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Disappointment at Buttonwillow 10/18/03


MM

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I was in the HDPE4 group for Saturday. This was the NorCal/SoCal crossover event. This event was way TOO BIG!

 

The schedule got slipped so bad that my group only got 3 out of 4 runs. Moreover, the first two runs were cut short due to offs, etc.

 

The problem with offs was the worst I've ever seen (is Ryan or the HDPE4 group leader from that day around (great guy BTW, very helpful), ask them). And the problem was not lack of experience, but lack of talent!

 

I've only done 6-7 of these events but I felt like I was MUCH safer out there than most of the guys who claimed to have many years' experience.

 

You guys really need some sort of PERFORMANCE (not experience) rating system as qualification for HDPE4. I.e., demote people from the higher groups or require an instructor ride along for serious screwups. Likewise, promote the good HDPE 2 and 3 drivers as the day goes along. It may sound extreme, but some of the guys in HDPE4 that day needed a serious wakeup call!

 

If you ever expect group 4 to be a good place to be for the better/faster drivers you ensure the better/faster drivers (and only the better/faster drivers) end up there. Otherwise you get the case at Buttonwillow where all the cars bunch up because noone has the confidence to pass cause they can't be sure the guy in front will even see them!

 

Unless I plan on doing TT in the future, I'm going back to HDPE3. Way too much EGO (and too little talent) in HDPE4!

 

BTW, it would be appropriate to do a partial refund to those run groups that got cut out due to poor time management and over-registration.

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The big delay was not caused by time mismanagement, but a fatality accident in a race group. Read the nasa homepage for details.

 

A tragety for sure, but the schedule was slipped pretty bad before the accident...

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I've written a couple of responses to this thread that I didn't finish.

 

Regarding being on schedule, I'd imagine that with a couple of hundred cars hurtling around the track at various times, there is going to be someone that drops oil, spreads gravel, gets stranded in an impact zone, whatever, that requires deviating from schedule. This isn't like going to the movies; nobody slams themselves into a wall at the movies necessitating stopping the show and checking that they're ok. The people that run the event need to decide if they get everyone off schedule, or take time away from the offending group, or a compromise in between. I don't know how they decide, and frankly wouldn't want to be in their shoes in making the decision.

 

All that said, in my opinion MM you were just unlucky. In the 5 or so events I've run with NASA SoCal, I've gotten the track time I expected.

 

Regarding performance analysis, I agree. There isn't much policing of who runs in which group. Although people that are running too high for their skill I'm sure are placed in a lower, appropriate group once they are noticed. Also, NASA rolled out a passport deal at the event you attended, which is like a racing log book for HPDE, so an open tracker / time trialer can have a record of what they've done. I think that the adoption of this will help to alleviate your (and my) concern.

 

Having done about the same number of events as you, I'm surprised to hear that you're in group 4. I personally don't think I'm ready for group 4 and open passing after 6 or 7 events. Perhaps you are just a more adept driver than I am, but I have some bad habits that I need to weed out before I'm on track in that environment.

 

Jason

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6 or 7 events! Sure you are, if you are cautious, curteous, and don't think you are Rick Mears.

 

Go race some carts. Play GT3. It's all wheel time. Just check you mirrors and you can do open passing . After all, it's not a race. the freeway is open passing last time I checked.

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6 or 7 events! Sure you are, if you are cautious, curteous, and don't think you are Rick Mears.

 

Go race some carts. Play GT3. It's all wheel time. Just check you mirrors and you can do open passing . After all, it's not a race. the freeway is open passing last time I checked.

 

Huh? English, please! And, I am good about checking mirrors. It was the cars in front that had a problem with that!

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All that said, in my opinion MM you were just unlucky. In the 5 or so events I've run with NASA SoCal, I've gotten the track time I expected.

 

Having done about the same number of events as you, I'm surprised to hear that you're in group 4. I personally don't think I'm ready for group 4 and open passing after 6 or 7 events. Perhaps you are just a more adept driver than I am, but I have some bad habits that I need to weed out before I'm on track in that environment.

Jason

 

Maybe I was unlucky. Honestly, this is the first time I've felt shafted in terms of track time. Thougn, I do think it was a mistake to make the event as big as it was. I won't be going to any more of the NorCal/SoCal crossover events.

 

The whole point I'm trying to hone in on is that experience is not the only measure of ability and safety! It was clear from this event that some people go to these events all the time and don't learn a damn thing (or very little)! I am, of course, "no Rick Mears," but I am comfortable with open passing. To be fair, I do have exposure to other forms of racing: 1/4 scale midget in my younger days, and a dozen or so autocrosses (in my other car).

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If you'd have watched the race groups, you would've seen a ton of off too, that track was slick big time.

You guys really need some sort of PERFORMANCE (not experience) rating system as qualification for HDPE4.

While I'm in a race group, and haven't been through HPDE, I think the above statement isn't quite right. Don't the HPDE levels just change where passing is allowed? Like any straight for group 3 and anywhere for group 4?

 

Your statement makes it sound like to be in group 4 you need a Viper, and to turn certain lap times. What about the guys that are running their spec Miatas? They'll DEFINITELY be slower, but if you've ever run a spec Miata race, you know they're comfortable running door to door in a pack all day long.

 

You're going to have a big spread of lap times when your in HPDE, nature of the beast. If you want to be on track with relatively even paced cars, hop in a race group...

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What I meant is driver performance, really. If the slower cars see you in time and get out of the way, that is what counts, especially if you are trying to do time trial.

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What I meant is driver performance, really. If the slower cars see you in time and get out of the way, that is what counts, especially if you are trying to do time trial.

 

I've already agreed that there are probably drivers that are in run groups they shouldn't be in.

 

Regarding slower cars getting out of your way, I think this is backwards. Faster cars need to go around the slower cars. Drivers in CRXs, Civics, Se-rs, Miatas, etc... need the momentum to keep their speeds up and lap times down. The big horsepower dudes and dudettes need to get around the slower cars.

 

I think that we're all saying similar things in different fashions. But the way things are being stated keep making me pause. Not sure I'm making a whole lot of sense after 4 days at the track, sleeping on an rv bed, living on chili cheese burgers.

 

Jason

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In racing, as in anything having to do with driving an automobile, the only way to do it safely is if everyone has the same understanding and expectations as to what the rules are and what the other guy is going to do. The rule here is that the guy being overtaken has the line until the overtaking car gets appoximately where his bumper is adjacent to the door of the car being overtaken. See the back portion of the NASA CCR.

 

In ALL cases, the overtaking car goes off line to pass the car being overtaken. That is the only way I can anticipate what you are going to do. Presummably, I know where the line is (if not, I shouldn't be there in the first place). I "know" that you are not going to suddenly dart in front of me because we both "know" that you are going to stay where you are because you have the line. That is why, in HPDE, the car being overtaken points the overtaking car by and the overtaking car goes off line until the pass is complete. Same thing in racing (only normally without the point).

 

As a rookie driver in the Camaro Mustang Challenge East series, I am still trying to get that lesson through my head. In trying to be a regular joe and not screw up somebody's points standing by being in the way, I tried to do exactly what you advocate and get out of the way. I was corrected and will not do that again.

 

Your job as a driver is to know exactly what is going on in front of you and plan accordingly (thinking ahead) and to know exactly what is going on behind you so you are not surprised when a faster car blows your doors off.

 

Even in racing, you will have much faster cars in your class. In a recent race I was doing about 1:34 around the 2 mile Summit Point course in the Big Bore Race (no jokes....). There were a couple Pro built Porche 911 Carreras that were doing 1:19. The rules were the same. I drive the line they pass me off line-which they did somewhat regularly.

 

The funny thing is, when you get to racing, unless you are in front or in the rear, you rarely get a clean line anyway. There is always some jabonie sticking his nose inside your turn just as you get to your turn in point. You just have to have concentration and confidence that your car will stick to the ground where you point it.

 

Hope this helps,

Gary

Camaroman

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In ALL cases, the overtaking car goes off line to pass the car being overtaken. That is the only way I can anticipate what you are going to do. Presummably, I know where the line is (if not, I shouldn't be there in the first place). I "know" that you are not going to suddenly dart in front of me because we both "know" that you are going to stay where you are because you have the line. That is why, in HPDE, the car being overtaken points the overtaking car by and the overtaking car goes off line until the pass is complete.Camaroman

Great post, Gary. I only have one comment to make, since this is posted on a national forum - in HPDE's, the overtaking car going off line isn't always the case.

 

We have tracks where that rule does apply, and others where the slower car is told to go off line (we don't say that, just say "point faster car by on LEFT side" which means you have to go off line since you are coming out of a right turn).

 

So for those of you reading this, please be sure to follow the instructions of the classroom director or the event/region director for the track you are driving.

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Yes, I've seen it done both ways at HDPE events. This particular one the rule was "stay one the line." This works well when everyone follows the rule. It also makes passes safer for everyone involved. However, sometimes drivers take a very bad line, or wonder around. And sometimes a FWD car wil take a different line than a RWD car. And it is also commonplace in HDPE for people to be "experimenting" to find a better line, and this can cause problems too.

 

For these reasons, I usually wait for a point by at HDPE events. Since this isn't a race, there is no point in going for a pass when a quick run through the hot pits will accomplish the same thing (getting space to run). And besides, ther were SO MANY CARS at this event, and it seemed like they were ALL bunched in 2-3 groups. There's no sense in trying to go through that when all you want is some space to improve lap times.

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