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    Default How to improve HPDE events

    Moving my post regarding HPDE improvements here. Not fair to clutter up the other thread with my diatribe.

    It has been interesting watching my daughter progress through the HPDE process. She has run with several organizations now. We've talked extensively before/after these events to help educate her on risks, track ettiquite, when to go fast, when to be cautious, etc. It has been amazing to me how weak the instructors have been. It really is a wide gaping hole that someday the lawyers will dive into.

    Items that would be of value to me and worth paying a bit more for IMO as I'd really like my daughter back at the end of the day:

    1) Mandatory ground school (via webinar perhaps? ). This could cover the basics along with a track specific discussion of the danger areas, exit, entry, and etc., of a particular track as a start.

    2) Mandatory study guide / quiz (graded p/f?) that a hpde candidate, or an existing hpde driver looking to move up, must complete BEFORE the event. Cover flags, early vs late apex, braking technique, track etiquette, how to be passed, how to go off safely (both feet in!), etc.

    There is way too much adrenaline and nervousness for a newbie to absorb everything in the pretrack briefings. Don't discontinue that morning meeting but augment it with pre-track day material to help the driver embed the key points in their brain before they get to the track. The participants will be much more relaxed and take the adrenaline down a notch which will help them learn and make better decisions on track.

    3) Improve / professionalize the instructors. The organizations should have an instructor ground school. Period. End of discussion. Teach the teachers. Give these people a process and a message to pass on to the students. The instruction has been all over the place with the organizations we've run with.

    4) Strict criteria/grading for moving a participant to the next run group. Miss 7 of 8 apexes... fail. Make the decision impersonal just like a dmv driving test.

    I'm sure there is tons more that can be done. I'd like to hear from the group how hpde events can be made safer and more enjoyable. I know the Extreme Speeds and Speed Ventures of the world are listening in so your input here could really help.

    Sorry for the rambling reply but this is really a sore point for me right now.

    Mark
    Last edited by markn; 08-20-2015 at 07:31 PM.
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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    For the purpose of this discussion should we assume/pretend the orgs are motivated to spend time/money on this?

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    If they want lower insurance rates (and the ability to continue to do business) then absolutely. Build it into the cost structure. None of the things I mentioned would cost that much anyway. Certainly the cost of these items would be fars less than a single law suit or the cost of going out of business. In terms of motivation - as a customer I would be far more likely to spend my money with an organization taking these steps vs one that chooses not to.

    Mark
    Last edited by markn; 08-20-2015 at 07:49 PM.
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    Not Certified Slow SDSUsnowboards's Avatar
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    Your assuming lower insurance rates will follow the implementation of your suggestions.
    And that assumptions assumes that your suggestions will decrease the number of incidents (property damage, personal injury, and death law-suits).

    I don't think any of those assumptions are necessarily true.
    I do agree with #3 though. Extreme Speed in particular could benefit from *some* consistency. When I first began instructing there, I had to go out of my way to figure out what instructors are supposed to do, having never been instructed myself. A checklist is all that is needed.

    I also like your DMV idea. Have an instructor ride-along and do a "test." One test per day for each person who wants to move up a run group.

    But, it comes down to man-power. The above are good ideas in theory. but, again, I don't feel there is a problem that needs fixing. The only problem I've encountered is inattentive drivers who won't let me pass, those pricks.
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    This is a tough issue. In general, I don't like lots and lots of regulation in life, but also understand that sometimes it is necessary. Unfortunately, once it gets started in a particular area, it never stops, and can get worse.

    We (AROSC) used to have a pretty strict set of safety requirements, and we were strict about placing people in run groups. We used to require ALL cars to have 5 or 6 point harnesses and fire extinguishers, and have always required natural fiber clothing neck to wrists to ankles, and real gloves. We still run a "tight ship" as to driver monitoring and policing when we run our own track events.

    Unfortunately, the economy took a dive, which forced us into some partnering agreements that have rested in loss of some of our drivers due to on-track safety concerns. The other factor, which I believe is a bigger one, is that the sport has taken a big turn from "marque-centric" clubs sponsoring track days to their enthusiast members to one of a number of "for profit" track day organizers. Not saying all the track day organizers are bad, just that they attract drivers with a wide range of abilities (or not).

    The marque-based organizations I have spoken to have difficulty getting track dates any more. We shoot for 4-6 track weekends and 1-2 driving schools a year, spread over a number of tracks. When we ask for a weekend at Buttonwillow, and another group comes in and says they want 10 weekends there, who do you think is going to get priority?

    I don't think much will change until there is some major law suit that forces the change, or until the insurance lobby forces the tracks to establish safety requirements.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDSUsnowboards View Post
    I don't feel there is a problem that needs fixing. The only problem I've encountered is inattentive drivers who won't let me pass, those pricks.
    I feel the opposite. I think there are a lot of accidents waiting to happen. It is easy to say that you don't care if some driver goes out and kills themselves. Let them do it off the track via a Darwin Award stunt, and let's keep the track safe for the rest of the drivers, and occasional passengers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDSUsnowboards View Post
    Your assuming lower insurance rates will follow the implementation of your suggestions.
    And that assumptions assumes that your suggestions will decrease the number of incidents (property damage, personal injury, and death law-suits).
    Lower insurance - who can say. Costs will likely be determined by the hpde industry as a whole. What will happen though is that people like me (and the people I encourage to join this sport) will gravitate towards organizations that have done their due diligence in making the event as safe and rewarding as possible. All this may seem like a waste of time to those that are comfortable with the existing state of things. I was in the same boat until I had the chance to see the hpde world from the eyes of a novice.

    Back on topic - how can hpde safety be improved?
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    Senior Member Silversprint's Avatar
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    HPDE is about money. More drivers equals more money. The least obstacles for the participants the more drivers attend. Open track day organizers are constantly fight for the same drivers.

    Here's the problem:

    An organization has a bunch of rules and hoops to jump through then drivers go with another organization

    Insurance company puts in a bunch of new rules organizers buy from another insurer.

    Tracks put in a bunch of rules. Organizers can't run there because their driver don't register.

    During the 2008 economic crash we saw several track day organization with strict safety rules disappear or others that had to reduce their restriction to attract street cars and stay in business.
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    Insurance rates for hpde is cheap in comparison. A similar limit policy for an anesthesia or ob/gyn is 10x higher than the price of a track organizer policy.

    Insurance rates are really about the scope of injury and if anyone was actually at fault. The driver signed a waiver and knows he is putting himself at risk. Insurance companies don't care if you die. They only care if there is high likelihood of a lawsuit.
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    Speaking of the economy... the economic downturn around the corner is certainly going to impact the sport. Expect reduced attendance to HPDE/W2W/Autox as soon as the stock market crashes (it's already going down..)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silversprint View Post
    Insurance rates for hpde is cheap in comparison. A similar limit policy for an anesthesia or ob/gyn is 10x higher than the price of a track organizer policy.
    It is interesting that base insurance for a track day is reasonable, but you have to add 25-35% if you are going to have a race group. Can't speak for SCCA or NASA, but for our track events, the race group is pretty much the safest group on the track. It is the novices that seem to bang up their cars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silversprint View Post
    Insurance rates for hpde is cheap in comparison. A similar limit policy for an anesthesia or ob/gyn is 10x higher than the price of a track organizer policy.

    Insurance rates are really about the scope of injury and if anyone was actually at fault. The driver signed a waiver and knows he is putting himself at risk. Insurance companies don't care if you die. They only care if there is high likelihood of a lawsuit.
    The fact that track day insurance is relatively cheap compared to other insurance policies is a representation of the level of risk the insurance companies perceive. The insurance companies have whole departments who measure the risk, compare the payout vs. the revenue they are making and adjust their pricing accordingly. Most of these companies have been providing this insurance for 10 plus years, more than enough time to validate their pricing model.

    To answer the question about how risky is a track day... I would venture it is not that risky for the insurance company based upon the rates. Granted some of the payouts are limited by strong waiver protections, even fighting lawsuits will drive rates up, but the lawsuit count must be relatively low.

    Let me offer a comparison. 20 years ago went to a pool supply store to buy new diving board spring for my swimming pool of the house I just bought. The spring was broken and I figured I would fix it. The spring was $600 and that was 20 years ago. I asked why and the guy said $400 of it is insurance because so many people hurt themselves on diving boards. I think that is some anecdotal proof that swimming pools are perhaps more risk than a track day... at least if you are an insurance company.

    Everyone needs to calm down. Track days are under no risk due to injury and loss from what I have seen over the years. The bigger threat is automotive regulation, carbon tax progressive legislation, and a changing millennium generation that would rather race on their digital platform than the petro powered platform.
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    JJ1
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    I couldn't read this whole thread, but literally everything you mentioned in the first post is offered by several organizations. It's up to you (the consumer) to choose which org you run with. I agree that a simple test to reinforce what most already know (but don't always abide by) would be positive for advancing run groups. I don't think it would deter many people from coming out and would encourage people to follow basic track etiquette.
    Last edited by JJ1; 08-21-2015 at 05:50 AM.

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    The three orgs that we've run with had pretty much nothing other than the am orientation meeting. I know the POC is fairly structured but we haven't run with them. Early on I was a hpde junky. I only started racing after almost getting killed a few times from people going off track and coming back on and once from a driver who spun off to the outside in sunset at BW (CW) who then decided it was time to drive into the pit entrance. Racing turned out to be much safer than hpde. Asking new participants to do a little homework before getting to the track and having consistent instruction available isn't going to break the bank and will make things safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

    So things are fine the way they are is what I am hearing. I love the sport but surely there is room for improvement.
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    I started doing track days in '08 and that was with POC. I went through their HPDE system which required 3 days with an instructor in the car and one of their schools to get signed off to drive by yourself. At the time they didn't allow Miatas to participate in TT so I went to NASA and MC with Speed Ventures.

    I also feel safer in a race group than an HPDE group.
    Last edited by Red_5; 08-21-2015 at 09:49 AM.
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    Kam
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    Stop trying to make HPDE events into Driving Schools.

    HPDEs are about getting as much track time as possible, with the side benefit of having some instruction.
    Driving Schools are about getting as much instruction as possible, with the side benefit of having some track time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kam View Post
    Stop trying to make HPDE events into Driving Schools.

    HPDEs are about getting as much track time as possible, with the side benefit of having some instruction.
    Driving Schools are about getting as much instruction as possible, with the side benefit of having some track time.
    Wait, what does HPDE stand for again? It's on the tip of my tongue but I can't seem to remember.
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    Kam
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red_5 View Post
    Wait, what does HPDE stand for again? It's on the tip of my tongue but I can't seem to remember.
    I know of three:
    High Performance Driving Experience
    High Performance Driving Event
    High Performance Driving Education

    None of which involve a stand alone school, like Skip Barber, Ron Fellows, or other schools that work towards a race license. I doubt anyone has ever gotten a competition/race license by attending three HPDEs.

    Edit: Just to clarify, I'm not disagreeing/agreeing with you, just added more to the mix.
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    I thought it was High Performance Driving Event. Which is a bit of a misnomer, because it's mostly Miatas, and Miata and Performance go together like racial equity and law enforcement.
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    NASA is probably the most structured organization out there and has a rulebook bigger than the yellowbook. Rules and regulations and policies. You don't see them low on participation count. People still go with them and compete in their TT classes with a ton of rules. Same with the W2W classes. People still race with them. So with that said, i don't think rules will necessarily push people away.

    People want cheap, organized, safe, lots of seat time/session track days. So no crazy drivers driving with reckless abandon doing stunts all over the place. They want it affordable, not cheap. I am sure people will pay $30 extra if it includes FIRE, Ambulance, insurance. Hell people pay $20 just to rent a transponder and $10 gate fees just like that. $100-200 is the magic number. People will come play in that price range.
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