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View Full Version : A cogent quote . . .



cheater
06-20-2003, 12:53 PM
Here's a paste from another website I frequent:

"[The organization] seems to put no effort in creating & sustaining local chapters. Most strong national organizations derive much of their strength and vitality through active local chapters."

I was struck by the relevance of this quote to the USRA's current structure.

The organization referred to in the quote was the ITEA (International Tuba-Euphonium Association).

Discussion on this topic, anyone?

LoudCat
06-20-2003, 04:38 PM
The single largest failing of the USRA is the lack of regional support. IMO, the hobby needs a strong central organization and the USRA is in a better position than any other racing organization to fill that need.

My friend Monty Ohren has often said the keys to a successful organization are:
1- Professional officiating
2- A recognition of it’s history

By professional officiating, I mean that the business of the club and the races be conducted in a professional manner. A solid set of rules is part of this. If does not matter so much how issues are decided but rather that the membership sees things being handled in a fair and responsible manner by competent people. Because it is really difficult to find knowledgeable and responsible people who will work for free, it will become necessary to compensate the officials. Besides, if people are paid, there is an inherent degree of accountability. When the officials are not paid and they don’t do their job, the racers deserve better than a lame reply like “I’m a volunteer, what do you expect?”

Recognition of history means glorifying the racers. This is what gives an organization prestige. Acknowledging the achievements of racers past is one of the things that make racers present come to race. Everybody wants to be the hero of the big race. Racers come to the big races because they are big races. The big races got that way because the top racers have a HISTORY of participating in those races. If the USRA wants to promote its “brand name”, and get the regions to see some value in that brand, the USRA needs to do a better job telling people about the great racing it has sponsored in the past.

Right now, the USRA has a difficult job selling the itself to the regions. I think a strong national organization with local chapters can be achieved if the USRA gets it own house in order and tries harder to accommodate the needs of racers across the country.

Monty@B.O.W.
06-20-2003, 11:25 PM
Roy,

My statement was not referring to an organization, but to entire sports in and of themselves. My favorite example is Tennis, which blossomed in the early sixties: It was strictly clubs and high society until colorful players like Connors, MacEnroe, King and Court came along, but they were held in check by paid professional umpires who had the authority to penalize and disqualify players for poor behavior. Big sponsorship money could then be solicited, since the games were challenging, colorful (even with players dressed all in white!), administrated and also broadcast by professionals with the experience to compare the action with past performances.

Even pro major league baseball was in serious trouble in 1920, when the clubowners decided to police themselves, players, coaches, and umpires with a no-nonsense tough-guy commissioner. Kennesaw Mountain Landis turned the game around in just a few years - along with the emergence of the game's first superstar, George Herman (Babe) Ruth. New media coverage by the emerging radio industry helped too.

There is a third angle common to all sports that become mainstream, and that is the careful compilation of statistics. We have those in slot racing - although we need to agree on which ones are most useful. Half of us in denial that the other guy's lap records are meaningful is NOT the way to do this, even if the statement IS technically true due to variences in conditions. Baseball manages to keep its records despite games being played in varying degrees of weather, in natural and artificial lighting, in ballparks of different dimensions, by players skills being diluted by league expansion, etc etc.

You can like or dislike JPVR, complain about his Eurocentricism, not understand his politico-economic theory, BUT the fact is that he has attempted to sell our sport to the media, kept statistics on driver performance, and made it possible for racers of varying specialties to compete against each other. This can only be good. Thirty five years ago, slot racing was more popular: Might this have had something to do with coverage in magazines like Rod & Custom or $50,000 HO races on the Ed Sullivan show? You bet your sweet bippy (yes, that phrase was chosen for the era it came from!)!

Hey, I myself first went slot racing after reading a 1964 article in Popular Mechanics. Never mind that the 'how to' article was already terribly obsolete, they made it sound like great fun and adventure. After almost 40 years, I still think so!

Now, think how nice it might be to run in a race where ALL the turnmarshalls are alert, agile, and impartial - which they could be if they are hired by the race promoters. You want the race director to be fair, fast, and knowledgeable? Hire the best in your region for the big races! You want some newspaper coverage of these same races? Send a press release to the local newspaper sports desk, explaining that the race is for the regional championship. It works for Sailboating, Badminton, high school Water Polo, park league Junior Soccer, Catfish canoodling, and Tractor Pulls - why the heck NOT for model car racing?

This is a nation where pro wrestlers can be elected state Governor and actors can make it to the Oval Office. What might you be able to do with a charismatic multiple National and World champion slot racer who happens to be a former schoolteacher and a poster boy for self improvement? Paul Pfeiffer, grab the public reputation you deserve!! Dang it all, he's a LOT more interesting than Mike Steube ever was! Its all in the spin...

Greg, just how many members are there in the ITEA? Maybe it has something to do with my own cultural bias, but I know hundreds of slot racers, and while I know half a dozen who play a decent guitar, I haven't met ANY who claim to play the Euphonium. Its all in the spin... I just KNOW you could get a 30 second news spot on ABC explaining that so-and-so has emerged as the worlds foremost tuba player. Why NOT that Paul Ciccarello is hunting his fourth National Championship? All it takes is effort and professionalism.

Off the soapbox now, and back to motor rebuilds. See you tomorrow, Roy!

Fredman
06-21-2003, 12:40 AM
It (USRA, SLot Racing in general) will grow when all or most of the tracks in the entire Nation run the SAME rules.
Oh, you can add about 12 more classes of cars to your rules, and that's fine, it does NOT mean every track out there must run all 28 classes of cars, it means if you choose to run 6 or 8 classes, that they need to adhere to a nationally agreed upon set of rules.

How hard is that going to be to have everyone in agreement ?
(nearly impossible)

You CAN have multiple sanctioning bodies, but they 'should' all use the same rules. Every single track within 300 miles of me uses different rules, so it's kinda hard to show up at a different track where you don't know the quirks of it (track), and also have to run different stuff than you are used to.


There are just a few items really holding this sport back, and unfortunately, I don't see them being 'fixed' any time soon.

cheater
06-22-2003, 06:54 AM
Monty wrote:

My statement was not referring to an organization, but to entire sports in and of themselves. . .

Labeling slot racing a "sport" is the first problem for many, who just want to view it "playing" with toy cars. And in brutal honesty, what we're doing now is best termed that.


There is a third angle common to all sports that become mainstream, and that is the careful compilation of statistics. We have those in slot racing - although we need to agree on which ones are most useful . . ..

Compilation of statistics does have pre-requisites: standards of condition, measurement, and recording; a designated keeper of said records, and a consistency of access. And in reality, compilation of statistics is not possible without a stable, funded organization as a foundation.

Compilation of statistics will also require a focus on PEOPLE, on the personality of the racer, rather than a focus on the little MACHINE being raced. In slot racing, we mistakenly worship the fastest car (usually rife with the latest and greatest tweaks) rather than the fastest person. In other sports the equipment is mostly ignored and the person is celebrated to a much greater extent. Very few care what brand of bat Javy Lopez used to stroke his two homers with last night or what brand of tire Schumey won with last weekend.

Slot racing needs to promote its top drivers and builders as celebrities, as it promotes the very existence of the sport itself.


You can like or dislike JPVR, complain about his Eurocentricism, not understand his politico-economic theory, BUT the fact is that he has attempted to sell our sport to the media, kept statistics on driver performance, and made it possible for racers of varying specialties to compete against each other . . . It works for Sailboating, Badminton, high school Water Polo, park league Junior Soccer, Catfish canoodling, and Tractor Pulls - why the heck NOT for model car racing?

JPvR comes across as an individual with these goals. We need an organization with these goals, among others. And every sport or activity you mention has a stable, well-funded sanctioning organization behind it.


Greg, just how many members are there in the ITEA? Maybe it has something to do with my own cultural bias, but I know hundreds of slot racers, and while I know half a dozen who play a decent guitar, I haven't met ANY who claim to play the Euphonium.


The term euphonium is a fairly recent one; those horns used to be called baritones, I think. But at a company pool party yesterday, I spoke with our newest employee, a retread from years ago, and discovered he played euphonium and trumpet in one of the Navy bands in Washington. So you never know . . .

Monty, you make some great points. I am convinced that an effectively-managed, properly funded sanctioning organization is what it will take to work toward the vision you have (which I largely share, as you know).

I do not know how many members the ITEA has, but am trying to find out.
Their website is worth a look, as the ITEA was started in 1973, about the same time as the USRA.

http://www.tubaonline.org/

cheater
06-22-2003, 07:31 AM
LoudCat wrote:

The single largest failing of the USRA is the lack of regional support. IMO, the hobby needs a strong central organization and the USRA is in a better position than any other racing organization to fill that need.

(bigsnip)

Right now, the USRA has a difficult job selling the itself to the regions. I think a strong national organization with local chapters can be achieved if the USRA gets it own house in order and tries harder to accommodate the needs of racers across the country.

Great, great post, Roy.

The desperate need for an effective, well-funded sanctioning organization is clear to a most and it is equally clear that the USRA has not and is not such an organization.

The real question is how to accomplish the necessary change, if the URSA is to be that body. It would seem wise to emulate the organizational structures of similar successful small organizations catering to niche activities, but I'll be the first to admit that I have no idea how to accomplish the needed changes under the bylaws of the USRA. What's needed is a "consitutional convention" to effect a reorganization of the USRA. Who can call for it?

The call for a contitutional convention has its parallel in American history. Here's a paste:

"Technically, the U.S. Constitution is an illegal document... Why?"

The commission of the Constitutional Convention was to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation. Instead, the Framers decided that not amendment but replacement was the best course. Technically, the Articles of Confederation could not be amended without the consent of each and every state in the United States. The Constitution, however, calls for ratification by only nine of the thirteen states. If the Constitution was an amending document, it would indeed have been illegal.

But the Constitution may be better called a document of revolution - it overthrew the confederation with a federation. The revolution, however, was bloodless and with the consent, eventually, of all of the states. Rhode Island and North Carolina were hold-outs in ratification, and they did not actually become parts of the new United States until after the U.S. had been operating for a short time - they realized the futility of trying to go it alone."

I do feel quite strongly that USRA would be served best by a similar revolutionary approach.

To my eye the USRA first has to increase its income stream to be able to do meaningful work. I see no other way for the USRA to do this than to merge the national and the regional memberships. And it would be in every racer's interests to do this, though many racers, not realizing "the futility of trying to go it alone," will not feel that way.

Thanks again for the great dialogue, my friend.

Fredman
06-22-2003, 12:18 PM
My interpretation is anything that you do where you are in competition with another person or a timing system, or a past record, is a sport not a hobby.
Needlepoint or knitting is a hobby - until you are knitting something to enter into a contest at the county fair, then it is a sport.

Standardization of records can only occur on each track at a set power. You can't have just one record for a car on a blue king just like the lap record holder at Daytona will always have a faster mph average than someone that raced a similiar car at Phoenix or Richmond. nascar cars change over the years, tires change, the surface of the track changes, it's exactly the same in slot racing.
If you argue nhra funny cars all go down the same track of 1/4 mile, they do, but cars, tires, fuel, track surface, the temperature all make it different every time, but you deal with it. I may be wrong, but I think today's funny cars go down the track a bit faster than they did 35 years ago, and today's slot cars go a bit faster than they did 35 years ago as well.

And officiating ? every official, referee, umpire sees things differently. Not everyone can get your car back on the track as fast or as slow as the next guy, we deal with it, that's the way it is.

oldweirdherald
06-24-2003, 12:41 AM
From Dictionary.com:

hobby
An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.

sport
Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.

A particular form of this activity.

An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.

An active pastime; recreation.

Source:http://dictionary.reference.com/



From OWH's Unabashed Slot Racing Dictionary*
(definitions of "hobby" and "sport" as applies to slot car racing)

hobby

The building, collecting, modeling, and playing aspect of slot car racing, enjoyed purely for pleasure, relaxation, artistic or engineering creativity, etc.

"It's JUST a HOBBY!" - Clayton Parker

sport

The competative aspect of racing slot cars. Pitting the combined efforts of building and driving skill to achieve faster lap times and/or more laps then the competition, to win races by defeating opponants with comparable equipment and conditions.

The physical test of skill in competition when attempting to pass those clowns who think "It's JUST a HOBBY!" in order to beat the pants off of other opponants who agree that it is most definately also a sport.

:D


Anyone who does not think of slot cars as a hobby has not seen the workmanship and creativity of builders like Russell Sheldon, Mark Gussin, Bob McFarland, Larry Shephard, etc.

Anyone who does not regard slot car racing in competition as a physical "sport" has obviously has not seen the likes of Mike Swiss, or (Mr. Intensity) Al Rutti in action. :eek:

*copyright 2003 The Old Weird Herald Web Publishing Empire

wayne h
06-24-2003, 08:58 AM
Originally posted by oldweirdherald

Anyone who does not regard slot car racing in competition as a physical "sport" has obviously has not seen the likes of Mike Swiss, or (Mr. Intensity) Al Rutti in action. :eek:

*copyright 2003 The Old Weird Herald Web Publishing Empire

hey paul,

i've been running 40km a week just to get in shape for slugfest!

wayne h.

Fredman
06-24-2003, 04:06 PM
It's both. It can be both, but my point is, it is not just a hobby to some.

Bent rim
06-26-2003, 07:14 AM
:D :D :D

cheater
06-26-2003, 04:55 PM
Bent, you'd be a great tuba player, I'm betting. You're certainly full of enough (hot) air! 8-)

Bent rim
06-27-2003, 07:25 AM
Pit next to me sometime, I'll show you hot air! :eek:

cheater
06-27-2003, 07:43 AM
No thank you, Bent. I could probably stand the stench but the glare would be really hard on my aging eyes . . . 8-)

Bent rim
06-27-2003, 08:00 AM
I'm sensitive!:p

cheater
06-27-2003, 08:09 AM
You're also 900+ miles away from me, which is a good thing, I think . . . 8-)

THOBART
06-27-2003, 08:37 AM
I will pit next to you and then we can clear the whole building. This can be our race strategy. Let me know I will bring the Beans and Mexican food.

Later
Tony

RomanK
06-27-2003, 08:52 AM
Originally posted by Bent rim
Pit next to me sometime, I'll show you hot air! :eek:

You think pitting next to you would be bad?

You oughta be in a race directors booth ABOVE where you're pitting:eek:

Jeez...my freakin eyes were watering.............;)

Bent rim
06-27-2003, 09:11 AM
Tony, I like it! Nobody will be able to handle us!:D

Roman, your eyes were watering because you were awake for 4 days and nights! It was my shinny head that kept you awake!;) The Big show is yet to come!!!!!!!!:eek:

phlirv
06-27-2003, 10:45 AM
:confused: :confused: .......
A horse designed by a board!!
Look at NASCAR-----NHRA----F1...
France, Parks and who ran F1 in its REAL hayday had basic rules that didn't change by track or by any one person or any one company. Sure they pissed some people off and did make some enemys but the 'sanctioning body' is very strong NOW..It took YEARS but the mind set of today is 'its got to be fixed tomorrow' wont work! JVPR tried but didn't work.I havent followed him so I don't really know.In slots good times, the USRA, or what ever sanctioning body, was run by one basic person and it ran 'better' than most times. We won't really go anywhere when everyone has a better 'idea' of how, what ,their tracks races WILL be run!
At one time I had 4 tracks to race on within 1 hr's drive...ALL 4 HAD THEIR OWN RULES....I had to have 4 different cars! We could have had a much larger racer base if we had one set of basic rules with which to run with...AND NOT SO MANY DIFFERENT SUB CLASSES...When you have 10 classes and 80 racers, you get some with lots of sitouts and some no runs cause nobody has a car set up for it!
Tony George has a set of rules setup for comformity, and expense, so the races are close and not really won by who ever can throw the most money at it.
NASCAR has had only 1 repeat winner and the races are lots closer!
Some of my most fun, and intense, races were decided by track position and not by how by how manny laps.
OK my soap box just broke....I'm going to my room now!
:( :(
PHIL I.

Mike Wyatt
07-06-2003, 07:25 PM
... in it's purest form will not work. (The USA government is a representative republic- where the masses elect representatives to vote FOR them.)

It is a fact that organizations like ours with part-time "managers" run a lot better as "benevolent dictatorships". See the Tri-State Road Racing Series -TRRS for one example. http://trrsweb.com It IS only two years, but it seems to work.

Slot racing (USRA) will also not work as a pure democracy. You have too many partially-informed opinions in a meeting room. They would rather race anyway- not have meetings.

And- fewer Regions. We need only three Regions, and a lot of Districts. (How many Regions do you need in a 200-player game?)The more Regions you have, the more volunteers it takes to run the USRA. Fewer is better.

We need representative government-elected "local" District Directors, reporting to (few) elected Regional Directors directing the overall function of the USRA.

USRA needs an independent (small- 3 member?) Technical Committee with ADVICE of, say, the three largest manufacturers, and of three long-term track owners. Responding to the interests of the Regional Directors, the Tech Committee makes the Rules, based on what the Regions direct.

(Example: the Masses say to their local District Directors: "We want an entry-level Class with spec cars, to attract new people." The Regional Reps assign this to the Tech Committee. They "meet" electronically, using e-mails, conference calls, etc.- develop a new set of Rules. These Rules are approved by the three Regional Directors, who launch the new Class starting fall of the next year, at ALL USRA events. It races at the next NATS- 8 months later. Done.)