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Contact: Mark Bergfelt, Executive Director

mark@bergfeltracing.com

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This article appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of American Muscle Kart and examines the reasons that the UAS rule review is conducted as it is.

“This is How We Do It!”

by Mark Bergfelt


The UAS is different, that’s for sure.  On the surface that is obvious even to an outsider who attends an event for the first time when the UAS class is on the program.  Not only do the karts look different than all of the more typical rides, they look different from each other. 
A lot of the differences between the UAS and other kart racing organizations are not just a visual thing.  There are important differences in how the UAS is governed.  The beginning of those differences grew from the UAS founder’s dissatisfaction with how the rules of the open or unlimited class were imposed upon the racers who participated in that class by a small board of people who didn’t even participate in that class and the way people who are attracted to the open classes think.  Instead of the desires of the open class racers being the main concern when designing policy that concerned them, it was the desires, and agendas of the members of the board that was the primary concern.
In the earliest days of the UAS, the founder would hold an annual meeting of the interested racers at his shop to discuss with those racers their concerns about the series for making improvements for the next season.  Any changes were made based upon what the majority of those racers would support.  At that time is was much easier to learn the desires of each racer since there was regular personal contact with almost all of the people involved.  In those days, votes were taken on many issues and ties were broken by the series director because not everyone agreed with every decision.  Disagreements about rules and policies were part of the UAS from the very beginning but they have always had a way of working out in the end.  Even when the UAS was just a single region, it was learned early on that almost no rule or policy was going to make everyone happy.  For sure that has not changed and most certainly it never will.


In the earliest days of the UAS, the notion of the organization’s influence expanding across the entire USA was only a fantasy.  A comment like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a single NATIONAL CHAMPION in the UAS?” would be met with a sarcastic “Oh Sure, Yeah Right!”, but it did happen.  With that growth, the founder was concerned that the desires of the racers would no longer be heard and considered in decisions, but at the same time it was learned that on the internet forums, where the racing conversations race onward these days, that a very loud and persistent minority can skew the conversation toward their own personal agendas.  As a result of conducting a number of on-line surveys it was discovered that the vast majority of persons interested in the well-being of the UAS do not agree with some of the most vocal internet forum participants.  Although the forums are a great way of learning about alternative viewpoints about various topics, they cannot be used as a reliable means of forming a consensus.  This writer recalls a statement learned in sociology classes he took in school, “People in masses are asses.”  That comment is made when discussing mob rule and can be applied to what often goes on in public forums.


When June rolls around the UAS rule review process begins.  Sometimes there are very few proposals, sometimes there’s a lot.  It is not uncommon for the discussions to get ugly, but that is mostly due to flaws in our human nature, and since many racers have big egos and are very passionate about their sport, that should not be surprising.


It’s hard to think of any racer that wants to show up at an event only to learn when they unload their equipment that some item on their kart is no longer permitted by the rules, or that they are lacking some equipment that some recent policy adjustment mandates.  The UAS policy stating that there will be no rule changes during the course of the racing season for that season is the result of that and is meant to prevent that.  That policy is so popular with UAS racers that the notion of changing that is rarely even discussed.


Mob rule is most often foolish, and even a benevolent dictator can be shortsighted at best and corrupted at worst.  For those reasons, and others, a representative form of decision making has been adopted by the UAS when it comes to the maintenance of rules.
Sometimes when the passionate discussions concerning rule proposals gets ugly, some people suggest that the executive director simply become a dictator and just make the rule decisions as they are perceived to be needed.  That idea is very dangerous.  The people who make that suggestion may not realize that people with an agenda that would be advanced by a particular policy change often call the executive director to try to badger him into changing things to their liking.  Not long after hanging up from that call another person with the opposing view then calls to badger him to decide for the opposite view point.  It’s a horrible position to place anyone into.  No matter how steadfast the executive director may appear to be, he is human and is subject to getting worn down to making a bad decision just to get relief from those who want what they want when they want it and will badger or try to bribe to get it.  This writer is also of the opinion that some people want a single decision maker so that it is easier for them to be able to manipulate that person in to doing what they personally want.  By making decisions by a majority vote of representative administrators schemers have to convince at least 10 or more that their idea is in the best interest of the UAS.  That is a lot harder to do than to convince a single person.


It is very important for the Unlimited All-Stars to conduct it’s affairs in a predictable and stable manner, but at the same time allow a means for the concerns of its members to be taken into consideration.  So far the rule review system that is now being employed is the best way of achieving those ends that we have been able to come up with so far and no one has made a serious formal proposal to change it.  Under the present system, anyone with a proposal is advised to think it through over a period of time and submit a formal written proposal during the month of June.  A deadline to submit proposals was established as well.  Providing a limited window that occurs on a regular annual basis provides the opportunity for anyone with a legitimate issue to have it considered but eliminates decisions being made on a whim.  Limiting the window allows the UAS to deal with the administration and implementation of those rules for the FOLLOWING season in a predictable, deliberate and manageable manner.  Conducting the review in such a predictable and regular means makes it much easier to keep the majority of administrators in the loop as well.  It is often difficult to communicate efficiently with 23 plus administrators quickly.
After the rule proposals are received in June, the Executive Director does the best that he can to work with the person making the proposal to word it in such a way that it is consistent with the rest of the rule book if it finally is adopted.  This can often be a real challenge but as each year passes more is learned about how to do this task better.


In July, the proposals are made public so that they can be discussed on the various forums.  It is no accident that this takes place during the middle of the racing season.  During that time of year there is more opportunity for racers to discuss the issues that are important to them face to face with many other racers.  It allows the opportunity for each proposal to be thoroughly vetted.  Those who like the idea voice their support and those who don’t point out potential flaws.  This system can get messy, but it does keep the process above board.
The final decision is made by the board of voting UAS administrators.  To be a voting administrator, that administrator must have been a UAS administrator for at least one full racing season.  This writer knows of no instances where an administrator’s point of view did not change significantly, sometime drastically after they guided the affairs of a region for a season.  Since the administrator must be able to stand toe to toe with racers he represents and explain why he voted as he did he is likely to vote in a manner that is in the best interest of those racers.  Sometimes that vote will be what the majority of the racers in his region want but other times the vote may be tempered by the wisdom gained by leading a region.  Those decisions should always be made with the best interest of the racers and the general well-being of the UAS in mind.


The vote takes place in August.  That allows each administrator time to become familiar with the proposals, read the various commentaries about them on the forums, and talk to the racers in his region before casting his vote.  Announcing the final vote tally at that time of year allows news of any changes to get around and become common knowledge well before the next season when it actually goes into effect.  It is the most practical means of getting the word out so that racers are not taken off guard when they show up the first time the next season.
For the exact wording of the rule review process just dig up the winter issue of AMK or go to http://www.unlimitedallstars.org and download the rules.  That document spells out what the UAS does, and it is hoped that this article has adequately explained why we do things that way.