Speed News has been talking with series leaders across the country in an effort to share their best practices and find out how they make their individual series tick in their regions.
Series leaders work to grow a given class in their regions by motivating existing drivers while working to recruit new drivers to the class. That can take a number of forms, including keeping an eye on HPDE and Time Trial for the appropriate cars and drivers who might be interested in racing in a series. It also might involve efforts through social media channels to bring in new drivers and introduce them to all the joys of racing in the class they serve.
Series leaders also serve as the liaison between regional and national series directors to address concerns, and maintain stability and growth of their class in their region.
Jackie Andrews is the Honda Challenge series leader in the NASA Northeast Region, a position she’s held for about 10 years. Now in her 14th year of racing, Andrews has built one of the more well-subscribed Honda Challenge fields in the nation. Although her H2 car has been apart for much of the year, she will be getting back on track this season.
We caught up with Andrews to find out more about her methods and strategies as a series leader and what has and has not worked for her in the NASA Northeast Region.
Q: First off, NASA has more than 25 classes in which to race. What attracted you to Honda Challenge?
A: Hondas (at the time) were cheap, plentiful and a lot of the performance parts you would want for a racecar were available. We didn’t have to make them. Also, the Honda Challenge group was a good group to hang with at the track.
Q: Did you have background in racing before coming to NASA?
A: I started auto-crossing in 2000, and did that as much as possible until I could afford to do track days.
Q: What is your professional background and how do you think that helps you in your role as series leader?
A: I work for a utility here in NYC and it doesn’t help at all with being a series leader besides a good Monday-to-Friday shift schedule.
Q: You regularly have fields of more than 10 H2 cars in NASA Northeast, and they have been consistent for years. What have you been doing to keep and attract H2 racers?
A: Honestly, the class grows itself. It’s a family kind of vibe in Northeast Honda Challenge. Everyone wants to beat each other on the track. Not in the pits. It’s always been that way and I think that helps draw people in. No one is ‘out to get’ another driver. Everyone just wants to race, have fun, and then hang afterward.
Q: When a new driver comes to Honda Challenge in your region, how do you make them feel welcome?
A: Everyone is just nice. So we get them a spot by us, offer them any help they may need (we swap engines in the paddock way too often).
Q: What was it like when you first started racing with NASA? How did NASA members and staff make you feel welcome?
A: When I started, NASA Northeast didn’t exist yet, or it was in its infancy. But I knew the original owners and they were always super nice and welcoming to me at the events. When the Casellas bought it, it just continued on. Joe actually is the reason I started racing. He basically told me to throw a cage in my DE car and get out there. And we see where that led!
Q: What do you think the most effective recruitment tool is at your disposal?
A: Social media. I can stalk all the Honda folks out there and offer them some of this good Honda Challenge … stuff.
Q: Have you been able to speak with other series leaders to get their best practices?
A: I can, but generally I don’t. I think I run my region a little different. It ‘seems’ pretty lax, but I’m always looking. But I don’t generally pull cars into impound. Scales, dyno when we have one, and off you go.
Q: Can you think of anything you’ve done that has been especially effective at attracting and keeping racers coming back?
A: Keeping it fun, helping everyone as much as I can, and not being a jerk. I’ll DQ you if it’s warranted, and then help you fix the issue.
Q: We’ve asked others this question before, but let’s say you were the king of amateur motorsports for a season. What would you do to bring motorsports to more people? Or more people into motorsports?
A: More social media exposure. If people can see it, they know it exists. Then they start following a series or driver that they like on Instagram, for example, and see that this person does it on a budget. Builds a car on the side of the house or in a driveway. Basically, show people that it’s doable for the average person. It doesn’t take a team, or a ton of money. But you do have to be smart if you’re on a budget.