As I sit in the lobby at Lake Geneva writing my final Regional report of the season and getting ready for the last National of the season, I realize all good things sooner or later must come to an end. I always end up with the same mixed emotions at this time of year. I get to Geneva and I’m kinda burned out on winter, I think about being at the biggest, baddest, knarliest track of the year with sweatshirt type temps and the worst pit parking of the year. For those of you that know, it’s a parking nightmare and no fun for the parking guys (by the way that would be me) and my partner Matt. My feelings are “Yeah I’m sooo ready for this to be done.” My mind drifts to hot summer days at the dirt track, golf, bonfires at the cabin, shorts and a nice golden tan – now were talkin! But suddenly I realize this group of people, my winter family, who I’ve just spent the last 5 months with, who have accepted me and helped me and whom I’ve spent more time around than my personal family, will be gone! We will all be shaking hands, hugging and saying our see ya next years within a matter of days and some sadness sets in. But, at same time, there is a new chapter and a new beginning of summer.
Anyway, today I am happy and sad as I sit to reflect on my year as Regional Race Director. This report will be of my emotions, thoughts, and reflections of my past 5 months.
Let’s start at the beginning, as I’ve stated before many times, when Carl first asked me to be Race Director, it didn’t take long for my answer because I felt up and ready for the challenge and knew that most importantly there was already an excellent team in place to help me! I have been involved in this sport for some 10+ years and have worked with some great teachers, so I was extremely excited to do this. I knew that I was not there to reinvent the wheel, but I did have some ideas and expectations on how things should work and run throughout race day. I really just wanted the people to come to the races, be it first timers or seasoned vets, and have a good time without all the pressure you have at Nationals. A place were racers build resumes and first time racers can come and see if this is their cup of tea, a place where riders still try to win races and championships without big stage pressure. I wanted a safe fun weekend of racing and for people at end of day to walk away and, in big picture, feel that it was worth the time, effort, and money spent to get there. I know that in racing things happen and not always the way you want, I also know not everyone is going to be happy, but I at least hoped that they were well represented from my team and that I, as Race Director, was fair and consistent, that meant the most to me.
I had it in my head before the first race that I was going to be the guy who walked around during races shaking hands, welcoming people, and just making sure things were good. Well that quickly changed at the first race, as I lay in bed on one of my many sleepless nights I said to myself, you have to be watching the races and be the team leader, you have to keep your team informed on how the day is going. Are we behind? Are we right on schedule? Is lunch ready for midday break? I just had to be observant of the track so that with my own two eyes, I could see firsthand what happened in case of violation during races. I realized I could still be visible during the day at riders meetings and still oversee things while mingling. I wanted to have a smooth running show with good flow and still allowing time at the end of the day for some fun and relaxation. I wanted riders meetings to be serious, informative, yet get everyone involved and keep the mood lightened and fun! I felt if I was fair and consistent, that I would have minimal controversy on race day and for the season. I wanted our team to be welcoming and helpful and do the best they could do every day and lastly, I wanted nice weather on race day. Not too much to ask for I thought? Nothing any great team can’t handle. With that being said, here is how it all went down and how I felt our team did!
As I write this I will sort of grade things, should be straight A’s all around right? Not hardly, haha. Let’s start with a fun, safe place to race – I give this a B+. I felt that most of the time everyone was having fun. As for safe, the venues and their teams did an awesome job prepping and grooming tracks, but with the cold winter that we had, as winter got longer, it was tougher to keep tracks softened up, but still everyone did the best they could with what they had to work with. I feel there is always room for improvement on how we can make it better, more fun for all.
I give an A- to the ISOC Regional staff, again, I believe this is one of the best groups I’ve ever worked with, and they work well together. Still, I feel we as a team, can improve things to make it an easier, better experience for people to come race, but my hat is off to this crew as they did an awesome job with the hands that were dealt. Hell, they even ran a whole weekend without me when I was stranded in state of Maine and couldn’t get back for races. That’s a great team, hats off to them!
I give our Regional series a B+ as well. We made some changes that I feel are great for our sport with the addition of an Amateur Womens class and changing Ditchbanger rules a little to try and expand that class and hopefully get some more entries and interest. For sure this group seems to have the most fun at the races and one of my personal favorites. There are already things in the works for next year to hopefully help the series grow and become better.
A wise man once told me, build a strong regional and your sport becomes bigger, better, and stronger! I can’t agree more. I feel we are headed in the right direction and that our sport is only growing. I’ve seen some of the best racing all year at the regionals in our Jr and Novice and 120 classes. There is an awesome talent pool of riders there which makes our future very exciting and fun to look forward to. I have watched all season our next generation of Hibberts, Kamms, and Martins, and many, many more rising to the top of their levels and that my friends is something to dream about!!! Imagine the rivalries ahead, the anticipation is so intense.
Moving on, I give the weather a big D. Let’s just say we could not seem to catch a break every single weekend it seemed we had blizzard like conditions, from 30-40 mile an hour winds to -30 & -40 degree temps, just plain cold. It’s been a long, tough winter for all involved. There were even two events we brought up the word cancel at riders meetings and discussed our options. But, in the end, not even the governor closing schools state wide or -45 degree temps and blizzard conditions with road closings around state could stop our teams from pressing forward and marching on weathering the storm. As a series we never cancelled race and felt that we did a great job all around discussing our options and making the best decision for all involved. Thanks to all for sharing their info and thoughts. After all, we chose this winter sport and the beaches and golf greens and outdoor grills will be out soon enough.
I give all the venues we worked with an A and I cannot thank them and their staffs’ for all the hard work and efforts and hours put in to help us put on a race. All of the places we attend are top notch facilities with a passion and love for the sport and they are always improving their properties and looking for ways to improve not only their assets, but the future of our sport. I feel there is always room for improvement, but hats off and many thanks and handshakes to you all for a job well done. I hope we are always welcome at your facilities in the future. They are truly second to none as are your staffs.
Last but not least myself I’m going to give self a B-. I hope I am being humble here and this does not offend anyone? I had one of the most fun years I’ve had in years at the races, and this has honestly been something I had thought about years prior to being asked. As I said, I have been able to work with some great people over and have learned so much from all of them. And I kind of always asked myself how I thought I would do in this position, so let’s just say it was kind of a dream of mine and now it’s reality. First off I felt that I was as honest and fair as I could be, it was a learning experience for me as well so I feel there were some calls and things I could have done better with. I felt as though for the most part I listened and had an open door policy to all racers, crew, family and fans. I felt I handled myself in a professional manner in most cases and again that I was polite and I listened. As far as race day, I think for the most part things ran pretty smooth and orderly? It helps to have worked staging at Nationals and having to work with a time schedule. It tightened the reins up for myself when I do regionals. I feel the riders meetings were informative and for the most part low key with an easy mood. I always tried to make people feel welcome and get kids involved. I was bummed that I missed the one ERX race, but my team did an awesome job without me, again darn weather can’t control it, that I learned. All in all, I had a great time representing ISOC and being the Race Director. There were good times, and not so good times, but that’s life. And in life a person or a Champion, when knocked down, gets up brushes themselves off and tries harder.
At our last race at ERX there was that feeling in the air it was championship weekend and I could feel it. The tension and nerves from all were through the roof. But, in the end we all rose to the top and made it through. Again, I had those same feelings and emotions while writing this, I was happy and sad, happy it was over and sad it was over. I am already looking forward to next year and I hope I have the opportunity to be Race Director again and am looking for ways to improve myself and the sport! I mentioned at our banquet that I have a passion for this sport and I meant that from the bottom of my heart. I truly enjoy the grind that we all go through each and every weekend. You are all family to me and I learn from you all every day and you help me more than you know and I’m proud to call you my friends. I’ve said it before, but my door is truly always open to each and everyone of you, be it racer, crew, family or fan. I am here to talk to and most of all, listen!! I want to thank each and every one of you for making this an awesome season and giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do,because without all of you, it’s not possible. I will think of you all throughout the summer somewhere at a dirt track or racetrack around the country or the golf course, or at a back yard barbeque, with visions of snow flakes and the sounds and smells of motors running and gas fumes in the air. I wish the best of luck to all of you and wish you and your families a fun safe summer. Be safe, have fun and laugh often!!! I hope at the end of the day and this article, you enjoyed the Regional Ramblings and that in end you had fun and it was all worth the time and effort. Always remember in a race there can only be one winner, but with God or a Higher Power, we are all winners. Stay true to your Heart and never give up on your dreams…
Thanks to all the sponsors and people who made this year happen! Without you all, none of this would be possible!!
Sincerely, “Racin” Jason Haugen
Quote: “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming”….