Push Your Events Like You Push Your Driving


June 25, 2014 by Brian Ghidinelli

I instructed recently for a new program organized by the Golden Gate Chapter of the BMW CCA.  For those keeping notes, GGC was the club for whom I built the original prototype of MSR back in 2002.

GGC has a successful ladder system that moves participants from low-cost, low-commitment entry-level activities like car control clinics to higher-cost and higher-commitment events like autocross and HPDEs.  The challenge they have faced is keeping advanced drivers in their program. Some go on to club racing, some become instructors, but others simply get lost in the vast wilderness that is "open track days".


If you're brainstorming solutions to this problem, you might throw out ideas like more track time, better instructors, or more liberal passing, to help retain those experienced students. Those might work but lots of groups do that.  GGC tried something totally different.  They purchased 7 GPS-based data acquisition units and invited 7 instructors with racing and data acquisition experience (who could translate the squiggly lines into meaningful instruction) to create a personalized "Advanced+" offering.  An increased entry fee bought the use of the data system, one-on-one coaching and double the track time to apply and learn from the intensive instruction.

My student, an engineer from Apple, loved the high-touch experience.  People learn in a variety of ways; some by feel, by touch or by experience for example.  Some can learn by looking at the slope of a brake graph and envisioning how they should be applying and releasing the brakes to generate the desired shape.  Talking about the friction circle and seeing the friction circle (or "friction mushroom cap" for those with less than 500hp...) are two different things for a visual learner.

While there are things to be improved, student feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive.  Not only did the students pay more and like it, it was new and engaging for the instructors too. The seven of us were asked all day about the new offering by both students and "regular" instructors. There was a serious buzz and the program will return for future events.

Part of the challenge (and fun!) of motorsport is the endless quest to get more.  More precision.  More endurance.  More performance.  It's the foundation of what makes this a great sport and spectacle.  But if you are standing still, your competition is going to pass you by. Your events are no different.  They need to constantly ask, "how do I provide more value, more excitement, more entertainment to my participants so they choose us?"

Remember, not everything you try will be a success.  But every time you find something that doesn't work, you're one experiment closer to one that does.  Start small or swing for the fences - what's on your list to try?

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Topics: Customers, Marketing

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