How to be a member of a club.

1. Join. Seems obvious, but you will be surprised how many people continually participate at club events, that are not members. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a bad thing to be a non-member and participate, but how many events does it take to decide that you want to hang with this club? If you enjoy participating in the club’s activities, help out by JOINING THE CLUB! Consider all the advantages that membership brings. As a member you will be able to influence the direction of the club. You might be invited to take a leadership position that solves a problem with which the club is struggling. Each of us has something to offer the club. Your life experiences may offer a solution or a great idea that moves the club to the next level.

2. Attend membership meetings. It is hard for people to attend these meetings the first couple of times. You think everybody is looking at you and you may be asked to introduce yourself to the group. Research has indicated that glossophobia (the fear of public speaking) is the number one phobia reported in the United States. But, believe me, nobody is judging you. We are glad and excited to see a new face. I recall during my first couple of membership meetings, being asked by the clubs leader rather brusquely “Who are you and why are you here?” (He was trying to be funny), fear and anxiety coursed through my body, and I could feel the beads of sweat forming on my palms, My response was “My name is Ed Shuler and I am a potential new member”, everyone said “Hi” and the spotlight quickly moved on to other business. All that fear and anxiety for a 5 second interaction, it wasn’t worth it. Don’t expect anyone to remember your name and don’t expect to learn anyone else’s name at the first meeting. It takes repeated exposure before you will commit names to memory. There may be one or two people that will interact with you if you are open to interaction but most people will not introduce themselves or strike up a conversation. People are naturally shy and reserved around people they have just met. Give yourself time to get a feel for the group dynamic. Meet and learn the name of one new person at each meeting. You will be surprised at how easy it is to be a member of the group when you know only a couple of the other members.

3. Step forward when offered an opportunity. Everybody has something to offer and you joined because you like these people. After a reasonable period of time, you should step forward. I have noticed, that in every organization the same handful of people do all the work. From Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) to Meet-up Groups to 501-C3 organizations, even if the club has thousands of members, the same 10 or 20 people do all the work. This is crazy! Even if you are not approached, offer your services to the group. It is very rewarding, for the club and your self esteem. Believe me, the old saying that “many hands make the job go faster” is true. Most of the folks doing the work will gladly accept your offer of assistance, especially if you have ideas that make the job easier. Even if you are only offering muscle, it will be greatly appreciated.

All of the jobs that are easy and fun (like showing up at an event and participating) are made possible by people doing jobs that are less easy and less fun. Help out whenever you can.

Be sure to follow thru when offering your services. If you offer to do a task and don’t get it done, you are making someones life harder. This is NOT GOOD! If you forgot or honestly didn’t get the task done because of extenuating circumstances, beg for forgiveness and try again, but if you can’t or have no intension of doing something, don’t volunteer to do it. Give the task its DUE DILIGENCE.

It has been my experience that club membership is extremely rewarding. I have made new friends and expanded my depth of knowledge. Opportunities that I never imagined have materialized and I am curious where membership in this club is taking me.

In summary; being a member of a club related to your favorite hobby, is a hoot. Get in there!


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A little Toltec philosophy

I came across a book titled “The Four Agreements” that purports to be wisdom passed down from the Toltec (pre-Aztec) civilization. The Toltecs expressed a belief that if you made these agreements with yourself, you would achieve heaven on earth and personal happiness and a high level of accomplishment. I read the book a couple of times. There may be something useful here.

  1. Don’t tell people they are screwed up, lazy, bad, dumb, or.. you get the idea. Especially people who look at you as an authority figure. (like your children). Alway give encouragement and praise in your daily encounters. The example is given of a young daughter who is playing and singing happily when her mother arrives home from a bad day at work. Mom has a headache and loads of washing and dinner cooking and bill paying still ahead of her. Mom is sitting on the couch suffering from the headache as the child is singing and playing. Mom yells at the little girl in a moment of anger. “Stop that awful singing.. Your killing me!” The little girl is devastated. She loves and respects her mother and would never do anything to hurt her mom. She accepts her mothers judgment that her singing is awful, and she never sings again.
  2. Don’t take anything personally. The things that happen to you are often controlled by forces beyond your knowledge and influence. For example; that cop gave you a ticket, because you were speeding and he had a quota imposed on him by his boss. He may not want to give you a ticket, but he is being driven by policies defined by others. He wasn’t out to get you. If people that you barely know offend you, let it slide. They don’t know you, they are dealing with a lot of pressure from the people that have influence on them. Hopefully, they are doing their best at whatever they are trying to accomplish.
  3. Always do your best. That seems pretty straight forward. But it is tougher than you might think. The assumption is that you will learn to say ‘no’ before you take on a task that you don’t want to do. Invariably people are coerced into jobs they don’t particularly enjoy, and they do a bad job. If you accept an assignment, give it due diligence. Also, your best will not be uniform. When you are happy, ‘your best’ will be better than when you are stressed. You should always ask yourself, “did I do the best I could in that situation?” If you can answer “yes”, you will have many a restful nights sleep.
  4. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t make assumptions. Ask questions until you have a complete understanding of what is expected of you. Invariably asking questions, will change in a dramatic way, your understanding of the task. You are almost always guaranteed a successful outcome if you have a full understanding of the job.

As I try to make and live these ‘agreements’ I have noticed that I see the world in a different light. Tasks are more fun, things that used to be a pain in the ass are less so. I have to admit that number one is tuff because the standard format for euro-american communication is gossip. We spend a lot of time talking about others in a less than flattering way. I’ll keep working on it.

If you get assigned to a corner you don’t particularly enjoy, Don’t take it personally, Do your best, pay attention, be prepared.

See you at the track.


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Volunteers Desperately Wanted!

We continue to struggle with recruiting volunteers for the F&C Speciality. We are approaching minimum critical mass. Our first event this year had only 15 on Saturday, and 20 on Sunday. This is disappointing after an exciting and well attended (~ 30) Crash and Burn school. WHAT HAPPENED? Our track is lacking a few amenities, the nearest decent hotels are 45 min away and with gasoline hovering around $4.00, what used to cost $40 per weekend is now approaching a $100. There are no showers or hot water at the track either. What to do, what to do? Is there a magic bullet? I’m open to suggestions, Anyone..

I still enjoy participating and supporting the Region. However I am not immune from financial reality. I don’t want to blow my budget traveling back and forth all weekend, so I am looking at economical camping options. I have done the tent thing, It’s o.k. assuming the weather co-operates. Having said that, I would like something a bit more secure and weatherproof. I tried a pop-up camper at the runoffs last year. It was good, kept me out of the rain, but during the gale force winds, I was sure the canvas was coming off. It was also not as warm as I had hoped.

Sidewinder Pod

Overnight accommodations for Corner Workers

I’ve been considering a teardrop style trailer. Hey – Here’s an idea! We make several Sidewinder Pods for use at the track. I found some plans on the internet based on a 4 x 8 Harbor Freight trailer. The trailer cost less than $300 and I think I can build one for under $1000. How cool would it be to have 4 or 5 of these things parked in the worker parking area during a race weekend? And it would be an easier tow to Wisconsin.

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Rookie Info.

New volunteers often ask me what they need to wear / bring for their first weekend as an F&C worker. Here is a contribution written by “Suzuki Jon”, one of our drivers who lost a bet and had to work corners a few times.

        Stuff you will need to be a corner worker at High Plains Raceway.

  • White pants:

    You want to look cool and fit in. Got mine for $10.00 at Walmart, Dickies Painter pants.

  • White tee or sweat shirt/hoodie.

    Actually grey or tan will work also. No red, black or yellow shirts (matches important flag colors)

  • A few different types of gloves;

  • 1) Leather work gloves, buy in a bundle of 3 or 6 at Harbor freight. Used for “dirty work” sweeping, digging, any other grunt work your corner captain can come up with.

  • 2) Old driving gloves. I use these when flagging and going after “bad cars” that have found their way off course when carrying a fire bottle.
  • 3) Winter gloves and light cotton gloves for just standing around and keeping cool or looking cool.

4) A heavy belt, I use a nylon “cop duty belt type”. Used to hang your cool corner worker toys on (discussed later) and also the radio. You will use the radio, even your first day. Don’t worry, they will be gentle, and it’s not that hard (you will be coached).

  • Cool corner worker tools:
  • 1) Bottle opener; Even if you don’t drink anything that you would need a bottle opener, a good corner worker will always have one. Drivers never do and you will have to open their beer for them.
  • 2) Carabiner; Not sure why, but everyone has one.
  • 3) Medical shears; Better than a knife to cut seatbelts. Cheap at Harbor Freight or Big Lots, a couple bucks.
  • 4) A big knife; Just like Rambo or Crocodile Dundee. You might have to kill your own food at the corner station.
  • 5) A chair; if you want to suck up, bring a spare in case your corner captain forgot his. Remember, while the drivers are driving you are standing in one place, sit when you can.
  • 6) Boots; I have some steel toe boots that I use at the range. Remember, (see #5) you stand ALOT, in one place. Wear something comfy but functional with good ankle support. It gets muddy around the station and you will have to leave the bunker to check the track or respond to an off car. You may have to run, over uneven ground, carrying a fire extinguisher to render help.
  • 7) A scanner; Helpful to listen to what’s going on and when you’re new, hearing the proper way to call things in.
  • 8) Nomex sleeves; I have some for working on the car. Good protection for your arms and on cold days they work like long underwear for your arms.
  • 9) Other stuff I can’t remember.

10) Rain gear; Great not only when it rains, but also works when it’s windy. If you have it, you won’t need it (no promise expressed or implied).

  • Random stuff:
  • 1) Hats; Knit type, ball cap and boonie type hat. The sun is bright.
  • 2) Suntan lotion; the sun is hot and will fry you like bacon.
  • 3) Hand sanitizer; you may want to clean your hands before you eat or after you…….you know.
  • 4) Favorite pain reliever; Cars are loud or you may have a headache from the night before……so I hear.
  • 5) Snacks; you will be on the corner from 0800 until lunch and then from after lunch until midnight.
  • 6) More clothes than you can wear; when you get on corner, even in July, at 0730 it will be cold. Then the sun comes up and it gets warm. Then the storm rolls in and it gets cold.

7) Money; given to the F&C chief for good corner assignments. Does not always work.

8) Fun; if you can’t bring any with you, the other workers will bring enough for everyone.

Never thought I would say this, but I’m finding it almost as much fun as driving. It’s just as intense and the people are incredible. When I’m driving I feel a lot safer knowing who has my back when it goes bad.

It’s also a great way to see the track and the right line and the wrong line through a turn. It’s hard to watch someone go through a turn wrong all day; working turn 3 at La Junta taught me that.

Finally, you don’t need to bring anything, just show up!

If you need something, someone probably has an extra to get you through the day. Everyone is SUPER helpful and your head will hurt at the end of the day from all the knowledge it’s soaking up.

Most of all have fun!

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As the season approaches, thoughts turn to replacing stuff.

First, shoes! Wifey replaces her gym shoes with shocking regularity. When I inquired as to why she owns 30 pairs of trainers, she told me “they break down after a few weeks of use”. I questioned this explanation at first, but last year I replaced what seemed to be a perfectly functional pair of boots, and noticed immediately that my feet didn’t hurt as much at the end of the day. Maybe she’s onto something? What brand and model of work boot is your favorite? I might try a pair of Merrell Outbound, or Merrell Perimeter this year.

Pants – I purchased 3 new pairs of Dickie’s White Painter Pants for the runoffs last year, so we should be good to go in the pants area. They are not very warm but I use some thermal ski underwear on those cold colorado spring days.

Sunglasses – Yikes, I hate sunglasses, but a good pair of shades is a requirement in the bright sun of the colorado prairie. Vuarnet makes the best sunglasses IMO, but they are hard to get in he US, Jalbo is my next choice. So ‘Jalbo’s Colorado’ model is the natural choice.

Hats – Mike Pettiford has a white ‘Go-4-it Racing’ extreme flap-cap that looks good! Must get one of those with a “Sidewinder” logo.

What’s your favorite piece of F&C gear?

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The Dog Days of Fall – sports car racing in the rocky mountains (Oct 2010 thru March 2011)

Dog Days” (Latin: diēs caniculārēs)
(1) The hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the northern hemisphere, they usually fall between early July and early September. In the southern hemisphere they are usually between January and early March. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the ‘Dog Star’, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather.
(2) Dog Days can also define a time period that is stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.
It’s October now. The racing season in the rocky mountains is behind us. It may not be very hot, but the prospect of months without sports car racing has a foreign feel, the uncertainty seems strange. Spring seems so far off, whatever shall we do?
I guess we can use the break to work on some club projects;
— Install some benches and grab bars in the Z-Van —
— Come up with some new plans for setting up HPR, the way we haul the stuff around continues to be unworkable —
— I guess we can look forward to the winter car shows —

Oh wait, SWMBO has some suggestions too.
— Sand and Re-stain the deck — Whoa there. Let’s not get carried away!
— Do some yard work — Boring!
— Fix the snow blower — I guess.

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Facebook as a region wide, topic based message board.

Is the day coming when we use Facebook (or the next big social network tool) for an F&C region wide or even country wide discussion board. I think so!

Pros – More inclusive than just your local club. For example; Our friends from RMVR, MRA, BMW Club or Z-Club are likely to be on Facebook and they probably don’t check the SCCA message-boards very often
It’s a 1 stop F&C chat-room.

Cons – Are there any reasons NOT to be on Facebook?
Could it be too inclusive, Are there ever cases where we don’t want people from other organizations to be involved in F&C discussions?


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