The SCCA Members Facebook group was a pretty quiet place for having nearly ten-thousand members. It was mostly a place for sale posts for C5, E36, or Miata parts or race cars. A place where SCCA Club Racers could peacefully peruse for their next motorsports event to place on the calendar between golf outings, or perhaps find the next project Corvette. The page had experienced scandal before, like the Great 93.9 Octane Measurement Crisis, but nothing could prepare it for the drama it has experienced the last few days. With one fell meme swoop, a ne'er-do-well Millennial by the name of Dennis Smith launched an all-out nuclear meme strike on the peaceful Boomer Nation of SCCA Members. Club Racers in their RVs everywhere had to adjust their reading glasses. What was this filth they were seeing on their iPhone 4s? That filth was memes. Dennis had unwittingly sparked the powder keg that was SCCA Members, hammering a spike in the growing divide between Boomers and Millennials, Road Racers and Autocrossers, Miatas and Corvettes, and more. The initial call for a ban for Dennis based on his annoying memes was met equally by support and protest.
SCCA Members received an unprecedented level of activity, especially from its younger members, but this wasn’t exactly welcomed by the Old Guard. Many wished for the troublesome Millennials to post their Me-Me’s elsewhere. Naturally this generated even more New Balance- and Corvette-themed memes to poke fun at the establishment.
The SCCA Members vs Dennis Smith Meme War of 2019, as cheeky as it may seem, highlights a very real issue not only about the SCCA but about amateur motorsports in general. As a sport, we have a very real Harley-Davidson Problem, which is to say that our core members (HPDE, club racers, etc) are aging out of the sport at a much faster rate than new members are growing into it. The generational tensions brought to light by the meme war are real beyond the memes. Even the most financially successful Millennials find it extremely difficult to schedule the time and budget the money to take frequent track day weekends or compete in wheel-to-wheel racing, opting instead for the much more economical outlets such as autocross. Clubs such as #GRIDLIFE have found ways to attract the younger crowd by streamlining administrative burdens (why do we still use paper in 2019?), simplifying rulebooks to allow for less expensive, easier, and more interesting builds, or relaxing traditionally stringent experience requirements such as needing an official racing license. Many of these programs such as Track Night in America or Gridlife Track Battle have been successful in getting drivers to take that “next step” into track driving, time attack, or even wheel-to-wheel racing. Simultaneously, they have been criticized by those already on the other side of the large barriers to entry as being too lax and risky. Certainly, there are valid arguments on both sides.
This is the tipping point. The SCCA has done a commendable job hiring some charismatic officers to manage new projects like Targa (bring it back!) and TNIA. Changes have been made to rule books to better align the classes with current car modifying trends or to reduce operating costs. We are seeing more effort put into making racing fun first and competitive second. Kudos to you, Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge, LeMons, and Gridlife Touring Cup street glow.
In the next decade we will see one of two trends develop. Either the SCCA and its ilk will age themselves out of existence, to be replaced entirely by the likes of Formula Drift or #GRIDLIFE, or we can strike a balance between serving the interests of the established members and attracting newer, younger ones. This will only become ever harder into the future with Generation Z’s automotive culture still in question, so we all need to get our heads on straight and work together now. We should all be in this to have fun, not to stroke our own egos with plastic trophies or arguments about whose form of racing requires the most skill.
Thanks for the Call to Arms, Dennis. We fight to the last meme.