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The History of Northwest Region

By Joan & Frank Manley, Region Historians

Like so many regions and SCCA itself, our club had modest beginnings from folks who were autosport enthusiasts with a desire for competition & camaraderie.  To that end, nine SCCA members held an organizational meeting at the home of Tom Carstens on February 19, 1953.  The Northwest Region was successfully established with Region dues set at $5.00 per person.  The first officers elected were: Regional Executive: Tom Carstens; Secretary/Treasurer:  Joe Henderson; Activities Chair: Herb Williams and Assistant Activities Chair: Ed Griffin.

Throughout the first year, autocross and rally events were held as well as dinner meetings and social events. Membership increased to 40 by December 1953. The early years of the club were spent building the membership and focusing on the only game in town…Road Racing.

During these early years, membership increased by leaps and bounds. New members brought new interests and enthusiasm for new venues of competition which were experiencing growth within SCCA. Thanks to the geographic diversity of our wonderful region, the Rally folks found plenty of places to play in the woods with their rally cars. Then, in the late 70’s the SCCA Solo II program found places to play with their autocross cars, thanks to the paved parking lots of the Boeing Company. Because each of these venues has been an important part of the development and success of Northwest Region, their histories have been recounted separately and follow.

As each venue began to flourish, the Region administrators realized the importance of maintaining & developing a club that would support them all. As a beginning in providing member value, a very modest newsletter was produced. It began with two pages printed on someone’s borrowed mimeograph machine and was mailed to the members. That same newsletter (Northwest SportsCar News) is now professionally published in a newsprint/tabloid format, minimum 12 page, monthly issue and has received several SCCA National awards.

The Board of Directors & Officers eventually became a representation of all the venue interests. The by-laws of the Region were expanded to include voting positions for Assistant Regional Executive of each venue as well as independent financial responsibilities. Growing pains were evident for a few years, but the club grew, developed, sanctioned competitions and unsurpassed social events and became known as “The Friendly Region”. The Northwest Region has worked very hard to gain and maintain that reputation. Even though our membership numbers put us in the Large Region category (between 651 to 2500 members) we support all three venues of racing !!

We are also one of only two “full service” regions, as defined by the National office. It is notable to mention that the other ‘full service’ Region is a Jumbo size with 2500+ members!! We may be somewhat limited by our membership numbers (around 1300) compared to our geographic size and limited venue resources, but we have also come to call ourselves “The Obsessive/Compulsive Region”. This has been best represented, most recently, by the presentation of the SCCA National Regional Achievement Award for SEVEN CONSECUTIVE YEARS (1996 – 2002).

RACE

At a meeting in early April, 1953, discussion was held on the possibility of holding a sports car race in connection with SeaFair Week in August. With the assistance of the Puget Sound Sports Car Club and the sports car clubs in British Columbia, races were held at Shelton Airport and at Paine Field prior to the race held for SeaFair.

 

Seafair Races were then held at Kitsap County Airport (later Bremerton National Airport) in 1954, 1955, and 1956. The road course was 3.9 miles long and used both runways and taxiways.  Over 100 cars participated and the crowds grew each year from 15,000 to 25,000.  These races drew drivers top drivers from around the country and locally.


In 1961, the first contract was negotiated with Pacific Raceway, Inc. (known for several years as  Seattle International Raceway)  for race events. This was only the beginning of a long and varied association, which was interrupted in late 1998-2001, when the SCCA National office decertified the race track due to safety issues.  We are proud to be back at Pacific Raceways and appreciate the improvements, which are continually being made by the original owners of the track.
 

A Double National event was started in 1980 at SIR and has continued, despite the odds, for 25+ consecutive years. For 1999, 2000 and 2001, we simply moved the event 750 miles and two states south to Thunderhill Park in Willows, California after losing SIR. Now with Pacific Raceways back in control and the track recertified with SCCA the Double Nationals are home in Seattle.
 

Also during the 80’s the Northwest Region held two professional Trans Am races hosting such luminary drivers as Paul Newman, David Hobbs and Lynn St. James. In our ever expanding web of experiences street races were added; with two in Spokane and one through the streets surrounding the Tacoma Dome. This event had a world class vintage Formula One grid which included Sir Jack Brabham and Ronnie Bucknam. Northwest Region has always been undaunted when faced with adversity and so Regional Races have been held in several different venues such as the Shelton Airport, Olympia Airport, Bremerton Raceway at Bremerton Airport, (Now Bremerton Motorsports Park), Evergreen Speedway, and Mission Raceway in British Columbia, Canada.

 

In 2003 a weekend of races were held at Pacific Raceways which included restricted SCCA regional grids, SOVREN's Big Bore Vintage Cars, and Northwest Legends Cars.  It was also the return of NASCAR to Pacific Raceways with local tour drivers after 17 years.  NWR supplied the workers and officials.  The event still continues today in a modified form but still with Stock Cars, Legends, and SCCA.

 
The roots of this Region began with Race from which it grew and prospered. The Race program has had challenges from the very beginning and probably always will. However, without the roots, nothing grows, and for that reason Northwest Region will forever support Race and those who love it with a passion.

 

RALLY

Rallying has existed in the Northwest Region from the get-go, but in 1972, the Pro Rally program was brought in when SCCA National office formulated a program and sanctions for these true performance rallies run on controlled roads.

 

We had several clubs that organized good Time, Speed, Distance events, but two local clubs grabbed hold of this new program and developed the now infamous ‘Nor’Wester’ and ‘Olympus’ PRO rallies. We were blessed with landowners who understood the positive economic impact the rallies had on the host communities. This allowed us to hold events on various Weyerhaeuser, U.S. Forest Service, Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Simpson Timber Company lands. The National PRO Rally series was a great success for the SCCA members and a large group of PRO Rally competitors.

 

Eventually the groups merged and formed a group called Rally Week Northwest. This group was responsible for two National PRO Rallies in two weekends and continued until they gained sanction for the FIA World Championship Olympus Rally from 1986 through 1988.

 

At about the same time, a Divisional Series, sanctioned by SCCA, was put in place to create a lower cost, lower profile venue for the beginning Rally driver. This program is still active today because of the great success and on-going need for such a venue.

 

Sadly, the Rally Week Northwest group lost the world championship event to Australia. At about the same time, the NWR, SCCA added an Assistant Regional Executive Rally position and a local rally committee began building and budgeting for its own unique programs and schedule.

 

The rest, as they say, is history. And some of that history includes:
* Northwest Region was awarded ClubRally Region of the Year in 1986, 1987, 1990 and 1992.
* The ClubRally of the Year award in 1986 for the John’s River Lodge event.
* The ClubRally of the Year award in 1994 for the Twin Peaks event.
* The National ProRally of the Year award in 1984 for the Olympus International event.
* The National ProRally of the Year award in 1987 & 2004 for the Wild West event.
* The National ProRally of the Year award in 1989 for the Michelin Pacific Forest event.
* The Divisional ClubRally Program of the Year award in 1990, 1992 and 1994 for the Divisional Series.

 

SOLO

SCCA members and fellow Boeing employees, John Martinson and Bud Bohrer brought the Solo II program to life in the Northwest Region in 1972-73. Other local sports car and marquee clubs were in place and SCCA Solo II became an eager participant. By 1975, the small core group hosted two regional events at the Kent Boeing Spacecenter in preparation for the Norpac Divisional. All of this helped support the first big road trip to the Solo II Nationals in Kansas in 1975 with a huge group of 5 or 6 making the journey. This annual trek of 1700 miles one way, now draws 50 to 60 NWR members in 2006!


Northwest Region Solo II hosted the only Solo II Divisional event in the Region for the next few years while developing a strong local program. By 1981 a larger core group, headed up by Ron Babb and Wayne & Sharon Reuter, grabbed hold of the reins to take the Solo II program to the next level. Within a few years, Solo II went from sponsoring 3 or 4 events of 40 participants each to a 10 – 12 event sponsored, Regional Championship series and Novice schools which drew record breaking attendance (and still does!). National office soon took note of the cutting edge development in the NWR program and scheduled the new National Tour format for Seattle in 1992. It has been back every year since.  

 

After 25 years of regular use of the Kent Boeing Spacecenter parking lot, the Solo II group found themselves without a place to race when the site property was sold by Boeing. Handling this adversity in typical NWR style, the group bought themselves a small bus, loaded up there equipment & gear and have been putting on events from one end of the Puget Sound to the other.
 
The Northwest Region Solo II group has gained much respect and many kudos from the National office of SCCA for its growth and support of the administration of events as well as the impressive level of competition here. Northwest Region members hold many National Championship titles and have received various National awards of recognition.
 
They are a very big part of the “Obsessive/Compulsive” as well as “Friendly” piece of this club. And the beautiful, graphics covered traveling Solo II bus has given rise to the additional nomenclature of the “Gypsy Region”!

 

TIME TRIALS

 

A relatively new program to provide a venue for NWR members and other sports car enthusiasts who wish to experience higher speeds than the Solo II program allows and/or for whom the Club Racing program is not currently available, affordable or desirable.  The Time Trials program began in 2004 replacing the existing Solo 1 program that was popular in NWR. The concept came from High Performance Car Control Clinics, Solo I and Solo I Trials. 

 

Currently Club and Track Trials have been running stand alone events and Track Trials still participates as a group with in the club's Racing program.  The program is slowly catching on and this year (2006) the first Divisional Championship is being held in Reno.
 

The Time Trials Program is a new group of options in SCCA Club Racing.  The concept came from High Performance Car Control Clinics, Solo I and Solo I Trials.  The Time Trails program provides something for everyone regardless of their performance driving or competition experience.

 

 

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