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Calling all Stock Outboard Clubs

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  • #16
    Let me know when he gets his first membership and the person/family buys racing equipment, I will check this site for his success story every month!
    Good luck!


    • #17
      I know I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again:

      I never even knew sanctioned racing in anything smaller than like Grand Prix hydros, Formula 1, offshore and unlimited hydros even existed most of my life. The only reason I do now is because TRORA drivers brought their boats to display at my local mall in April of this year.

      It was very interesting, but what sold me was Driver's School. The chance to get some training and actually drive a boat without having to buy one just to see if I liked it. After that first drive, I was hooked and I knew it.

      I now have my own boat sitting in my garage anxiously awaiting next season.

      A web presence today is a given, but clubs shouldn't shell out large money to have one. Web space is very cheap today and there are many IT professionals that are also racers. There are even plenty of free site building programs online you can use to create your site (most webspace providers have them built-in these days). You don't even have to be a seasoned webmaster anymore to have a decent site. Updates are easy.

      A Facebook page is free and it certainly can't hurt to have one.

      Websites and Facebook are cool and all, but what we need is more displays and more driver schools. It's one thing to see a website, totally another to see an actual boat up close and personal and then find out for a very, very reasonable fee, you can go drive one!

      Websites and Facebook are secondary places for people to go read after they've experienced a race event or seen a display. We need to get it out there and in their face first.

      SO/MOD as a spectator sport is never going to be mainstream, frankly it's a "participatory" sport....but we need to make the local populace aware. Run an ad in the local paper(s), see if a local news station would want to cover it, some sort of signage, see if a local college has a media club or their own station that might want to cover it.

      Secondly, once you have spectators at the race, make sure they are aware they can sign the waiver and come into the pits. The chance to talk to drivers, and see the boats up close and get pictures is a draw. I don't think many know they can come into the pits. Some may think it costs $$$ to come into the pits.

      Maybe spend some $$ to print up some sort of program for the spectators (most of the racing events I've been to for other motor sports almost always have some type of printed program). Have the seasonal schedule in it, and advertise the heck out of driver's school in it. Heck, clubs could probably cover the printing costs via sponsorships from local businesses.

      The key is to first make people aware SO/MOD exists, then make them aware there's a race near them and then make them aware not only can they come and watch, they can drive one in racer school!. Want to take participation a step further? Invite parents to bring the youngsters down to the pits and "assign" a kid to a team or driver and let them "get their hands dirty" helping out. A 9 or 10 year old would jump at the chance to help out. It's a way to start educating them about the boat, about the racing, about setting up the boat...all the cool tech stuff a kid would soak up like a sponge. Of course, mom and dad are going to be hanging out as well and once junior is steeped, you know where that'll go....

      Dane Lance


      • #18
        Very well put, Ram4X4.

        Howard is certainly right in saying that racing organizations at all levels need to get the most bang for their membership bucks. After all, anything that unnecessarily drives up the cost of a membership tends to defeat the goal of getting new members. But if tech-savvy guys here (and I'm NOT one!!) know ways to establish SOME level of internet presence very cheaply, and are willing to do it themselves and have fun at it, that's great, go for it, see what comes of it. Who knows, maybe one of them WILL find a combination that pays off in terms of popular attention and new members, and such a response certainly won't be found without trying. A response to Howard is that you can't give a boat ride to a guy who doesn't know about it, who isn't there at the lake.

        Meanwhile, your implication from personal experience that non-racers may only be aware of the few big flashy categories of boatracing certainly is true. In my case, growing up in Seattle in the 1950's and early '60s, all the boys in my neighborhood were obsessed by the Unlimiteds . . . and had only a hazy awareness of smaller boats that ordinary amateurs raced. It wasn't until one of us saw a small photo-ad for Hal Kelly's outboard plans in the back of a boating magazine that it entered our heads that WE could get into this game ourselves. Thus enlightened, and having ordered sets of plans (Oh man, was it exciting when they arrived in the mail), we started going to local Inboard and outboard races, and saving our money to buy wood, Anchorfast nails and Weldwood glue, finish, hardware, an engine (how awesome that converted 20H looked with its open pipes when I brought it home!!) and prop, a Gentex jacket and Bell helmet, and racing memberships. But a magazine ad is highly unlikely to be seen by today's potential racing recruits. Which of course is why you'd try getting their attention by way of the internet.

        IMHO, the best way clubs can troll for new members is with displays. But these do not need to be anything formal or fancy at all, and they don't have to be at big, once-a-year boating events. I assume it is true of the rest of the country as it is in the Puget Sound area that every suburb has a weekly "car show" or "cruise," in this case meaning merely an informal get-together of hot-rodders and restorers, drag-racers and bikers, on summer weekends. The ones I sometimes get to around here have between 15 and 80 vehicles roll in on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. If an outboarder has his boat and engine rigged and sitting on a little Holsclaw trailer, all he has to do is show up at one of these neighborhood events and he will be the center of attention. I did it once maybe fifteen years ago. I hadn't raced in years, it was an obsolete old round-bow hydro with a Yamato 80 converted for Restricted B but not even ready to run (wrong pistons, no rings, etc.), and I never took the boat off the trailer. Yet so many guys and their kids came over to look and talk that I hardly was able to get free to look over the cars.

        My point is that it is EASY to find crowds of mechanically-oriented fellows who are pre-disposed to be very curious about this little corner of motorsports, and EASY to show them what it is. That one time I did this, I had a Seattle Outboard race schedule and contact info taped to one side of the boat. I've no way of knowing whether anybody followed up on this, but if only one person did, that's one who wouldn't have done so without having seen my sort of faked-up-and-thrown-together racing outfit.

        Most of these local carshows are summer and early-Fall events, but you aren't racing every weekend, and carshows are fun, too. Not only car shows, there are all sorts of gatherings of mechanically-oriented guys who would be interested to see a rigged raceboat on a trailer. Automotive and motorcycle swapmeets are a natural arena for us. Airshows always have a contingent of men who build their own light aircraft from kits or plans, and would be fascinated by our boats. And think of all the motorsports races being held during off-weekends for us: sportscar races, vintage races, drag races, dirt-track races, kart races, motorcycle roadraces, motocrosses, . . . there is no end of motorsports action of some sort all summer long and longer. And again, you don't have to "coordinate" with anybody else; I never said anything to anybody about dragging my old junk to that car show, I just did it for fun and as a way to make my slightly hot-rodded tow-car a little more interesting.

        This is not to say that motorsports events are the only good places to which you could tow a boat to show off. The Boy Scouts are sure to hold a summer jamboree for all the troops in your area; of course for that sort of "formal" event you'd first want to call the fellow who's in charge. Same deal with an airshow or boat show if you want to get your rig into "the arena" and not just set up in the parking area. Don't write off yacht club sailboat races, either; I can think of four SOA hydro drivers who also were into racing sail. For a slightly more organized club display (because no one person wants to be there all day), the manager of a local big-box home improvement store very well might be up for a small display of boats since he likely has some relevant products to sell.

        Bottom line: a racing website will surely get more hits by more motivated newbies if they have first had their attention drawn to it by having seen and touched an actual raceboat and yakked with the owner. And then, having had their interest primed and reinforced, and having been handed schedules and such, some will show up at the lake to see a race and take a ride, right?

        (P.S. if you have a rig to sell, that's another reason to show it.)
        Last edited by Smitty; 11-02-2015, 08:51 AM.


        • #19
          Thanks Smitty, and I tell ya, even when I saw the display, I had it written off in my mind because I thought "Oh, that's cool, but it's probably thousands of dollars..." I was quite surprised when I found it out how relatively cheap it really is. Don't get me wrong, it's so typical of anything with an engine on it in America, we can get crazy with it and sink thousands and thousands into it, but someone doesn't have to.

          For organized, sanctioned racing, you'd be hard pressed to find anything this cheap and money talks. I know a lot of guys that would love to have a race team in anything, but the typical motor sport tends toward very pricey. The relatively low entry costs for this sport is actually a big selling point I think.

          Another cool factor is the relative lack of wrenching between races. Anyone that's ever run bikes or cars or even karts knows what I mean. It's easy to run a boat and then enjoy the event between races, or help someone else out. The wife doesn't drive, but she really enjoys the events hanging out with the folks, talking, watching, helping, etc. It's a "relaxed" sport to a great degree and that can be very appealing.

          Dane Lance


          • #20
            What you saw, Ram, a mall display with several boats, is a very good thing but is a fair amount of hassle, what with getting boats in and out, putting them on horses and setting up posters and photos and maybe an endless-play video, not to mention scheduling people to be there at all times. This is one reason a club only does a few of these things a year. And a shopping mall, or a supermarket parking lot, isn't exactly a target-rich environment for us. But when you think "boat display," this is the kind that comes to mind, right?

            I'm suggesting a change in our thinking on this. (My ideas mostly get yawns and disappear without a trace, but maybe somebody will like this one, LOL).

            Again, any racer, of any class and with any experience level, on his own and without consulting or bothering anybody else, can hook up to a little trailer and take his outfit to the local carshow almost effortlessly. He doesn't have to have anybody help him put the boat on horses or put up posters or anything. He doesn't have to stay any longer than he wants, doesn't have to schedule anything; when he has talked enough and seen enough, he gets in his car and drives away. Utterly simple. And, in complete contrast with the mall or supermarket, he is in the most target-rich environment possible, a gathering of motorsports enthusiasts and DIY'ers.

            This could be done on every spring/summer/fall weekend at carshows and similar casual gatherings all over your town, your state, the country, with no organizing or hassle. The one thing that could be done to encourage individual racers to do this would be for each club or region to ask the members to report on where and when the car show (and other events) meets in or near their neighborhood. We're lucky in the Puget Sound area that one of the car clubs compiles a schedule of car shows, cruises, races, swap-meets, biker meets, and such and offers printed copies to some of the local auto-parts stores every spring.

            I'm going to see what the response is to this idea. If it gets thunderous ovations, or at least SOME level of interest and agreement ( which would be a new experience), I'll call the editor of the Seattle Outboard's monthly newsletter and see what he thinks might be a way of making this sort of info, which I'd be happy to start collecting, available to the members . . . .
            Last edited by Smitty; 11-02-2015, 09:40 AM.


            • 1hshawwpba
              1hshawwpba commented
              Editing a comment
              Smitty, Howard here, we do 2 displays each year with SOA and a couple of parades.
              We display at the lake union wooden boat show and at a car show in Spanaway.
              We promote our take a ride program and get emails sign ups to follow up interested parties and also have info on our J program that has [been a great success building 4 - 5 boats each year for NEW j racers who continue to race in AXS classes and K pro classes. It also has new C drivers ( the parents) racing in most cases. SOA has a Novice C class for new racers to get their feet wet (pardon the pun) and go racing. This does take some work and follow up effort but our numbers have been increasing year after year and we are averaging over 100 entries at our races so there is proof it works. And we did it without an expensive web site or other social media it is done the old fashion way --- Face to face communication with email follow up!
              So your suggestion is right on!

          • #21
            Oh, I agree Smitty, a mall display does take some work to get approved, set up, etc. I wouldn't rule them out, but certainly we should not limit ourselves to that venue alone. I think your idea of the car cruises is good also.

            I think the main point is that we need to get the boats out and about so they are seen, and be prepared to sell the program to the inevitable gawkers.
            Dane Lance


            • #22
              Howard, I'm waiting for J. Paramore to send me a return e-mail so I can ask him what he thinks about the best place to put up all the info on local car shows, races, swap meets, air shows, etc.. I'm thinking that right here, maybe in the Region 10 News section, might be good because the info could be added to or amended as appropriate, very easily. After seeing what John says, I may ask the admins here what they think. The main point would be to make it very simple for a racer who might want to drive over to his local Saturday afternoon car show on a non-racing weekend, and maybe hook up his raceboat and take it along. A secondary benefit is that in my experience all motorsports guys are interested in all other motorsports (the admns for this site will certainly agree with this). So on any non-racing weekend, an SOA member might take a look at this events schedule and see there's a shifter-kart race or a vintage motorcycle show or something and go take it in, whereas without the handy, all-in-one-place listing he might not have thought about it.

              I know SOA has been doing a display at Wooden Boats for a long time (and long before that, back in MY day, had a display in Clark Marshall's annual Custom Auto, Hot Boat, and Speed Show in the Seattle Center Colosseum). Those once-a-year big displays are fine, and nobody could argue SOA's obvious success when other clubs are having hard times. But if you had been with me that day when I rolled into the Saturday car show in Burien with my mildly hopped-up '73 Dodge Swinger 318 coupe towing a nice old round-bow Karelsen/RBH, you might have been surprised. This informal get-together is put on by the Classy Chassis club, and on that day they even had a deejay spinning "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Hot Rod LIncoln" and such, lotsa fun! But the thing was that in Seattle of all places, so many fellas came over to look and talk who were only barely aware that such machinery was being raced locally. Oh, they had heard of the Slough race, and sort of remembered something about Green Lake races, but they had no real consciousness of SOA racing . . .

              . . . and if they don't know, what chance is there that they'd ever see a race, get interested in doing it, take a ride? So just based on the reaction I saw that day, I think that the few big annual club displays miss a lot of potentially interested fellas (and if they have kids, they bring them to those car shows) that can be clued-in by one racer who shows up with one boat for two or three hours. For the clubs around the country that are in bad shape, I think this absurdly easy and cheap publicity method could have some positive impact.

              Anyway, I'm willing to start gathering the information when we figure out how to put it up, and maybe with that example, and a few photos from on the scene by the more tech-savvy guys, we can get other clubs thinking about it.
              Last edited by Smitty; 11-03-2015, 03:45 PM.