Start a Shootout

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Generally, student teams should be discouraged from starting their own Shootout events due to the risks involved with hosting and large amount of work required to host correctly. Consider attending an established event instead.

Venue Selection

Identification of a suitable venue for a FS competition is an exercise in both the development of a relationship with a venue owner as well as meeting some simple criteria. Considerations should be made for the following when identifying a venue:

  1. Size and quality of drivable area
  2. Access to restroom facilities
  3. Location relative to lodging and other necessary amenities

Race tracks with skidpad/autocross designated areas are natural selections to host an unofficial event, but parking lots at universities and other spaces can be used provided they have adequate surfaces and the obstacles such as light poles can be avoided. Paddock space must be available for all teams as well; each team requires approximately a 5mx15m paddock to park the trailer, tow vehicle, and tents.

A meeting with the venue owner will be necessary prior to event planning to discuss what the team plans to do with the space, establish pricing, and set clear expectations between the team and venue. It is recommended that teams with active SCCA chapters nearby reach out to their organizers as well to learn how to run the event. Teams should bring at minimum the following with their meeting with the venue representative:

  1. Proposed schedule of events, specifically with "hot" times
  2. Estimated attendance (# of students)
  3. Requirements of the venue, such as:
    1. Provisions for restroom facilities
    2. Food vending
    3. Camping support, if available
    4. Providing cones, trash cans, hay bales, etc
    5. EMS


The funding required to host an event is largely dependent on the venue host and availability of sponsors. The Pittsburgh Shootout publishes financial information online to clarify funding needs for its event. Most venues will give a clear quote for services in the section above and allow the team to select items a la carte.

Student teams choosing to use a shootout as a fundraiser should likely look elsewhere. Without sponsorship of the venue, it's unlikely this will be a reliable source of income for the team.


The number of required volunteers is dependent on attendance. There are some rules of thumb for volunteer:attendee ratio. For example, FSAE in North America has approximately 350 volunteers for 120 FSAE teams, but the volunteers serve several roles across the weekend. The 2022 Pittsburgh Shootout fielded 40 volunteers for 32 teams for the autocross, but requires closer to 50 to function correctly.

Knowledgeable volunteers must be sourced to perform technical inspection. Students may perform these tasks, but require training beforehand. Volunteers should be allocated for the following tasks:

  1. Team parking/check-in
    1. Site safety contacts
    2. Paddock patrol
    3. Traffic/access controls
    4. Gate monitors
  2. Technical Inspection
    1. Mechanical
    2. Electrical
    3. Accumulator
    4. Rain
    5. Brakes
  3. Timing and Scoring
    1. Spotters
    2. Loggers
    3. Backup timers
  4. General Event Ops
    1. Registration
    2. Q&A
    3. Sponsor relations
    4. etc
  5. Floaters (approximately 1 floater to 10 volunteers)

There should be approximately 2-4 technical inspectors assigned per inspection "bay". Technical Inspection may take an hour+, so several groups of technical inspectors are required. At the Pittsburgh Shootout, technical inspection is started Friday night for the Autocross on Saturday to better manage time. A sample Work Breakdown Structure is shown below. This was derived from the Pittsburgh Shootout's WBS, with names omitted for privacy. The structure is split between pre-event responsibilities and at-event; the race is on Saturday, and it can be seen that the branch is divvied further between Friday and Saturday tasks. Limitations on responsibility are shown, noting the red and orange boxes stating volunteers are to only pick one box.

Shootout Work Breakdown Structure

Technical Inspection

Tech inspection is an absolute necessity for unofficial shootout events. The risks in hosting other Formula teams to the host team, the venue, and SAE are astronomical if the hosting team does not take the steps necessary to ensure safety of all attendees. Technical inspection must be to a similar rigor to the official SAE events and exceptions cannot be made to requirements which compromise the safety of the student driver or other attendees. Often it's difficult to perform some of the technical inspection tasks provided at the SAE events due to a lack of a tilt table or other tools; it is the host team's responsibility to provide adequate alternatives such as requiring tech stickers from an official event, performing a modified test, or being more stringent on safety requirements to ensure student and spectator safety.

The Pittsburgh Shootout provides an "90%" technical inspection to cars which have passed a Formula SAE technical inspection, skipping steps such as SES checks. A full technical inspection performed by inspectors who also do the official events is provided for a team which cannot produce tech stickers. The Pittsburgh Shootout does not perform a tilt test or a sound test, but does perform a rain test and brakes test. There are 6 technical inspection bays at the Pitt Shootout, and cars are split by vehicle class for inspection. Accumulator inspections may be done with a video prior to the event, or performed on site if the teams fail to provide the video. Teams may circumvent the accumulator inspection at the event if a tamper seal is unbroken from the official FSAE event. The Pittsburgh Shootout also built an IMD tester to verify functionality for EV teams. As of 2023, the Pittsburgh Shootout requires all EV participants to have passed through Rain test at an official event before attending the Shootout.[1]

Risk Management


Event insurance is remarkably difficult to get due to the nature of the event being a motorsports race. Most event insurance companies will not cover FSAE shootouts. Work with your venue or your university to procure insurance. Often in track rental contracts the Host (the team, generally) is required to procure general liability insurance. Many race tracks have an open contract with an insurance company and may be able to source this insurance for the event.

The Pittsburgh Shootout acquires the following insurance coverage through the venue:

$5 million general liability
$15,000 accidental death
$15,000 additional medical

in addition to a waiver signed at the gate affirming all participants have a drivers license and health insurance.

Do not host a Shootout event without insurance.


FMEA can be used to evaluate risk of hosting an unofficial competition. The Pittsburgh Shootout publishes its FMEA for student teams and officials to review.

  1. Pittsburgh Shootout Handbook.