“Friend Of The BMW CCA” is the highest award that can be conferred by the club. Some members may not recognize the name of one of the awardees who was so recognized earlier this month, but for members who participate in the BMW CCA program he supports, his name is well known and highly respected.
Larry Fletcher has been an indispensable volunteer for the BMW CCA Club Racing program for almost two decades. As a timing-and-scoring steward from 1999 to 2006, and then as chief of timing and scoring from 2006 to the present day, Larry has continuously ensured that BMW CCA Club Racing possessed the one thing upon which race drivers and race officials rely to ensure the program’s integrity and quality: accurate timing, scoring, and results of every practice, qualifying, and race session for every car on the track.
Fletcher was presented his Friend Of The BMW CCA plaque at a most appropriate venue. During the opening weekend of BMW CCA’s Oktoberfest 2018, about 80 BMW CCA club racers were participating in the Historics at Pitt Race: three days of racing at Pittsburgh International Race Complex near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The large turnout—one of the biggest ever—was due in part to BMW being honored as Marque Of The Year at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, for which the Historics at Pitt Race is the opening event.
It also didn’t hurt that Oktoberfest immediately followed the Historics.
It was a golden opportunity to surprise Larry with his award among so many racers, team members, volunteers, and Club Racing staff at the drivers’ lunch hosted by BMW CCA’s Allegheny Chapter. National competition steward Dean Croucher presented the award to Fletcher, together with national technical steward Bruce Smith, national licensing administrator Tricia Williams, and Club Racing marketing director Isi Papadopoulos. BMW CCA Club Racing founders Scott and Fran Hughes were also on hand for the ceremony.
Timing-and-scoring may sound like a simple and easy task, since races are timed electronically, but the truth is that modern timing-and-scoring is far from simple—and never easy. Timing-and-scoring stewards must be diplomats as they work with different track owners, managers, and staff to ensure that the system meets BMW CCA Club Racing standards. They must be very computer-savvy, almost at the computer/software engineer level, since the timing-and-scoring hardware and software are continuously being updated and are not immune to malfunctions, which the T&S steward must fix quickly.
Timing-and-scoring stewards also must be athletic, especially when the timing-and-scoring tower—often hot and uncomfortable—is some distance from where results are posted.
Larry Fletcher’s job is one that if he is doing it perfectly—as he always does—is invisible to most people. While racers are enjoying breaks between on-track sessions, Fletcher toils away at the timing-and-scoring results. When all the racers, teams, and officials are winding down and socializing at the end of a race day—an important aspect of amateur racing—Fletcher is still working, posting results, updating websites, and resolving any equipment or computer program issues that may have arisen. He tracks racer participation and maintains the race-car-number database. Plus, as the chief timing-and-scoring steward, Larry must manage the other stewards assigned to different races. Add to all this the long-distance travel and time away from home that he endures, and you start to get a picture of how much Fletcher has contributed to Club Racing—and therefore, to the BMW CCA.
No person could do the work for the Club that Larry Fletcher does without enthusiasm, passion, and dedication. He has helped BMW CCA Club Racing survive, grow, and improve. Among all of amateur racing, BMW CCA Club Racing timing-and-scoring commands the respect of its peers.
For many racers, Club Racing is only part of their BMW CCA experience, but for some, it is their only BMW CCA experience. Larry Fletcher has made that experience for all those Club members who are also club racers an excellent one, so he really is a Friend Of The BMW CCA.—Scott Blazey
[Photos courtesy of Susan Dobson.]