EMRA Executive Member
Thanks Cam for starting the Novice discussion. You beat me to it. Good points raised by Sean, Shane and Doug above about putting hard lap times on Novice graduation. Shane's proposal makes good sense. Keep in mind that a 1:35 lap time at Castrol on a 300cc bike is reasonably fast...more or less equal to about 1:25 lap time on a 600cc bike. But I agree we can do more to support our Novices.
I propose we start a mentorship program for Novices. Brad Gavey graciously volunteered to start this last year, and I think we can expand on it. The goal of Novice SHOULD BE to learn and improve. To do this, you need lessons and mentorship.
The mentorship program could look like this: After race school, each Novice is assigned to a mentor (an Expert or skilled Intermediate). We could assign 2 or 3 Novices to 1 mentor. The mentor meets with the Novices during practice and race days to answer questions and give advice. The mentor does some on-track sessions during the Novice practice sessions. The Mentor does some skills and theory lessons. The mentor is available to answer questions to help Novices prepare (bike prep, registration (the Registrar will like this!!), logistics etc).
We can create a mentor handbook to guide the program. It can be simple. Just something to guide the mentors so we are all working on the correct things. I would be happy to make the first draft of this, and I would happily volunteer as a mentor. I'm sure others would also volunteer. Good way to meet new friends, and everyone can learn when they teach.
RE: changes to Novice graduation criteria - The Board likely has the experience to know what is best here, but I would suggest that the recommendation of the Mentor could be part of the Novice graduation criteria. The mentor isn't the gate keeper, but their recommendation is helpful to the Novice's graduation.
This scenario happened this year: A man completed race school with very little riding experience. Did 2 track days. Crashed in his first race by going 3 seconds faster than his previous personal best. Sold his bike. Never returned. How many things went wrong here??? That cannot be acceptable outcome for the Club.
During my Novice, I felt alone and nervous. The only people I knew were other Novices. You see experienced guys going fast, and you want to go fast. But you don't have the skills or experience to know how. Pounding out laps working on the wrong things isn't helpful.
Any golfers in the room? Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
If race school is full every year and the club is not growing, that is a strong sign that we can do better. I'm happy to help with this.
I have complete faith in Brad Gavey being that gate keeper to progress to intermediate, and the plan in 2021 is to give him more responsibility (we all know he can handle it) to really run the novice class and advance their skills. He loves doing it, he has the experience and knowledge, he's big and scary so people listen to him, and he's heavily invested in the success of the club and its racers. His idea to volunteer and help the novice class was a big win win and I'm happy we have moved forward on this. In my opinion, Brad having more control is probably enough and we won't need to create a time barrier for the novices to surpass but of course that debate is what the AGM is for. At least one student was bumped up to intermediate (by mistake) without consulting Brad and he came to me and said "WTF i thought i had a say?" which he does, but it was a mistake on our end. For 2021 he will have more control and i think this will solve that.
I love the mentor idea, although finding mentors could be a bit tougher but i think thats a great idea. Somewhat like a riders rep. Matt if you would like to help i think you would be a great mentor for lightweight class riders joining the EMRA.
I'm like the constructive ideas gang, lets keep them coming.