KERMIT SAYS, “It’s not easy being green” and he is right. This is especially true when your hobby involves burning fossil fuels and making lots of noise. Maybe this is not the “green” he means, however, it is the dilemma of everyone who enjoys motorsports in its original form. There have been in-roads made in electric vehicles like the Taycan and I tried to watch a Formula E race once, but it’s just not the same. They all buzzed around like George Jetson in a way-too-old TV reference. I like my cars loud and rumbling and I fear that their days are numbered.
I’ve noticed during a season plagued by a coronavirus that many race series have moved to an online presence. Everything from NASCAR to Le Mans racing now have a digital alternative. Sometimes the participants are the actual race drivers themselves. I’m not sure how well they transition since it’s really not the same skill. I can throw a car around pretty well, but my thumbs aren’t very nimble. Just ask my nephews who gang up on me in Call of Duty. When it comes to a controller, Mr. Coordination I’m not! Cars are tuned with computers now rather than a screwdriver and a beer. I guess I’m a dinosaur.
Most of our participants expect a higher standard when participating with their prized possession and we aim to deliver it. Safety always comes before cheap thrills.
Occasionally I get some feedback on private companies’ lapping days, as I’m sure they get feedback on ours. Without the DE component we are all doing similar things this season in order to pay the bills. No matter where you go there are always participants who knock other events based on where they are standing. They knock the PCA events as having too many rules when they are at a private event, and they knock the private events as being out of control when they are at one of ours. I don’t know if they think we can just throw out PCA’s minimum standards for no apparent gain, but we can’t and we won’t. Most of our participants expect a higher standard when participating with their prized possession and we aim to deliver it. Safety always comes before cheap thrills.
There is, however, one advantage that private events have over ours, so I thought I would address it. Just for those who like to comment on it. I can’t tell you how many participants at private events tell me how much better their food is. It reminds me of a newspaper comment made by a patient at one of Kingston’s fine hospitals. They said the food wasn’t that great. I recommend that you don’t go to a hospital for dinner. Just go when you break your leg. They are good at some things but none of our hospitals have a Michelin Star.
I’m not making excuses, but I wouldn’t go to a race track for dinner. It’s fine if you are already there, but they don’t take reservations, it’s noisy and during the pandemic your food is going to come in a box. On the other hand my favourite restaurants won’t let you drive 150 MPH around them and they don’t appreciate helmet head or oily clothes. Just to set themselves apart from race tracks I assume. I love sarcasm.
Food services are part of CTMP’s business plan. We can bring in an outside food vendor if we like, but there is a $10 per head surcharge for that. Since all of our events are at least two days, unlike our competitors, we often have 150 participants and 20 service providers, not 50 drivers and minimum staff like the private days. The track would charge us $3,400 on top of our food catering costs. Last but not least, these private events charge around $450 per day. We charge $370 per weekend.
So for those who take a boxed lunch as some kind of insult or measure of the quality of our program here is my offer. If you are willing to pay us $900 for our two-day events, I’ll have the Keg bring you a prime-rib sandwich and some premium sparkly water. I’ll even throw in a table cloth and a real fork. You’ll still have to sit by yourself and follow the rules though. You’ll have to risk your health and safety somewhere else. Hahaha, how was that for a cheap shot?
Next month is when your track team has its annual planning meeting. That’s when we sit down and review our performance for this season and plan the events for the next one. In evaluating this season, I think it’s clear that the three-day events, both the DDT Friday and the additional solo-lapping Friday in September were not well-supported. I don’t enjoy begging and pleading the membership just to come and cover our costs. While I’m grateful to those who answered the call this year, I think it would be foolish to reserve those dates for next year and possibly be faced with the same situation.
Without real advancements in a vaccine or treatment of COVID-19, our track dates will resemble the two-day solo-lapping events that you supported this year. I’m hoping that things will change enough that we can resume our Driver Education program in 2021 and welcome all of our students back to the track. I’m sure that lack of advancement, even for our signed-off drivers, has been a bit frustrating for participants, but we are all in the same boat. There are some programs that have resorted to lead-follow formats, but the truth is that they are just taking your money. No real progress can be made without the real time input of an instructor.
With the 2020 modified season drawing to a close I would be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone who helped us weather this storm. From the track team who doubled their efforts, to all of the club members who supported us with their registrations, I thank you. Without all of you we couldn’t have made it through these difficult times. Fortunately, our program is formatted to return to the full Driver Education program on a moment’s notice. We’re looking forward to doing that as soon as it’s safe for us to do so.
Until then, enjoy the off-season and stay safe. </>
Photo by Adrian Chan.