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Thread: HPDE Student / Instructor safety discussion

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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif emilio700's Avatar
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    Default HPDE Student / Instructor safety discussion

    I'm pleased that this elephant-in-the-room topic is regularly discussed. I like Ross Bentley's idea of creating a national organization that qualifies instructors. The nationwide habit of HPDE promoters bartering with barely qualified HPDE customers to trade "coaching" for seat time without thoroughly training or vetting them has never sat well with me.

    On the Brink - Track-Day Coaching is Unacceptably Dangerous - Road & Track
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    Great topic. Serious question: how do they do it in Europe?
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    Nice article, but it doesn't answer all of these questions, which I think any good analysis should do.

    What is the problem.
    What is causing the problem?
    What is the solution that solves the problem?
    What arguments would opponents to the solution make? Why are they wrong?

    It's an interesting subject. How many people have died, on average, every year in the USA from HPDE? How many people do not die from HPDE a year? How many instances of contact leading to injury or property damage on track in HPDE? Those numbers would be mandatory in defining the problem. All I've seen in discussions is anecdotal evidence. Maybe the numbers are not available.

    I'd be in favor of OPTIONAL instructor training via national organization, but as is the case with driving, I believe there is no replacement for experience as the #1 tool for making better instructors. Until a problem is demonstrated, I still think it's a personal decision for the driver and instructor.
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    Address student driver attitudes and you'll solve 90% of the problems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ETK View Post
    Great topic. Serious question: how do they do it in Europe?
    European track day is not safe at all. not even close to our standard here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeColangelo View Post
    Address student driver attitudes and you'll solve 90% of the problems.
    We're listening..
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    Last year I started karate lessons and I attended 10 classes. I was so good that I decided to start teaching karate. Many of my students are teaching karate now also. If anyone wants to know anything about advanced karate techniques or how to defend yourselves in life threatening situations feel free to ask. I'm an expert in the field.
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    Over 10 years ago, I had only run my first track day. When I got ready for my second track day, I had some friends who wanted to come out too, so I contacted the very well known owner (who shall remain nameless) of a very well known HPDE organizing group in California, and explained what I was looking for, and could we get a group discount. He offered free timing, and without knowing my level of experience, he asked me if I wanted to instruct at the event. I think he is more careful now . . .
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    Track driving is a preventable cause of death and injury and should be outlawed with guns, bow and arrows, and lawn darts. Writers of Safety police articles intending to sensationalize instead of provide solutions can go pound sand. Unfortunately, we will always be legislated by people who have no understanding of what we do because "they" know what is best for us. Think about that the next time you vote.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatbillybob View Post
    Track driving is a preventable cause of death and injury and should be outlawed with guns, bow and arrows, and lawn darts. Writers of Safety police articles intending to sensationalize instead of provide solutions can go pound sand. Unfortunately, we will always be legislated by people who have no understanding of what we do because "they" know what is best for us. Think about that the next time you vote.
    Calm down, Dr. NRA. I am not aware of any U.S. State that is planning to outlaw driving on road courses . . .
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    I'll be honest, since our recent threads of late my policy towards instructing much less sitting anyone has changed quite a bit drastically.

    I pretty much just don't do it anymore.
    Do you understand?

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    To easy to be labelled an advanced driver and somehow qualified to teach others. A big problem is self promotion to advanced status.

    When I hosted a couple of private track days we tried to hand pick my instructors. Most had some type of instructor school training. It also meant turning down some instructor volunteers because we were unsure of their qualifications.

    I also no longer ride in anyone's car that I don't know any more. I especially try to avoid beginners with lap timers in track competitions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silversprint View Post
    To easy to be labelled an advanced driver and somehow qualified to teach others. A big problem is self promotion to advanced status.

    When I hosted a couple of private track days we tried to hand pick my instructors. Most had some type of instructor school training. It also meant turning down some instructor volunteers because we were unsure of their qualifications.

    I also no longer ride in anyone's car that I don't know any more. I especially try to avoid beginners with lap timers in track competitions.
    You run a damn good event. Shame you don't host more.

    I think a big problem of it is "Beginner with lap timers." When I started out it was all I cared about. I still do to some extent - but I know my limits and i know not to do anything stupid, and have a far better understanding of what I am doing and how fast I am doing it. You'll go fast when you're prepared for it. And if you're not, you're not ready. Simple as that. The envelope for pushing your car and your skill to the next level is not that large - thats why it takes years of discipline and practice to become fast. This stuff doesn't happen overnight and beginners just don't get it.
    Do you understand?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard EVO View Post
    Calm down, Dr. NRA. I am not aware of any U.S. State that is planning to outlaw driving on road courses . . .
    You say that now. A hundred years ago I'm sure people thinking about gun control thought the same thing. Heck our rights to bear arms are even protected by the Constitution and legally an individual right as decided by the Supreme court. But now we are getting closer and closer to only accepting the part of the Constitution we think politically correct. How long do you think it will take before race cars are thought of as gas guzzling, resource wasting, environmentally damaging, carbon producing raving antics of Neanderthals by the prius and leaf zero EV crowd who gain more and more political might everyday?

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    Carl - Your view of the current state of our Constitutional rights and mine are so different, that I would like to invite you out for lunch sometime soon so that we can debate these issues. At least we agree that the U.S. Constitution is important, although my focus is on the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments, while your focus seems to be entirely on the 2nd Amendment. Seriously, since we are both in the South Bay, let's get together and talk about something else besides car racing . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by fatbillybob View Post
    You say that now. A hundred years ago I'm sure people thinking about gun control thought the same thing. Heck our rights to bear arms are even protected by the Constitution and legally an individual right as decided by the Supreme court. But now we are getting closer and closer to only accepting the part of the Constitution we think politically correct. How long do you think it will take before race cars are thought of as gas guzzling, resource wasting, environmentally damaging, carbon producing raving antics of Neanderthals by the prius and leaf zero EV crowd who gain more and more political might everyday?
    Last edited by Richard EVO; 09-02-2014 at 10:11 PM.
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    I am not really sure what the answer to the challenge posed is. Having a technical understanding of driving is only a part of the story at any level of motorsports, and not always a necessary one. Building safety into procedures can only go so far when many of the participants, including organizers, are not that good at driving (or teaching driving - different things, but either way).

    Driving fast is dangerous. It doesn't sound to me that the GTO fatality at Summit Point was some gross failure of the system - a woopsie power oversteer moment is something that is destined to happen even with a clever seat warmer or spotter. Articles like the one linked say ESC should be left on for students - which in practice I like, since teaching reference points and lines while additionally teaching car control at the same time is exceptionally hard. But that kind of strategy only makes the student a greater danger to themselves when they turn it off after learning to depend on it.
    Last edited by fe4; 09-02-2014 at 10:59 PM.

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    While I have only driven in a couple of auto crosses, I was asked to instruct at the national Z Car convention autocross a couple of weeks ago. I agreed, since there would be many entrants who had never driven an autocross, and had little or no idea of what to do. Turned out to be a fun experience, and it is pretty difficult to get in trouble on a big flat parking lot and never getting out of second gear.

    What I found interesting a about it, most of the people I rode with were hesitant to put their foot into the gas. One guy progressed very nicely each session, starting off very slow, and knocking a second or so off his time each he drove the course. There was probably another 5-6 seconds in his car (he did 72 second, and fastest time of day was around 63 seconds with a very prepped car).

    What was interesting about this was that at relatively low speeds, the drivers were generally not very aggressive, even though the worst that could happen was to maybe spin or hit a few cones. This is in contrast to track events, where it seems the instructees are often the opposite - too aggressive, fail to follow simple instructions, want to go too fast, etc.

    We have had instructors drop out from too many rides with too many bad drivers. There is also a tendency to not want to drive someone else's car, especially if there is any concern about the levels of preparation. I will occasionally take a instructee out for a ride in a known car for a session, and pull into the hot pits several times to discuss what we have been doing. In general, I have learned to be very careful who I will ride with.

    I think our driving schools do a much better job of preparing drivers for track events. Could be because they not only get track time, but they also get skid pad exercises, and 4-5 hours of classroom time, where stuff can be drilled into their brains! You are not going to get that amount of mental focus at an HPDE or track day event.

    Should have mentioned, all of our instructors are W2W racers, with a lot of years under their belts. We have members who have a lot of W2W race experience, but that just don't have the personality or people skills to be selected as instructors.
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    Europe is a completely different animal. Just getting a drivers license takes a lot more instruction and time behind the wheel.

    It's true I have seen some instructors over the years, that were not qualified to instruct. But then again, I have seem some instructors that were great instructors, but not the best drives.

    To me I find instructing fun and challenging. Sure, any one can tell you Brake brake brake, turn in, apex, roll on the power..... blah blah blah.
    The challenge for me is, trying to find a way to communicate to the student so that they will retain the information.

    As far as safety goes. I'm very picky on the vehicles I sit in and the attitude of that driver how they respond to instruction. I'm also very very picky about who's car I will drive to show the line. If they are just not getting it. I will try to take them in my car (or barrow one for the session).

    There have been a few people that just would not lesson, or thought they were better, of just gods gift. But those were few and far between. My thing has been, If I don't feel safe. I get out. If some one refuses to take instruction after s few different tactics are tried. I get out and try to find another instructor that may get along better. Still, **** can happen. But then **** can happen anywhere, on or off the track.

    As for some organized bunch of people giving instructors instruction. I feel it's like ASC testing. I know many the are many "ASC Master Tech's out there that do not know how to do a repair on the simplest problems.

    I do agree that this needs to be addressed. The sport is evolving and so should we.
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    I don't think it is more dangerous today than say 10 years ago (I actually think it is a lot safer, due to higher safety standard and safer cars). we have LOT more track days now, yet death rate is very low (every incident gets publicized). Cars are also making 3x the whp from 80's.
    I bet more people get killed driving to tracks than getting killed on track. I still remember a few scary drives through Tejon Pass during rain storm. most track cars on bold NT01 can't even make it through at 40mph.

    you guys are expecting HPDE "instructors" to be awesome drivers. They really are just baby sitting noobs and making sure they don't crash. That's their 95% of their job. teaching really is secondary.

    w2w racers are also way over-rated. they do not make better instructors than HPDE drivers, heck, they don't make better drivers, period. I can get a w2w comp license on my 3rd track days, yet I doubt any of you have gotten to HPDE red on your 3rd track days.

    my 2 cents.
    Last edited by bellwilliam; 09-03-2014 at 12:15 AM.
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    I don't enjoy instructing anymore. I have had issues with video gamers not translating real-world physics onto real tarmac, then getting butt-hurt when they aren't cleared to advance THAT DAY.

    If I do instruct, yes my primary goal is to keep them from being stupid, but it is also to make them relax. The hardest challenge is to get a new driver over their fear/adrenaline/technical details so they can primarily get accustomed to the environment. I will also run in the intermediate group with a few other instructors staggered on the track to pace the field and encourage safe passing. I don't run advanced because I don't have the safety gear I need to push my car to that level.

    I have also scared people away for tracking their cars. The primary bit is when I say,"if you aren't prepared to write off the entire cost of this vehicle today, you shouldn't be out there." That seems contrary to making them relax, but it more often than not drives home the message that this isn't the place to be ****ing around.
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