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Thread: HPDE Student / Instructor safety discussion

  1. #21
    Overcooker F@ck's Avatar
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    One late afternoon about a year ago the event coordinator came up to me and said he needed my help. My immediate question was "Do I have to lift anything?" He said "no" so I was all ears. I don't like to lift anything heavier than wicker.

    He wanted me to instruct a driver. I said OK and met the guy. Asked what he was driving. We got in the car and I asked how many track days he'd had. He said it was his very first one. I said great! Congratulations and welcome. Today is my 6th track day. Let's go!

    I don't mind instructing because people did it for me. I spent my first 5 track days with an instructor for every session. In all I probably had input from 9 different people and was able to assemble a solid foundation to work with. I got quick fast and I love sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm with others.

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    The Real Captain Slow Red_5's Avatar
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    I started track driving with POC and I like the way they introduce people to the track driving. You must have 3 POC track days with a trained instructor in your car plus one POC driving school day. I did one SV day which only ended up being a couple of sessions because I had a mechanical issue in between my POC days and felt strange being on track by myself. I think NASA is similar but I started in HPDE 3 with them.

    I've only instructed once and it was for a guy in a GTR, just helping him learn 13CW at BRP. We had a talk before hand about how he was to drive because I really didn't want to die. He was fine and hopefully I helped him some. I don't do much instructing because I don't really feel safe in most non-race cars plus I've never been trained as an instructor and not sure how much I can help someone else. I would like to help others since I've been helped by others but I usually don't feel safe enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by emilio700 View Post
    We're listening..
    OK, I'll play but I'm sure it's what you already know.

    Student driver attitude issues (in no particular order):
    1. Lack of discipline on the track (follow the rules, obey the flags, know the line, etc.)
    2. Red mist - it's NOT racing!!! <-- This isn't stressed enough
    3. Failure to take classroom instruction seriously (put away your freakin' iPhone and pay attention!!!)
    4. Lack of maturity (this applies to adults of ALL ages, IMHO)
    5. Lack of on-track courtesy (e.g., don't be a jerk)

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    There's some truth to the old hippie saying, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem". Here's my partial solution:

    Track day organizations might consider having a cadre of vetted and qualified drivers (not necessarily instructors) with suitable cars who would be willing to take new drivers as passengers and show them the line and how track operations function (e.g., hot pit, track entry, point-bys, track exit, etc.). Perhaps just 2 or 3 laps at a modest speed. Nothing crazy, and maybe no more than 8/10s.

    By chance, this is what happened to me at my very first track day. A Honda Challenge driver took me out for a few laps at SOW in his S2000 and showed me the line and gave me various pointers before I took to the track in my own car. I learned a lot in just a few laps as a passenger.

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    Senior Member fatbillybob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard EVO View Post
    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 . . .
    Ok we can have that discussion. It will start with the 2nd ensures the rest. I can't help but remember history of how the Jews gave up thier basic human rights to Nazi Germany. This is thread drift we can take elsewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeColangelo View Post
    There's some truth to the old hippie saying, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem". Here's my partial solution:

    Track day organizations might consider having a cadre of vetted and qualified drivers (not necessarily instructors) with suitable cars who would be willing to take new drivers as passengers and show them the line and how track operations function (e.g., hot pit, track entry, point-bys, track exit, etc.). Perhaps just 2 or 3 laps at a modest speed. Nothing crazy, and maybe no more than 8/10s.

    By chance, this is what happened to me at my very first track day. A Honda Challenge driver took me out for a few laps at SOW in his S2000 and showed me the line and gave me various pointers before I took to the track in my own car. I learned a lot in just a few laps as a passenger.
    Just to chime in here:

    AROSC has a pool of certified instructors that has a list of requirements to accomplish prior to signoff, not just because you ran a fast lap. All of the AROSC instructors have their race license and all are W2W racers. We do allow passengers from our licensed drivers to give other licensed drivers a ride showing them their line, if there is a passenger in a non licensed drivers car it is an instructor. To become a licensed driver with AROSC is a pretty detailed process...take a school, attend 3-5 events with no incidents(an off in an incident), attend the classroom sessions during the events, and you will probably get a license. We place you in specific run groups based on experience, not based on lap times. Just because someone can run a 1:39 at willow does not mean that they can safely pass someone else trying to get that time.

    There are ocassionaly mole instructors in the groups looking for overly agressive drivers or drivers that make bonehead moves that are not allowed in specific groups. So just to sum it up, there are clubs out there that are trying hard to make it as safe as possible for everyone. Yes, we do kick drivers out of events for not playing by the rules, we do pull licenses and enforce the re-licensing process, we do ban drivers for life for continual unsafe driving.

    If you have never run with AROSC come out and see that we are a group of great people. No you dont need an Alfa to run with us.

    See you at the track!
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    Why is ther the assumption that "instructors" are teaching people to drive faster or outside their abilities increasing chances for bad outcomes?

    If a lot of attention is directed at the newbie with his Porsche BMW etc going out on track the first time isn't just about any regular trackday driver good enough to help the newbie learn the rules of the road to be safe? Stuff like not leaving the pits and rushing into the racing line, how to exit a track, how to be aware of corner stations, and just be a second pair of eyes to a newbie still trying to learn the left's and rights of a track. If a white flag comes out the instructor reminds the newbie what that means and how to respond.

    Bteaching driving instructor trying to improve laptimes is a whole different animal. Keeping drivers safe is completely different from teaching how to exploit risk.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCalAlfa View Post
    ...attend 3-5 events with no incidents(an off in an incident)
    That rules out everyone from TrackHQ from ever getting an Alfa race license.....
    To the right of The Sheriff. Isn't everyone?

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    In car instructors and safety, an excellent subject to discuss and explore. Unfortunately this article misses the point entirely.

    I agree with Jack Baruth’s premise that in car instructing can be dangerous and instructors should be better vetted by organizations before letting them loose on novices, but he seems to not understand “the problem” even though he alludes to it.
    According to him there is must be an epidemic of instructor deaths based on the following quotes.

    “In the wake of the most recent death of a track-day instructor, Kenneth W. Novinger, who passed away in June following injuries sustained at Summit Point Raceway…
    Stop right there. The words "most recent death" are a problem. The fact that well-respected, level-headed voices are calling for the closure or redesign of several famous tracks—despite excellent safety records in club and professional racing—is a problem.
    Too many "instructors" in too many car and track-day clubs simply aren't up to the task.


    Mr. Baruth had previously written a similar article following the death of Sean Edwards in a crash in Australia while instructing a student. Keep in mind it was a private day with a professional racing driver tutoring another racing driver in a fully race prepped Porsche. So he has two instances of in car instructors dying in crashes.

    Okay, how does Mr. Baruth know that Mr. Novinger’s skill set was not up to the task? Does he know Mr. Novinger’s experience and credential’s? Was it a lack of instructor skills that caused the student to spin while coming out of a turn that killed him, or was it the tree that was out in the open that was the culprit?
    How about Sean Edwards, was a lack of experience or training the cause his death?

    I know of another instructor death that occurred at Carolina Motorsport Park in 2010 at a PCA event. In this instance a caged Porsche hit fluid on the track on a check out ride and slid into the trees, one of which penetrated the car and killed the instructor.

    In both the Summit Point and CMP crashes, a tree next to the track was responsible for the death of the instructor. As for the Sean Edwards crash I was unable to find a final cause but speculation centered on a stuck throttle.

    The point of the article should have been why are there not barriers between the driving surface and any nearby trees? Which is what Mr. Baruth alluded to but did not elaborate.
    “ The fact that well-respected, level-headed voices are calling for the closure or redesign of several famous tracks—despite excellent safety records in club and professional racing—is a problem.”

    So there are three examples of instructor deaths that were most likely not caused by a lack of instructor training, instructor ability or lack of safety equipment, but rather by trees or a mechanical issue combined with an immovable wall.

    So I ask, how would better training and vetting of in car instructors prevented deaths in these three incidents?

    Mr. Baruth states “despite excellent safety records in club and professional racing—is a problem.”

    So in his view deaths on track are occurring only to poorly trained instructors and no one else who drives on track?
    Really?
    If that were the case maybe we should end all HPDE’s and track days and just go racing because they have great safety records….
    bellwilliam likes this.

  10. #30
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    Here is what I choose to hear:

    Quote Originally Posted by shlbygt View Post
    just go racing because they have great safety records….
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeColangelo View Post
    OK, I'll play but I'm sure it's what you already know.

    Student driver attitude issues (in no particular order):
    1. Lack of discipline on the track (follow the rules, obey the flags, know the line, etc.)
    2. Red mist - it's NOT racing!!! <-- This isn't stressed enough
    3. Failure to take classroom instruction seriously (put away your freakin' iPhone and pay attention!!!)
    4. Lack of maturity (this applies to adults of ALL ages, IMHO)
    5. Lack of on-track courtesy (e.g., don't be a jerk)
    Those are the problems yes. Do you propose solutions?
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    Quote Originally Posted by emilio700 View Post
    Those are the problems yes. Do you propose solutions?
    Did you not read my other post?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeColangelo View Post
    OK, I'll play but I'm sure it's what you already know.

    Student driver attitude issues (in no particular order):
    1. Lack of discipline on the track (follow the rules, obey the flags, know the line, etc.)
    2. Red mist - it's NOT racing!!! <-- This isn't stressed enough
    3. Failure to take classroom instruction seriously (put away your freakin' iPhone and pay attention!!!)
    4. Lack of maturity (this applies to adults of ALL ages, IMHO)
    5. Lack of on-track courtesy (e.g., don't be a jerk)

    I'm reminded of the adage about leading a horse to water. These items were emphasized regularly and emphatically in my HPDE upbringing, whether it was in NASA or POC.

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    Putting all this on instructors and organizations and track designers is fine and all but when will there be a discussion on personal responsibility to not be an idiot on track that effects the entire community?

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    ^^ I couldn't agree more.

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    What do various groups do when there's contact made in either HPDE or a school?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red_5 View Post
    What do various groups do when there's contact made in either HPDE or a school?
    HPDE - whoever has a cheaper car get a trophy

    racing school- they issue you a comp license
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    HPDE - whoever has a cheaper car get a trophy

    racing school- they issue you a Miata and a comp license
    You forgot something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olitho View Post
    That rules out everyone from TrackHQ from ever getting an Alfa race license.....
    SoCalAlfa was just taking about Time Trial license requirements. You want a race license, that is a different story. You have to finish in the top 10 of the annual Hermosa Beach 4th of July Iron Man event.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatbillybob View Post
    Putting all this on instructors and organizations and track designers is fine and all but when will there be a discussion on personal responsibility to not be an idiot on track that effects the entire community?
    Personal responsibility should be the main factor, but it falls on the event organizer as part of that same community to create expectations for an event.
    The organizer sets the tone as to what will be tolerated and what the consequences are for not playing by the rules.
    Unfortunately, some organizers are short sighted and do not want to offend the problem children out of fear they will not come back. When in reality, they are discouraging the rest of us from coming to one of their events again, regardless of the price or convenience.

    Last month I attended a Boston BMW Club event at Mt Tremblant, a track on my list I had not driven before.
    I had no previous experience with this group, but had run with a couple of other BMW clubs at Heartland Park and Blackhawk Farms with good experiences.

    The driver's meeting had the usual spiel about passing, flags, etc that we hear at every event. At the end of this meeting they made you raise your right hand and swear:
    I am paraphrasing here. "I will not do anything stupid on track that will prevent me or any other drivers on track from driving their cars home in the same condition they arrived in."
    At first I thought it was hokey and a bit silly, but after running with them for two days with no shenanigans or incidents, it seemed like a great idea.
    Everyone knew what was expected on track and what the event was all about. I was particularly surprised that there were no incidents at the event given that Mt Tremblant is fairly high speed track with a number of places where things could get pear shaped without on track foolishness.

    I've instructed at the Glen twice a year with PhoenixCMR since 2004 and they tell you up front what they are about and what is expected. Joe Quaranto keeps a book filled with everyone who has driven at his events for the past twenty years. Each instructor is told how to evaluate their student(s) using his form that utilizes a points system and a comments section to grade drivers.
    If you sign up for his event, he will call you on the phone to ask about your experience and what you are looking to accomplish at the event. If he detects BS or doesn't have a good feeling about you, the registration fee is refunded and you do not attend.
    Most experienced folks attending for the first time wind up in the Intermediate Group, with a check out ride from an instructor. If you pass muster, you are free to solo in that Group or moved to the Advanced Group depending on the circumstances.
    If you have embellished your record, you are assigned an instructor and placed in the Novice Group.

    Since the Glen is an unusual beast as far as their own rules, you are also responsible for everyone you bring to the track and make sure they follow the rules of the Glen. If not, everyone in your group goes home. A few years ago Joe had to send home a driver whose kids were climbing into restricted areas of the track to snag some banners.

    As an instructor, I want to turn out students I can comfortably run with at future events. At one event at the Glen I counted ~10 or so folks in the Intermediate Group that had been my students at one time. You reap what you sow.

    Last year I went to a Nelson Ledges Fun Day as it dove tailed nicely with a Mid Ohio event the next day and I had not been to Nelson before.
    I rode the first session with a friend to get acquainted with the track as he had been there before. On the first lap out, under caution, a newer race prepped BMW M3 went off at turn 12. Okay, pretty boned headed but things happen.
    The next session for that group I am standing on a platform watching the cars between turns 11 and 12. The guy's family is cheering him on as he passes Mustangs like he is the best driver in the world.
    After three or four laps he puts two wheels off at the exit of 11 and hooks it back across the track in a nice high speed spin. As he gets close to the access road I am thinking this barrel roll is going to be spectacular. Lucky for him the car didn't dig in and roll. His daughter is screaming that her daddy is dead once the car comes to a stop and the mother has to console her and tells her daddy is moving around. He damaged a bunch of body work and filled both driver's side tire beads with dirt and rocks.

    He goes out the next session with the dirt and rocks still in the bead and promptly rolls the car onto the tire barrier on the inside of turn 9 after a few laps. This is all before lunch and as far as I could tell no one from the track spoke with him about his driving or the condition of his car.
    He stayed for lunch and you could hear him yucking it up as though nothing had happened.

    It clearly wasn't his first time on track, so how could someone become that reckless on track unless people condoned his actions?

    As far as the tracks responsibility, there need to be improvements made to facilities that are blatantly out of sensible safety compliance.
    Exposed trees near the driving surface is completely unacceptable. To a lesser degree, tracks that pile tires upon tires solely as a barrier instead of tying them down or using them to soften a wall/guard rail hit are also out of date.
    Slaysman likes this.

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