Gaining Traction : TGS talks to the Traction Circle Club's President

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The Traction Circle Club’s President, Mr. Yak Tze Yih, tells us about the Club’s first ASN-sanctioned race, and how he hopes to steer the Club into the future

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SINGAPORE - If you’re not familiar with the Traction Circle Club, or TCC, it’s a brand-neutral collective that was formed in 2002 for the purposes of promoting and improving the driving skills of like-minded petrolheads, mostly by tackling the race-circuits in Malaysia on track-days (there is also an assortment of other activities, such as B-road drives and ‘Time Attacks’ for instance).

Unlike many ‘track groups’ or even more loosely banded gatherings, the TCC has been registered with the Singapore Registry of Clubs and Societies since its inception, so we’d like to imagine it’s held-to, as well as delivers a higher standard of administration. In fact, part of the Club’s appeal, particularly at the race-track, are the strict levels of discipline, which is demanded by the members and enforced by the elected group of dedicated volunteers.

Perhaps it was even this aspect of the Club’s reputation that led the Singapore Motor Sports Association (now known as MotorSports Singapore, or MSS) to give the green light to the TCC to organise its first-ever SMSA-sanctioned Cup Race at the Sepang International Circuit in November 2016. Mind you, it’s a first not just for the SMSA, but also for the TCC. This race has been at least five years in the making, because the feeling within the TCC from a few years ago was that an ASN-sanctioned race was a natural progression to what they were doing. However, the go-ahead was only given by the current SMSA Exco this year for the TCC to organise and run it. Well, it’s certainly better late than never...

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So the incumbent President, Mr. Yak Tze Yih, or “Yakky” to his friends, found himself in an interesting position after taking office, with only three months to pull together an ASN (or NSA if you prefer, for National Sporting Authority)-sanctioned race. “It was tough to pull everything together, because we underestimated the scale of engagement required of us. Nevertheless, we got together, leveraged on our passion for motorsport and delivered,” he tells us.

But how tough was it exactly? “The amount of time to work this out was initially overwhelming! The team spent about 16-20 hours a week for three months to address various details of the sanctioning requirements. It was tiring, but it was also a fantastic learning experience for everyone in the team. Having said that, the second one will be a lot easier because the template is already in place – we just need some fine-tuning. I am fortunate to have the support of such a dedicated team,” he tells us.

He also gives kudos the the new team at the SMSA, “The SMSA of today is different from its legacy. The new team has a good objective to grow Grassroots motorsports in Singapore and this has been an area that has been rather quiet over the past couple of years.”

So what’s next for the TCC? “We are planning a series of three races in 2017, and we’ll want to do it safely and properly and I think the only proper way of doing this is to be sanctioned by the SMSA,” he says.

Unfortunately, the small time window for planning and executing this year’s Cup Race (the schedule was fluid right up to days before the event!) also meant that it had to be self-funded by the Club, because there was no time for publicity and to look for sponsors. “We would like more fanfare for 2017’s events to create more awareness for Singapore’s very-own ASN-sanctioned race. For this first race, our focus was on running it properly based on FIA/SMSA requirements. It never crossed our minds that marketing the event would be so important for the event to be successful,” he recalls.

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The reality is, sponsors require plenty of eyeballs to be convinced, and relevant eyeballs at that. Yak says, “I think it is a chicken and egg situation. Without sponsors, we can’t market the race as comprehensive as we’d like, and it also makes it hard to be sustainable. For this first race, the ‘marketing’ efforts came from the Exco and volunteers. We also relied heavily on our media partners, the TCC website and Facebook to publicise the event. Now that we know what to expect, next year will be different, and we’re already in touch with some parties to discuss potential sponsorship plans.”

A big problem facing fixed term positions is continuity, especially if the subsequent committee aren’t aligned to a common goal. So what happens after your term ends? “TCC is made up of like-minded people who have a common vision for the Club. We can only move in one direction, and that’s forward. With that, the continuity of events will run its course naturally and the Club can only get better,” Yak says. PHOTOS PigsCanFly Photography, at the FujiFilm Studio

This feature first appeared in TopGear Singapore #57 (Dec'16)

David Khoo
Author: David Khoo
David is a big petrolhead who has been dabbling in the car trade since 2001 and currently oversees Top Gear Singapore. His stories often take an eclectic slant from the predictable, and he's able to craft a compelling read that lets you see the cars (often old!) in a new light.

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