While many Sports Car Club of America® awards are distributed based on lap times, finishing positions, etc., Hagerty’s “Keepin’ It Cool” accolade is special this year because it acknowledges something more. Hagerty recognizes car people are cool, but knows there are some who take it to the next level and are vibrant, exceptional, outstanding additions to our car culture.
By design, the unique Hagerty “Keepin’ It Cool” honor has a flexible definition since every SCCA® event is different and “Keepin' It Cool” can be demonstrated in various ways. SCCA’s Marketing Department staff nominated, discussed and selected “Keepin’ It Cool” finalists. The two honorees in 2020 came from the Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals presented by Hagerty (TTN) and 57th National Championship Runoffs®. One of this year’s recipients is fresh to the Club while the other is a theoretical member since birth.
Riding Shotgun to #FunWithCars
It was Bowling Green, Kentucky where those who have #funwithcars united for Time Trials Nationals in September. An SCCA Championship event which also champions camaraderie, the activity plays host to SCCA members from a range of Club pursuits. Prior to the event, organizers received an unsolicited email from Casandra Light, 25, of Tucker, Georgia, asking if she could be of any assistance on site to help things run smooth.
“A shining Light appeared out of nowhere,” joked Heyward Wagner, SCCA’s Senior Director of Marketing & Experiential Programs. “Nearly every SCCA event can use additional volunteers, and to have an extra ‘hand on deck’ appear from thin air is always greatly appreciated, especially one with the enthusiasm Casandra carries.”
Up until recently, Casandra didn’t know SCCA even existed. In February of this year, her boyfriend invited her to come spectate at an SCCA Atlanta Region autocross. She found the activity exciting, engaging and quickly jumped in with both feet, becoming a full-fledged member of Atlanta Region in June. She has since competed at five autocrosses and is completely enchanted with the Club.
“Everyone has been super inviting,” Casandra said of her involvement with SCCA. “Even with COVID and everything, I’ve had a blast. Actually, getting involved with SCCA and meeting a new, good group of people has been a highlight of my COVID year.”
For TT Nats, Casandra and her boyfriend packed up his Nissan 350Z and headed north just short of 350 miles to NCM Motorsports Park. This being her first TT Nats experience, she wanted to spend this year “learning” so she’d be better prepared to compete next year. But since she was going to be on site anyhow, she thought she’d jump in and help organizers.
“I really did not want to go to the event and not do anything,” Casandra noted. “I didn’t want to just sit there and watch the entire time.”
A character trait perhaps learned from her mother, who actively volunteers in church activities, Cassandra has a long history of giving her time and effort to various organizations. It’s something she believes is critical to the true success of many organizations.
“I think volunteers are important,” Casandra said. “I’ve always believed you have to put something in to get something out. If you just go in saying ‘what can an organization do for me,’ … you’re not going to get a community and you’re not going to get genuine, honest people trying to help.”
Casandra worked grid for the first time at TT Nats, and handled some “pit out” flagging duties for a bit. Up close access to the competition provided an exceptional experience and really connected her to the event.
“I got to see all the cars, got to see a lot of the competitors, and I got to feel the buzz from everyone before they went on track,” she said. “I loved it. I just had a good time being out there.”
For her incredibly upbeat attitude and willingness to help, Casandra earned Hagerty “Keepin’ It Cool” honors, which come with a YETI Tundra 45 hard cooler. A friend she made through SCCA had to haul the cooler back home for Casandra, though, because the “trophy” didn’t fit in the two-seater 350Z, and she just couldn’t ride 5-hours back to Georgia with the $300 cooler in her lap.
An Open Trailer and a Dream
While Casandra is a new addition to SCCA, the other Hagerty “Keepin’ It Cool” winner was kind of born into the Club. The son of an SCCA and vintage road racer, Greg Maloy grew up around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent his youth at tracks such as Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Nelson Ledges Road Course and what is now Pittsburgh International Race Complex. In 2008, Greg made it official and became an SCCA member when he began autocrossing, an activity he still enjoys to this day.
Fast-forward a dozen years and Greg, now a 30-year-old automotive engineer living in Oak Park, Michigan, is a road racer from SCCA’s Detroit Region. He competed at Road America in Super Touring® Light this year during the 57th SCCA National Championship driving the No. 38 McB Autosport Honda CRX, which contains parts from his old CRX autocross chariot. And in only his second Runoffs® appearance, Greg nailed a podium finish in third place.
“It was awesome,” chuckled Greg while recalling time spent on the podium. “It was super satisfying, you know, working so hard to build the car yourself and looking around at all these prep-shop teams … and I was there standing beside them. I thought it was really cool.”
Of course, there were many other hardworking podium finishers across this year’s 26 car classes competing at the Runoffs. What made Greg so unique is that he was on a very short list of podium finishers who arrived at the track with his car towed on an open trailer. And that fact, according to Wagner, is what earned Greg the second Hagerty “Keepin’ It Cool” accolade.
“At a championship event where it can sometimes seem you need mounds of money to be competitive, it's so satisfying to see someone debunk that perception,” Wagner said. “Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with arriving to a track in a closed hauler. But I think it warms everyone’s heart to see a grassroots effort be successful. Plus, the open trailer has been one of SCCA’s greatest marketing tools over 76 years. Who hasn’t seen an SCCA racecar on an open trailer during a family trip and not pointed and waved?”
The open trailer is a Maloy family tradition. His father used one, and Greg has followed in a quintessential grassroots fashion. Although, he admits the open trailer “lifestyle” leaves him feeling a little overwhelmed when finding a paddock spot amongst sparkly, high-end haulers at an event such as the Runoffs.
“It’s pretty intimidating,” Greg concedes. “You see the haulers, all this equipment, everyone has a team shirt on, and all I can think is I’m in over my head. But I think you’ve just got to trust in what you’re doing.”
Greg has a ton of fun and simply couldn’t imagine participating in SCCA road racing any other way. The open trailer brings back fond memories while creating new stories at the same time. And while he understands why others choose enclosed trailers and haulers, he also wishes road racing would get back to its roots when it comes to an economical way of transporting racecars.
“The way we do it, we’re just camping and have a low-budget operation,” Greg said of his program. “We’re just trying to make the most of the equipment we have. But I wouldn’t do it any other way. I really like it. It gives me extra motivation to try and do well.”
Greg has every intention of showing up with his car on an open trailer for next year’s Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and imagines there will be plenty of passenger car occupants who excitedly wave and offer thumbs-up support on his journey from Detroit to The Brickyard. He’ll also be bringing with him the YETI Tundra 45 hard cooler received this year as a Hagerty “Keepin’ It Cool” awardee. But much like Casandra, getting the large cooler home took some work. There was no room for the “trophy” in Greg’s truck, so it was decided the cooler would ride home inside the racecar. But after the car was loaded onto the open trailer, it was realized the cooler was too large to fit through the third-place car’s window. Not wanting to unload and reload the racecar again, Greg popped off a trailer fender so he could open the CRX’s door, and then slid in the cooler.
That’s open-trailer ingenuity at its finest, folks, and might be pretty tough to do with an enclosed trailer.
Thanks to Hagerty, these SCCA members got to take home a YETI cooler from their respective events and made memories they’re not soon to forget. If you’re looking for some great car-centric content, sign up for the Hagerty Email Newsletter Here to get fantastic, curated content delivered right to your inbox every week.
Photos by ABI Photo & SCCA Staff/Jon Krolewicz