It's a question promoters are considering more closely this season than in recent years - should races follow a strict BAR format so that everyone competing has a chance for BAR points, or should BAR categories be overlooked in exchange for something better suited to a promoter's objective, or racer demand?
As pointed out by Bill Luecke, MABRA Bar Administrator Emeritus, in a comment here on GamJams, "Reeves Taylor created the BAR in 1993, as a way to keep riders from driving to Pa, NJ, and Tidewater to race, so that we could build a local racing scene." But the BAR as a marketing tool is no longer needed. In fact, with the bottlenecks in Men's Cat 5, Cat 4 and Masters registration, many people would argue (particularly those on waiting lists) that the last thing local racing needs is better marketing.
So while the vast majority of regional races are part of a BAR competion, it's not altogether unheard of for promoters to include a non-conforming race or two. This year's Tour of Walkersville again has a 35+ Cat 4/5 race, and last season's Tour of Washington County had a 35+ Cat 3/4 event.
But with the dustup over the new 35-49 MABRA category and growing frustration over the race to pre-register, it wouldn't be surpising (nor unwelcome) to see some race promoters program according to racer demand, instead of BAR formulas. In fact, it would not be surprising to see some continue with the previous Masters 30+ and 40+ format, or break masters category into any other 10-year increment they like. And if multiple Cat 4 races at the same event are held as near as Pennsylvania, it can't be long before they show up in MABRA or VA. In fact, if I'm a race promoter in PA or VA or WV, I'd look very closely at a "Cat 4 Festival" early in the season, possibly coinciding with one of the big early season races in MABRA that sells out within minutes. There are currently 72 Cat 4/5 racers on wait lists for Walkersville, many of whom will drive 90 minutes on game day with no guarantee of racing. Could they be lured to trek another 30-45 minutes to an event that gave them multiple opportunities to compete and earn upgrade points, racing solely against others in their own category? I bet many could.
There are also situations where promoters eschew the traditional categories (and forfeit BAR status and points) in order to craft a unique racing experience. The Virginia Beach Wheelmen are considering just such an event with a two-man TT this year, and I expect there's plenty of demand across the region for alternative criterium formats, like a points race or elimination race.
How relative is the BAR to the races you choose?