Topic: Will my team get accepted/Why didn't my team get accepted?
Hey guys and gals. Just had an email exchange with a team that really applies to everyone, so I thought I'd share. Names have been changed to protect the hella lame.
My team was denied entry to the race for our one car, while other teams were able to gain entry with multiple cars. We certainly understand that it's fundamentally a difficult decision to allocate (say) 150 positions to 200 applicants. But It doesn't seem like the decision to allow entrants was done by lottery or first-come first-serve, so we're a bit bummed.
For starters, we try to make the application process as transparent as possible, which occasionally hurts feelings--I guess that's a disclaimer for the rest of this message!
The reason why it doesn't seem that the picks are made by lottery/first-come is that they aren't and never have been. We always have made our cuts based on the strength of your team concept--essentially, how entertaining do we think your team is going to be, based on what you wrote in your concept. If a race isn't full, this doesn't come into play, and if a race is full, it does.
The black-and-white example of how this works would be a team that promises, say, to make their car into a self-propelled camper trailer, versus a team that doesn't promise anything. The camper gets in, the other team does not, end of story.
In reality, though, the process plays out in a slightly more complicated way. We accept all the camper-type teams, reject all the teams with no concept entered at all (or concepts that say "We are 4 buddies who love 2 race"), and the rest of the teams are in sort of a gray area, where the chances are about 50/50. As a result, some gray-area teams with arguably weaker concepts make the field, where arguably stronger ones don't. So, the lesson there is, don't be in the gray area!
While it's not within many teams' "normal" creativity to do something like make their car into a camper, we're pretty clear on the idea that if you do something like that, you'll be out of the gray area and into the accepted pile. But over the years, we've told many teams more or less exactly what to do for next time and they STILL DON'T DO IT. We appreciate that some things may be outside a certain team's comfort zone, but at a race where slots are at a premium, going beyond the norm is often necessary.
OK, with all of that said, let's take a look at your team application. In a nutshell, as far as I can see, it's an 3-series BMW with a BMW Motorsport paint job, under the team name "DeustchlandSpeed." To me, that sounds a lot like the ingredients for a Spec E30 race. And Spec E30 is fine, if you're racing Spec E30. The whole point of Lemons is that it's a place that doesn't follow the conventions of normal racing, with the most important element being NOT taking it seriously. So that's probably why you missed the mark.
But, I think there are some pretty easy steps you could take to tune up your idea for next time. The most obvious would be to really sell the BMW idea by doing significant body mods to the car to make it look like a 3.0 CSL or M1. Papier Mache, surfboard foam, wire, etc, can be used to great effect. That would be the "parody" approach.
Another idea would be the "satire" approach, which would be to mimic Spec E30 or other "serious" racing to the point you were making fun of them. I actually thought about this idea for my own team. If you go to a real race weekend, it's filled with pissing contests about lap times, race wins, blah, blah, blah--you could take all of those elements and dress up your pits like "REAL RACERS" with trophies, winner patches, a map of the track, in-car video, corner-weighting scales, tire warmers, etc. Could be hilarious if done right (i.e., done excessively).
The final recommendation is perhaps the most dangerous--ask Judge Phil what you should do for next time. He has more twisted ideas than any of the rest of us, and his ideas are typically difficult to execute, but if you do it, you'd probably be a slam dunk.
So, to sum up, there are a lot of ways to really bolster your chances, and not leave things up to the uncertainty of the gray area. Only catch is that you may have to expand your creativity a bit. But, if you can do that, you will likely solve your problem. Hope that helps!
EDIT: I also gave this bit of advice to another team--also valid for everyone:
When you submit your application, there will be a box where you enter your concept. Basically, we're looking for teams that will be entertaining to us and your fellow competitors.
More than that, we're looking for tangible stuff we can really latch on to. For example, we get a lot of concepts that say "we're doing a NASCAR theme" and don't offer any details. What we really want to see is "We are doing a NASCAR theme. We're taking a '71 Dodge Dart and making it into a Superbird with a body kit made of tupperware and aluminum foil. Each driver will be dressed as a classic NASCAR driver with fake mustaches and beer guts."
So, anything specific/tangible you can mention is good.