New Kids On The Block

I’m not talking about the boy band getting back together. In 2013, NASA Northwest embarked on its inaugural season in the Pacific Northwest as the 16th region in the NASA family. With a six-event schedule and a whole corner of the country unknown to NASA, we boldly charged into the land of Bigfoot and microbrews.

Robert Kinley and I started NASA NW in the summer 2012. Taking a step back even further, Robert and I started with NASA on the same day, at the same event, at the raceway formerly known as Sears Point in 2001, having never met prior. Over the years, we’ve worked in almost every official capacity and have been able to assist in development of much of the current operations model. So here we are, 13 years later, several hundred events under our belts, thinking we’ve experienced pretty much every conceivable situation, and just knowing we had it pretty much figured out. I’m happy to say that with a lot of preparation and some great officials, we hit the mark.

Now, this is not to say we didn’t struggle with a few issues over the season. I wish I could say there is a way to plan for even a majority of eventualities involved in running a region, let alone a single event, but there are just too many variables. Challenges and obstacles come at you from all different angles and usually pop up out of nowhere. Each of these issues requires some degree of attention, but they are, surprisingly, not always bad.

One of the inherent challenges we face in the Northwest is weather, rain in particular. To prepare for the wet days ahead, we came up with some unique ideas, such as our Rain Guarantee policy. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, we endured less than two hours of wet conditions all season and actually broke heat records during our first event. We had planned well and had plenty of umbrellas, which were useful for shade, but nobody thought to bring sunscreen. Not a bad problem, as it turned out.

For those not familiar with the Pacific Northwest, there is a pervasiveness of cars and motorsports throughout the culture. It seems no matter where I go or what I’m involved in, I most likely will run into a few fellow gear heads. This culture goes beyond niches and spans generations, styles and tastes. One of my favorite aspects as a Regional Director is to see two drivers who have never met set up next to each other in the paddock. It’s absolutely incredible to watch two people from completely different walks of life that would probably never cross paths in the regular world become good friends over the course of a NASA event.

That’s just one of the many perks of my job, which I’m coming to learn more and more is not so much about enforcing rules and regulations, but about making sure everyone is enjoying themselves and things are running smoothly. Yes, you must still follow the rules, but if you aren’t having a good time at the track, it is my responsibility, and I take it seriously. I don’t want anyone to go away unhappy with their NASA experience.

Ryan Flaherty stated earlier this year, “We are happy we can offer something that pleases so many of you,” which brings me to my conclusion: as a Regional Director, I value your input. The only way we can improve upon a good product and make it better is with feedback. If you have an idea, concern, question, or critique to improve the NASA experience, I am here to listen. After all, these events are for you. See you at the track in 2014!

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