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Thread: Fatality at Buttonwillow

  1. #141
    Junior Member Piripi's Avatar
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    Default track safety

    I could not agree more with all the statements about improving personal safety to the maximum level, I could not agree more about choosing the safest organizations out there also. But I cannot stop comparing the safety measures of the tracks in the Socal area with the safety of other tracks. This local tracks clean the desert of big stones and boulders, put 2 rows of tires in front of workers stations and call it a day. There are no run off areas, there are no gravel traps, there are no big and TALL tire walls to disipate energy, off track is very uneven which can cause all types of undesirable vehicle conditions, in some tracks walls are way too close to the track. I know these tracks are all we have, most are old and although they have improved safety over the years they are still far far behind.

    This are just some examples of tracks in Spain, many of these are regional tracks, not major locations. Motorsports are dangerous by nature, but just like drivers have adapted to the times and incorporated safer seats, neck restrains etc, tracks should invest in making their facilities safer also. It is rare the weekend this tracks don't have an event going. I would personally be ok paying a bit more if that was the price of improved safety.


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  2. #142
    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    You might think grass is greener in Europe. But it really isn't. Their disregard for safety equipment in hpde is just horrendous.

    4 points (not asm) is the norm. Pool noodle seem to be standard. No. European hpde standard lags the world.
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  3. #143
    Senior Member JulioG's Avatar
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    I do like that you can buy cars with 6-pt systems in Europe off the show room (Porsche GT3/GT4, Megane RS Trophy R, surely others..)

  4. #144
    Junior Member Piripi's Avatar
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    You are mostly right about car and driver safety. But it does depend highly on the organizers.

  5. #145
    Senior Member 48yota's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepass View Post
    Yep, got my defNder re-certified for 5 years last year.

    There is a lot of talk here about w2w organization's requirements (understandably so as a lot of the participants here do w2w), but the problem in question (if any) is HPDE events, where the requirements are very, very minimal. Of the deaths listed previously in this thread, looks like all or most of those were HPDE, not w2w. Discussion over expiration dates, seat-back braces, etc. etc. are all missing the point - that the injuries and deaths are mostly happening at the HPDE level where the only requirements to be on-track are:

    Helmet (Snell/DOT, within date)
    Roll bar (only if convertible, most local orgs don't specify any specs)
    5/6pt harness or ASM 4pt (if stock belt removed)

    I would like to see HPDE orgs add requirements aimed at improper/incomplete safety systems. Something like if you render the factory safety system useless (removal of airbag and/or 3pt seatbelt) then you must have 5/6pt harness, fixed-back seat, and HNRS. No additional burden placed on those with low budgets, they can just stick to the stock belt/airbag until they can afford the bare minimum alternative safety system. But of course, the subject of implementing any further safety requirements has been beaten to death previously by people on both sides of the subject...
    All good points...

    We at AROSC are very adamant about safety, and it is a very big part in our instruction at the schools we put on. We are very big on personal safety in the event an on track issue happens. We place people in the appropriate groups based on experience, not lap times, I would rather pass or get passed by someone that has a lot of experience than someone who is "just" fast. Just because you are fast does not make you good. Yes we have had(told) people leave our events because they were unsafe to themselves or someone else, or refused to either obtain the correct safety gear for the group they were in. For those that don't know, we are also a NOT FOR PROFIT club, so we run these events because we want to, not because we are paid to. HERE is the link to our safety requirements. We do have self tech, yes we do walk the paddock and take a look at cars and setup, and yes we do reserve the right to pull anyone off the track for safety reasons, and we will not let you back on the track until the problem is resolved. For AROSC, it is not worth some ones entry fee to jeopardize someone elses safety.

  6. #146
    Senior Member Caoboy's Avatar
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    I have to agree with SDSU on all of his points. It certainly is a tragic event, and I send my condolences to Ivo's family and those at Renner.

    Don't get me wrong, I am an advocate for safety as well. In my NB, I wore a Defnder (Thanks Eric!), 6 point and FIA seat. However, according to what you guys are saying now, I won't be allowed to drive my new-to-me RX7. The car is 100% stock with its 0 airbags and silly automated seat belt. Although I hate to use Ivo as an example, the car he was driving was fully caged with X door bars, FIA seats, and 5 points harnesses. Would both Ivo and his passenger been any more safe in a 100% stock E46 in this tragic situation?


    You have to remember, this is a HPDE, not a w2w racing event. People sometimes bring their daily drivers out to have fun and learn. Since driving these kinds of events is a privilege, I feel that it is a matter up to the individual to be responsible for his/her own safety, and not be potentially harmful to others, rather than up to the organization. To me this all seems like a knee jerk reaction to an unfortunate event.

    What else can be looked at/done to improve safety? Education? Having tracks make safety improvements to areas of the track?(Don't need to repave T9 at WSIR as an example, but improving barriers around solid objects around the track)

  7. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepass View Post
    I would like to see HPDE orgs add requirements aimed at improper/incomplete safety systems. Something like if you render the factory safety system useless (removal of airbag and/or 3pt seatbelt) then you must have 5/6pt harness, fixed-back seat, and HNRS. No additional burden placed on those with low budgets, they can just stick to the stock belt/airbag until they can afford the bare minimum alternative safety system. But of course, the subject of implementing any further safety requirements has been beaten to death previously by people on both sides of the subject...
    This seems to be a reasonable position to take. If you don't have the budget, then don't touch it until you do, and then do it properly. There doesn't seem to be any reason that I can think of to allow something like a 4pt belt onto a track - it's more expensive than stock, and dangerous, so no one wins. There was a time in my life when I didn't realize 4pt harnesses were worthless, I am guessing many other newbies are in the same boat.
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    No one in particular, but I am just thoroughly amazed at the amount of people justifying that less than MAXIMUM safety being ok.

    True safety is a personal choice. Safety is the responsibility of the driver and not the coordinator. (Beyond track conditions, and even that is more up to the ownership of the actual venue).
    With all of that said... Everyone saying that a drivers choice is up to them for safety, let me rephrase my request I made in an earlier post that got lost in translation into an argument about what should be required to race safely.

    THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE SOMEONE GETTING INTO THEIR CAR LESS THAN 100% SAFE, DO NOT BE THE ARROGANT @$$HOLE, WHO GETS TO BE RIGHT AND SAY... "WELL THEIR SAFETY IS ON THEM".

    DONT BE THAT PERSON. THIS IS OUR MOTORSPORT FAMILY. TAKE OWNERSHIP OF HOW IMPORTANT SAFETY IS, DONT
    Don't be that person. This is OUR motorsport family. Take ownership of how important safety is; even if it's not yours on the line. Make it YOUR JOB to make sure everyone you see is safe. I WILL NOT for one second use my wallet, budget or the budget of a company be the deciding factor for myself.

    SAVE A LIFE. NOT A DOLLAR.

    Keep in mind these safety devices are meant to save your life. NOT your budget.

    Rant over. I apologize, I don't usually do big text blocks. I am very committed to and already taking actions consistent with safety. My request is not for anyone other than everyone at the track to just EDUCATE.
    No promoter or coordinator action required. Make it a point to buy yourself some extra safety gear you thought you didn't need. Worst case scenario, it'll save your life, and you'll get your credit card bill for the equipment.
    Last edited by bronson91; 12-08-2015 at 05:18 PM.

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    I've met Ivo way back in the day when I used to have a Corrado. First time actually at the lookout on Mulholland, and later I was referred to his shop. He always tried to hook me up with this and that, understanding that I was just a student, and didn't have a lot to spend on the car. I haven't spoken to him in recent years, mostly because I sold VW, but it's very unfortunate to hear that he has passed away. Extremely generous guy, passionate about motorsports, great loss all around for everyone who knew him.
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  10. #150
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    You might think grass is greener in Europe. But it really isn't. Their disregard for safety equipment in hpde is just horrendous.

    4 points (not asm) is the norm. Pool noodle seem to be standard. No. European hpde standard lags the world.
    I don't get any points for aftermarket safety equipment but videos like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKWSH-oYdDM#t=1m40s make me leery of tracks where it is very simple to crash straight into an non-cushioned wall at race speed. I am not sure how you can design a safety system (OEM or aftermarket) that can ever manage those kinds of loads.

    On the other hand, this very unfortunate incident shows how a high deceleration scenario can still happen at a track that I normally think of as basically pretty safe.

  11. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by fe4 View Post
    I don't get any points for aftermarket safety equipment but videos like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKWSH-oYdDM#t=1m40s make me leery of tracks where it is very simple to crash straight into an non-cushioned wall at race speed. I am not sure how you can design a safety system (OEM or aftermarket) that can ever manage those kinds of loads.

    On the other hand, this very unfortunate incident shows how a high deceleration scenario can still happen at a track that I normally think of as basically pretty safe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulioG View Post
    I don't think any HPDE organization outside of NASA/SCCA regularly techs the cars, safety gear rules aren't any good if they are not enforced.
    First of all, I'm so sorry for what their families and the SoCal community are going through now.

    Hope I'm not repeating the following as I'm late to this thread. As to HPDEs that actively tech, Audi Club NorCal and SoCal (I instruct for both) require all cars to be teched before the event by a "qualified mechanic" or they get teched at the track. All cars except instructors - they self tech. Even if the car has been teched previously, safety items (including helmet SA status), tire state and lug torque will be checked on all cars at the track tech. Tech staff usually includes service technicians from some of the sponsoring Audi dealers and indie shops.

    I've gotten through about 1/2 of this thread, and thank you to all for all the great information. I'll hold any comments or questions until I fully catch up.
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  13. #153
    Senior Member Silversprint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billybobster View Post
    First of all, I'm so sorry for what their families and the SoCal community are going through now.

    Hope I'm not repeating the following as I'm late to this thread. As to HPDEs that actively tech, Audi Club NorCal and SoCal (I instruct for both) require all cars to be teched before the event by a "qualified mechanic" or they get teched at the track. All cars except instructors - they self tech. Even if the car has been teched previously, safety items (including helmet SA status), tire state and lug torque will be checked on all cars at the track tech. Tech staff usually includes service technicians from some of the sponsoring Audi dealers and indie shops.

    I've gotten through about 1/2 of this thread, and thank you to all for all the great information. I'll hold any comments or questions until I fully catch up.
    Honestly almost all the fatalities that occurred were unrelated to tech. How many clubs require HNR for HPDE cars with race harnesses?

    There are clubs that recommended 5point harness in time trial/hpde classes without HNR or even a race seat. I use to see cars pass tech with harnesses draped over the sides of stock seats.

    A modern street car is probably safer in HPDE if you just leave all the safety equipment alone. Most of the hpde cars are street driven cars anyway.
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  14. #154
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    I am from Boston, and when I attended autocross events, there is a mandatory tech before EACH event. You get in a line and the organizers tech each car, yanking on wheels to make sure wheels bearings aren't completely dead, battery to make sure it doesn't move around, verify that the car is completely free from anything that can come loose, any fluid leaks, no floormats, etc...

    At a track, they also do the mandatory tech inspection. If you are a beginner at a track, an instructor drives YOUR car and shows you the line for the first session at like 50-70%.

    If you don't pass tech, you don't get your money back, you don't get to drive. It is your responsibility to bring a car that will at least pass tech.

    I was pretty shocked attending events in California where they don't even mandate 100% cotton long sleeve shirts or pants at the minimum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BANKAI View Post

    At a track, they also do the mandatory tech inspection. If you are a beginner at a track, an instructor drives YOUR car and shows you the line for the first session at like 50-70%.

    If you don't pass tech, you don't get your money back, you don't get to drive. It is your responsibility to bring a car that will at least pass tech.

    I was pretty shocked attending events in California where they don't even mandate 100% cotton long sleeve shirts or pants at the minimum.
    I instruct here in Atlanta. I would NEVER drive a pupil's car. I stopped recently because I had serious safety concerns before an event at Road Atlanta. I worked the event in the paddock and at registration. That, too, scared the crap out of me for other safety concerns. I discussed it with the promoter and other instructors and we are having a sit-down this offseason to address them.

    The level of safety depends on the promoter in SOCAL, as previously mentioned. Some have better reputations than others.
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  16. #156
    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Yep. Elaborate HPDE tech is largely a waste of time. The world is not going to end if your brake fluid is a little cloudy.

    Would be much more effective to spell out harness requirements and ask people to send pics if they aren't sure.

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    From an organizer's perspective, to tech all participants' cars can open the organization up to potential law sues. It's pushing all responsibility on the tech person, because the tech guy had signed off on it.

    It is always written in the rules when people sign up to agree with the rules, but how many actually reads all the rules before clicking agree?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Force McCocken View Post
    I instruct here in Atlanta. I would NEVER drive a pupil's car. I stopped recently because I had serious safety concerns before an event at Road Atlanta. I worked the event in the paddock and at registration. That, too, scared the crap out of me for other safety concerns. I discussed it with the promoter and other instructors and we are having a sit-down this offseason to address them.

    The level of safety depends on the promoter in SOCAL, as previously mentioned. Some have better reputations than others.
    With Audi NorCal and SoCal and HOD NorCal, for absolute first-timers, the instructor does two laps in the student's car in the first session, then we swap. But it's at 50% for the instructor (namely slow) and the reason is to give the first timer a feeling for being on track, plus the instructor points out where the flag stations are while driving the classroom line. I think it's a good thing. First timers brains are on 100% cognitive overload that first session (mine was), so you want to get a few words in first. At Audi Club and HOD, first timers also do classroom and cone exercises before they get on track.
    Last edited by billybobster; 12-09-2015 at 02:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 48yota View Post
    All good points...

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    Another cool thing about arosc.org is that anything you don't pickup at a trackday can be taught and trained and perfected at their 3 level driving school.

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    I didn't write anything because I wanted to see how the thread evolved but I'll chime in.

    I was the second car behind Ivo when the car went into the tire barrier. My exact thought was "Car is caged, I see harnesses, he's gonna be just fine" and then we got the red flag. I pulled off track and when I heard the news I didn't know what to think. Let's just say it was a very weird form of shock, considering how I'd assumed that even though he was prepared, the absolute worst occurred.

    Would the halo seat have saved him? It was a side impact so would the HANS have helped? I don't know - I'm not an expert.

    Someone in the thread earlier said it best - sometimes you just need to go off. You can't/won't save them all. This is a case where ego/trying to save the car got the better of a good driver. I don't say this to be insensitive, but the car could have just gone off when he went 2 off on the exit of the esses.

    Some laps just aren't worth it. And sometimes you can't be prepared enough.

    I still don't know how to feel about it. It's just a ****ty situation.
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