Next year's schedule

Any and all discussions concerning events.
Boondocker850
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by Boondocker850 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:03 pm

As a new member and recently licensed I would hate to see anything that would jeopardize the great instructors com has. I myself would one day be honored to be able to pass on the knowledge I have gained from the classrooms and instructors to new com members as an instructor. I think there are other ways to offset the cost of the events. The instructors definitely earn the reduced cost to them and I don’t feel that should change.

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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by gcranston » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:06 pm

Honest question: do we think we'd get more participation at VIR or Mosport? It's 2.5 hours further, but there's no border.

This will only be my second year at the Glen, and man am I excited. As a member who can't manage a full schedule more because of time commitments, I like being able to pick an "away" track as one of my events. Tremblant didn't work this year because of personal schedule issues, so it's nice to have 2 away events to pick from. I'd support a schedule with 5-6 events around NE, WGI, and one "special" track: Tremblant, Mosport, Lime Rock, ... on a rotor to keep those options fresh(er). Harder to build a relationship with the track, which I know is really important for selection of dates and rates, but there's going to be a compromise somewhere.

I think there's a discussion to be had around cost to members vs. weekend/weekday events. What makes the stronger club in the long run? I don't know the answer, but maybe it's hidden in the registration data? Someone here does analytics...
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by jeffw » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:18 pm

One thing to think about as options are being discussed:

Tracks are mostly fully booked (there aren't many days available at tracks, especially weekends). Clubs generally have right of first refusal on the same dates each following year. If you give up those dates (by skipping Tremblant for a year, for example), there's no guarantee you'll be able to get your dates the following year.
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by paultg » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:04 pm

I have read alot of these responses and want to jump back to a statement made in the beginning that I think needs clarification:

1. Are members who have an "instructor licence" - that attend an event & have no assigned student responsibilities - paying registration fees or TT fees for the event like the other students / licenced drivers that attend? It's a simple Yes or No question? Can someone answer that?
- And I am not talking about having a student who leaves an event or has an mechanical
- I am strictly talking about "I am attending an event where I don't need to instruct because we don't have many students"

The reason I ask: just because you see a driver at an event who is able to "instruct", doesn't mean they did not pay for the event registration.
The beginning of this topic seemed to indicate that Tremblant 2019 had almost no students & many drivers who are "licenced to be instructors" automatically means the event tanked financially. That might not be the case.

2. It's been my understanding that financially the club is doing well. ALOT of work is put in by the BOD to make a schedule, forecast attendance & "break even registration numbers", etc. at the beginning of the season. Membership has ZERO idea on the significant effort by a few, and then all the discussions at the BOD meetings to finalize things and set event rates in Jan-March prior to the season starts.
During my time on the Board we were always forecasting less income for away events, negotiating a rental rate we felt could allow a break even at them (we are non-profit anyway); and then we know very well our expected income at other local events; and forecast the entire season with a goal in mind. Certain BOD members really dove into the prior registration history to get us accurate forecasting too to help with decisions. None of this is just done blindly.

3. I think it is important to point out in this discussion that almost all of our events on the schedule have a registration waiting list for students and BOD/Staff are always trying to insure we have enough instructors (and quality ones, not just anyone who sits in a passenger seat).
So even if the answer to "question 1" is "no- they aren't paying"; that doesn't mean that changing that really makes a big change for the club overall in terms of the season financials. I have my own feelings about the situation; but the big picture / reality is I don't think this is happening very often, if at all.

We need more detailed numbers from the club treasurer in my opinion to go further, not just assume an event (or season) was a financial disaster.

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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by Jliotine » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:42 am

I can't offer solutions, only opinion on this topic.

As an "arrive and drive" type of member, I don't trailer my car to events. I drive the same car I drive daily on the track. I'm not interested, at this point in my life, to buy a trailer and a truck to go racing. I can afford to do so, btw.

The only long drive event I do is WGI. For that I rent a uhaul van trailer.

What's the reason I don't go to Treblant? Logistics and event timing. I don't relish the idea of dealing with a border crossing with a uhaul trailer. Plus the timing of the event cuts into boating season. This a very personal reason for not attending and may not match the reasons for others not to go to Canada.

I think that that these long distance events are suited more towards the trailering set of COM members. To have two of these destination events on the schedule will decrease attendance to one of them, no matter what you do for enticements.

What I do think would help is to figure out a way to lure in more of the arrive and drive crowd. I believe that these folks, at least some of them, will get hooked and eventually graduate to a super class car and buy a trailer, etc.

They will also attend more events and will keep the cash flow intact.

Some of the things the club does, like self-tech, is a big plus. I stopped running with PCA and BmwCCA because of the silliness of taking my car in for a tech inspection. Other things, like requiring super class cars to be dyno'd I think helps keep the competition honest, but adds undo burden. But the last point does not apply to me.

It's a balancing act. Keep it simple enough to keep members, but have enough framework in the club to keep it legit.

Would I like to drive Lime Rock or Tamworth again. You bet! Is Tamworth really unsafe?

Regarding the instructors and club administrators, I've been with the club long enough to see that these people work hard. It takes a lot of time and effort to run this club, plus a lot of BALLs and patience to get in a car with students and figure out a way to advance them. I think it is valid for them to attend events sans cost. They're not running for free, they are working. And, they have to deal with their own cars too!

Here's a suggestion that my help lure the arrive and drives to a far away event. Offer up a program for tire and jack transport to a far away track. Something formal, not "go see Joe, he may have room". There seems to be a lot of members with large trailers and trucks that could transport this stuff.

Thanks for listening,

Jim
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by CalypsoBean » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:28 pm

I am also an arrive and drive member. As a counterpoint to the above statement, I regularly drive my 1970s era track car with no air conditioning to almost every track on the COM schedule, with the exception of Thompson as I noted above. Every American track on the schedule is 4 to 5 hour drive for me.

I will be making the six-hour drive to WGI in a couple of weeks in that same car.

I'm not sure that distance is a true deterrent to arrive and drive members. Especially members who have modern cars with air conditioning.

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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by AndrewG » Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:12 pm

I’m hesitant to jump into these because I know there is A LOT that goes into making the schedule that I am not privy to, and it’s not as easy as saying “here’s a great looking schedule; let’s do it!” But this is a good discussion and I wanted to throw my two cents in.

-It’s OK to lose money at some events. When we make money at some of the events, it’s good to “spend” that money doing things that the members enjoy. This could be running a track we wouldn’t otherwise get to run, or a really cheap test day, or a winter rental of Monza Karting Foxwoods, or whatever else. Bottom line: losing money at some “special” events isn’t a bad thing and shouldn't be viewed as such so long as we are ready for it.

-I don’t think we should do two time trials at ANY track during 1 season (I consider Palmer and Remlap to be different tracks by the way). There are SO MANY great tracks in the northeast and visiting as many as possible is great!

-During these discussions we need to keep in mind that a “distance” event for some members is a “local” event for other members. We have members all over the northeast.

-Dream Schedule: 0. Thompson Test Day, 1. Palmer, 2. Lime Rock, 3. Club Motorsports, 4. Thompson, 5. Rotating Distance Event, 6. Remlap, 7. NHMS

-Potentially More Realistic But Still Pretty Awesome Schedule: 0. Thompson Test Day, 1. Palmer, 2. NHMS Chicane, 3. Rotating Money Losing Event (Tremblant, Mosport, LimeRock, Pocono, New Jersey, etc.), 4. Thompson, 5. Remlap, 6. Rotating Money Making Event (Watkins Glen, Club Motorsports, Cannan, etc), 7. NHMS Oval


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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by TXBDan » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:43 pm

I keep trying to put a finger on what deterred me from many of the events this year. Before this year, i've attended three years of mostly full schedule. It really is a combination of things. As background, i drive my E36 to/from the track and pull a tire trailer. It's not the worst ride ever, but it does have race seats, stiff suspension and no AC.
  • NHMS: I don't love the track and its simply not worth a weekend and $600.
  • Palmer: I love it, i'm normally there, but i had life schedule conflicts this year. It's the best bang for the energy/buck track.
  • Thompson: i don't mind this track, but the juice wasn't worth the squeeze this year. I'd likely be there in the future.
  • Mt. Tremblant: i really like this track and almost made it. Imo the border crossing is a non issue and the drive isn't that bad. I drive home after the second day at both WGI and LCMT. I would consider this one to be something i would normally attend yearly.
  • WGI: I'll be there and always will be!
  • NHMS: since i'm not competitive this year, i won't be there. not worth time/money.
  • LRP: i'd be there for sure.
  • NJMP: i'd consider that and likely be game
  • VIR: Love it, used to be my home track. I drove to it once in the M3 and it sucked. Just too far for me personally.

So i think id sum this up as to me, the big/far tracks ARE worth it. If i'm going to burn a weekend and $600-800, i might as well do it at an awesome track. Whereas i've pretty much written off NHMS which is only an hour away.

Other thoughts:
  • Someone in the hunt for points is more likely to keep doing more events. Personally, once you're out, like me this year, there's little reason to bother with the last NHMS of the year. Everyone can't be a winner, but all the more reason to nail ruleset design to keep it close.
  • I also agree that bringing in more "arrive and drivers" is a good idea. big can of worms: maybe street tire classes? You shouldn't have to buy a truck, trailer, and hoosiers to have fun on track
Last edited by TXBDan on Wed Aug 28, 2019 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by basil2000 » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:29 pm

I would like to mention that i am surprised that COM doesn’t charge students more. Seems unfair that licensed drivers pay the same as students. I say that as someone that is a student. All of the instructors i have had at COM have been amazing. Students should pay more for their services.
WG is the first and only event i will do with COM this year due to the fact that its hard for me to commit to a whole weekend because of work and family commitments. I have run a few TNIA events due to cost and relatively small time commitment.
I would love do to do Tremblant but being a Canadian track i have been unable to get track insurance so that may be a roadblock for some of the members. I cant afford to ball up my 70k car without some sort of safety net.

Just my thoughts
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by gcranston » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:27 pm

basil2000 wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:29 pm
I would like to mention that i am surprised that COM doesn’t charge students more. Seems unfair that licensed drivers pay the same as students.
I can understand this approach though given how expensive the sport is. The cost is really a barrier to entry, and we need to continuously attract new drivers to keep the club going. I haven't looked into it extensively, but I've not seen other clubs charging students more than licensed drivers. Also, there's advanced coaching and other support available to licensed drivers. In my opinion, it's a service the club provides to attract and train new drivers and promote a safe environment for all.
I would love do to do Tremblant but being a Canadian track i have been unable to get track insurance so that may be a roadblock for some of the members. I cant afford to ball up my 70k car without some sort of safety net.
Lockton offers a 6-event multipack, where one of the events can be in Canada. The pack is also a significant discount over buying individual events. The only hitch is that you have to use all 6 events within 12 months. Now get your car to Tremblant (or Mosport)!
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by billrice » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:38 pm

With the currency exchange rate I thought the Mt Tremblant trip was a bargain.
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by sawyerhillbilly » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:43 pm

This is a great discussion.

1) I really like Andrew's suggestions for schedules.

2) Tremblant is really the only "family" event on our schedule where there are tons of things to do for wives, kiddos, in-laws etc. Not to mention a fantastic track.

3) There is no question in my mind that for those who manage this show, or put their life on the line to instruct not only new students but slow pokes like me whenever I ask, there should be not cost.

4) Although I would love to drive Mosport or VIR they are too much of a slog for me. All but NHMS are a good 3 hr plus drive from me, with WG being my longest tolerable drive at 6.5 hrs. Maybe I'm just too old to spend that much time behind the wheel of a pickup truck. Now if I could juat afford to retire.... Have to change the marketing strategy I am using on the boss...

5) Multiple COM members have driven Tamworth in the last couple of years and have reported no issues with safety, and have in fact applauded the upgrades to the track. Oh yeah and is is just over an hour from me. Shameless plug...

6) Lastly as someone who is fairly new to the club but not the sport, I would like to say thanks to all those that make these events happen. The quality of the folks at COM be they the BOD, volunteers, instructors, or drivers is unlike any group I have encountered. Pat yourselves on the back, you deserve it.
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by TroyV » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:04 pm

All,

Many thanks to those that have taken the time to post up their thoughts on the matter. The opinions vary, as they should. COM has quite a varied group of individuals. I could write pages of text touching on the points made in this thread, but I think that in general, the member base knows where I stand on most of the major issues...and if not, you may feel free to contact me directly. In short, I'll try to take us anywhere we want to go.

At present, COM is in a very strong position over all. It is stable financially and culturally, and maintains strong relationships with all of our venues. The staff and instructors are probably the best working unit in the region with regard to putting it all together in a tight package. The model works and produces positive, measurable results. The general effect on the license holders and students is that things run smoothly, and virtually transparent. The fact is, the only reason the execution is as good as it is, is that our volunteers, both at the events, and away from them, put in pretty serious hours to see to it.

We have some options for 2020, and while I could just re-book everything and publish the schedule, it shouldn't be done that way if there is some flexibility offered to us.

So, We will be putting together a survey that will go out to our active member database over the last two years. The survey will cover all of the venues and will be your opportunity to voice your preference for what direction we should take moving forward into 2020, and potentially beyond.

That said, here are the knowns:

1. LRP is non starter due to schedule availability and incompatibility with our two day format. (I check in with them every so often, and the response is the same)

2. CMI (Tamworth) is not out of the realm of possibility. There is some communication required, a solid exchange of expectations, not to mention an availability in the time slot we need.

3. Summit Point, NJMP, and points south have not been very good performers in the past. The same goes for Calabogie in the north, though I'm not sure why. I think it is a great track.

4. We worked very hard to reconnect with LCMT at the end of 2017. 2018 was a modest financial win, 2019 was a modest financial loss. The same date in 2020 is ours for the choosing. As was mentioned earlier in this thread, the club can easily withstand a modest loss here or there, but as a general rule, we want all of the events to stand on their own financial merit.

5. Mosport (CTMP) is looking at availability in that late June time slot. They say June is one of their busiest months of the season so I would not be optimistic of scoring a date there that is convenient to us as an alternate to LCMT if the membership wants to go in that direction. I know the core group of drivers would prefer to have Mosport on the schedule, but it does present us with challenges in regard to participation of large portions of the licensed and student groups.

6. Thompson consistently shows as very popular with our students, and we should look at the potential of adding a second date there if the metrics end up supporting that. The student pipeline needs to continue to flow if we want to keep the club strong.

Whatever we end up doing, we will do our best to try to make it work to everyone's benefit.

Stay tuned for the survey in the coming weeks.
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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by docesm » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:26 am

Sorry for showing up late to the dance, but I would like to possibly add to the discussion, as it may have an influence on the upcoming survey. Troy, the survey is a great idea, a chance to hear from everyone, not just the personality type to be on this forum (not judging). First and foremost, I think COM is a top notch club, all the way around. This is either my third or forth season as a competitor, so I still consider myself newer in the crowd. I'm not an authority on anything being discussed, merely a point of view from someone that would like to be participating for a really long time to come.
I like more local events. I'd like more events overall, but that's just because I can't make all of them due to scheduling conflicts. At a minimum, 2 Thompson, 2 NHMS, 2 Palmer, 1 destination choice. If that seems boring, spice it up. Make one of the mid summer races that is light late AND more profitable a bonus relay race. Or save the cash and put on extracurricular activities. I remember going to Bryar growing up while my father raced. Particularly that nearly everyone camped out at the track, and there was always a social when the track went cold the first night. Back to my point. I remember 'creeper races', lol. How fun was that?? Whether as a spectator or flinstonian, it's a riot.
Anyhow, it is very disappointing to me that we don't have a relationship with Lime Rock. Every year, when the schedule gets released, I hope that somehow Troy worked some magic and got us in. Does no one have an in?? Another course I'd be thrilled to get back to is Tamworth. Although there was a no stay over rule, there was a very local (and empty) campground to take advantage of. As far as destination courses, I find it a double whammy to do that long of a tow and have it be weekdays. Prefer weekend or at least a Fri/Sat. Great alternatives to crossing the border: Pocono or NJ motorsport park.
Thanks for listening

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Re: Next year's schedule

Post by kfoote » Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:49 pm

I haven't run with COM since Tamworth 2017, but that has nothing to do with what I perceive to be an excellent club and instructor base to learn how to drive a car on a race track with. I know I haven't been around for a while, but I'd like to think that y previous years mean something.

When I started, all TT events were on weekends. Having an event on a weekend versus weekday has always seemed to draw a larger number of participants regardless of the where or when. The more weekday events there are, the fewer people that will be able to attend all of them. As for the club demographics, I think it's safe to say that the majority of the club members live within a 3 hour radius of Boston. This is important for making sure enough people show up at most of the tracks. There were also a lot fewer track options, and thus the need for the club to travel further. Also along these lines, I think that anything more than 8 events puts an undue time commitment on the BoD, specialty chiefs, and instructors.

On to my opinions of the individual tracks:

NHMS - COM's traditional home track since the beginning. I think 2 events can be justified here, one on each configuration. Though the walls are close, I think that NHMS is actually a safer track to learn on than any track nearby other than Thompson, and the "no runoff" reputation it has is greatly exaggerated.
Palmer - In the middle of the population base, and again, I think 2 events can be justified here, one each direction. The safety here is a bit tricky, and the focus should be on knowing when to give up and go both feet in vs trying to save it. If you catch it early and go both feet in early, it's generally ok, and the bigger issues come when you try to save the car and aren't able to.
Thompson - IMO, the best and safest track to learn on anywhere close to New England. Because of this and its convenience for a large portion of the club's population, I think 2 events can be justified here as well.
Tamworth - There are runoff and safety concerns in places, but I don't think they are any worse than a lot of other track options COM has. The sound limit also has to be considered. I think One event per year here would be fine.

Based on an 8-event season, I think at least 6 should be from the above options, with priority given to weekend events. Now to where to get the other two events from:

Watkins Glen - I believe it has it's issues and has a higher likelyhood for significant damage than any of the above tracks, but with its proximity to the population base and its history, it is enough of a draw to justify one event a year here regardless of whether it is a weekday or a weekend.
Tremblant - Assuming that track management has stabilized and is sticking to their contracted schedule now, this is also close enough to justify an annual event whether a weekend or a weekday, though again, getting weekend dates may not be feasible.
NJMP - The main Thunderbolt track is decent, I don't think Lightning is interesting enough to be worth going to. It's worth considering, but I think it's popular enough with other clubs that it's going to be very difficult to get weekend dates.
Calabogie - I haven't been there, and though everyone I've talked to that has been there has liked it, it doesn't have the name draw and is far enough away that it's not worth the club going unless it's a weekend event.
Summit Point - The main track is good, but given its location, I think there are likely options that are closer that are better for the club. I haven't been there recently enough to see if sufficient improvements have been made to the safety of the Shenandoah circuit, and IMO, the Jefferson circuit isn't worth it.
Caanan Motor Club - I haven't been there, but from what I have seen, it is

Lime Rock - Lime Rock is expensive, weird, and has the highest chance for significant car damage anywhere in New England. There is very little here that translates well to other tracks. Though it looks like there is a lot of runoff, the track surface is elevated, and the grass is downhill to whatever you're going to hit - likely hard.
NY Safety Track - Though I haven't been there, the irony is that everything I have seen is that it's not safe.
Pocono - Expensive and not particularly interesting. There is runoff room in most places and it it relatively safe, but I think there are better options at this distance from the population base.
Mosport - As much as I hate to put it here as it's my favorite track to drive that I've driven that still exists, I think it's far enough away that it would only really work on a weekend date on the main track. The new Driver Development course is not worth the drive for the majority of the club population. With more tracks now available that are closer, I'd put this lower on the list.
VIR, Mid-Ohio - Great tracks, but I think they're just too far away for a MA-based club.
Nelson Ledges - Probably the only track that's similar to Lime Rock in speed, momentum nature, and deceptive runoff areas. It's less expensive, but far enough away that it wouldn't be worth going unless it was on a weekend date and all other away event options had been exhausted.
Pitt Race - Decent track with the expansion a couple of years ago, but there are likely better options closer.
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