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Do lap timers encourage bad behavior?

 
Old 06-02-2019, 10:13 AM
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Deansdream
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Default Do lap timers encourage bad behavior?

I appreciate timers and data acquisition systems can be used to make us better drivers. And our club makes a point of emphasizing DE is not racing. However, I suspect when using a timer the desire to run a fast lap can lead to aggressive, discourteous and unsafe behaviour. Not suggesting they be banned, which, since everyone has a cell phone, would be impossible. All I suggest is those using them remember courtesy and safety are more important then a fast lap. If the latter is your priority, do club racing instead of DE.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:08 AM
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My view is that the pursuit of driving a car as fast as you possibly can on a racetrack can and does exist separate and apart from the desire or need to race and if a driver cannot operate within the confines of a DE while pursuing that goal that means the driver is an *******, not that he should be a racer.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by DTMiller View Post
My view is that the pursuit of driving a car as fast as you possibly can on a racetrack can and does exist separate and apart from the desire or need to race and if a driver cannot operate within the confines of a DE while pursuing that goal that means the driver is an *******, not that he should be a racer.
True dat.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:29 AM
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This is an issue that I've been thoughtful about for more than a decade and a half, as long as there have been devices available for this. Remember the "Hot Lap" infrared beacon and receiver that was so popular many years ago?

With the advent of common (at the track) manufacturer options to do this, notably Porsche Sport Chrono front and center, GM PDR, BMW M-App and others, this is now no longer a DAQ device issue at HPDE.

The commonly held misconception that most groups have against and prohibiting "lap timing" due to insurance concerns is erroneous and does not help forge an answer to this question. The reason why this is in error is that there are no publicly available times, IN REAL TIME, with which to compare and hence have the primary condition in place for "a competitive event." So, there is no possibility of a "competitive event," even with manufacturer and DAQ devices in place in the car for individual use.

Similar to other arguments, it is not the device that "causes" drivers to behave irresponsibly, it is the DRIVER that chooses to behave irresponsibly. This can be evident in many other areas of conducting a car around the track in a DE, separate and away from any presence of a lap timing device, so the idea that the addition of this component is just another trigger for an irresponsible driver to behave irresponsibly ignores the root cause analysis for this behavior.

I will say that in the typical DE, it's unlikely that drivers will get a perfectly "clean" lap, so while lap times can indicate a particular sample (lap) that is of better quality and efficiency than others (for further study), the WHOLE LAP is usually NOT what people are able to get a whole lot out of, other than bragging at the Seneca Lodge or the Chicanes bar after a long day.

What these devices do is to log or record performance, so that the driver can review and examine how they remember what happened and compare it TO what happened.

What they also do is give a variance or predictive that shows whether whatever they are doing is better (or not) than what they were doing before. To do that, they have to have a plan that includes a prime and option approach (different gear, line or trajectory) through a corner or corner complex.

Short answer is that the idea of prohibiting, banning or restricting these training devices based on the bad behavior of a few (who might well misbehave whether they had something like this in the car or not) is absurd and plain wrong.

I have seen organizations strongly recommend not using these devices until after the driver progresses to Solo run groups, but there is such a wide awareness, discipline and sensibility level among all drivers, not sure what that would accomplish. I also know instructors who tell their students when they get in the car to put these devices (HLT or PPTA usually, on their phones) away. The best instructors I know ask to move the devices to their view, to more objectively counsel and coach the student on what works and what doesn't, and to gauge improvement objectively.

In the end, there are as many opinions on this as there are people who opine about it, but the cat is out of the bag, these devices DO serve a useful purpose and good behavior is not eroded unless there is already a predilection for that... YMMV
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:43 AM
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Timing devices and data are simply tools. Tools that can be used to improve the driver or a tool to distract the drivers attention away from the things to which they should be paying attention. I used data heavily on the race bikes but it was out of view until I was off track. In actual competition a predictive was nice to have on the dash but it can be distracting when you need to be focusing further up the track.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Deansdream View Post
I appreciate timers and data acquisition systems can be used to make us better drivers. And our club makes a point of emphasizing DE is not racing. However, I suspect when using a timer the desire to run a fast lap can lead to aggressive, discourteous and unsafe behaviour. Not suggesting they be banned, which, since everyone has a cell phone, would be impossible. All I suggest is those using them remember courtesy and safety are more important then a fast lap. If the latter is your priority, do club racing instead of DE.
To add, I think your post is thoughtful and well-worded. But I think the section in bold is the driving force behind all acceptable and desirable DE behavior, irrespective of devices in the car.

The display of "aggressive, discourteous and unsafe behavior" is almost always clearly evident from other cars and trackside well in advance of a potential incident. Nip it in the bud. Pay attention. Don't let this slide...

Responsible drivers seek to improve. A raw, gross measure like a lap time can be an indicator of that improvement, but responsible drivers seek to improve every decision and skill execution they make in the car, then the lap time comes naturally, easily and without risk to themselves or others. This is NOT A RACING THING. It's a culture thing. Fix the culture and these folks will self-select.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Coochas View Post
True dat.
+1 on the true dat Cooch...

Dean, you are spot on, and I know exactly what you are referencing as I was a part of it as well. (As a witness to it and not a participant in the bad behavior).

I think it's best to keep names and specific incidents out of it obviously, but I witnessed exactly what you did, and as I was standing side by side with you at the next mornings drivers meeting, it was firmly addressed by more than one CI.

The advice obviously got through as the 2nd day was much more "behaved" than the day you are referencing.

Not sure how much chasing lap times had to do with day 1 or it was just people behaving stoopidly. We'll never know, but your thoughts on lap timing systems (data, etc.) is a valid one.

I use data and video to make me a better driver and point my mistakes out so I can correct them, or try to correct them, but I have never used that equipment as an excuse for bad behavior on track.

This is clearly a case of "a few bad apples" as the saying goes.

Very glad you brought this up here and am looking forward to the discussion that has and will follow your OP.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by dgrobs View Post
+1 on the true dat Cooch...

Dean, you are spot on, and I know exactly what you are referencing as I was a part of it as well. (As a witness to it and not a participant in the bad behavior).

I think it's best to keep names and specific incidents out of it obviously, but I witnessed exactly what you did, and as I was standing side by side with you at the next mornings drivers meeting, it was firmly addressed by more than one CI.

The advice obviously got through as the 2nd day was much more "behaved" than the day you are referencing.

Not sure how much chasing lap times had to do with day 1 or it was just people behaving stoopidly. We'll never know, but your thoughts on lap timing systems (data, etc.) is a valid one.

I use data and video to make me a better driver and point my mistakes out so I can correct them, or try to correct them, but I have never used that equipment as an excuse for bad behavior on track.

This is clearly a case of "a few bad apples" as the saying goes.

Very glad you brought this up here and am looking forward to the discussion that has and will follow your OP.
Sounds like most folks are in agreement, so far.

If on-track participants )dgrobs among them) and other organizing volunteers were witness to "exactly what (the OP) did," then whatever happened must have been pretty egregious.

Sounds like the OP and others did take action the next morning (if not before) to incent those involved in the "bad behavior" to correct it (or hopefully, they were excused).

Clearly there's more to this story than the innocent question of lap timers in cars...
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Old 06-02-2019, 12:02 PM
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Most are there to have a good time and going home with a smashed up car, because someone else either impacted you or caused you to impact something, due to their bad behavior is in no way a good time.
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Old 06-02-2019, 12:40 PM
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I have used data for several years and found extremely helpful in identifying things to work on, whaich has helped me a better, smoother, driver and ultimately quicker. I did however turn my AiM off of static or predictive while driving (set to like the battery screen) so I wasnt looking at or pressing for a time, but rather just driving and working on what the data told me I should be trying.
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Old 06-02-2019, 01:23 PM
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I have been driving and racing since 1987-1988. I have seen quite an evolution of behavior since I started.

And of course technology (e.g., cars and timing/learning tools). And I feel I must mention the evolution of tools and cultures used to communicate amongst one another (e.g., forums like this and other social media platforms).

For some time now I have held the belief that a greater emphasis on competition can be helpful in optimizing a culture for DE that many seem to desire.

My belief is based upon a 5-7 year period of enjoying PCA DE events which featured solo competition. These events were weekend PCA Time Trials run by the PCA Golden Gate Region. I had driven in less than a half dozen DE's prior to my first time trial with GGR. And in less than 2 dozen AX events.

The time trial events seemed like a natural next step in learning and enjoying the hobby. In the time trials, we'd run four sessions on Saturday, and two on Sunday morning. For each run group, there was a very, very powerful culture of lining up according to anticipated lap times before we went out. The pecking order was something almost everyone believed in... not for bragging rights, but rather for optimizing the opportunity to work on the craft with a goal of reducing lap times. Then Sunday afternoon we had solo, timed runs. Cars were classed, and there were trophies at each event. And season championships.

With this environment/culture, it never seemed to be about "hey look at me." It never seemed to be about "I passed that 2019 GT3 in my 993, so I must be a better driver." I think that for most, it was about getting faster-- improving one's craft. The ability to optimally utilize the performance inherent in the car, using solo runs as a benchmark. For example, as in-car video tools became more available, they seemed to be employed more for learning and improving than for sharing.

Of course, even in that environment, some folks were more determined and/or focused than others. There were always some folks that did not care much about improving. But their enjoyment of the weekend experience seemed to never be compromised by the overarching focus of the group as a whole.

It seems to me that for a number of reasons, more folks are now more interested in the "experience" than the craft. They'd rather have "more track time" on Sunday afternoon than have a competition to asses their progress.

How many times have any of us recently been to a non-racing event where the preponderance of participants are focused on the craft? And yet we sometimes call these events DE's.

Maybe the short version of my thoughts on this are "it is not the timing and video tools," it is the "track day" culture. What my former student commented on rather cynically with his cartoon so many years ago seems to have taken root.
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Old 06-02-2019, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Deansdream View Post
I appreciate timers and data acquisition systems can be used to make us better drivers. And our club makes a point of emphasizing DE is not racing. However, I suspect when using a timer the desire to run a fast lap can lead to aggressive, discourteous and unsafe behaviour. Not suggesting they be banned, which, since everyone has a cell phone, would be impossible. All I suggest is those using them remember courtesy and safety are more important then a fast lap. If the latter is your priority, do club racing instead of DE.
^ the statement in bold above is nebulous, lacks specificity and frankly, on its own, doesn’t add much to the OP’s post. What specific actions did the OP deem aggressive, discourteous or unsafe? Further the desire to run a fast lap is not necessarily linked to using a timer. Many drivers run blistering laps but are not timing themselves.

Having been in a number of driver’s meeting where aggressive driving was discussed, almost exclusively the ‘concerns’ about aggressive driving was usually from a few drivers in low-HP cars in upper advanced run groups (I’ve hardly heard the issue raised by fast drivers in upper run groups). The concerns usually center around closing speeds, proximity to other cars (“on their rear bumper”), passing without point byes, or being side-by-side in a turn.

My humble observations are that quite a few drivers rush to get ‘promoted’ to advanced/solo run groups in the DE environment but are not ready for the faster pace in the advanced run groups and just how fast situations change. Specifically (1) lack of situational awareness - some drivers do not constantly check their mirrors and get surprised/anxious when faster cars close on them quickly (or worse, when a faster car has been stuck behind them for 3-4 consecutive turns) (2) lack of comfort with driving off-line thus creating limited passing opportunities despite being in “open passing” advanced run groups and (3) slow/late point -byes which often leads to passes made closer to the turning point or deeper into the braking zone which creates more anxiety for the slower car being passed.

I’m not saying that there aren’t a**hole aggressive drivers at DE’s but in my experience there are usually two sides to every charge of aggressive driving. Most drivers at DE’s are courteous, and understand that DE is not racing however DEs aren’t Sunday drives either. Trying to improve by running faster laps (timed or not) is not being aggressive, or unsafe however being in a run group with drivers not equipped to handle the pace/requirements of the run group is definitely unsafe. I’m not sure which applies to the OP given the lack of details in his original post.
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Old 06-02-2019, 03:35 PM
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I am curious what this is all about. OP, care to fill us in?
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Old 06-02-2019, 03:47 PM
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IN Canada, insurance companies do say if timing laps then it is no longer just education but considered speed competition/or exhibition of speed, and voids insurance while at DE. So no timing should be allowed according to the rules.
Whether one is timing or not they should be respectful at all times of other cars on track.
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Old 06-02-2019, 04:13 PM
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"It seems to me that for a number of reasons, more folks are now more interested in the "experience" than the craft. They'd rather have "more track time" on Sunday afternoon than have a competition to asses their skills"

Count me as one of those people who'd rather have more track time. I could care less about "assessing my skills". I do this for fun. A Pro team isn't going to come knocking on my door.

If I want to "assess my skills" I'll decide to go club racing and get all serious about going after a plastic gold trophy.
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