The Washington DC Region SCCA autocross program is one of the largest in the country. To deal with the demand for their events, a few years ago they switched to a "season subscription" registration process, whereby competitors register and pay for the entire season (seven events in 2008) in one fell swoop. Season subscriptions are limited to the first 230 people who throw their $240 at the region via online registration once it opens.
This year that was to happen on 13 January at 8pm local time. It should be noted that in years past this process has been painfully difficult, mostly as a result of the registration provider's lack of a bona fide commercial internet line but also because of a lackluster and underpowered server combined of course with the mass frenzy of people trying to register at the same exact moment in time. After all the grumbling last year we were assured that the problem was resolved, however without the need to exercise their "fix", most people noted and then forgot about it.
Which brings us back to this year; at 8pm on January 13th, myself and 200-ish other eager participants logged on to the registration service and instantly brought the server to its knees. After about 15 minutes or so the first few people managed to get through only to report via email to the regions Yahoo group that the site was reporting that registration was closed and then asking if they wanted to get on the waiting list. Well, needless to say this spawned a torrent of emails to the group from frustrated participants, myself included. A little over an hour into the ordeal I finally managed to get myself on the waiting list, but I feared that something was not right. At about 10:15pm the region's Solo chairperson sent an email to the group saying that there was a technical issue with how the event was set up in the software and that everything would be reset and registration moved to the 20th at 8pm.
So last night, myself and 200 others subjected ourselves to this nightmare once more, after more assurances that everything would be better. And once again, everything was the same. This time, they did manage to set the event up properly but the process was excessively S L O W. After about 82 minutes I finally managed to get a confirmation stating that my payment was received and that I was registered for the season: WOO HOO!
To put the time consumed during this process into perspective a little bit, allow me to provide you the following statistics:
- 145 minutes = the time it took me to register for the season
- 630 minutes = the time I'll be required to spend working at these events (7 events X 90 minutes)
- 630 minutes = the time it will take me to drive to and from these events (7 events x 90 minutes)
- 30 minutes = time I'll spend at DC events actually driving in competition this year (7 events X 4 runs X 1.07 minutes each[this is probably an over estimate])
- $8 = cost per minute of seat time for DC events
- 4.83 = the number of minutes I spent registering for each minute of seat time I'll get at these events
- 21 = the number of minutes I must work at the events for one minute of seat time
- 21 = the number of minutes I spend traveling to and from the events for each minute of seat time competing at them
So to sum up, by the end of the DC regions season, I'll have spent (and I'm not a math major so please feel free to correct me) 4850% more time getting to, working at and registering for events than I will spend competing in them. And that is only the DC region's events. For the events my club, Autocrossers, Inc (AI) puts on I typically spend 8 or more hours at the event helping to put it on. For the national level events, the travel time is MUCH more (10 hours to Toledo, OH and 19 hours to Topeka, KS, ONE WAY) and only for a single event.
This is a crazy sport we partake in and the amount of time and effort for a few minutes of seat time is absolutely insane. So why do we keep doing it you ask? Come out to any one of the events on my schedule , take a ride with me or anyone else, and you will know the answer.