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DE Passing Etiquette & New "Advanced" Drivers

 
Old 06-29-2004, 11:45 AM
  #16  
Geoffrey
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Actually, my avitar has been this way since I began Rennlist years ago. I didn't even think about it until you mentioned it.
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Old 06-29-2004, 11:52 AM
  #17  
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Great thread, John. And very timely. I will be doing my first DE in Black this coming weekend at Pocono. (But don't tell anyone! I'm hoping to quietly blend in, like you say! Opps! I think I just contradicted myself, no?!)

While I don't have 150hp, my meager 208hp is no monster either. And with my stock suspension, if you ride blindfolded with me, you're most likely to confuse my car with a sailboat riding the high seas! Regardless, all throughout my DE experience, I have found that being aware of my surroundings is extremely important.

A few years ago at Lime Rock, when I first got promoted to the White Run group, there was a combined White/Black/Red session that I was totally intimidated! It was my baptism by fire, to say the least! I did everything wrong, and unfortunately, I frustrated a lot of drivers. In that single session, I learned the concept of closing speeds. However, as my skills have progressed, I have learned that there the veteran drivers have the ability to stretch time and space, and when given a pass, no matter how far into the braking zone it is, they will find a way to get through without drama! And they can drive the snot out of their cars! I have a huge amount of respect for you expert drivers.

HOWEVER, there is another side to this debate, and that is this: when you veteran advanced drivers see one of us 'newbie Blackies' out there for the first time, there is no need to hassle us! Sure, we may not be used to the faster closing speeds, the ability to pass in short spaces, and the different cars out there, but that gives you no right to harass needlessly! If you catch up to me in a 'No passing area', there is no need to drive needlessly agressively. I can assure you, you will get a point by at the next opportunity. But don't harass me in the corners - I know you are there, so relax for the next 5-10 seconds.

Though many of you advanced drivers won't admit this, there are those out there who look upon us 'new to black' drivers as 'fresh meat' to initiate. You gotta show us we're running with the big boys, and we if we can't stand the fire, we should get out of our nomex suits. This attitude is totally opposite of what DE's are all about. There is no place in DE OR club racing for that type of behavior. And that attitude does prevail in DE's.
Originally posted by Rich Sandor
wouldn't it be nice if course workers actually used the blue flags once in a while??
IMHO, if you're in an upper run group, and you haven't given a point-by before a blue flag is thrown at you, then you're too late!

The bottom line for me is this: whether you're the top dog in a run group, or you're a newbie that's slow as molasses, it's all about mutual respect for each other.

-Zoltan.
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Old 06-29-2004, 12:16 PM
  #18  
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Originally posted by Z-man


IMHO, if you're in an upper run group, and you haven't given a point-by before a blue flag is thrown at you, then you're too late!

Z - Don't forget that one key use of the Blue flag is to alert the slower car that a faster car is approaching *before* it appears in the mirror. I'm sure that many of us (esp with low hp cars) have stories of seeing a blue flag, but nothing in the mirror - only to have a much faster car rocket into the mirror...
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Old 06-29-2004, 01:28 PM
  #19  
Brian P
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Originally posted by Z-man
HOWEVER, there is another side to this debate, and that is this: when you veteran advanced drivers see one of us 'newbie Blackies' out there for the first time, there is no need to hassle us! Sure, we may not be used to the faster closing speeds, the ability to pass in short spaces, and the different cars out there, but that gives you no right to harass needlessly! If you catch up to me in a 'No passing area', there is no need to drive needlessly agressively. I can assure you, you will get a point by at the next opportunity. But don't harass me in the corners - I know you are there, so relax for the next 5-10 seconds.
There's a few cases of when this happens, and I think it's difficult to assign blame.

Example 1) The car in front is driving far too slow for the run group. For example, let's imagine a green run group driver accidently gets out there with the people in red. Someone in red might come through the esses at 120MPH+ and not be expecting our newbie to be driving at 70 MPH. Being on the person's back bumper might be the best that the instructor can do. (The alternative would be contact )

Admittedly, this is an extreme example, but I've had turns where I've left a good 6-8 car lengths on a person planning to get a run on them so that I will have a greater corner exit speed, and it would enable an easier pass on the following straight. However, sometimes that person is going so slow that I catch them at the apex. And, it's difficult to judge how much room to leave between us because they seem so fast on the straights.

Example 2) The person in front doesn't look in the mirrors. How many passing zones do you follow someone at a courteous distance before you decide to tighten it up a bit?

Example 3) Sometimes we really don't recognize who the "newbies" are. If you could put a big "STUDENT DRIVER" sticker on your car, that would help.
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Old 06-29-2004, 01:41 PM
  #20  
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Z - I think a little dancing is OK to let the other person know you are there and have a much more capable car/driver. I had the same situation, ran with instructors my second track event in a 2.8 Audi A4. Had a Porsche on slicks dancing behind me through a few turns. Put two wheels off trying to get through the twisties. I knew to give the pass right at the beginning of the straight. It was clear that he was much, much faster. I thought it was great fun. I would not put two wheels off now, I'll ignore faster cars until I get near a passing zone and then give a quick point by.

You can only dance if you are much faster and it's a way to communicate that. The front driver can always wave to acknowledge that you are there and that they will be giving a point by. Then you should back off some.

Mark
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Old 06-29-2004, 02:21 PM
  #21  
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Z -

Points well taken. There are indeed instances of faster drivers acting in fashions not conducive to group harmony. In years past we had professional flaggers that were well aware of this behavior and suggested these persons be called to Pit One for a little discussion of courtesy. I was at times the one on the other end of the radio that agreed on PCA's behalf to have them black flagged for a correction in their driving demeanor.

I must admit that I relish the opportunity to try and improve the experience for my brothers and sisters of good intent!

As a matter of defense for certain persons, it is not always a case of as blatant a disregard for etiquette as the slower driver may perceive it to be. Often feelings of perceived hostility arise from that driver being surprised, or distracted. It is also often the case that the slower driver is not as used to having cars as close to him as the faster, more experienced driver is. In fact, my student - out for a ride with me in red - theorized that perhaps the biggest point of difference was the density and closer proximity of the other cars relative to less experienced groups. A very astute observation.

I (and anyone of proper "familial intent") have no problem with someone who for various reasons is "slower" than I. In many cases we indeed do not know who the newer advanced drivers are... until we encounter them. The classic sign is not that they are moving at a slower pace, but in how they handle passing... or not handle it, as the case may be.

The speed of the car is not as telling as the speed of acquiescence. To be offered examination of someone's tailpipe through a turn only to be blown away in a puff of acceleration is a sure sign of someone who needs a clue as to advanced etiquette. To have this happen for more than one consecutive corner, or by the same car in different sessions, is truly egregious.

Here's a marker of competence: Anyone who can't give a passing signal AT THE APEX of most any turn does not belong in the advanced group. If I see a Cup car or other rocket steaming up on me entering a turn, I will give them a quick point BEFORE the turn in, and then AT the apex again. This lets them know I see them, I am ready for them, and do not want to hold them up any more than humanly possible. I get many thumbs up for that type of courtesy and have yet to ever have anyone express any displeasure regarding my pace.

Mark - excellent idea of giving a wave of recognition. That's all they really want anyway, eh?

As far as "dancing" goes, it is only "necessary" when you have someone who appears not to know his position in the group. When you are running in advanced, you can usually expect to be safe following a little closer than in the lower groups, but you SHOULD NOT need to get someone's attention by alternately filling every mirror. I do not agree with it, and yet found myself doing it a couple of times this weekend when held up for multiple corners. It is rude and I'd rather not, but I guess sometimes it's necessary.

That is a measure of what I see as the relatively extreme nature of the "problem" here. If EVERYONE works to minimize it, EVERYONE'S run will be improved.

THAT is my intent here.
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Old 06-29-2004, 02:32 PM
  #22  
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Interestingly enough, when you get into racing, this practice of being "aware" of the overall track environment is critical. My last endurance race had me in my "D" class car grouped with all the Cup cars. Kind of like the Le Mans experience with all the prototypes passing at will the GT class cars. Being aware of what is behind you and still driving your line is a critical skill.

DE's are a great place to practice that in a very controlled situation. Now, the faster cars have to exercise a bit of patience and control and the slower cars need to have the awareness of what's behind them and PLEASE, point at the earliest possible opportunity coming off a turn. We like that ability to power out of the corners!
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Old 06-29-2004, 02:38 PM
  #23  
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A while back, I put together a set of rules that I thought would be great for handling traffic. This is what I learned from taking rides from instructors and seeing what they did. If I were to pick my one pet peeve of non-advanced drivers (white run group and below), it's that they follow none of the suggestions on how to handle trains.

1) Pay attention during the drivers meeting. A few useful items are mentioned there: track conditions, passing zones, etc. You don't want to ignore those things.

2) Learn the passing zones. The easiest way to do that is to pay attention during the drivers meeting (sounds like an echo, doesn't it?) Even if you are the fastest car on the track, you still want to know where the zones are, because at most tracks, you will get black flagged if you pass somewhere that isn't a passing zone.

3) Use all of the passing zones. I've often hear people say, "I don't like people to pass me on this zone because it's too short. They might not make it in time". First, that's wrong. The overtaking car has complete responsibility for ensuring the pass is done safely. In other words, if the car can't pass in time, that driver should wave off the pass and wait for the next passing zone. Second, maybe the car has a monster turbo and could have gotten by with ease. Without the pass signal, he'll never have the chance. Third, if the two cars are side by side going towards the turn, the car that gave the pass signal can simply slow down.

4) When overtaking a car, and especially if it's a late pass or in a short passing zone, don't get right back in front of the car you just passed and slam on the brakes. Nobody likes when this happens on the street, and it doesn't belong on the track either. If you don't know how to pass off-line, then wave off that pass signal and wait for the next passing zone. Also, if you don't know how to pass off-line, ask an instructor to show you.

5) Do not give the pass signal and simultaneously lift. That could be dangerous. The person behind you is probably directly behind you, and if you lift (or worse, hit the brakes), he could possibly ram you. So, wait until the passing car has pulled out from behind you, then lift.

6) Check your mirrors. Check them often. Personally, I like to check as I near track-out, when I'm about halfway down a straight (even sooner for a long straight), and just before I enter a braking zone. Driving straight is incredibly easy, and you have little else to do besides checking the gauges and checking the mirrors.

7) If you have a lower horsepower car, there's no point in being on someone's back bumper throughout a turn. Following that closely limits your speed to that of the person in front of you, and it's likely slower than what you could do. If you get to track out, and you don't get a pass signal, you are going to be drag racing the car in front. If he has more horsepower, guess who's going to win that race. So, try to time the point where you catch the car to occur right after the track out.

8) Remember, if someone is suddenly behind you, it didn't happen by magic. The person behind you is probably much faster than you, and it's likely through the turns. If you are checking your mirrors often, he might have been a good distance away as you entered the turn, but all of a sudden, he's right behind you at track out. Odds are good that he's flying through the turns, and you are not. So, even if you have a car that has better straight line speed, let the car by, and you'll likely never see him again.

HOW TO HANDLE TRAINS

Even with the above advice, we'd still have trains. If you have one very slow car enter a long stretch of turns, there could easily be four or five cars behind him by the time the next passing zone is reached. Quickly dispersing that train of traffic takes cooperation from everyone.

1) The person who caused the train should try to get as many cars by him as soon as possible. Obviously, that means lots of passing signals. Make them clear and distinct so that even the fourth car in the train knows whether or not he got a passing signal.

2) The cars that are stuck in the train should also try to sort out the passing order. If you are driving the stock 914 and you are in front of the cup car, odds are pretty good that you will get passed by the cup car. Let him by while you are still in the train.

3) If you feel comfortable with it, and the track is wide enough, do the passing three wide. People pass three wide on the highway all the time. It should be no different on the track. Trains break up a lot quicker when you have twice as much passing.

4) Finally, if you are stuck in a train and you aren't passing someone, then let someone pass you. If everybody in the train obeyed that rule, there would be no trains.

5) Some regions have the policy that if you are the lead car in the train, you should run through the pit to let everybody else by.

Finally, the best way to learn how to handle traffic and trains is to take rides with instructors. I wish I could say that I figured out all of the above advice all on my own. The truth, however, is that I've taken quite a few rides with instructors in a variety of cars, and I learned how to handle traffic best from seeing what they do. Even the red run group has traffic and the occasional train. What has always amazed me is that the traffic rarely slows anyone up, and if it does, it's only for one turn.
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Old 06-29-2004, 02:42 PM
  #24  
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Originally posted by Brian P
There's a few cases of when this happens, and I think it's difficult to assign blame.

Example 1) The car in front is driving far too slow for the run group. For example, let's imagine a green run group driver accidently gets out there with the people in red. Someone in red might come through the esses at 120MPH+ and not be expecting our newbie to be driving at 70 MPH. Being on the person's back bumper might be the best that the instructor can do. (The alternative would be contact )
Brian: as much as the slower cars are told to have 'track awareness' the expert drivers need to be aware of what's going on around and infront of them as well! Granted, the esses at Watkins Glen may be an exception, but advanced drivers are well aware of what's going on 'up the road,' and have the ability to 'look around the corner' by being aware of what cars were ahead of them 2-3 straights ago.

If they are surprised by a slower car in the corners, then perhaps they need to adjust their driving technique.

-Zoltan.

PS: As I mentioned in my original post, I will be in the Black run group for the first time in my next event, which is this weekend. Hopefully, no one running with me will take my comments the wrong way - otherwise, I'm in for quite a hazing! (BTW: That's not my car in my avatar - really! I drive a black 914, or a white 996.... )
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Old 06-29-2004, 04:11 PM
  #25  
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Brian, you have PM.

-Zoltan.

Last edited by Z-man; 06-29-2004 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 06-29-2004, 04:26 PM
  #26  
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My apologies Z and I have deleted the post. Tried to send you a PM about it, but your mailbox is full.
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Old 06-29-2004, 04:42 PM
  #27  
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Originally posted by Brian P
My apologies Z and I have deleted the post. Tried to send you a PM about it, but your mailbox is full.
Thanks for deleting the post.

I've cleaned up my PM's, so the mailbox shouldn't be full.
-Zoltan.
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Old 06-29-2004, 04:51 PM
  #28  
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I've been running in the white run group for about a year now, and one of the best events I've been to was my last one at the Glen with Schattenbaum. We spent a good amount of time in the classroom discussing the passing zones and what the expectations are in those zones. That way, everyone was on the same page for the event.
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Old 06-29-2004, 07:00 PM
  #29  
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There are a lot of good comments here, and I can think of one other important aspect to try to understand. When you have big differences in lap times, it is hard to udnerstand the perspective of the other driver.

Take the case of a well driven, but slower car at Mid Ohio. Lap times of 2:00 might be a great time (and is in certain cars). So you are driving this car well and another car suddenly appears in your mirrors. They are driving off line in the corners as they are stuck behind you, maybe popping in and out of your mirrors and they are pretty close.

So your thought is that this person is way too aggressive and why are they trying to pass in the corners when the rule is to wait for the straight. Why are they weaving - they must be pushing way too hard to do that while behind me. That all seems logical.

Now put yourself in the fast car running laps at 1:28. You came down the back straight and there is not a car in sight. As you pop out of 10b and see them as you approach T11 - you are suddenly on the back of a slow car and can't pass for a while. You drop down to their pace - 30+ seconds per lap slower than you have been running. At this snails pace, you watch them drive - looking at both sides of their car. Maybe some other off line driving just for practice. Maybe even a bit of weaving to keep some heat in the tires. After all, you are crwaling through the corners at 1.1 g instead of 1.8. Yoiu are well back from them - given your stopping power a car length is plenty of room. That all seems logical.

The problem is that the slow driver sees very aggressive driving because they have no clue what the capabilities are of the fast car. The fast car thinks they are being reasonable, but the driver has forgotten how insane their speeds look to a slower car's driver. I think that everyone needs to realize that the other driver does not share the same perspective as you and the behaviour you think you are seeing if often not indicative of the attitude when big speed differences are involved. The greater the lap time difference, the more you have this effect.
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Old 06-29-2004, 11:40 PM
  #30  
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Best laps I've driven have generally been while running combined instructors groups in DE. That put the old bone stock 944 NA on street tires out there with every fire-breathing full-race monster on the track.

I might as well have been an orange cone on the track, so I just politely kept my line, pointed, and didn't do anything surprising.

LOVED IT! There is no better way to become very comfortable with lots of traffic and much wider variety of passing areas. Great opportunity to study skilled drivers and lines.

Now, being overtaken on the Road America front straight at a closing rate of 50 mph+ when I'm already significantly into triple digits... Yikes! Makes for good in-car camera though.
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