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March 12, 2021

Staff Members Bring Life-Long Training And Love Of The Club

Staff Members Bring Life-Long Training And Love Of The Club

The National Staff of the Sports Car Club of America, to a person, carries a love of the Club with them in everything they do. But for a handful, that love came naturally, passed down from prior generations and embedded in their genes.

Like everything children learn and absorb as they grow, each unique SCCA experience is passed along to those children, who now get to pass those experiences along to the Club’s administration.

Scott Schmidt, now Road Racing Technical Assistant but still known around Midwest tracks as “Clancy’s boy,” grew up at five to 10 events every year, mostly causing mischief. Clancy Schmidt joined the SCCA after returning home from Vietnam while attending the University of Kansas. In addition to serving as a short time as the Kansas Region RE, the elder Schmidt built and sold trailers and made his Club Racing a “business,” teaching others to do the same.

Scott, as a youngster, soaked in the SCCA in a, well, less-than-official capacity.

“I got thrown out of timing and scoring at Hallett once,” Scott said of his volunteer career. “I was usually trying to stay out of the way by maybe earning some money through odd jobs.”

Heyward Wagner, who we know now as the Senior Director of Rally/Solo and Experiential Programs, had active parents in the Southeast’s Flagging and Communications world. His mother, Susan, was a control operator in the Southeast Division and worked events like the Runoffs, Chimney Rock Hillclimb and Pro Racing weekends at Road Atlanta. His father, Ken, was a flag chief for many of those same events and became the first National Administrator of Flagging and Communications. Together, they produced the first SCCA Flag Manual and traveled extensively to support flagging and the standardization of flagging practices across the country. Heyward’s stepfather, Alan Coleman, served as Divisional Administrator in the Southeast Division.

So while Heyward wasn’t actually born trackside and waving a flag – but he got there pretty quickly. His first SCCA event was at two months old, and he hasn’t stopped yet.

“There is some famed family lore about a cook-out my parents hosted when I was four or five years old where I drug out some teddy bears and a flag set and started an impromptu crash and burn school, complete with CPR training,” Wagner admits and leaves us all lamenting the lack of iPhone cameras in the 80s.

Andie Wolfe, Creative Manager, grew up with her father as H Production National Championship contender Chris Albin in the Southern Illinois Region.

“Somewhere around the age of 11, I had spent too much time hanging around the hospitality shack in Memphis and got myself roped into a job,” Wolfe said. “For the remainder of Mid-South Region’s run at the track, I was their Chief of Hospitality. Organizing the distribution of trophies and results was my responsibility and it meant that I got to see all of my “family” several times a day while still scoring a free lunch. Through my teen years, I helped out in race control, registration, sound control, start and even flagging across the Midwest. Once I turned 16 and could ‘go over the wall,’ I transitioned away from those roles, preferring to help with the cars more actively.”

And while some were pulled naturally into work through their parents role in the Regions, Jon Krolewicz’ father, Ray, was just a “regular old member” – autocrossing occasionally and sharing his love for racing with his son. That shared time sparked a love of racing together and eventually grew into Jon pulling Ray along for activities while he raced, before becoming the current Senior Manager of Time Trials and Track Events.

It was a different experience from the others, but meant just as much.

Remarkably, each brings that enthusiasm with them to work every day, and beyond. Each still participates in motorsports as a hobby in addition to the job. And each remembers those experiences when putting plans in place for the Club and it’s future.

“I remember looking at the metal mugs with event details engraved on them given as trophies that my dad had won at Autocrosses, along with the photos of him in his 1964 Dodge Valiant autocrossing,” Krolewicz said. “My dad wasn’t a ‘racecar driver’ like the famous names I knew, so those trophies and photos represented access to motorsport for someone whose name wasn’t Foyt or Andretti.  Later, when I wanted to go be a racecar driver, those lessons of accessibility presented a great way to get started, and now those lessons help me set the same goals of accessibility for the members taking part in the programs I lead.”

Schmidt’s early mischief shaped his observational skills and helps him see things that are out of place – a key skill for technical inspections.

 “I’ve always been about the cars,” Schmidt said. “Drooling over well-prepared, immaculate cars has been a draw I can’t kick. No matter the class, if it was presented well and unique I loved it. Think S2000, Formula Atlantic, GT and Production, there are many bad ass and clean liveries out there that had the internal components to back it up. Being near the cars and knowing why they had the development of parts through the history of the class has been something I’ve always followed. I can’t help listening through the grapevine of what’s progressing in a given class, but mostly it’s done with the eyes. Watching the history of the development in SCCA Road Racing over four decades and studying the decades before that has shown some incredible trends. Call me a technical historian.”

Wolfe became an active participant herself, and as part of the marketing department shapes the voice of the Club and the public-facing persona.

“I was driven in the career direction by a desire to ensure that others would have the same opportunities to get into cars and racing,” she said. “My family’s version of drivers’ ed was going to an autocross on a permit. While our Club is recreational on the surface, I believe on the whole we’re better people because of this Club. We are a family, with a spiderweb of connections across the country who can help you in almost any circumstance. Whenever I think about what’s next for me, I think about all of the smiling faces I see at our events. This Club brings people joy, and I love being a small part of making that possible.”

There is no doubt that the SCCA thrives on the blend of experience and fresh perspective, but there is always a link to the past. These staff members, and so many others at the Region level, bring that perspective in a way that preserves the Club’s feels and, hopefully, adjusts some missteps. That’s what’s wonderful about the SCCA.

And being known in the Club as “the child of…” is mostly a positive. Mostly. There are some (hypothetical) disadvantages.

“I think the single biggest advantage to working in the Club that you grew up in are the relationships you have coming into the job – being able to call someone up to ask a question or for help and not having to explain who you are,” Wagner said. “Of course, if those relationships are with people who knew you through your more formative years, you may have to get reminded of that time you got you head stuck between two bars in the fence at Rockingham, or the time you got you sprayed mud all over your brother getting your mom’s minivan unstuck from the mud.”

Images Left to Right: Scott Schmidt, Heyward Wagner, Andie (Albin) Wolfe, Jon Krolewicz

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