Ringers, one race wonders, outsiders, guest drivers… whatever you want to call them, they have been a part of what we do. Is that good or bad? Is it a black and white question? To answer, let’s take a peek at the past.
2017 was the final year that the Majors was “just” the Pacific Majors (hence our web address… really need to update that).
That was the 4th full season of the Majors and the only season in our history where everyone had to pay to race (either season pass or individual race ticket). Why did we make everyone pay that year? Why did we allow free entrants afterwards?
Well, the simplest answer is numbers. By 2017 we had about 120 season pass holders and those combined with the people who would come in and pay to race here and there, we had about 200 drivers score points during the year. For a series that was restricted to just six clubs this was really good and we felt great about having multiple splits every race. We didn’t need to offer free racing to fill the field and it made sense to require everyone to pull equal weight. It took a long time to get to that point, but it was the right thing to do and was great.
Fast forward to 2018 and suddenly we have invited drivers from all over the world and created three new regions from thin air. Now, I did not feel it was viable to require payment and successfully fill the grids in the first year of this new Majors Series. In retrospect, I am certain that was the right call.
It is now 2019 and a couple interesting things have happened. We have LESS registered members than last year, but we have MORE season pass holders. The International Region has had its’ first multi-split race (Daytona 500) and their participation is up significantly from last year. Europe is averaging almost identical participation year over year (would really like to see this go up). Finally, Americas is averaging nearly 120 drivers per race and over 3 splits per race.
Even in its’ expanded state, the series is maturing at a rate that is very good and very healthy.
What does this all mean? And why did you read all that? Step 1 - Our plan has always been to eventually require payment from all drivers in order to participate, and that time is coming in the 2020 season. Drivers will either choose to be season pass holders or they will pay per event.
Step 2 - Beginning with the 2019 (yes, this year) Indy 500 and going forward, new members will need to race in a support race and/or receive an endorsement from a current member before they are eligible to race in a regular season Majors race. In that support race, drivers must meet Pro Split CPI criteria to race in the Pro Split and they must meet Series level CPI to race at all.
Do these new regulations mean that we don’t want new people to join? Of course not, new drivers are not only welcome, but critical to the series.