RACER RETENTION RATE
By Robert Beaulieu, northeastracer.com Editor
Retaining the SCCA Racer
Masthead: Bill Shield, defying the racer retention rates, in his Alfa in '75 and in 2018, forty three years at Thompson!
For countless years as editor of PIT TALK Magazine, one of the chores of the production of the publication was that I would take results from all the New England Races and reformat the html filers to hard type. That meant editing, and tabbing, tabbing, and still more tabbing.. ( I just did not copy and lay down the html copy). After many years of doing this, I always noticed how the names came and went as I compiled the list. Many I inputted for years, that I felt as though I knew them personally (many faded away to become just a memory.) I may not have ever met them, but I did know all the names (BTW, Solo as well) To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to look at what is the average participation length of the SCCA Racer.
I utilized a very informal, unscientific results to come with some conclusions to answer this question. Using Year end point results for 2018 of the New England Region, I then ran a match against years prior, that being 2012, (the five year 2013 html on NER.org would not open) 2007 and 2001.
Taking the 2018 results I made an Excel spreadsheet of the names, then did the same for the end results for the years used in comparison. Then a simple comparison or repetition of names that went across all years was a simple solution to determine years of participation.
Now, being unscientific, one of the drawbacks on these conclusions, is that if the racer took this year off (2018) more than likely they were not be counted, also a number of the drivers that have driven in the past, may have now drifted into other forms of racing, Vintage racing etc. Long time racers such as VRG/ HRG racers like Bill Shields, Dave Gott, Don Denome, John Travers, Etc. etc were not counted, though certainly they would of course increase the continuation percentage.
Ultimately, lets take a look at the results..
For 2018, 427 entrants were mentioned on the year end season points results (by the way, even if they did not receive points, the driver was listed.. all you had to be is entered for at least one event) 2012 there were 391 total entrants; 2007, 422; and 2001, 472. For one thing, it does show that the consistency of entrants has remained relatively neutral, although, by the 2018 and 2012 numbers do show some entrants in multiple classes (SM/ITA/SM2 etc.)
Now for the real answers, out of all the entrants in 2018, 110 of these also appeared on 2012 entry list, for a total of 25.72% racers continued into 2018, a six year race span.
The numbers do drop for racers that race in 2007, that continue today. The total was 56, or a 13.11% continued participation…and going back to 2001, 43 participants still repeated in 2018 for a 10% continued participation rate. Not Bad, i’m sure as the years went further back in time, these participation percentage, only diminished slightly by year. Dick Barlow, Michael Rand, Dave Celani, Dan Grace to name a few have been racing for more than double the amount as mentioned.
What is the ultimate conclusion of this informal result….
First off there will always be a hard core enthusiast that once the racing is in their blood, it never leaves and they continue with the sport. Some, even come back after a multiple year absence.
2. That SCCA and sanctioning bodies must always be tuned into solicitation and recruitment of the new potential racer to join the ranks thorough marketing, exciting race programs (take the CRE, or OWE that NER hosts) to ease the new registration (and enthusiasim) of the new potential racer.
3. A number of low cost entry level classes must always be available for the new participant.
4. Introduction to racing to the public must be maintained. The success of Track Nights (I will dwell on that in the near future) is one of them.. and
5. I think this may be a big loss of the potential new driver, spectator participation, we need to have the common regional racer be known to the public. (NER, did reach out with a poserful display and exposure at the recent New Engald Auto Show) At the moment, only Professional series now are open to the public.. The common auto enthusiasits mus be made aware that there is a racing program that is at an entry level.
In conclusion, congratulations to those that partake in so many years of participation, and those whom still have their racer tucked away under the lawn furniture in the garage, we’d certainly welcome you back