Scott Gress’s Really Terrific Comp School Guide, 11May16
This was written for a 1:1 comp school so it was originally intended to be guidance for a specific person for a specific weekend. However some general interest developed here it now sits on a webserver. I've attended comp schools, as student or asst. instructor, for BMWCCA CR and two NASA regions, probably 8x. This guide represents all the things that I wished those schools talked more about.
Read the SE SpecE30 Supplementary Driver Conduct Rules http://spece30.com/forum/31-southeast/80712-se-supplementary-rules
Go thru the NASA regs and read the chapters that catch your interest. Some
sections tho you need to know very well:
19.3. Focus on the unusual parts of this section. Everyone knows the basics.
25.0 Know this like the back of your hand. Don’t let the typo re. "26.0" cause you to miss sections 25.3 and 25.4.
26.0. Be able to explain "fault" in all these examples. Closely analyze examples 11 and 12. Some people believe that example 12 is wrong. Why might they believe that?
27.0 Read this carefully.
Standing Yellow. This means that there is a problem, but it’s probably not on the track itself. Back off to 8/10ths until you figure out what the problem is. Resume racing when past the incident OR past a manned station w/o Yellow. Note that Yellow may be pulled after a couple laps even tho a car is still stranded.
If you’re going to execute a pass, it needs to be entirely complete before the Flag Station with the Yellow.
Gray area. Imagine that an incident happens a couple turns away and someone goes off track and their car stalls. It takes them a couple seconds to get their car going and they start moving back towards the track. You pass the Flag Station waving Yellow. You come around the corner and see the car up 100m ahead now accelerating back into the race. You are going much faster than he so you will pass him in a few seconds. Consider the variables…..
• You are under Yellow so you can’t pass another racer.
• Is the guy that went off the track to be considered just another racer <therefore no Yellow>, now that he is on the track, or is he “the incident that must be passed” before you are under Green?
• Imagine the scenario where he is not actually the incident. In fact the Incident is 100m further along and you can’t see it. Then you blow by this guy even tho you’ve not yet passed the actual incident.
My point is that folks always talk as if all situations re. the rules are black and white. The reality is that devilish scenarios happen so gray areas will occur. When faced with a situation where “what do the rules require me to do?” is unclear, just be safe and predictable. Even if the result is a DQ, the beer you’ll be drinking with everyone in an hour will taste just the same. No matter the oddball situation, if you rely on “safe and predictable” to guide your actions, you’ll be “good”, defined as “retained the love and respect of your peers.”
It is common to wave at the guy behind you if you see the next Flag Station throw Yellow. By helping him avoid DQ by passing under Yellow, you’re looking out for your buddy.
Waving Yellow. This means that there is a problem on the track itself or in an off-track location perceived as particularly dangerous. Back way down to a speed where you could stop the car at the limit of your visibility. That is to say, if you can see 25m of track distance, get your speed down to the point where you could stop your car in 25m. Obviously this will be different for wet surface. Err on the side of caution because if there’s fluids on the track you may find that stopping distances are far longer than you’d thought.
Don’t back your speed down so abruptly that you surprise the guy behind you.
Full Course Yellow (FCY). When Control directs the flag stations to fly FCY, the pace car will come out. The whole field now needs to catch up to the pace car. Everyone needs to hustle. Don’t be the guy that dawdles under FCY. That doesn’t mean 10/10ths because somewhere on the track there is an incident, but it does mean that if you can see clear track ahead, hustle. Slow down when turns and elevation changes reduce your ability to spot that you are approaching an incident.
How to get in trouble under FCY. When the pace car is out there will be multiple groups of cars on the track. All the groups but the one behind the pace car will be hauling ass. The pace car’s group is doing prob 30mph and the slinky effect will mean that the tail of the pace car group will sometimes be stationary or nearly so. Consider that…..there’s groups on the track hauling ass, but there’s also cars on the track that could be stationary. What happens pretty damned often is that a group of cars will come barreling around a corner under FCY and pile right into the rear of the pace car group. Then everyone goes herringboning off into the grass and there’s chaos. So hustle under FCY, but slow the heck down at every blind turn and crest.
Passing or getting passed under Yellow or FCY. This is tricky. As a general rule if someone screws up and passes someone else under Yellow or FCY, you don’t want to fix it while still under Yellow. The reason for this is that the Flag Stations might see only the “fix” and then radio in that a pass just occurred under Yellow or FCY. The safest way to fix this is to do it when next under Green. That is to say, if you pass someone under Yellow or FCY, when you are next under Green, deliberately get them by you.
Having said that, I have fixed mistakes under FCY before. I just had to make it painfully obvious to the flagger that no one was attempting a sneaky pass. The ways to make it “painfully obvious” are infinite. Examples: 1) Move into the grass so the car behind you gets by. 2) Move up to the guy next to you in the slowly moving line, get his attention and using hand and arm signals, see if he's willing to let you in front of him. He probably knows that he passed you under yellow and will let you in front. He might be perfectly willing to get out of line and let you in front. 3) Put your hand out with a pit signal and pull out of line. Then when car behind you gets by, move back into line. No matter what you do, the important thing is to make it painfully obvious to anyone that might be interested, that what you and the other driver are doing is an entirely cooperative affair and you aren't trying to be sneaky.
Keep in mind that you're doing something that you're not supposed to do so the chance exists that you're going to get yelled at. Some folks are easily excited so be prepared to apologize. That said, if it's painfully obvious that you weren't trying anything sneaky and it was completely safe, it will probably work ok.
Restarts after FCY. When the race is restarted, S/F will throw Green and all Flag Stations will drop FCY. This can be tricky tho. Usually Green won’t be thrown until the pace car pulls into the Pits and the pack moves towards S/F. You can’t depend on this tho. Sometimes the FCY track will go Green even tho the pack is nowhere near S/F. This means that you need to be prepared for the track to go Green at any second. Stay up tight with the car in front of you and watch the Flag Stations like a hawk. Be ready to hit the gas if anyone of them drops FCY. This too can be tricky. Sometimes the next Flag Station is a long ways off so you can barely see it. Sometimes a flagger’s shirt is surprisingly close to yellow. Sometimes you can’t see any darn Flag Station.
It is common to get a jump on a restart because you were clever enough to watch the Flag Station behind you. Also, be aware of who might have a radio link to a Spotter. That guy might hear GREEN GREEN GREEN in his headphones before the other cars around you are aware of the Green. So if he goes, you go.
To make life more interesting, sometimes the Flagger will get tired or distracted and FCY at your only visible Flag Station will briefly drop, only to reappear after you’ve passed 2 cars and you’ve yelled YEEHAW! Also, a car on a nearby dyno sounds a lot like the leaders, around the next corner, accelerating towards a waving Green flag.
White Flag. A standing White means means that there is a slow <something> in the zone after the Flag Station. Maybe it’s a race car, or maybe it’s an EV (Emergency Vehicle. Don’t confuse this with the “last lap” White Flag that S/F will throw (Waving) with 1 lap to go.
Ambiguous situations. A flagger might get over excited about a slow vehicle and wave a White Flag. But since it's not S/F, you would interpret it as slow vehicle. If S/F needs to warn racers about a slow vehicle, they should throw White-with-Red-Cross. If S/F doesn't have a White-with-Red-Cross, maybe they'll try waving both White and Yellow flags and hope you get the general idea.
Red Flags. These happen more often in racing then in DEs to you’ll see one soon. Don’t surprise the people around you. Wave at each other so they’ll understand that something is going on. Then pull over to the right at a deccel rate that won’t take the guy behind you by surprise. Note sightlines to your rear so that you don’t pull over on the other side of a crest or blind corner where someone might come flying right behind you and smack you at 100mph.
My recommendations for Reds. The important things are to be safe and to be able to see a Flag Station once stopped. So if the guy right in front of me slammed his brakes on at the Red, I’d just go by him rather than create trouble for the guy behind me by slamming on my brakes too. If the guy in front of me stops at a location where we can’t see a Flag Station, I’d either use my bumper to slowly shove him forward, or I would just pass him and move up to where I could see a Flag Station. Then, as soon as the Red was lifted, I’d get back behind the guy I passed.
It’s not unheard of for some accidental passing to occur as drivers react to a Red Flag. Do what you can to sort it out once the cars get moving again. You could even move a bit in the Right Grass, while everyone is supposed to be stationary, in order to straighten out who should be in front of whom.
Sure, everyone is supposed to sit still while under Red Flag. Some people will tell you you’re not even allowed to “creep forward.” I’m not much into “absolutes” tho, where you are directed to ALWAYS follow the rules. I would say “Know the rules like the back of your hand. If you decide that the situation justifies bending the rules a bit, do so. Just be aware that you may have some explaining to do afterwards. Always make the safest and fairest decision you can. Usually that’s following the rules, but sometimes "safest and fairest" means bending a few rules.
If the grass is quite dry, consider moving to the right side of the track, but not actually getting off the track into the grass. This will keep your hot brake rotors out of the dry grass.
Remember that the purpose of Reds is to make life easy for the EVs and their crews. In a recent FCY we had had a long line of cars passing slow moving EVs on our right. Then Red came out and everyone swooped for the right side of the track so they could stop. This blocked in the EVs. We all have a knee jerk response of “pull to the right and stop” but thinking is always better than knee jerk. Keep your brain in gear.
Fluids on the track. Fluids, especially oil, on the track will get you, it’s just a matter of time. Always having some brain cells watching for any sign that there may be fluids on the track. The challenge is to figure out that there might be fluids on the track in time to get your speed down and move away from their suspected location. That means you have to spot the clues and make decisions well before you arrive at the problem. Examples:
Flaggers can be slow and their zone is behind them. The flaggers mean well, but mistakes and commo confusion happens. A Flag Station with no flags up means “probably” clear track after the tower. It is no guarantee. There still could be an incident and the flagger could be scratching his ass or looking the wrong way. A flagger’s zone is down-track so things that happen slightly up-track might not get noticed by anyone. Years ago a Flagger at Rd Atl S/F failed to note the slow vehicle right underneath him and I damn near piled into the guy at 100mph. A Flagger at RA turn 1 failed to recognize that cars were slippy-sliding past his flag station due to oil on the track in the braking zone just before his tower. Certainly the distant Flagger before him couldn’t see it, so the problem was in a twilight zone of “Flagger that is responsible for problem can’t see it. Flagger that can see it doesn’t advise Control because problem is not in his zone of responsibility.”
Rolling Starts. Don't get on anyone's bumper prior to the Green or in the first couple turns. When you are right on someone's bumper and something goes awry up ahead, you will have zero opportunity to dodge the problem. Let the pack open up a tad before getting on a guy's bumper. Don’t move much left or right before the Green, you’re supposed to keep in line.
Keep your eyes up during starts. Look thru the windshields of everyone around you. Focus on what is happening in the pack as far forward as you can make out. It’s absolutely critical to see a problem well forward, otherwise the problem will surprise you and you’ll slam into it. This is terribly difficult in the rain because you won’t be able to see thru other windshields well. I would be very very cautious at rainy starts. Don’t close up with the car in front of you during a rainy start. Let the pack make it thru a few turns so they spread out a bit.
Standing Starts. Be even more conservative than the rolling start because problems are more likely. I’d do a spacing of 2 car lengths. Sometimes interval is specified in the driver’s meeting. Make sure your car is absolutely stationary. If you feel that you must adjust your car's position in order to see the Green, do it in the first couple seconds after coming to a stop. If you're in the rear, maybe don't adjust at all. It's really easy to get accused of jumping a standing start because you were "repositioning to see the Green".
Be wary of adjusting your car's position in Reverse. Occasionally someone will screw up and leave it in Reverse. To everyone's very great surprise.
At the Green, don’t drop the clutch like a drag racer. You’ll either stall the car or spin your tires uselessly. Just get the car moving in 1st gear like it was your DD. Once the car is moving, then go WOT.
Returning to the track after an “off.” If you go off track, take a deep breath and make sure it’s safe before re-entering the track.
Fighting to “save” the car. There is a natural tension between the driver’s desire to save a car when he’s lost control, and the need for the movement of his car to remain predictable to the guys behind him. If you fight to save the car you might succeed and avoid a barrier and/or keep the car pointed in right direction and/or stay on the track….all good outcomes. Or, due to your choice of fighting to save the car instead of getting on the brakes and letting the car slide in whatever direction it wanted to go, you make the motion of your out-of-control car unpredictable which leads to other cars getting collected. The guys behind you are trying like hell to predict the direction of travel for your out-of-control car. If a driver is fighting hard to regain control and get back into the race, the car can go anywhere. You can easily slide off one side of the track, and then come right back across the track and end up on the other side, to the very great surprise of the cars that were behind you.
When you lose control of your car, your primary responsibility is to not collect other cars. So your decision how to respond to your own loss of control must calculate the likelihood of causing problems for others. I’m not saying “don’t try to save it.” What I’m saying is be aware of the risks of trying to save it, think of your buddies first and your own problems second, and simply make the best decision you can.
If you do collect another car when you lose control, we will carefully study video to determine if you went “both feet in” to maximize the likelihood of your car’s motion being predictable. If you did not go both feet in, we will likely decide that you chose to “save it” instead of “don’t’ cause problems for your buddies” and there will be consequences.
ABS can defeat “both feet in.” Remember that ABS will try to restore control, even if the brakes are locked up. This can have serious consequences if your intent is to just slide sideways in a predictable fashion because, chances are, your wheels aren’t pointed sideways. So even tho you have both feet in, use steering input to try to help your car move in the desired direction. Otherwise you may find that even tho you’ve locked up your brakes, your car may radically change direction, which of course, never happens in a good way. I destroyed my first SpecE30 because I’d not considered that ABS would defeat my plan to just go “both feet in” and slide sideways down the track. Instead, ABS hooked me right into a wall.
Getting out of your car after an incident. Generally this is frowned upon, but ultimately it is your choice. In most situations, staying in your car is safest. You will find folks, however, that state “never get out of your car unless it’s on fire” as if it’s inconceivable that there might be a scenario where getting out of the car might be a good idea.
I got out of my stranded car once. It was at VIR. I was right next to a wall that I could get hop over and be safe. I’d managed to break my wrist in the crash and, try as I might, I could not come up with a way to release my steering wheel quick-release so I could get out. I needed both hands to release the steering wheel but one hand was being uncooperative. That meant that if someone else banged into me and there was a fire, I was going to have a hard time getting out of my car in a hurry. So I decided that the safest thing to do would be to get out of car now, when I had the time to do it. I wormed my way, one handed, out between halo seat, cage, and steering wheel, and got behind the wall. I thought sure that I'd be yelled at, but no one did.
There was an incident many years ago at Barber. SE SpecE30 racer Chuck T was stranded in an absolutely terrible location. We couldn’t see him until the very last second after being fully committed and flying around a dicey turn. The slightest problem and someone could slam right into him. Every time I came around to him I thought “oh my god, he’s going to get killed”. He chose to stay in his car. If it had been me, I’d have gotten out and run for it.
What to do after an incident. If you can self-recover, do it. If something happens and you end up off the racing surface, make a judgment call re. the likelihood that your car can make it to a safer location or even all the way back to the Paddock. Every situation is different. Sometimes you’re obviously not going anywhere, other times you can putt-putt or even coast right to a track exit. Your objective should be to avoid being a problem for the race. So if you can move your car to a location safe enough that Control might pull in the Yellow, do so. Hiding behind a Flag Station is a good solution. Know where the shortcuts are to get you off the track and back to the Paddock. Examples are Roebling turn 4 and Rd Atlanta turn 5.
In general terms the requirement is to go fill out an Incident Report. However, if the incident seemed pretty inconsequential, I would recommend finding the other driver first. Maybe he also feels that the incident was meaningless and you can both agree to no paperwork. Where folks get into trouble is when an incident between cars results in only 1 form being filled out. In that case the other driver will get DQ’d.
If an apology is called for, be sure to apologize profusely. Most folks will forgive a lot of the other guy is contrite. Failing to apologize can start grudges.
If you are annoyed over an incident, don’t assume that your take on the incident is correct. Many a time I’ve been pissed off after an incident only to realize, after viewing video, that it really wasn’t as egregious as I’d thought.
Incidents in SE region. Triggers to bring the incident immediately to my attention. Any one of the following.
• You are annoyed re. the incident.
• The incident involved another class.
• There was damage per the NASA definition, which is a relatively severe standard.
I won’t go looking for trouble so if something occurred that doesn’t meet one of the above triggers, I won’t go stick my nose into the issue unless asked. The problem scenario is when someone’s annoyed re. an incident but they don’t come talk to me about it until several days later. Note that any penalty that might be applied will officially come from the NASA Regional Director tho, not me. As a Regional Class Director, I can only "recommend".
If you have any bitches, if you are involved in an incident, or have video of an incident, for the love of god lets handle it at the track before we go home. We had an incident earlier this year where a SpecE30 driver was being kinda of erratic. An out of class driver got spooked by the SpecE30 and when the dust cleared there were two out of class drivers in the grass with unhappy looks on their faces. The SpecE30 guy behind the incident had good video that clearly showed that the SpecE30 was at fault by moving towards the sandwiched out-of-class-car for no reason. So didn't touch anyone, but in failing to pass safely caused the incident, even if the SpecE30 didn’t actually touch anyone. If I had seen that video in a timely manner, I would have shown it to the SpecE30 so he’d know that his “not my fault” take on events was not correct. Then, in an effort to motivate him to be very considerate of other classes, I would have recommended that he be DQ’d him from the race. But the SpecE30 with the video didn’t bring it to me in a timely fashion and that meant I didn’t deal with the erratic SpecE30 guy until a couple days after the event. So altho he and I had some long conversations re. the video, it was too late by then to DQ the guy. To the maximum extent possible, we need to resolve problems before the weekend is over.
Our culture of treating the other racers like they are buddies is very important to us. We need to be particularly gracious around out-of-class cars. We will DQ or suspend drivers that are slow to get that message. Always give the other guy room to survive.
Incidents in MidAtl region. This is between the drivers and Jeff Hall, the Director of Impound. If there is an incident, the drivers involved need to go to Impound immediately after the race and talk to Jeff. If there are to be consequences, Jeff takes his recommendation to Chris Cobetto, the MidAtl Director. The MidAtl class directors, like Andrew Zimmerman my SpecE30 counterpart for MidAtl, aren’t part of the incident adjudication process. Each region runs things their own way. It’s not a matter of our way being right and there’s wrong, each is a reflection of how the regional director wants it run.
Qualification. Stating the obvious, Qual is not a race for position, it’s an attempt to get a good lap time. Some folks tho, have problems adjusting to this. When you’re sitting on grid or in the out-lap, take a hard look at the cars around you and figure out how they might affect you getting that one good lap. Faster cars behind you are going to want to get by. It’s ok to leave slow cars in front of you, as long as you either have a plan to pass them on the straight, or back off a bit on the out-lap to create some gap. SE goes out under Green so cars are certainly free to pass each other in the out-lap in order to set themselves up for that one sweet lap. The problem with backing off to create gap is that sometimes the slow guy behind you will then pass you and get in your gap. There’s no perfect solution. I usually line up for Qual towards the rear of the pack. If there’s some slow guys behind me, I might get out of my car and go tell them “I’m going to back off a bit of the guy in front of me. Don’t pass me pls.”
A weakness of being towards the back of the Qual grid is that sometimes Qual gets ended prematurely by an incident. If luck is against you, this could mean that the guys in front get an extra lap in the shortened qual.
Immediately upon leaving the grid you will see drivers that are hardheads. They will be the ones that fail to spread out and create gaps in front of them. There will be some exceptions of course. Some folks will deliberately work together.
Qual is 3-4 hot laps so you only have a couple chances to get a really good lap. Therefore if you have a problem, like a car right in front of you that is slow in the turns but you might not be able to get by him on the straights, act decisively. For example, go ahead and slow way down so some gap can develop, then start charging again just before the front straight.
Once a lap is screwed, don’t worry about the time for that lap. Focus on how to set up the next lap for an optimum situation. This can mean creating a gap, or it can mean getting up in front of a Miata but not pulling away from it until the turn before the front straight.
Don’t hesitate to work together in qual. That could mean bump drafting, or it could mean communicating to the SpecE30 in front of you (via your car’s position) that you do not intend to try to take the next turn from him.
If someone is coming up behind you during Qual, wave them by so you both get a good corner. Don’t fight them for the corner.
Scrubbing tires under Green. We usually go out to Qual under Green. Don’t scrub your tires on the out-lap because others might be trying to pass you. Even one abrupt unnecessary turn might get called in by a Flagger and get you DQ’d for Qual.
Reading minds. Racing is like Chess at 100mph. You need to be pretty fast w/o really having to think about it. That is to say, your reptile brain needs to be trained up to the point where it can do fast laps w/o relying much on your conscious brain. The latter is going to be too busy to focus on fast laps. Your conscious brain is playing Chess against the other drivers.
Things to think about:
The guy in front of you is inevitably stronger than you in some places on the track and weaker than you in others. How can you mitigate his strengths and exploit his weaknesses? For example, if the guy in front of you has more hp, you have to try very hard to start straightaways right on his bumper so you’ll be in his draft. If you spot that the guy in front of you is a little weak on a certain turn, ensure on the next lap that you are in a position to exploit that weakness and dive in to take the turn that you already know he’s anxious about.
The guy behind you has strengths and weaknesses too. Remain aware of where the guy in your mirror is falling back and where he is gaining on you. Try very hard to mitigate the problem at those locations on the track where he seems better than you.
Each person is positioning their car in a certain place for a reason. Watch carefully what they do and try to figure out their intent. At the same time, one person will sometimes try to fool the other by putting their car in a position that is deliberately deceptive re. their real intent.
Lets say you and I are heading into a classic passing zone prior to a right turn. Say CMP turn 8. I am in the rear. I might choose to attempt to take the turn from you by heading inside. But if I do this we will both be slow in the turn which means a slow back stretch. If you are a pretty fast guy, I might want to work with you to catch the folks up ahead. In that case my desire for a fast turn 8 outweighs my desire to pass you. There’s also an issue of personal history between us. You will have buddies that will tend to default towards working with you, and buddies that will, good naturedly of course, pass your ass given any opportunity.
So as you head towards the braking zone, you have to snatch a couple glances in your rear view mirror and make a guess re. my intent. That will determine whether or not you take the (fast) school line thru the corner, or take a defensive line.
If I’m keeping my car slightly left of yours, I’m probably telling you that I intend to work with you for this turn. Or I’m being intentionally deceptive.
If I move my car a little right, maybe I’m looking to take the turn from you so you need to move your car inboard a bit to a more defensive line, or maybe I’m trying to fool you into taking a defensive line, when in reality I’m going to back off a car length, take the faster school line and come out with a couple mph extra that I’ll use to pass you on the straight.
Read the position of the car behind you to discern his intent. Know that guy’s personality. Make a judgment call on your best course of action.
Defending your position by blocking. You get one free move to defend your line. An argument could be made that you also get a 2nd move if you move outboard to take the school line into a turn. That 2nd move wouldn’t be to block but instead would be “setting up for the turn".
Personally, I do not defend very hard. Unless it’s the last couple laps of the race, if you get a run on me, I figure you’ve earned it and I’ll give it to you. Doing a lot of blocking isn’t really buddy-like behavior, so I would avoid it so as to not get a reputation for being obsessed with beating the other guy.
Defending your position by squeezing. This is bad. The NASA rule allows it, SE SpecE30 forbids it. As you saw in the SE SpecE30 Supplementary Driver Conduct Rules, if there is any overlap at all, even 1”, both SpecE30s have a right to a full car width. Consider this gray area tho. A couple times in the last several years I was about to pass someone when they moved left or right to block me. Maybe we had an inch of overlap, or maybe overlap was still 0.25sec out. But the bottom line is that I had more speed than they did so when they moved left or right in front of me to block I was left with the choices of punt them, go into the grass, or hit the brakes. It was shitty of them to create the problem. If they wanted to block me, they should have moved over a couple seconds earlier. That would have been a righteous block. But instead they almost crashed themselves out by punting themselves over my bow, or put me into the grass at >100mph trying to avoid contact.
Sadly the NASA rules are such that the punt scenario would have been ruled my fault, even tho the cause was their last second move. So my fault, but they get to buy/build a new car after the punt puts them into a wall. To make things more interesting, in both of these examples, the driver later said that they didn't realize I was there. So instead of being an obnoxious fail, it was a head-up-your-butt fail.
Entering a turn behind a cluster of cars. Work hard to protect your turn exit speed. Sometimes that means backing off prior to a turn. Read the group in front of you and make an estimate of how fast they will make it thru the turn. If you think that they will interfere with each other and make for a slow turn-entry, don’t get caught in that. Instead, back off a car length and get a really nice turn-exit speed that you can then use to take a couple of them on the straight that follows.
If what follows isn’t much of a straight, then worry less about turn exit speed and more about the possibility of gaining position in the cluster. For example if there are 2guys in front of you entering a turn, make a call as to who is going to win that turn and get on that guy’s ass. You might create a 2 car train and both of you could get by the other guy.
Traffic. There will usually be other classes on the track with you. Some will be faster and some slower. Classes that are normally slower than us will likely have a couple standouts that are faster than you. Classes that are normally faster than us will likely have some slugs that are slower then you.
When a low hp car like a Miata or 944 catches up to you, expect them to be very fast in the turns. If, however, after letting them by in a turn, you catch up to them on the next straight, consider backing off and giving them the turn. You know they’re faster…they will get away from you, just give them another turn to do it.
When you catch up to a high hp car, like a GTS2 or 3, expect them to not only throw out an anchor at turn entry, but also expect them to be timid.
Why timidity is an issue. It’s easy to get a high hp guy past you if he has good skills. All you have to do is position your car, as you approach turn entry, such that you’re offering him the turn on a platter. He’ll recognize what you are doing and he’ll swoop in and take the turn.
A timid high hp guy is a problem tho. When you offer him the turn on a platter, the timid driver will get anxious and unsure. He is used to using his hp to pass cars on the straight. He is not used to close quarters in braking zones or turns. After you open the door for him, by the time he asks himself “what do I do, what do I do, what do I do?” , you’ll be in the turn on a slow outside line yelling at the high hp knucklehead behind you for failing to dart in and enter the turn first as you had intended. Finally they’ll get into the turn and as a result you’ll be 2-wide and slow…precisely what you were trying to avoid. Don’t be reluctant to wave high hp folks by if they seem tentative. The wave will help communicate your intent to them so they will be less tentative. There will be times when a high hp guy is so timid that you will have to slow up to force them by, all so you can get a good run at the turn.
When a faster, out of class, car comes up behind you, don’t send them ambiguous signals. Use the position of your car to clearly tell them, “pass me” or “don’t pass me just yet, wait a second.” Make the message crystal clear.
Don’t bumpdraft out of class cars unless they clearly signal you to do so. 944’s generally do not like to be bumpdrafted. Miatas often appreciate it. Don’t bump either of them too hard because they have plastic bumpers.
Try to stay out of their race. You can usually detect if the cars that are passing you are the race leaders for their class. If, for example, they are the first e36s you’ve seen come up behind you, they are likely the race leaders. They will be quite grateful if you get them by quickly. Don’t let your race for 15th seem as important as their race for 1st. Play nice with others. SE SpecE30 has tried hard over the last couple years to mend fences with the other Lightning classes. Don’t be the guy that messes that up.
Watch out for 2 car trains coming up behind you. In your mirror it can be easy to mistake 2 cars, bumper to bumper, as only a single overtaking car because the trailing car can be hidden behind the leader. Then, if you let the leader by and try to dart behind him to get a bit of draft, you’ll slam into the guy that was behind.
There’s an infinite # of ways to use traffic, both faster and slower, to make life harder on the competition in front of or behind you. Examples:
Learning points: We are friends first and competitors 2nd. Never put a buddy in an impossible situation. Always always give him room to survive. He is your buddy...treat him like it.
Note the several times that I lose situational awareness (SA) of a nearby car. In each case, I give them room to survive, even tho I’m not quite sure where they are. That other person is my friend. I will not put him/her into a crisis.
Note the incident in 10A with Davis Aikens. Consider the incident within the context of reading the minds of the competitors around you. I had a hunch re. what he was going to try. I could have squeezed left at last minute to defend which would have put him in a crisis in the braking zone. But instead, I let him go ahead and try to make it work if he could. Then, adding a bit of caution, I delayed my turn-in by just a heartbeat.
In SE region you will routinely see us cheering each other on. That is to say, one person passes another and the passee waves him a big thumbs up for the nice pass. Then, after the race there will be lots of sweaty guys jumping up and down, hollering, high-fiving, and hugging. That's the mindset you are joining. Sometimes we get a newby that is really just there for the competition, and as a result, puts others in difficult situations on the track. Getting squeezed into the grass at >100mph is not happy. It's a pita to have to reset the outlook of the over-competitive before they start causing trouble. Come in with the right frame of mind.
Don’t let all these crash videos freak you out. I’ve intentionally picked vids of evil because of they are good teachers.
https://vimeo.com/133617308 Learning points. Once you hit oil, it’s unlikely that you will retain control of the car. It’s incredibly slippery and it takes a couple seconds for the stuff to scrape off the tires. By the time you’ve got some traction back, you’re a 2700lb juggernaut going whatever direction lady luck chose. Every time something happens in front of you, consider the possibility that it was caused by fluids, or the incident has resulted in fluids on the track.
If, after an incident, there is a likelihood of someone else hitting your car, immediately try to move your car to a safer location.
https://vimeo.com/114076338 Learning points. Be risk averse during wet starts because visibility is awful. Normally, during a start, you can see quite a ways forward thru everyone else’s windshield, but this doesn’t work in the rain. Don’t hug the guy in front of you until the pack spreads out a bit so you can see.
Be wary of going into wet grass to avoid an incident. It’s terribly slippery so once you’re in the wet grass, no matter how slow you’re going there is absolutely zero ability to change your plan.
This incident was 18 months ago. I’ve very proud to state that since then, we’ve not lost a single solitary car. The SE SpecE30 driver conduct rules have helped us change our culture. We dialed back the couple folks that were too aggressive. We race hard, sure, we’re SpecE30. But we also look out for our buddies.
https://vimeo.com/99336464 Learning point. Don’t get closer to someone than necessary when you pass them. When you’re side-by-side, keep a 3’ cushion. There’s been multiple incidents where 2 cars were side-by-side only inches apart even tho one of them had lots of track width they could have used to open up some space between the cars. Then there was some little innocuous no-account bump and to everyone’s horror someone went careening into a wall. Also, at high speed there’s some suction between cars that can pull them together.
https://vimeo.com/76840830 Learning points. Even when the grass is dry, be cautious about using it to avoid an incident. The avoidance move might go fine, but only if the initial plan works. There’s no “execute a new plan” in dry grass if your speed is >35mph. I thought that I was safe going to the left because I got a long-range glimpse of Sandro Espinosa going right. It would have been better if I had stayed on track and simply slowed down a lot.
Lots of bad things happened in this incident. This was the last debacle before we came up with our SE SpecE30 driver conduct rules that settled everything down.