 

Back in May of 2016, when I decided to run for president, I asked Nick Fontana to craft a program to offer advanced coaching to our licensed drivers, but that also fit (or at least did not interfere) with our other curricular activities.  The overall goal for the club in offering this program was to offer higher value to our largest single group; our license holders.  The idea was to help individuals that feel they have plateaued to pick up their pace, and thus elevate our overall pace/competition. 

It took some work along with Stephan DePenasse, Jeff Wasilko, our classroom resources, and with Will Martins, our chief instructor to make this fit.  Our biggest challenge has been staffing.  Nick, for the most part, has been working alone with sporadic help of other instructors as they become available.  Our current model tends to fully task our instructor group with student load, the hot lap ride along program, and our instructor candidate program, but in those instances when we have some extra capacity, we can redistribute instructors to assist with coaching.

It is, in a word…….working.

So far, there have been about 30 “one on one” coaching sessions with license holders.  This, along with some very detailed and well attended classroom sessions, have produced many instances of members reporting personal best lap times, and also an up tick in the level of competition in the time trials.  

There is more work to do.  The next phase of this will be to find a way to staff the program with adequate resources to support more “one on one” sessions, and do more data and more video break down…..while not affecting the staff we devote to our students and other event activities.  It won’t be easy, but I think we are up to the challenge.

Participation: 

So far this season, our attendance numbers have been a little on the light side.  For the most part, we have been reaching break even with perhaps a very small margin over on some of the events.  Some of this may have been due to the cold spring season, or schedule conflicts with regard to holidays etc.  We saw some low student counts early in the year, but it looks like those numbers are starting to bounce back up now that the weather seems to be cooperating.  Please keep doing what you can to spread the word on social media etc…and help us fill events.  Renting race tracks is very expensive, and prices have skyrocketed over the last few years.  Having events that are full help us keep our pricing the lowest (by far) in our region.

Staffing:

You may have seen me floating around and playing a few different roles.  Some of this is that I am trying to learn what each position does, but also it has been because we have been a little light at these positions, most notably at operations.  This is a critical role because the person on the radio with race control sets and maintains the pace of the entire event.  For many years, Sam Webster has been at this position.  The growing demands of our group, the increased importance for maintaining quality track time, not to mention the fact that whoever is up there sacrifices their own seat time in huge chunks are reasons why we need more coverage there.  Sam has done this pretty much alone with one or two people stepping in when Sam wants to drive or take a break. Next time you see him, let him know his work is appreciated. Ask him if he needs anything.  Ask to volunteer..

While we are on that subject….

COM is a nonprofit organization.  The club runs on the commitment of our all volunteer staff and board of directors.  We are always looking for help.  Sometimes it is at an event where we are looking for people to help at the grid, at tech, or registration…… Sometimes it can be something that happens away from an event, like something to do with the mobile, website, or social media applications.  We are looking at new ways to streamline our processes to gain some efficiency, while at the same time trying to keep our overall quality level as high as possible.

If you have a specialty in any of these areas and want to contribute a little time to make COM better, let us know.  If there is something we aren’t doing to make COM better, let us know.  Keep the communication flowing.  Tell a board member, a staff member, an instructor, tell me…

Board Meetings:

Our board meetings have been the third Wednesday of the month, and have been happening at Salvatore’s in Andover center.  Members are encouraged to come and see how the club operates.  Also, if you have an interest in serving on the board of directors, let us know.  The board, and officers are elected every year by the membership.  For many years it has been the same people in the same positions.  Sometimes the reason has been due to lack of the willing to put their name on the ballot.  In some cases it has been because our process hasn’t been communicated very well.  Mostly, it has been because our volunteers wish to serve and are very committed to keeping the club going.

Next year will be our 60th.  We got here because we have a strong membership that cares about what we do and the service we provide.  Let’s keep that tradition going!  Put your name in this winter for a board position…..put your name in for an officer position.  Nothing would make me happier than to see multiple names going for positions so that we, the membership, actually have a choice.              

Lastly….  Club Motorsports!!!!!     We are go!!!

You  have no doubt seen the amount of progress they have been making at CMI posted on their FB page.  They have been on a very quick pace to make it to their goal of opening this summer.  It has taken a very long time, and tons of calls, emails, and bit of negotiation, but the finishing touches are being applied to our agreement with CMI and I will receive the contract in the next day or so.  We pretty much know what we are going to see, and our review of the contract should not take very long.  Barring any issues with it, we should have a signed and counter signed document along with our insurance certificate within the next two weeks.

We will be sending a small team comprised of our classroom, instruction and coaching resources to drive the track in late August.  They will be there fill in the blanks for our learning materials.  We will also have a few operations resources there to walk the paddock and determine how we plan to get all of our people in there.  The parking looks like it might be a little tight…..best to have a plan for that before we get there.

I could go on, as there are a ton of things to talk about, but I’ll just say that things look pretty solid for the club for the near term, and that I have been having a good time serving as president.  I see a lot of smiling faces in the paddock, and a very positive and upbeat feel to the club this year.  Let’s keep it going!!!!

Have a great second half!

I’ll see you at the track.

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Troy Velazquez – President

Com Sports Car Club

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Register for our final visit to Palmer Motorsports Park now!

Registration for our second HPDE driver school and time trial event at Palmer Motorsports Park is now open!   The even is a Saturday-Sunday event on 8/12-8/13.  You can register HERE.

This will be our final visit to Palmer Motorsports Park in 2017 so don’t miss out.  Join us at one of the most exciting road course facilities in all of New England.  It truly is a roller coaster ride!

Garage rentals can be arranged directly with the track HERE

All other event details and information can be found on our web forum HERE

 

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