SCCA: 75 years of setting the bar

SCCA: 75 years of setting the bar

Insights & Analysis

SCCA: 75 years of setting the bar

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At the SportsCar magazine office, kittycorner to RACER’s editorial HQ amidst a glorious cubical maze, sits a massive magazine archive. The archive contains nearly every issue of SportsCar magazine, the official publication of the Sports Car Club of America, dating back to the creation of the SCCA in 1944.

Because SportsCar has not always been produced on a monthly basis, I have no clue as to how many issues of the magazine are there, but it has to be more than 750.

Regardless, that’s tens of thousands of pages capturing SCCA’s history — America’s motorsports history as it happened. Flipping through any of those issues is an adventure through the SCCA’s incredible 75 years. And next week, on February 26, SCCA will celebrate another milestone as it turns 75 years old.

As SportsCar magazine’s editor, I have unfettered access to this glorious and rare archive, so to illustrate just how amazing SCCA’s 75-year history is, I randomly grabbed the September-October 1957 issue from the shelves to see what motorsports gold I could find.

On the cover: SCCA Hall of Fame member and motorsports icon Carroll Shelby piloting a 4.5 Maserati at a national club race at Virginia International Raceway (incidentally, a circuit that will be the 2019 home of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs).

Also in that issue was a feature on the SCCA’s latest purchase: a clubhouse. For the first time in SCCA’s history (back then, the first time in 13 years), the SCCA had an office building (located in Westport, Connecticut) to operate out of.

A few pages later, following race reports featuring the likes of Shelby and Walt Hansgen, and near an advertisement for Lucas, “the world’s most respected name in electrical equipment for British automobiles,” was a feature on roll bar safety.

“Your Officers and Contest Board feel that it is not unreasonable to require that certain precautions be taken in events sanctioned and supervised by the Club and its Regions,” the author wrote. “It is also honestly believed that the observance of such safeguards will not dampen the enjoyment derived by participants or spectators.”

Back in the 1950s, the SCCA was pleading with its members to install race car rollover protection. One suggested option was a roll bar tripod hidden in the headrest. At least they were wearing helmets.

 

“If I thought I was going to crash, I wouldn’t be racing,” was the general opinion back in those days. Contrast that to today, where road racers wear fire-resistant race suits, head and neck restraints, and utilize some of the most thorough and researched roll cage rules in the industry.

Any issue of SportsCar, from any decade, is a slice of motorsports history — and what a history! The SCCA has been the lifeblood of American motorsports for decades, and this month the SCCA celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Unfortunately, many motorsports enthusiasts don’t know the history of the SCCA. Consequently, we’ve assembled a multi-part historical primer that will appear on RACER.com next week.

But if my ramblings here teach you anything, it should be that the SCCA and its 60,000-plus members are all part of something incredibly special. The SCCA isn’t just a motorsports car club, it’s the name in amateur and professional motorsports, and it has been for 75 years.

In short, SCCA set the bar.

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