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DKemp

Promoting autocross

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So there are a TON of great ideas in this thread. But I feel like by the time I read the 7th good idea, the first 3 have already slipped out of my memory. I suggest we have an end-of-year meeting to discuss what we want to do next year and how to accompish it.

Special events (team events, double headers, etc.) are great idea, but remember they take more work to pull off. E.g. a few years ago we had 1 charitable event with sponsors and a special team battle in between run groups (over lunch). We had a dedicated person organize that event and it took a lot of her time to organize everything. Lots of prep involved with pulling it off. If we start doing special events we either need to make them adaptable to our current system (i.e. works with our software) or have somone dedicated to each event, like a Chief of Event for that one day. We can't simply ask Shawn, Matt, Josh and the others to simply do more with less and not expect them to revolt at some point! ;)

RE: Event participation vs quantity of events - Like Rjames said, it's a bit of a catch 22, but there are some fixed costs to each event. In general, fewer but larger events are better for the club's sustainability. If we had e.g. only 10-12 "points" events plus maybe 4-5 fun / T&T / intro for rookies / special events, then that might keep things more interesting. I really like the idea of the "Intro to Autoslalom" fun event, similar to our T&T where Rob/Chris/whoever is a coach available for anyone who wants, but also with some fun ridealongs in cool cars as well. It would have to be a non-points event of course. And we could try the rookie taxi thing then, too. Awesome!

RE: Food vendors - a bit off topic IMO. It's not our biggest problem. If we can get more attendees, then this is no longer a problem. Fewer events with more attendance also helps in this regard. As suggested, BYO lunch isn't terrible, and we can schedule a vendor for just a few select events next year to keep the costs down until attendance picks up again.

RE: Brian's video ideas - I love them. Makes me think we could design and produce our own promo video. Can we pull this off? Seems like a lot of work, but maybe not if it's a very short video (30 sec?) and with a team of volunteers to help. I've seen 8 minute videos explaining what autocross is, we don't need that. We need something flashy and cool. For example, I really like the NOTT commercial that's still on TV (the one with the R8 and Milt Stegall). For those who don't know, our very own Joe did the stunt driving for that one. It's only 30 seconds long and total car footage is maybe 10-15 sec, but the whole thing is well produced with cool music and cool car clips. We could come up with a script just by using forum discussion and then we'd need to shoot some new footage. From what I understand the video footage was all shot in 1 day. Then someone would need to post process and edit it all together. Can we maybe ask the company who did the video production if they could assist us with a promo video?

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Nobody is going to care about special events like "team battles" and other junk if you don't get people coming out in the first place. Things like that will only cater to an established crowd of participants.

The number one thing is location. Location. Location.

Back when we had the Ex grounds, we'd have 70+ competitors and the sidelines would be packed with people. It was close by, word got out, and people came to both race and watch.

Nobody is going to drive out to a beat up airfield at St. Andrews for something they're unsure about. All this talk of special events is just pointless garnish without a proper venue to have them at.

Get a new (and good) venue sorted out first, and the people will come.

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5 hours ago, Brian_Earl_Spilner said:

Get a new (and good) venue sorted out first, and the people will come.

Agreed. And if I had a million dollars I'd be rich. 

I don't, and we don't have other venue options. That's why we're having this discussion. Thanks for trying. 

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We tried a lot of things to get people to make the drive to Fort Macleod, including special events, and even free entry for first timers.  There was (and is) only one thing that seemed to work for us -- a novice school at no extra charge (no timing and no marshalling by anyone).  There were a large number of people that came for the school and were never seen again, but there have been a few that have become regular attendees.

 

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I just checked out RRX area

The parking lot south east of the Downs race track is large enough for an event but needs to be resurfaced.  This would be an excellent autocross lot if 1. you could get it and 2. it was resurfaced

Our old race area still looks the same, large bump between the east and north ends and large man hole protruding 2 inch's up at the same transition area.  Also new buildings and access roads into the area.  I would deem this area as borderline dangerous do to the proximity of the buildings and confinement of the area and I would not recommend it for autocross.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, evolv said:

I just checked out RRX area

The parking lot south east of the Downs race track is large enough for an event but needs to be resurfaced.  This would be an excellent autocross lot if 1. you could get it and 2. it was resurfaced

Our old race area still looks the same, large bump between the east and north ends and large man hole protruding 2 inch's up at the same transition area.  Also new buildings and access roads into the area.  I would deem this area as borderline dangerous do to the proximity of the buildings and confinement of the area and I would not recommend it for autocross.

Last event held there was already dicey.  We deemed it pointless to try others as the risks outweighed the benefits. 

The rrx put a new surface lot in west of the site but it is gravel. If it was paved it could have lots of potential for us to use it. 

The best option still is/was the sludge lot but the city of winnipeg has shut us down after setting up the police driver training site there (like we shared with at rrx prior) 

Every lot built as of late has poles and structures put in places that make the sites unsafe or unsuitable. If only we could get st vital or polo park mall to stay closed Sundays/weekends. 

On a crazy note, is there a holiday the malls are forced to stay closed? Could we not hire security on one of those few days and hold an event on such a location? Something to ponder if the owners would allow it. 

Manitoba holidays: (ones potentially useable listed) 
Good Friday
Victoria Day
Canada Day
Labour Day

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On 9/20/2017 at 7:26 PM, Corey said:

Agreed. And if I had a million dollars I'd be rich. 

I don't, and we don't have other venue options. That's why we're having this discussion. Thanks for trying. 

I think his point is that we might be wasting time discussing all these other ideas when the primary focus should be trying to obtain a better venue. Without a better venue, all these other great ideas might be a waste of effort. "If you build it, they will come" ;)

I do like your idea of teaming up with UE and TTi - I follow both on instagram and not once have they posted anything about autocross. Asking them to post videos/pics of autocross will help generate exposure as they both have thousands of followers. Even just the gopro videos that we already have tons of would be sufficient, although a good edit/mash-up with music would be even better. *edit* I just noticed that Anthony T is the marketing director for TTi. Anthony, start posting some autocross videos on TTi's instagram!!!! :D

Shawn, can we use the $25k for lot improvements at St. Andrews/Gimli for RRX instead? (Assuming we get a multi-year contract to use the lot so we're not wasting our money)

Edited by nishanna

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9 hours ago, nishanna said:

I think his point is that we might be wasting time discussing all these other ideas when the primary focus should be trying to obtain a better venue. Without a better venue, all these other great ideas might be a waste of effort. "If you build it, they will come" ;)

I do like your idea of teaming up with UE and TTi - I follow both on instagram and not once have they posted anything about autocross. Asking them to post videos/pics of autocross will help generate exposure as they both have thousands of followers. Even just the gopro videos that we already have tons of would be sufficient, although a good edit/mash-up with music would be even better. *edit* I just noticed that Anthony T is the marketing director for TTi. Anthony, start posting some autocross videos on TTi's instagram!!!! :D

Shawn, can we use the $25k for lot improvements at St. Andrews/Gimli for RRX instead? (Assuming we get a multi-year contract to use the lot so we're not wasting our money)

I don't think 25k will relocate the buildings they added within 40' of the "track". The manhole issues could eat up a lot of that budget alone as would the fill necessary for the dip :( 

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Nish, Kosta - you're not "wrong," because a new venue would certainly help us solve a lot of problems. But Corey is right - it doesn't help us promote what we currently have, which is what this thread is about. I would love to find another venue, but we've been trying, as a club, for several years. Let's all be honest, unless the stars all align we're probably going to continue racing at St Andrew's for at least a few more years.

Back to the topic "Promoting Autocross"

I talked to a longtime racer recently and his comment was that maybe we ought to rethink our policy on late arrivals. We are possibly turning away a few people every year and we can't afford to do that. How many guys have showed up late and been turned away and then come back the next day vs never coming back cause they're pissed that they drove all this way for nothing? I would guess there's only a few of each category, but more of the latter. 

I admit I'm a bit of a hard ass for following rules, but could we be a bit more lenient esp. on newcomers?

I know the main criticism is that it's unfair to the registration person to sit around for an extra half hour waiting for late arrivals. I agree! Been there, done that. But why not have a separate volunteer cover those hours? E.g. Josh is there from 9:15 -10:00 and then someone who showed up early like Corey can take payments from 10:00 - 10:30. The late arrival person could be anyone who simply tells them where to park and collects forms and payment, and then tells the person that they are late and they should arrive before 10:00 next time so that they aren't subject to a penalty. Anyone who shows up after rookie walk has started might not be safe to race, but they could be invited to stay for ridealongs and "coached" for free so they aren't turned away altogether. To avoid abuse of the new rule, we could make this subject to a 3-strikes rule or simply only rookies are allowed to show up late. The goal isn't to extend registration for lazy people, it's to reduce the penalty on a newcomer. So everyone who shows up late can get a gentle reminder, then more of a warning, then a penalty. Another idea is a $5 late fee (increasing in value for every late occurrance?) for veterans or anyone who's been racing for more that 1 year. That should be enough encouragement to show up on time. Again, the point is to encourage people to arrive and register early, but still be flexible for newcomers to ensure their first experience with our club isn't a negative one.

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3 hours ago, Beau said:

Nish, Kosta - you're not "wrong," because a new venue would certainly help us solve a lot of problems. But Corey is right - it doesn't help us promote what we currently have, which is what this thread is about. I would love to find another venue, but we've been trying, as a club, for several years. Let's all be honest, unless the stars all align we're probably going to continue racing at St Andrew's for at least a few more years.

Back to the topic "Promoting Autocross"

I talked to a longtime racer recently and his comment was that maybe we ought to rethink our policy on late arrivals. We are possibly turning away a few people every year and we can't afford to do that. How many guys have showed up late and been turned away and then come back the next day vs never coming back cause they're pissed that they drove all this way for nothing? I would guess there's only a few of each category, but more of the latter. 

I admit I'm a bit of a hard ass for following rules, but could we be a bit more lenient esp. on newcomers?

I know the main criticism is that it's unfair to the registration person to sit around for an extra half hour waiting for late arrivals. I agree! Been there, done that. But why not have a separate volunteer cover those hours? E.g. Josh is there from 9:15 -10:00 and then someone who showed up early like Corey can take payments from 10:00 - 10:30. The late arrival person could be anyone who simply tells them where to park and collects forms and payment, and then tells the person that they are late and they should arrive before 10:00 next time so that they aren't subject to a penalty. Anyone who shows up after rookie walk has started might not be safe to race, but they could be invited to stay for ridealongs and "coached" for free so they aren't turned away altogether. To avoid abuse of the new rule, we could make this subject to a 3-strikes rule or simply only rookies are allowed to show up late. The goal isn't to extend registration for lazy people, it's to reduce the penalty on a newcomer. So everyone who shows up late can get a gentle reminder, then more of a warning, then a penalty. Another idea is a $5 late fee (increasing in value for every late occurrance?) for veterans or anyone who's been racing for more that 1 year. That should be enough encouragement to show up on time. Again, the point is to encourage people to arrive and register early, but still be flexible for newcomers to ensure their first experience with our club isn't a negative one.

I get what you're saying here and agree with the idea of not wanting to turn away racers we need, but this isn't our biggest issue. I've turned away at most a handful of people for being late the whole season and when I do I make sure to explain why and encourage them to come back for the next event.

One of the things I'm going to propose we try next year is implement a late fee and do a bulk late registration at say 10:30. This allows me time to get my car prepped and manage late entrants at the same time. 

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Yeah, not the biggest issue, just something that I hadn't thought of and when it was brought up I was like "huh, yeah he kinda has a point."

Josh, if you can figure out a way to make your life easier (or another volunteer - you don't have to man the booth every day, you can delegate) and still capture those few individuals who do show up late, then that's a win-win.

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I definitely noticed the autocross numbers are struggling this year.   Sure miss the days when there were 70+ drivers and event caps were getting hit!   Here are a few random thoughts.

1)      Re-institute the “season pass” program.    At the beginning of the year, this allows racers the option to pre-purchase entry to the entire season at a small discount.    Limit the number of season passes available.    WSCC had this option many years ago and I remember it being fairly popular.   Sell all the season passes and you have a core group established for every event and a better chance of guaranteeing minimum attendance requirements.

2)      Car meets and car shows seem to achieve huge weekly attendance numbers even though you basically just stand around a parking lot and look at cars.  Meanwhile our events, where you actually get to drive fast and compete, struggle for attendance.   Maybe we need to be part of an event that is primarily a car show, where the autocross is secondary?   This might attract an entirely different crowd and get them hooked.    Perhaps more attempts at partnerships with local car clubs and forums.

3)      Although it’s mostly just good fun for most of us, some people are actually drawn to autocross for the competition.  Would it help to expand the rewards and recognition on the competitive side?  Prizes at each event?  More significant prizes for the championships?  More widely published results?  

4)      This year we had 18 events, and you needed to attend 10 of them to compete for a trophy.  Our summers in Winnipeg are fairly short and committing 10+ weekend days is probably a really tough call for some.  What if we split the year into two 9-event mini-seasons?  This would intensify the competition over a shorter time span and allow people to come out and be competitive with a smaller time commitment.   Make it to five events within a mini-season and you’re in the hunt for a trophy.   A mid-year "reset" would also improve the situation where people sometimes get left in the dust due to car changes, tire changes, breakdowns, or whatever other challenges occurred in the first half.

5)      We all wish we had a better facility.  Something closer to the city with more space and a better surface would obviously help improve attendance.  Unfortunately we are stuck with what exists, the chances of a new venue popping up are slim to none.    Most of us are aware of the sludge lot, and recognize that it is the ultimate potential autocross site in Winnipeg...the holy grail!   Club leadership has worked very hard to gain access (thanks guys!), but so far it seems to be a dead end.   Just to keep the idea on life support…should we publish a log of what was attempted, what was discussed, who was involved, what the results were, etc.?   Perhaps there is someone else in the club who has different contacts or some other forum to further engage the discussion.   We are a large diverse group and you never know who knows somebody in the right place to get a door opened.   Are there any other ways to try and shake something loose (letter writing campaigns, petitions, media, etc)?   Are there ever any personnel changes at the related offices that may help us revisit the discussions?

6)      Springs Church has nice little lot that is often used by other clubs for small autocross events.  Would it make sense for the WSCC to hold a few “promotional” non-competition autocross events there?  The main goal would be to attract a crowd inside the city, suck a few new people in, and ultimately draw them out the real events at St. Andrews or Gimli.

Edited by f0rd
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Hey guys long time no talk. Someone by my car. Here's my two cents.

 

 

Problem: Spectators

Set up one meeting point inside the city, conga line it outside the city to the event. If you miss the party train, we should put more signage on the highway with balloons (everyone loves balloons). Got to have Food and a nice spot to spectate from. Maybe bring back the belchers from the RRX days. Can't say it's family friendly, maybe find room for a petting zoo.

 

Problem: Embarrassment

Maybe we can host a free welcome event where the course is really really simple. Maybe just a straight line with a few essential elements. Timing has to be on in order to show progression and get addicted.

 

Problem: Promotion

YouTube emphases on YOU. Laptops + GoPro's + Racers + ??? = YouTube Stars
We can offer to capture video and post them to the WSCC YouTube page. Highlighting the new drivers, they will spread the word because they will be showing all their friends and family. Super quick and dirty editing, maybe a generic background music.

 

Problem: Carriage

For people worried about breaking their daily driver. We can have a person with simple hand tools to a tech inspection on their cars and really show that their car won't explode on their run. Check lug nut torque, tire pressure, battery tied down, etc. But if that person is just afraid of the unknown then no amount of convincing will get them to race.

***

I think we should also charge people at the end of the scheduled race event extra if they want to race. This will be targeted at the people that arrived LATE, stayed and now have that thought bubble above their head, "this looks easy and my car would of been top ten heck maybe even first place". This way this will push them over the edge of that spectator competitor threshold. This might means we rename fun runs to "cash runs".

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A lot of great input here for next year.

One thing I have  been thinking about lately is bring back championship points to the web site. Seeing each race is cool but admittedly kinda boring. Some people like the chase and right now, unless they do it manually with some funky Excel or db work and math factors the newbie can't find they can't calculate or even understand it. Heck, I I have been doing this for 10 years and I can't be bothered to track the season myself anymore and have no clue what the standings are. The only thing I know is that Curtis has stock tied up because he has 9000 points because he told me. Beyond that I have no clue. New people I would think would want to know this sort of thing. Isn't standings what keep people dreaming that the Jets will make the playoffs. 

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All great stuff guys. Someone at the wind-up dinner today (Brian I think?) mentioned how there was a lot of good feedback and we can't simply leave it as a bunch of thoughts. Let's get together and discuss which things we can and want to do and make a plan to implement them. Over winter we can make some progress. I liked that idea!

So who wants to get together in a couple of weeks to meet and discuss all these great ideas and start planning for action? I would love to help. I can host the meeting at my house or we could meet somewhere like a restaurant.

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1 hour ago, Beau said:

All great stuff guys. Someone at the wind-up dinner today (Brian I think?) mentioned how there was a lot of good feedback and we can't simply leave it as a bunch of thoughts. Let's get together and discuss which things we can and want to do and make a plan to implement them. Over winter we can make some progress. I liked that idea!

So who wants to get together in a couple of weeks to meet and discuss all these great ideas and start planning for action? I would love to help. I can host the meeting at my house or we could meet somewhere like a restaurant.

Depending on the when I would be in. 

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Beau, if would want to throw out 2 or 3 dates that work for you and then we can get people to reply on which ones work for them. From there we can pick which date gives us the best coverage. 

Oh and I like the idea of meeting at Beau's place as he has plenty of room and it will be quieter than a restaurant. We can bring in food/drink courtesy of the club.

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If you guys are willing to leave the safety of the perimeter (North of Birds Hill Park), my shop is available too. Just bring a lawn chair. 

Need to drive about 1.5km on gravel. No pets, smells like Hoosiers.

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6 hours ago, Corey said:

If you guys are willing to leave the safety of the perimeter (North of Birds Hill Park), my shop is available too. Just bring a lawn chair. 

Need to drive about 1.5km on gravel. No pets, smells like Hoosiers.

I'm cool with that too.

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Yeah, it's me again ... "Mr. Let's Keep this Going"

First of all, thanks to Helix for initiating this topic with "Novice Taxi" and to Dale for resurrecting it with "Promoting Autocross".  Here's a brief summary of the ideas submitted so far:

  • Promote awareness by producing business cards for random distribution.
  • Create a promotional video highlighting the action and excitement of the sport. Could include some testimonials from certain photogenic members (leaves me out).
  • Develop a relationship with local car clubs such as Unrestricted Empire (UE) and Top Tier 1 (TT1) to spread the word about AutoSlalom, which could become a win-win for everyone.
  • Consider introducing a new event at the beginning of our 2018 schedule called "Introduction to AutoSlalom".  See this thread for details.
  • Simplify the constraints of our current classing rules by introducing a casual class called "Open Class" or "Raw'.  Basically, if the car is street legal and registered, it's qualified.
  • Offer promotional items, such as T-shirts, ball caps, at each event to novices and spectators to help spread the word that AutoSlalom is alive and well.
  • Consider reducing the number of events over the season so as to consolidate the entry levels to  a more sustainable number.  Maybe 30 - 40 per event.  However, this is a "Catch-22" in that less events could equal less entries over the span of the season.
  • "Make Autocross Great Again (MAGA).  Got to love that suggestion!  Should that become our mission statement?
  • End of event "casual" run.  This would expand the "Introduction to AutoSlalom" (proposed at beginning of season) to each and every event.  No need to register or go through tech inspection (this could be an issue), but it would allow people who arrived as spectators to take their car for a spin (no pun intended) on the course.
  • Need an improved location.  Do we adopt an "it is what it is" attitude or do we dig deeper into avenues that we've already explored?  There's been talk about Red River Ex, the water treatment "sludge pond", Springs Church, and the Cirque de Soleil property across from Ikea.  Springs Church might work as a once per season promotional event.  Might be hard to get the hot-dog guy to come to the sludge pond.
  • Mix it up.  This suggestion encourages variety to maintain interest throughout the season.  Not only should we use the Gimli skid pad for our AutoSlalom, but what about adding another Gimli AutoSlalom event on the road course?  
  • Stimulate interest by introducing a "Team Challenge" event where you're competing as part of a team rather than one-on-on class completion.
  • Add a sponsored charitable event to our schedule that would draw attention from a larger audience.
  • Waive the entry fee for first time entrants.
  • Add a "Novice School" to the schedule which would minimize anxiety issues or reluctance to compete.  Strictly casual runs with no timing and no mandatory course work.
  • If in reality there really is a $25K allocation set aside for improvements (sounds too good to be true), how to we use a portion of this fund to promote our sport?
  • Allow a little more leniency with late arrivals if they are newcomers or rookies. 
  • Establish a core base of attendees by offering a discount on a "season ticket".  Details need to be worked out.
  • Select certain events in the schedule to be a combined car show and AutoSlalom event.  This might be better suited to Springs Church for the required display area.
  • Encourage attendance by offering prizes at each event.
  • Consider splitting the season into two mini seasons of 9 events each.  This would give individuals with conflicting schedules to still have a chance at winning a trophy ( or would that be a half-trophy?)
  • Encourage spectators by providing bleachers or maybe a sheltered area (tent) near the start/finish area.
  • Post individual videos and any other commentary that would help identify new members.  Sort of a "get to know each other" kind of thing.
  • Post the point standings on a more frequent basis to encourage not only competiveness, but to minimize the laissez-faire attitude of "what's the point of coming out".  Instead, wouldn't it be nice if it resulted in the " holy crap! ...if I attend the next 3 events, I could actually win this thing!!"

Lastly, I apologize for any of the great suggestions I may have missed.  Do not hesitate to respond to this thread and add any more suggestions you may have.  Thanks everyone for your input to promoting Autocross and encouraging me to write this summary.

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I don't have so much of a new suggestion just a couple of thoughts if how you guys go about implementing your ideas:

Look at some prioritizing of your ideas, for example having a novice event at the beginning of the season should only come after finding a better way to advertise the event to potential novices, so better exposure is a pre-requisite of a novice event.

Be able to track the success of your efforts to see if they are worth while for the next year.  For example printing business cards and distributing them only is a good idea if you can directly correlate new participants with that activity to see if it is worth the time / money of doing it.

 

Good Luck!!!

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I am free most of this upcoming weekend, Oct 14/15. If anyone wants to meet I'd like to do it now while things are still fresh in everyone's minds. Again, I could host, or we could go to Corey's place. No matter to me.

Sat at 10 am sounds perfect, but I'm flexible.

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