Home Region Happenings Region Happenings Open Letter to NYR Membership

PostHeaderIcon Open Letter to NYR Membership

This is an Open Letter to the general membership of the New York Region SCCA. This is not meant as an attack or a snipe towards anyone in particular...or even in general. It is meant as a catalyst to open conversation and discussion regarding what New York Region SCCA has become, where it is going, and what possible directions it could or should take.

First let me identify myself. My name is George Henderson and I have been a member of the region since 1973. I have held offices and positions in the region, off and on, since 1980. I currently hold no office in the region...nor am I seeking one so anything I may say here is not politically motivated. I consider myself to be "just a member" that is curious as to why the club has developed into the entity that it has become.

A little history...New York Region SCCA was one of the first Sports Car Club of America regions formed in the late 1940's when the national club came into being. It was a VERY exclusive organization whos membership was as hard to get as a membership at most country clubs. You had to be sponsored by an existing member, pass scrutiny of the existing membership, and pay heafty dues...all for the privilige of racing your very expensive sports car with select friends and a wine and cheese gathering at the end of the day before you drove home. Time and ecconomy have changed that, repeatedly over the years, but the basic tenets still ring true...this is a club where like minded automotive folks get together to have fun with their cars. As New York Region grew it became THE SCCA region to be a member of and this status was reflected in the membership rolls that listed a number of "A" listers in the club...Walter Cronkite, Dave Garroway, John Weitz, Rene Dreyfus, Mario Andretti, John Fitch...I could go on and on but you get the picture. If you opened a volumn of "Who's Who In America" and blindly stuck your finger on any page...chances are pretty good you would hit someone that is or was a member of the New York Region SCCA. It got to the point that the national office of the club would automatically put anyone that applied for membership from east of the Mississppi (including EUROPE!) into New York Region! The membership grew to almost 3000 active Racers, Rallyist, Gymkhanaist, Concourist, and workers. It was an extended "Golden Age". NewYork Region ran competitive automotive events at locations and venues all up and down the northeastern seaboard. At Bridgehampton, Lime Rock, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Uniondale, New York City, Randalls Island, Floyd Benett Field Brooklyn, anywhere there was pavement or forrest road or city street and a group of people that enjoyed motorsports. Car manufacturers embraced the region and shared space with them at the prestiegious New York International Auto Show every year and the region was called on to host ANYTHING automotive taking place in Manhattan.

Time marches on. There are scandals (what large club DOESN'T have them), changes in leadership (EVERYONE gets burnt out...eventually), venues change, go away, become unaccessable, the political climate and public oppion changes, the ecconomy, job force, nature...you name it...effects how we determine how we utilize our descretionary time. And the club changes. But, still, we pay large dues (relatively from the unheard of $24 of the 1940's to nearly $200 today) to maintain our membership. And this brings me to the point(s) of the discussion...Why?

There is an old saying that goes something like, "Why do you hit yourself in the head with a hammer? Because it feels so good when you stop." So, I ask, "Why do the thousands (yes...we literally have thousands of members on the books of New York Region) thousands of you continue to pay yearly dues to the region? I guess the better question is why are you all still members? What is it that you are expecting for your membership dollars? Is a 12 month subscription to a club magazine REALLY that valuable to you? It may be, I'm just asking. Or is there some other reason that I am not seeing? I joined because I had an addiction to auto racing. I read and followed for years the exploits of my racing heroes Dan Gurney, Mark Donahue, Jim Hall and Pedro Rodriguez de la Vega. I absorbed the pages of Road and Track, Sports Car Illustrated and Competition Press. I lived for 'The Wide World of Sports' when they covered The Grand Prix of Monte Carlo or the Riverside 500. Films of Can-Am races from Marlboro, Donnybrook, or Mosport and Trans-Am races from Bridgehampton and VIR and Bryar would set me vibrating for a week. And then to learn that with membership in the SCCA...I could somehow be a part of that?! Well here's my check...sign me up. Then came Rally and Solo and and worker specialties and, the biggest surprise, a SOCIAL NETWORK...long before twitter or facebook of google+...that's what got me involved. But these things are no longer evident in the region. The racing program is dead. I couldn't tell you who the region 'Driver of the Year' has been for the last 4 years. There has been no awardee of the region's President Cup, no most improved driver, no Worker of the Year, no Hall of Fame Recipient....we have lost all of our Road Racing AND Rally events as well as our venues. Add into this the fact that there has not been a General Membership Meeting to discuss any issues relating to the region in...years.

So...the question that must be asked is...WHAT?

WHAT is it that keeps you as a member of the New York Region SCCA? What is it that the club is doing for your membership dollars? And if this is a surprise wake up call to you...WHAT would you expect for and from membership in such a club? What kind of communication do you expect from your club? Your officers? Your fellow members? I can honestly say there was a time when I and others actually looked forward to the monthly meeting and what information it might bring. And, yes, sometimes I couldn't make the meetings. No one would be expected to make all of the meetings. But should anyone be expected to make ANY meetings? Or is that a 20th century thing? Forget the fact that the region by-laws require monthly meetings...is this something that the general membership require? WHAT activities do you, as a dues paying member, require of your club? RACES? RALLYS? SOLOS? SOCIAL EVENTS? You, as a member of New York Region SCCA have a BOARD of DIRECTORS that need to hear where and how you want the club to run. These people VOLUNTEER their time to impliment direction of YOUR club. Do you feel it's worth you giving them an idea as to WHAT you might like to see the club become? Or are you just happy to pay dues, get a membership card and magazine, and let things go along as they have?

There is one division of the club that seems to have the idea as to how to satisfy it's membership. The SOLO Division has shown growth and stability within the region for a number of years. It has shown an ability to reach and effectively communicate with it's patrons and to work it's program into something it's members enjoy. If this division of the region can do this and do it repeatedly...WHAT is the difference between them and the rest of us? Or has the region effectively become a STRICTLY SOLO REGION? Is this what you are looking for?

As I said in the begining of this...this is an open letter to spur conversation as to WHAT you, the general, dues paying membership want, expect, hope for your membership. And most importantly...WHY you feel that way. Hopefully, with an opening of dialog, we may find some way of restoring the whole, complete, well rounded New York Region SCCA to the very top level of motorsports clubs in the northeast.

There are a number of forums that NYR-SCCA reside on found here on this website as well as social media like facebook and twitter. It also has a chapter club, The Poughkeepsie Sports Car Club that has a webpage as well. I urge you to use these if you desire to make your reasons and feelings heard.

Thank you.

Sincerely and For The Sport
George Henderson

Last Updated (Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:03)