SWITCHING BACK TO USA CYCLING
Our announcement about sanctioning the 2016 Driveway Series with NABRA generated a great dialogue with USA Cycling. They asked for an opportunity to understand why we were leaving so they could try and work with us and help their organization grow as well as help us grow the Driveway. In the past few days we've had some great talks with them. After much back and forth with many of you in the community and with USA Cycling, and in consideration of the strength of USA Cycling's brand, value add to the racing community, and the fact that their insurance coverage really is the best product on the market, we've decided to stay with USA Cycling for 2016.
What this means for the 2016 DRIVEWAY SERIES IS:
- USA Cycling racing membership is required (one-days available for beginner categories).
- The races will count for upgrade points as in the past.
- All USA Cycling rules are in effect.
If you'd like to know more about what led us to NABRA and the ensuing dialogue with USA Cycling please read below. If not, just know that:
- Races are ON next Thursday March 17 at the Driveway at 5PM.
- Bring a fistful of dollars (or Visa, MC, Discover, or Amex - sorry no Diners Club).
- Bring a USA Cycling racing membership (or be ready to fill out an annual or one-day form.
Meat and potatoes time:
Saying that the switch to NABRA was about the bottom line is over simplifying things. While it's true that our production costs went up for 2016 (track rental, contractors, utilities, waste, insurance, etc) this is the case every year and every year we've handled it by being a bit more frugal here and there, finding increased sponsorship to subsidize said costs and/or bumping up the entry fees a bit.
We've never really had a beef with USA Cycling and were not looking to leave. Regarding the challenges we face at the Driveway Series we were ready to find creative ways to be frugal, find new sponsors, and possibly go up another buck or two on the entry fee for 2016.
But then we were made aware of a severe shortage of licensed officials in the Austin/Central Texas area for 2016. USA Cycling's rules are such that, if sufficient officials for a race cannot be procured, that race may not occur. What that means is, on any given week (of 32) at the Driveway Series this year, if officials could not be retained, that's night races would have to be canceled.
Given that we, at Holland Racing, presell entry fees and sell sponsorships based on a 32 week series, the idea of having to cancel a night of racing here and there due to a lack of officials was unacceptable. Canceling races would cause us financial damage, damage the Series' brand, damage our sponsors, damage your sponsors, and damage the community.
At the same time, as many of you are aware, the Driveway has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few seasons. It is by far the largest weekly series or training race, or whatever you want to call it, in the U.S. That growth has been both amazing and challenging. The sheer volume of people we host week in and week out has created some situations and issues for us that we felt USA Cycling's rules and policies did not adequately address.
We made some attempts to work with the powers that be at recruiting more officials. Perhaps we could have tried harder, but we felt like things were not moving fast enough and, faced with increasing costs and frustrated with certain policies, and wanting to avoid an assured shut down of the Series at some point this year due to lack of officials, we began exploring other options.
Enter NABRA. NABRA provides a low cost insurance program for bicycle races. We engaged a local lawyer over the winter to review the policy. We knew USA Cycling's policy provided better coverage, but finally opted to sanction with NABRA as it allowed us to handle the aforementioned growth challenges and issues in our own framework, utilize non-licensed officiating resources, and allowed us to absorb all the previously mentioned production cost increases without having to pass those costs on to you, the racer. This seemed like the best solution given the circumstances.
Our hope in going with NABRA was that we'd both keep the Series running consistently and strong throughout 2016 while at the same time prompting a constructive dialogue with USA Cycling for the 2017 season. We didn't anticipate that their response would be so swift and open to working with us on creative solutions for 2016. USA Cycling is doing a tremendous job to fix the officials shortage for you here in Austin and elsewhere, understands that the volume and frequency of the Driveway creates challenges that one off weekend races generally do not encounter and is working with us on expanding their abilities to address those issues and help us be successful.
Additionally, in the course of this dialogue our attorney was provided an opportunity for a much more in depth review of USA Cycling's insurance and found that it provides a far broader and more comprehensive level of coverage for the event itself than originally understood. USA Cycling’s insurance program also provides liability and accident medical coverage for officials and participants. Based on USA Cycling's commitment to address these problems, the superiority of their insurance coverage, the value it presents to the racing community, and the robustness of their brand, we've opted to partner with USA Cycling for the 2016 season.
As for the increase in our rent and other costs, hey, I can't do anything about that and neither can USA Cycling. Our apologies for the wild and crazy ride the past few days with going one way, then another, but if it means a Driveway Series that's both stable and strong while at the same time creating a stronger partnership with USA Cycling that brings more value to you, the racer, that's a win for everyone.
We hope to see you at the Pre-Reg La Mancha Happy Hour this Thursday March 10 at 6PM. Free margarita when you pre-reg on-site for Week 1 of the Driveway Series (no BikeReg fees) or buy a Season Pass (passes discounted $25 at the Happy Hour). If we don’t see you at La Mancha, hope to see you on pit lane next Thursday and remember: Numbers on the Left :-)
Again, apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone. If this switch changes anyone's ability or desire to participate in the 2016 Driveway Series and you've already purchased a season pass or signed up for a clinic(s), I'm happy to issue a refund. Just let me know. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or feel free to respond to this email. My email address is also below. Thanks.
Andrew Willis, President