New License Tiers (ARR vs. IRR)

CSRGuy

New member
I plead guilty to being one of those Conference participants who has rarely accessed the Forum much less responded to issues raised.
Until now. This thread about the restructuring of the competition licensing process was brought to my attention by fellow drivers with
decades more experience than I and whose opinions I highly respect. My opinion was sought due to my being a fellow race driver
as well as a retired physician. I am very concerned with and dead-set against changing the requirements for a race license in regards to a
medical exam.

I am fully behind getting young blood into our sport but not at the potential risk of spilling some in the process. I am incredulous that any thought
whatsoever is being given to lowering the standards for obtaining a competition license. We willingly participate in an inherently dangerous sport
where both the inanimate a well as sentient machinery is, by definition, tested to their limits. The least we can do is engage a rigorous attempt to
reassure ourselves, as well as those participating with us, that as much care has been taken to safeguard us as is possible given the nature of the sport.

We require tech checklists and equipment examinations by marshals at the track prior to our cars being deemed safe to participate. Should any less be required of the drivers piloting those machines? Do we “forgive” a brand new car from undergoing a tech scrutiny simply because it is new (or “young”) and is less apt to have anything wrong with it yet require more vigorous examinations of older yet just as worthy cars? No, the same standards are applied to all.

Should we expect anything less of the medical histories , checklists and examinations (infrequent for the younger and more frequent for the older drivers such as myself) that we should all willingly subject ourselves to in order to assure ourselves and those driving at the limit next to us that man and equipment are both up to the task?

Do a checklist and tech scrutiny assure us that something untoward might not happen on track? Of course not, but it is the best assurance we have against otherwise unforeseen mishaps. The same can be said of the medical hurdles we must all pass regularly for the privilege of driving as we do.

I will not rehash the very thoughtful remarks made by others on this thread. They are all warranted and worthy of our rethinking of this new policy. And, the issue of money should never trump that of safety.

My racing experience started with SOVREN. I left that body in favor of ICSCC after I witnessed too many safety issues go unaddressed and too much deference paid to longstanding and previously valued participants whose heydays had long been passed. I worry that not only are our standards being eroded in terms of maximum safety but that some may attempt to game this issue by “downgrading” themselves from an IRR license to an ARR license in order to sidestep a potentially problematic and disqualifying medical exam.

Respectfully submitted,

Peter Killefer
#1503
 

Steve Adams

Just this guy, ya know?
I like Bruce Beachman’s idea: waive the entry fees for a new driver’s first race. But, I have another idea, which tackles the expense head on: deduct the new driver’s out of pocket medical expense (up to an agreed upon not-to-exceed amount) from his/her first race. Boom – now the exam has cost the newbie nothing. And, it is simple to administer, understand and promote: “just bring (or email) a copy of your medical expense receipt to your first race and we (Conference) will give you a credit, dollar for dollar, against your other race day expenses!”

Andy Chenoweth
One nit I'll pick with Bruce's and your suggestions is that Conference doesn't actually put on the races and therefore can't waive Conference-associated fees from the Clubs' pockets.
 

brucebe

Philosopher
One nit I'll pick with Bruce's and your suggestions is that Conference doesn't actually put on the races and therefore can't waive Conference-associated fees from the Clubs' pockets.
Steve - yes, you are correct. But it is most certainly a nit. The correct protocol could be put in-place to support what Andy and I proposed. When a novice is upgraded to ARR, that first race entry is waived.

Cheers,
-Bruce
 

rick_bostrom

Onda Kattan Racing
Andy and Colin - I appreciate that everyone has an opinion and I am happy to hear participants debating them in the spirit of making Conference what it's members want it to be. I'm not picking you out so please don't be offended and certainly don't take this personally - I just want to use a few of your points to illustrate things that I see as issues with the way these things are usually handled.

1) Andy: " This rule change – no medical exam required to drive your race car at high speeds in close proximity to other race cars travelling at high speeds and fixed objects – just made it more risky, and needlessly so." I understand this is your opinion but where is your factual evidence? Amateur racing statistically isn't very risky to start with and there is no evidence that not requiring a physical performed by a physician makes it any riskier. Being in a car that is inspected to insure it has enhanced minimum safety requirements travelling in the same direction as other cars with drivers that have received specific training swaddled in personal protective gear under the observation of safety personnel, supervised by officials, and attended by ambulances at either end of the track likely makes it less likely to be seriously injured racing than on public roads. To be fair that is my opinion. I have periodically looked for statistics to quantify injuries per mile comparing regular daily automotive use compared to amateur racing over the last 20 years but those statistics have been hard to find and it's hard to find any source much less one that sorts the circumstances properly. While amateur road racing sometimes reaches the perceived "fear threshold" for some drivers that shouldn't be confused with actual risk. Almost anyone who races (myself included!) who is new to the sport or takes any substantial break between outings will feel some degree of "rust" when they return. For me it means I need to get in some laps at less than my best potential pace and reacclimatize myself with the sensations and need for precision required when controlling a vehicle at high speeds. One person may feel "risk" at 60 mph when another doesn't at 120 when in reality what they really feel is "discomfort" at getting near their personal limits. If you and Bruce go out to have a nice race with each other and afterward you find out either you or he didn't have their physical done in that calendar year can you honestly say you would have felt the additional "risk" emanating from him? Lastly, I have to address the "needlessly so". The ICSCC Executive Board spends a lot of time and energy trying to figure our ways to preserve grassroots amateur racing in the Northwest and it has not been easy in recent years. The individual clubs battle to reach the break-even point at most of the events over the course of the year. We are often calculating down to individual race entries what it will take to make an event viable. The E-Board does nothing capriciously - they take all of this very seriously and it was their opinion that we needed to try some things so we can even have events for you to complain about. As previously stated, there is no evidence that this will in any way compromise your safety. We have at least the beginnings of some hard data because we suspended the physical requirement last year because for most people it was impossible to get an appointment to get one during the majority of the "pandemic". Admittedly there were fewer events and they were slightly less well attended but miraculously the world did not end when drivers without physicals showed up at races.

2) Andy: "The first is ground is ludicrous on its face. By definition, a medical HISTORY is in the past. Sure, the past may influence or determine the future, but this is not necessarily true. Granted, an exam is only a snapshot in time, but that time is much closer to the present, a point in time that will shortly be followed by a highly risky activity. And, the assessment of the applicant’s CURRENT health is being made by a medical professional, not by a self-interested wannabe racer motivated by cost savings." I don't take any of this personally but I strongly disagree with your characterization of your fellow ICSCC competitors. If they wanted to save money they could pass through tech with a borrowed helmet then wear half an old basketball covered with paper-mache for appearance purposes in the races and save several hundred dollars. You seem to have ignored the earlier post where I stated that it is obvious that there are an unlimited amount of things that could cause a serious medical issue that have never been tested for in a simple physical and some so obscure that they never would. The way most people find out that they have a serious medical condition is by having some kind of problem or complaint that they take to a doctor who then prescribes tests specific to those symptoms. In a very real way, an honestly filled out medical history report is more likely to indicate serious problems than a simple physical. In the end, it is each driver's obligation to protect their own safety and that of those around them. It is suggested that you have regular physical examinations and pay for upgrades to your safety gear and your car until you reach a point that you feel it is safe enough to participate. Expect others to make similar decisions for themselves and don't expect their decisions to be the same as yours. We are club members working together to be able to have the money and manpower required to hold high performance events at all. When someone abuses our trust and threaten the organizations and funds entrusted us by generations of club members we do our best to take appropriate action to protect ourselves from them in the future. I refuse to assume up front that everyone is untrustworthy and trying to scam the organization for the sake of a few bucks or to save a little effort. While we are at it let's turn that around - do you want me to feel that way about you, or is it just everyone else? I would suggest that if you really feel that way about your competitors, maybe your perception of them is what is causing your fears rather than the physical examination requirement. There are dozens of ways to cheat your way though a number of our requirements if someone is determined regardless of the safeguards we institute but I make the general assumption that the drivers we issue a license to are making good appropriate decisions until they demonstrate that they are not and force us to penalize or exclude them.

3) Andy: "I like Bruce Beachman’s idea: waive the entry fees for a new driver’s first race. But, I have another idea, which tackles the expense head on: deduct the new driver’s out of pocket medical expense (up to an agreed upon not-to-exceed amount) from his/her first race. Boom – now the exam has cost the newbie nothing. And, it is simple to administer, understand and promote: “just bring (or email) a copy of your medical expense receipt to your first race and we (Conference) will give you a credit, dollar for dollar, against your other race day expenses! All I can say is that your understanding of ICSCC and Club finances is lacking so I assume that you probably don't attend club meetings? It is amazing how quickly and easily people are able to spend other peoples money! There is nothing that costs "nothing" - what you are suggesting is that "someone else" pays those costs. Across all Clubs there are a couple events in a normal year that are likely to make some money and maybe one or two more that might if the weather is good. For the rest the clubs generally try hard to break even or not lose more than can be recovered out of their club membership fees. A success for most clubs would be to make enough money at one or two events to offset the loss they incur at their other events so they can break even for the year. If you feel strongly enough about this I would be happy to contact anyone who hasn't gotten a physical for their licensing this year and tell them you are willing reimburse them if they get a physical. In some cases you might also need to find them a doctor .....
 

rick_bostrom

Onda Kattan Racing
4) Andy: "This incentive is a soft cost and non-recurring, so it would have minimal impact on the clubs. It would be non-recurring because, hopefully, our product would, after a first bite, sell itself. (This is how most promotions work, of course.) If the product does not sell itself, then we have other problems." I think this idea is at the absolute core of the current problem with Club Racing as nearly everything in this statement is absolutely incorrect. It indicates that there are participants that have zero understanding of what makes all of this work. I feel like I need to start adding a session that every novice must complete before receiving a senior license on the actual structure and operation of Conference and it's Member and Affiliate Clubs. Anything cost related has serious impact on the Clubs. We don't have a product. We don't sell or run promotions in any traditional sense. The product doesn't "sell itself" because the people buying it are the ones who are supposed to be creating it for their own use. There is no profit motive for anyone involved in the organization. My entry fees are exactly the same as everyone else's, I just contribute a lot more of my time and effort because I see the value of preserving the legacy handed to me by a line of Conference Presidents stretching back to 1957. We DO HAVE other problems which is why the E-Board is trying new things like this. I have personally enjoyed my two decades of Conference involvement enough to want to try to preserve it for the next generation. Currently the numbers are kind of indicating that they might not want it so we are doing all we can to find solutions to those problems. We don't spend the time changing things just because we are looking for some extra (volunteer) work. We are not a business and the drivers are not customers - they are club members who are expected to find a way to contribute in ways other than just race entries.

5) Andy: "As for the process prong of Rick’s defense, I can’t argue the facts of how this amendment occurred, and I’m sure the decision was made in good faith, with the best of intentions to, as Rick says “re[tain] and re[cruit] drivers.” Nevertheless, that is no reason not to put this issue back on the front burner and reconsider it in the interest of safety. (Imagine a fatal on-track incident caused by a medical emergency involving a non-examined driver – how would that affect retention and recruitment of new drivers?) That is a pretty simple answer - I don't think that the scenario is ever likely to happen, truly an insignificant risk compared even to the small risks we deal with at every race akin to getting struck by lightning. But lets be fair and discuss what would happen if it did occur. I don't think it would be likely to be any better or worse nor even more or less likely to happen whether the driver had a physical or not. Medical incapacitation while racing has happened extremely infrequently across the entire country over many decades and mostly to drivers that had a current physical exam. Medical incapacitation resulting in injury to anyone other than the driver with the medical condition are substantially rarer. The condition that causes the incapacitation must have clearly been something that they didn't examine for or at least a doctor decided wasn't serious enough to disqualify the driver from licensing. All of this adds up to this rule having zero effect on Conference racing, but we will continue to monitor it.

6) Colin: "I feel MUCH less safe from the drivers that aren't held accountable for committing avoidable contact than I do from drivers w/o physicals." I hear you, and you and I have discussed this in other places. We have always done the best we could to maintain a consistent application of guidance and penalties through the decades of Stewards who act as the chief safety officers for on-track operations. When I was Steward I always tried to maintain the level of behavior required without taking the competitive aspect and/or fun out of the racing. When two cars are operating at or near the edge of their performance envelope in close proximity there is always the chance that they will touch and then the question becomes "racing incident or avoidable?" Seems like there are a lot of different interpretations of what avoidable is and it is impossible to make everyone agree. If we look at it literally, all contact is avoidable and most of the time if you just yield to the person you are racing with and let them go on their way it will prevent most contact. Unfortunately the majority who race would at least claim they are there to compete and that makes it a lot harder. Vintage racing is supposed to be a spirited drive but stops short of putting a car into a competitive position that could result in contact. Pro racing is often about winning at all cost to retain your seat as a driver. Hopefully we can find a comfortable balance between those two but exactly where is open to interpretation by every driver. Stewards are limited by a few basic rules. When we investigate an incident we need enough evidence to corroborate one side or the other. If two drivers have different stories and we don't have an observation from another driver, corner marshal, or clear marks on the car that indicate the location of certain kinds of contact we are sometimes forced to take no action. It isn't satisfying but Stewards cannot decide on guilt or innocence based on how much they like the drivers involved. I think you know that I have a real problem with destroyed cars and bad behavior much like Stewards Bob and Dan that I was lucky enough to share my experience with and we all did a lot to make our races as safe as we could within the bounds of our authority. I've mostly had a great deal of respect for all the Stewards I have known in my 20 years. I still have the distinction of writing the two largest fines in Conference history during my stint and that didn't make me happy because it didn't fix the damage done to the volunteer corps that we value so highly. Hopefully you feel like there is a constant effort to make Conference as safe as we can and of course your opinion is valued as someone who HAS participated in a very real way towards making racing event possible.

Thanks to both of you for taking the time to post and discuss and please don't take offense - none was intended. Hopefully more will start migrating back to the forum and continued discourse intended to make Conference better will continue. In the end, no matter how much is said here it takes people to follow the process of conferring with E-Board reps, talking to their racing friends, writing and disseminating rule changes, and participating on the operation of the Clubs to getting anything actually done. Posting here is unlikely to inspire anyone else to do things that you want done. Those who do things for Conference are volunteers and are already full up with things to do just to keep us operating. If there is something that you want to do or change - it rests on your shoulders to make it happen.
 

Steve Adams

Just this guy, ya know?
Steve - yes, you are correct. But it is most certainly a nit. The correct protocol could be put in-place to support what Andy and I proposed. When a novice is upgraded to ARR, that first race entry is waived.

Cheers,
-Bruce

Tactful as ever, I see.

Sure the "correct" protocol could be put in place, but NOT on the simple say-so of the E-Board or some other hand-waving by Conference, since Conference doesn't determine entry fees, refund policies, or anything else monetary associated with a race weekend. So while the medical stuff and the Novice program are both administered by Conference and Conference officials, Conference doesn't have any say in if or whether the individual Clubs are able or willing to refund entry fees... which means "someone" needs to get buy-off on the idea from all the hosting Clubs in conjunction with approval by the E-Board/Conference.

So less a "nit," I guess, than a fundamental impediment to your proposed solution.
 

Gustav129

Member
Steve - yes, you are correct. But it is most certainly a nit. The correct protocol could be put in-place to support what Andy and I proposed. When a novice is upgraded to ARR, that first race entry is waived.

Cheers,
-Bruce
That is something we have done at NWMS. But it seems our pricing system has been different compared to other clubs.
 

brucebe

Philosopher
Gustav - exactly. Since on an event-by-event basis, it is the member clubs that experience the financial bottom-line. Your club has innovated to make certain scenarios more attractive. If I'm a first-timer, NWMS could offer a first-timer discount that effectively covers their medical exam (as Andy mentioned, equal to the cost of the exam). Quite frankly, if one club did this, the market would likely drive other clubs in the same direction. Oh - and thanks for not responding to my post with a one-sentence insult. Very tactful.

There's been a lot of *opining* in defense of this rule change, but that's it. When sentences include words like "believe", "think", and "off the top of my head...", that is opinion. The only fact on the table is that a rule change has been made to eliminate the requirement for a medical exam by ARR license holders. The defense of that decision has rambled all over the place, with some striking take-aways:
  1. All drivers are impacted by this rule change, since we all race at the same time on the same racetrack
  2. An argument has been made that the observation by a turn-worker is somehow equated to an examination by a trained physician. That's bonkers.
  3. Driver medical histories and medical exam forms are reviewed and filtered by someone with zero professional medical qualifications. That process ensures that the back-stop of a self-reported medical history is inherently flawed and should change immediately. You have a very trained and experienced ER physician on this thread, who I am sure, would be glad to help take a first glance at all of this (sorry PeterK, you were just volunteered).
  4. An argument has been made that preventative medical visits with a doctor, in the context of *racing*, have no relevance to preventing issues on the racetrack.
Number (4) is a big bet, as it is wagering the health and safety of EVERY driver. The absence of an incident does not *prove* anything, as it relates to the requirement of a medical exam. I'll make the equally weighted argument that there are an unknowable number of incidents that are avoided as a result of a required medical exam, since they never got on the racetrack. The fundamental difference is that maintaining the medical exam requirement absolutely does not erode the health and safety of ICSCC drivers, and does not subject them to truly unknown safety risk, just to save an entrant $200 every 1-5 years. And if we hope that the new entrant engages with ICSCC full-time, since the product is superior to all the crap-can endurance series, they'll spend tens of thousands of dollars enjoying the sport between their required medical exams.

-Bruce
 

dick_boggs

Well-known member
I will make the observation that some of you have not come thru the ICSCC Novice program. At the local club level some of the ICSCC clubs have given a free race entry on Sunday of the same weekend as you finish the Novice program on Saturday as noted above by Gustav 129. It is the local club that determines that policy not ICSCC.

This points out again are you a customer or a participant as a volunteer in your local club to put on the racing that we all enjoy. Need to get involved with the local club if you have a solution to give a free race entry when it is a local club issue not a ICSCC issue and in many cases is already done.

You have a right to make as many paragraph posts on here as you want but if you are not involved with your local club you have no vote in the rules or the way a race is run at the club level. As been stated many times by Rick in prior posts we are Driver driven with regard to rule making as a result of early experience by our founders with SCCA.

I might add that if you will review the ICSCC website you will see a notice of the IRDC Zoom General membership meeting notice (dated Dec.17th) assuming you are a current IRDC member and chose to participate.
 

brucebe

Philosopher
Dick - we all contribute and participate in varying ways. In its simplest form, prioritizing one's time and discretionary budget to go racing in the first place, is the most fundamental level of contribution. Clearly, the concern is the loss of entries/drivers, to the point of gambling everyone's health/safety in the process. It follows that one's *participatory* role as an entrant/driver is highly-valued, and *very* important to the solvency of this entire enterprise. I might add, that one injury/death lawsuit that successfully establishes negligence associated with the verification of driver fitness will also have a very immediate impact on the solvency of this entire enterprise.

As you say, we are "Driver driven with regard to rule making...". I wholeheartedly agree. However, I completely *disagree*, that due to a lack of available time and schedule to volunteer elsewhere, any *driver* should somehow be precluded or disqualified from participating in the rule-changing process. I see volunteerism, an important aspect in and of itself, as a completely separate issue.

With regard to the specific topic of this discussion - it was not a driver-driven rule change. When I looked at the proposed rule changes for 2021 a while ago, removal of the medical exam requirement was not part of the rule change packet. This was an Executive Committee rule change, decided upon by a very small fraction of individuals, as far as I can tell.

-Bruce
 

bill_murray

BILL MURRAY
The only guy I remember ever having died at the track while at the wheel was George Brockbank in 1975. He succumbed to a previously known heart condition at S.I.R's turn 7 and the car had a gentle rollover. Team Continental named their perpetual Novice of the Year trophy after him. He died doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky. The chances of doing any harm to anyone else in the case of such an event is far lower than it is on the public roads.... Beyond that I think the market has spoken. Crap can racing is booming traditional racing is dying a slow death. The low hurdles to entry are a big part of that equation.
 

westipton

Well-known member
I applaud the change. Lucky Dog doesn't require physical for their drivers, and they are eating conference's lunch as far as driver participation and getting new drivers in. The physical costs about as much as one or two race entries, and so if you aren't racing very frequently, it does add to the cost. I just got mine, and had to go to two different doctors to get the forms signed off. MD wouldn't do eye test, so had to go get eye exam to get that done. Yeah for conference, thank you for listening.
Since when does a physical exam cost $ 300 to 600 bucks? I've never paid more than 200 since I started in Conference back in 1974. Every other year I had a physical, and after 60 I believe I had one every year as mandated, which is a damn good idea as we age. If an MD can't do an eye test by hanging the chart on the wall then you need a new doc for sure. I have been poked, prodded and cut on these last 6 months so often I do not need physical at his point, although I will anyway. None of us are bullet proof and we all have issues we won't know about until examined, so I will follow decades of protocol and get it done.
 

rick_bostrom

Onda Kattan Racing
So the little red hen said "who will help me make bread?" The cow said " I would help but I get very tired if I have to work and it would probably damage my ability to enjoy the bread when it was done". The dog said " I would help but I am pretty sure I am allergic to bread until after it is cooked, sliced, and has jam on it". The goat said "I have so many goaty things to do all day that I cannot spare a moment for henny things with the exception of showing up to eat". The pig said " I like to think we all help in our own way and I have decided my way is to make highly opinionated and dramatic posts on breadmaking forums about the quality of the finished product and the shortcomings of those who volunteer to cook".

Oddly enough, when they appeared at the table for dinner there was neither bread nor red hen to be found and they felt puzzled and annoyed that their expectations had been so rudely disregarded ......
 

westipton

Well-known member
So the little red hen said "who will help me make bread?" The cow said " I would help but I get very tired if I have to work and it would probably damage my ability to enjoy the bread when it was done". The dog said " I would help but I am pretty sure I am allergic to bread until after it is cooked, sliced, and has jam on it". The goat said "I have so many goaty things to do all day that I cannot spare a moment for henny things with the exception of showing up to eat". The pig said " I like to think we all help in our own way and I have decided my way is to make highly opinionated and dramatic posts on breadmaking forums about the quality of the finished product and the shortcomings of those who volunteer to cook".

Oddly enough, when they appeared at the table for dinner there was neither bread nor red hen to be found and they felt puzzled and annoyed that their expectations had been so rudely disregarded ......
I have absolutely no idea what your post means, or whom it was directed to, although it appears to be in response to my very logical and polite post above, but my confusion over your frequent obtuse posts is not really unusual! I do like the "highly opinionated and dramatic bread making reference, whatever that means.
 

Gustav129

Member
I will say my physical last year in March only cost me $18 after insurance. I just made an appointment at the local Rockwood clinic. I was lucky I got it in before the week before Covid thing happened. I'm good for a few years for ICSCC, but I'll have to get one for SCCA next year.

But I wanted to point out that in the SCCA GCR, It still lists ICSCC Area License as a comparable license to the SCCA Comp License. Must be from the old license system. Maybe that should be updated if the only difference is no medical. My personal opinion is does a driver really want to close doors to opportunities at driving?
 

bob_mearns

Well-known member
I have absolutely no idea what your post means, or whom it was directed to, although it appears to be in response to my very logical and polite post above, but my confusion over your frequent obtuse posts is not really unusual! I do like the "highly opinionated and dramatic bread making reference, whatever that means.
I have 100% confidence that it was not directed at you Wes.
 
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