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Ben Schaut for BoD

ChumpCar Member # 001200

Commerce, MI

 

After careful consideration, studying the By-Laws, reviewing many of the BoD related posts here on the forums and discussing with a number of other members, I have decided that I would like the opportunity to serve the ChumpCar community as a member of the Board of Directors.  I feel that with my knowledge and prior experience both on and off the track, I could make a positive impact in the participant enjoyment and growth of ChumpCar.

  

Ahead of the official ballot information (bio and Q&A) that will be shared with all members, here is a bio for all you forum members that I have not had the pleasure to get to know (heck some of you guys/gals I DO know might even learn things!).

  

I thank you for your consideration on the ballot in November.

If you have any questions or wish to speak to me about my quest for the seat, I can be contacted via IM here, or via email (ben.schaut@schautspeed.com) or phone (in my signature.)

  

 

ChumpCar history:

Team Principle/car owner for Bavarian Mustache Werks, “Thelma” E30 325is, with primary team consisting of myself, father, brother and good friend from my SM days.  1st race was Nelsons’ Ledges 25:25:25 back in 2011.  We’ve had some failures and some great success since then.  I have run with a number of other teams.  For ’17 season, my father bought a rather good E36 for us to play with (Dirty Side Down Racing).   I’ve been around Chump for a while and have talked to a number of people (both in and out of CC) about Chump; what is good, what could be improved, etc.

 

Based on my time and experience in Chump, I feel I have a good overall view of where we are at, where the current ChumpCar came from, and how ChumpCar could be improved.

 

Motorsports history:

I have been involved in motorsports since ’78 (summer b-day, with time spent at the track before and after that magical day).  I went from spectating to participating by the mid-80’s when I ‘crewed’ for my dad at SCCA events.  Once I gained a few more years and was actually able to do things other than take stuff apart with the tools, I moved up to being actual crew and helping out with the car, progressing to more in-depth duties from there.  Fast-forward to 2001 when I started being involved behind the wheel.  Autocross and running OTDs, quickly turned into campaigning an ITC Datsun 510.  From that start in wheel-to-wheel racing, I have had the opportunity to compete in various forms of motorsports in a wide variety of cars ranging from ~70hp to 600 hp.  I lived through years of Spec Miata, which has given me an interesting first-hand experience in dealing with rules and attempted competition parity.  I have been on the receiving end of on-track aggression, I have been protested against.  I have written petitions for rule changes and have been involved in the decision of implementing rule changes.  I have been dead last just trying not to get lapped, mid-pack and won championships.  I have raced others’ cars and I have built/raced my own – both to success.  I became fluent in various sanctioning bodies’ rules.  My track check-off list is long.  I have coached and instructed, helping newbies get on the right path to podiums. 

 

As part of an extra-curricular activity at my work, we started a small race-team in 2006.  Initially, it was just wheel to wheel racing with a handful of employees that built the 2 cars.  The group has grown in numbers with the focus now on driver development with HPDEs and Autocrossing with 3 additional track-cars and a support vehicle being run and maintained.  I went from a participant/racer to a lead/manager/instructor role in the group.

 

 

I feel that my well-rounded motorsports background gives me a broad view of racing that can feed directly into decisions that will help make ChumpCar better for the racers with good stability and improved competition and help make ChumpCar more enticing/accessible to new teams.

 

 

Other stuff:

I grew up in Wisconsin, went to school in the U.P.; lived in Phoenix, now metro-Detroit area.  Traveled the country and a bit abroad (some for fun, some for work).

 

I brew beer, and even follow recipes sometimes.  People seem to usually like it, even the experimental stuff.  I have adjusted a recipe on a beer I really enjoyed based on comments from others and turned into an even more enjoyable brew.  I’ve tossed a terrible failed batch and remade it with necessary adjustments into something very good. 

 

I am an engineer by training, and have been working in the auto industry since 2001.  My work consists of using customer feedback, competitor data and static/dynamic testing to mold the vehicles I am in charge of.  Taking all the data / customer voice and turning it into targets that improve competitiveness, reduce failures/issues and help to make the vehicles more attractive/competitive to the customers.  Much of my job involves working directly with various design engineers, styling, test engineers and cost/program management, occasionally bringing multiple groups together to reach a good result.  While primary focus was improving customer satisfaction, the job also included balancing cost vs. performance, capabilities or timing and determining what aspects had the most positive overall impact to the company.  

 

 

I feel that my work/life experience gives me the proper insight to take into consideration the viewpoints of other Board Directors, better understand the voice of the members/potential members and maintain the company goals while making data-based voting decisions that will lead to growth of ChumpCar.  Just like in brewing, the better the recipe, the more people love it.

 

 

Thank you again for your consideration.

Ben Schaut

 

Edited by NigelStu
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  • Technical Advisory Committee

To fulfill the forum request...

 

Q1: Are you more concerned with speed creep or cost creep?

I feel that controlling expensive speed creep should be the priority; controlling costly go-fast items has the best potential impact on keeping current racers coming back and enticing new teams to join the fun. 

 

Certain costs are unavoidable (e.g. safety, basic consumables), with some items having minor cost increase over the years.  Some rule changes can have minor impact to some aspect of cost (initial build, replacement parts or recurring).  These types of cost increase is to be expected and generally have a unilateral cost impact.  As long as a proposed rule change doesn’t create a large cost increase, doesn’t negatively/positively impact only a small fraction of teams/cars and has an overall positive impact to the ChumpCar community, it would get my vote.  

 

Teams will continue to find more speed and/or lower average race lap times with improved cars (from testing, tuning, reliability, etc) and improving driving capability, all within the current rule set/interpretations.  This is good speed creep that comes naturally as a race series develops and grows and what helps make the racing better throughout the field.  This type of speed increase generally doesn’t add excessive amount of cost.  My vote would go toward any rule proposal that maintains the fair, natural progression of speed.

 

Rule changes that start to allow higher-cost replacement/upgraded parts can lead to ‘expensive cost creep’ as teams start to feel they need the latest high-performance/reliability part just to keep up with their competitors (whether it is a real or imagined need).  This is the type of rule change proposals that I would vote against, as it is primarily just going faster for the sake of spending $/spending $ for the sake of going faster (whichever way you want to look at it).  Alternatively, my vote would go toward any rule clarifications that limit higher-dollar go-fast parts and limit/eliminate interpretations that could lead to expensive improvements that majority of the field thinks they need to do/add to their own car.

 

 

Q2: What is your position on creative engineering? What should be free if you can make it?

If a team/builder can utilize a part on a car in a different way and it helps to make the car faster or more reliable, win for them.  Within reason.  I draw the line at items that are used for a modification, yet the original purpose of that part is still required or the material indicated to be ‘used’ doesn’t fit the purpose.  Example would be installing a fuel cell and using the shell of the stock fuel tank to make a diffuser – that is a no-go, as the tank was replaced by the cell for the function, so the tank is now out of the available components to use for the build.

 

Q3: What is your position on how classes should be organized? Should there be just one trophy class or several? Should there be sub-classes with prizes (as displacement is now)? If so, would you organize them differently?

I love the single-class concept for the overall.  The sub-classes is a neat idea that I see as helping the entire field be more involved in the races.  2017 method with minor trophy to winning class car adds some good mid-field competition (especially the races were the class wins were determined by the weekend combined laps) and I think more enjoyment throughout the field.  I would like to see the classes split up with more focus on actual performance potential, not just engine size.

 

Q4: What is the #1 thing you would change if you could?

Minimal.  ChumpCar is pretty solid as it is.  I would revamp the VPI list to clean up the list, close some things I see as loop-holes and add a layer of transparency.  Aspects within VPI list I would push for change to:

·         Clean-up year/engine/point information (likely would require a bunch more lines to cover)

·         Remove cars/engine combos that are not being raced

·         Add class designation to each line.  With allowance for class to be adjusted up/down to better reflect race-potential for certain vehicles via petition process.

·         Update to include some newer cars (with intent that any new car added would have VPI no higher than 500-550 point range to prevent overall speed increase of the field).

 

Q5: Where do you stand on penalties for endurance related items like Oversized Radiators, Oil (Engine, Tranny & Diff) Coolers, Accusumps and oversized pans. (Please don't bother explaining how endurance bits help you go faster because you know you can push the car harder.)

Any performance enhancing modification, whether it be for speed, reliability or both, should have points associated with it.  I also think the point values should be very low for items that essentially only impact engine longevity (i.e.; Accusump, oil-pan baffle), increasing to moderate points as the scale shifts away from reliability only and start having positive impact on performance (i.e. radiators, coolers).  

I feel with an improved/updated VPI list, the starting values can reflect the proper performance potential of a car, with those cars that need reliability modifications to last a race having a VPI low enough to be able to add the endurance related items required.  This goes hand-in-hand with the ‘expensive speed creep’ topic.

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38 minutes ago, Crank Yankers Racing said:

I feel jipped since I didn't learn anything new :blink:

Awww, buddy - You should have known 98% of that because beer and racecars.   The other 2%...   I feel like maybe you've been stalking me!  ;)

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