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Thread: Open Passing Track Day Run Groups - Bad Idea or Good?

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    AROSC Comp. Director Slaysman's Avatar
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    Default Open Passing Track Day Run Groups - Bad Idea or Good?

    I have very mixed feelings about the trends in track days regarding the passing rules that seem to be happening in all the track organizations. Kind of goes along with the lax safety requirements in some organizations. The "open passing" groups seem to me essentially wheel to wheel racing, but without proper safety equipment, but more importantly, without proper driver skills or training. On top of that, often passengers are permitted in the sessions.

    Yes, even though most wheel to wheel racing groups push to have no car to car contacts, it sometimes does happen. All those contacts I have personally seen resulted in various levels of car damage, but never any personal injury. In the Open Passing events, I have seen a number of contacts, and even been the recipient of a pretty hard hit by a dumb, hotshot driver. This past weekend there was a pretty expensive contact between one of the prettiest Alfa GTVs I have ever seen, and a Corvette. Again, no personal injury, but likely $10,000 worth of damage total, and I am an optimist.

    Okay, you can pass anywhere. No requirement for point bys. Does that really mean you have to go two or three wide into a corner just to try to get by another car, when you could wait one corner and have an easier, cleaner pass, and not risk danger to ones self or others?

    I personally would like to not have Open Passing in track day events. My two cents. Anyone want to convince me why it is such a good idea, other than a way to get more event revenue?
    Terry Watson
    AROSC Competition Director

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    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    I love open passing and while I don't have statistics, I think it can be argued that it is safer in an advanced Open Passing group than point-by intermediate. I am referencing my anecdotal memory from the many track days I have done, but I find open pass no problem at all... and I even drive a Corvette.

    But I do hate it when the Miatas follow me too closely.
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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    Terry: you guys run great event and run a tight ship. I am surprised by contacts at your event with HPDE.

    but are you sure the contact is caused by open passing ? and not just bad driving ?

    in the example you gave, I am not sure who didn't see whom. But Aaron Bitterman like to say in driver's meeting for open passing group. something along the line of: "while we don't want anyone to steal apex. If you got surprised by someone stealing your apex, then you don't belong in open passing group"

    my point is whoever got surprised shouldn't be in the open passing group.

    And all other groups (point by) has fair share of contacts also. so I don't think open passing is the issue. One must always pass with caution, but there are a ton of drivers that don't below in the group.

    btw, Vette driver is always at fault
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    Senior Member CharleyH's Avatar
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    I enjoy the open passing, but I agree that there are issues with egos. There are often people in the group that really shouldn't be there. The last time I was at Willow Springs there was a guy that was going so slowly that I passed him 4 or 5 times in each session. That is just too much of a speed differential. There are also big egos that don't want to allow anyone to pass them without a fight... that is the wrong behavior. I think Aaron puts it very well in the Speed ventures drivers meetings.... he says, If someone catches up to you, it means that they are faster than you. Let them pass. We out there to have fun and when someone catches you they are no longer having fun.

    Edit: too funny that you quoted Aaron also (you posted while I was typing). He must be doing something right
    Last edited by CharleyH; 04-03-2017 at 04:54 PM.
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    ETK
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    I have wondered about this too. If it's open passing, why are street cars allowed? I think I am fine with it, though, as long as the driver's meetings make it clear that the idea is to let faster cars by, not try to race them.

    More vetting of drivers would probably be a good idea too . . . Fast Car does not equal Good Driver. We should be checking for experience not speed.
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    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ETK View Post

    More vetting of drivers would probably be a good idea too . . .
    Don't do that. It will be mayhem out there. There are already too many Corvettes.
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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Open passing is a godsend for cars that are only fast in the corners.
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    Master of Disaster SteveLevin's Avatar
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    My thoughts of open passing in groups where the cars aren't somewhat matched in performance is the path to the dark side. When you have two cars of vastly different performance, what's "apex stealing" to one car is "idling around the corner" for another. One driver looks around, doesn't seem anyone remotely close, and sets up to really drive through the corner at 9/10th+ ...and then suddenly there's someone else there that seemingly came out of nowhere after you fully committed.

    You can avoid the uglyness by driving at 8/10ths.... but then we've just re-invented the wheel and ought to have and enforce point-bys.

    And it can happen to anyone, really. I remember the Portland Rose Cup in 2009, the SCCA had this one final morning warmup session with all the cars that weren't sedans. I went into turn 1 in my SRF, and suddenly there was a Formula Atlantic on my inside. I mean, waaaay inside. Driving a line that would require me to drive at half speed inside. The driver very casually turned the car right on the apex, and accelerated away in what was a blur to me, but was all 6/10ths (if that) driving for him. Fortunately I was just getting my eye in...not fully committed...or it could have been uglier than a pantsuit show.

    But it was a stark reminder that even when you are careful, in groups of wildly different performance, and open track can get you.

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    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    I know where you are coming from Steve, but I have been doing track days in addition to racing for a long-time. It is pretty common for my car to set the fast time of day, sometimes by a decent margin.

    I drive with the understandings that the:
    • passing car has the responsibility to pass safely
    • that it is a track day so give a bit more room than racing
    • be more cautious than when racing
    • presume the driver does not know I am there
    • if the car has a license plate and temporary numbers give them a really wide berth as they are driving that car home
    • and if the car has race sanctioning stickers, i.e. SCCA/NASA, then I am going to treat them more like a race driver and presume they are more aware, with the caveat that a less-wide track day berth is appropriate.

    Unless it is a Miata and then I am going to brake check them hard.
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    A few thoughts here...

    First, I'm praying for a speedy recovery for the Alfa. It pains me to hear about that.

    Next, open passing groups aren't so much the problem as the variety people permitted to drive in them. Experience levels, expectations, and attitude can be vastly different among drivers. Unfortunately inexperienced drivers are too green to know what they don't know.

    Open passing groups serve an important function for drivers to accumulate overtaking experiences and translate these into some of the skills necessary to go racing.

    Bottom line - track orgs are clear that life and property are the sole responsibility of each driver. The degree to which each track org decides to monitor participation presents a choice with whom you choose to spend money with, and which run group is right for you. Caveat emptor.

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    Also, for those taking their beloved street car to the track (esp. pre-race test days). Consider this before joining an open passing group: racers have bounced off just about everything on and off the track. Me, more times than I can count (much less remember). It's a lot.

    Mistakes happen. Make sure you're okay with that (and your car is too). It's bad enough to have a broken car, and worst yet to get an earful from the angry driver you hit. No shame in lifting to let the faster guy through.

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    IMO the most dangerous groups I have seen are not the open passing groups, its the high intermediate groups where drivers are just starting to get a handle on how to make their cars go fast but havent yet fully got their heads around what to do when it all goes wrong, or the orgs that will group you by laptimes over experience so you end up with fast cars driven by inexperienced drivers in the "race group" though i stopped running with any org that does that.

    If the org enforces good driver vetting, making drivers spend time at each level as they move up, then by the time they get to open passing most of the douche-baggery has been shed and they are fully expecting the miata dive-bomb pass.

    That being said, every driver has a bad hair day. Drive long enough youll have contact. Period. Its how you handle the aftermath that will show your measure.
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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    I'd like to take this moment to mention that the definition of a dive bomb varies wildly, and one of the safest possible passes to make is by physically blocking the other car from turning in.

    If I shoot up ahead of your nose under straight line braking, you didn't get dive bombed, you got block passed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robburgoon View Post
    I'd like to take this moment to mention that the definition of a dive bomb varies wildly, and one of the safest possible passes to make is by physically blocking the other car from turning in.

    If I shoot up ahead of your nose under straight line braking, you didn't get dive bombed, you got block passed.
    While I agree with you academically, the fact that you felt the need to defend the "dive-bomb" pass should be telling

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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anorexicpoodle View Post
    While I agree with you academically, the fact that you felt the need to defend the "dive-bomb" pass should be telling
    If you say so

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharleyH View Post
    I enjoy the open passing, but I agree that there are issues with egos.
    Edit: too funny that you quoted Aaron also (you posted while I was typing). He must be doing something right
    Aaron! You gotta love him for what he has provided the track community. But I hate the download sessions. Red is the worst. Whinners! I hate whinners. People should just suck it up and drive. Speed Ventures green open passing group
    is the hot ticket. Those guys want to be Red so they don't whine.
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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif Blackbird's Avatar
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    I think that the introduction of more and more "marque/model challenges" made some of open passing groups that I previously enjoyed driving in much less enjoyable.
    In the name of their respective forum bragging rights everyone is driving like a d-bag and makes the track harder to share and enjoy.

    The last event I ran in SV red @ BRP was so bad that the first 3 sessions were a total write off and only after someone tagged the wall pretty hard in session 3 people calmed down a bit and session 4 was great... I brought it up with Aaron and he did make a point to apologize for the experience and took note of the feedback.
    He also mentioned that somehow this is more of an issue when the event is at BRP for some reason..
    I'm singed up for another SV red at SMMR at the end of the month, hopefully this event runs like it used to "back in the day"... It's frustrating to spend all the prep, time and money and have the actual on-track time suck.

    BUT, to answer the question on topic, yes there need to be open passing sessions because there are plenty of people who are driving well enough to share the track and enjoy it without ruining someone else's day... the format works well and so taking it away without the data to support it seems silly, much like past discussions about speed limit in track days etc..

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    Senior Member fatbillybob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robburgoon View Post
    I'd like to take this moment to mention that the definition of a dive bomb varies wildly, and one of the safest possible passes to make is by physically blocking the other car from turning in.

    If I shoot up ahead of your nose under straight line braking, you didn't get dive bombed, you got block passed.
    Quote Originally Posted by anorexicpoodle View Post
    While I agree with you academically, the fact that you felt the need to defend the "dive-bomb" pass should be telling
    In racing especially mixed class racing I agree with Rob! Call it a dive bomb or call it a block pass the bottom line is if the faster car makes it to your door by the corner entry, regardless of speed differential, you each get racing room and the slow car gets passed. It’s all legal and the slow guys around you expect it and want you to commit to that pass so you don’t interfere with their race.

    Now in an open passing group you just don't know the experience of drivers and I think you have to be careful with your speed differentials. Also, you have to know that open passing groups just don't have the standby emergency crews of an SCCA race weekend including no qualms about flying in a medical helicopter.
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    The point I was making (with a good natured jab at rob) was in the context of HPDE a dive bomb or block pass is a pass ultimatum, pass or contact, which is 100% acceptable in mixed class racing, but in a DE group should be wholly unnecessary.

    If i am in a DE group and find myself stuck in that situation where I am being held up by an oblivious/egotistical enough driver to necessitate a forced pass like that, do I want to subject myself to the awareness/humility of that same driver mid attempt? Again DE only.


    My rule of thumb in open passing DE is the pass should always be given, never taken.
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    Senior Member fatbillybob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anorexicpoodle View Post
    but in a DE group should be wholly unnecessary.

    If i am in a DE group and find myself stuck in that situation where I am being held up by an oblivious/egotistical enough driver to necessitate a forced pass like that, do I want to subject myself to the awareness/humility of that same driver mid attempt? Again DE only.


    My rule of thumb in open passing DE is the pass should always be given, never taken.
    Well I follow Oli’s line of logic as an aid to know who and how I pass in an open passing group. I mostly race SCCA. When I do an open passing group I’m testing something or having a fun day with friends who don’t race. So I’m more mellow like you but I’ll take the pass giving a wide berth at 6/10ths with plenty of margin to prevent the “Oh heck!” from an inexperienced driver. But one thing that is not done enough is to simply to drive through the “hot” pit to escape douchbaggery. If you got a douchbag around you don’t hang around or you will be branded a douchebag by association
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