David S. Wallens Editorial Director
April 13, 2017 3:28 p.m.
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We first worked with Chris Albin on magazine stories some 20 years ago. His car has even graced our cover. When we saw this weekend’s video of his familiar, yellow VW Golf crashing into the trees, our heart skipped a beat. Fortunately, he emerged okay.


Then, we saw today's article on The Drive, and felt the need to reach out and set the record straight.

Chris is a championship-level driver who also spent eight years on the SCCA’S Club Racing Board. He was recently voted to the SCCA's board of Directors. This part of their article just didn't sound like the Chris Albin we know: “Sadly for this Volkswagen Golf driver, he got a bit too ambitious and overheated the brakes, leading to an aerial act that can't be missed.”

So, what really happened? We asked Andie Albin. She’s Chris’s daughter, a competitor herself, and works for the SCCA as their Digital Marketing and Communications Coordinator.

As she explains, her dad had a brake line failure Saturday morning after qualifying. “Luckily it happened in impound after the session and there was no fallout,” she says. “That line was replaced and he won the race on Saturday.” So far so good, but that failed line turned out to be a harbinger of what would come next.

“Sunday morning qualifying went fine,” she continues. “There was no indication of brake fade. The fluid was not boiled. It’s not like this was our first rodeo.”

And then, as captured by Eric Prill's rear-facing camera, something broke. “He hit the brakes coming into Turn 2, like he had hundreds of times before in that same turn,” Andie continues. “He had a pedal, and you can see in Eric’s video that the car slowed, then his foot fell to the floor and there was nothing. He consciously turned in to scrub whatever speed he could. While the uninformed see him aiming for Eric, he knew he had just enough space. It was close. But far better than piling straight into the reinforced tires straight ahead, or trying to find the access road to the right, which would have probably upset the car and sent it into a roll.”

“We struggle to find brake lines that will put up with the demands of this sport,” Chris adds. “These braided stainless lines are the best ones we’ve used, but still fail from time to time.

“All things considered, the car isn’t that bad off. Some parts failed, but the hang time and trees absorbed most of the landing’s force. The A-arms aren’t even bent. I’m so fortunate to be in MiDiv where we have such great corner workers to keep us safe, even when crazy stuff happens.”

What’s next for the Golf? They’re already working to get back into the game: “We’re trying to get the car back together for the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour race at Gateway Motorsports Park next weekend. We’re not giving up on this season yet. See you at Indy!”

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Tyler H UltraDork
April 13, 2017 3:56 p.m.

Things that make me happy:

1...Chris is okay, which is what counts. 2...The positive attitude on display by the Albins. 3...That people at the top of SCCA are still club racing affordable cars.

David S. Wallens Editorial Director
April 13, 2017 4:09 p.m.

Ha, looks like they have since edited their article, removing this line: “Sadly for this Volkswagen Golf driver, he got a bit too ambitious and overheated the brakes, leading to an aerial act that can't be missed.”

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 13, 2017 4:14 p.m.

So, reading between the lines because it's never actually stated - it was a brake line failure?

David S. Wallens Editorial Director
April 13, 2017 4:15 p.m.

By the way, this is why we research things before putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or whatever metaphor have you. Yes, it takes more time than just just spouting off the first thing that comes to mind but, in the end, I feel better about our place in life.

No, we are not a click bait site. We are here for the long haul, and this is our community.

End soap box.

David S. Wallens Editorial Director
April 13, 2017 4:17 p.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: So, reading between the lines because it's never actually stated - it was a brake line failure?

Yep. There's a photo in the main story.

cmcgregor Dork
April 13, 2017 4:23 p.m.

Looks like they changed the title too. They also refer to this as a "hot lap" and the filming Miata as a "track car" - seems like race and race car would have been more appropriate.

Typical internet "news site" asshattery.

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 13, 2017 4:27 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote:
Keith Tanner wrote: So, reading between the lines because it's never actually stated - it was a brake line failure?

Yep. There's a photo in the main story.

Ah, found it. Failed at the crimp.

So the followup article is to get that brake line to a specialist and figure out why it failed. Obviously it's not a new line. Are they a consumable? Why did he have two failures in short order? What can we collectively learn from this?

We sell SS brake lines. which means I get to hear about any problems over a reasonably large install base. The failure rate is extremely low and nonexistent as a catastrophic failure.

Streetwiseguy UltimaDork
April 13, 2017 4:41 p.m.

I look at stainless lines, made who knows where by who knows who, using components from who knows where, and then I go buy OE equivalent rubber ones that show evidence of failure for quite a while before, and have DOT numbers stamped on the hose.

I fear I have too many years of quality concerns with aftermarket parts of any type. Heck, I don't trust OE stuff all the time.

David S. Wallens Editorial Director
April 13, 2017 4:47 p.m.
cmcgregor wrote: Looks like they changed the title too. They also refer to this as a "hot lap" and the filming Miata as a "track car" - seems like race and race car would have been more appropriate. Typical internet "news site" asshattery.

It's basic hack writing. I won't even call it journalism. It's lazy. L-A-Z-Y.

It's obvious that the video was posted by Eric Prill. One minute on Google would reveal who he is: F Prod Miata racer and SCCA VP and COO. Have a question about the incident? He's easy to reach.

It's extra work, but sometimes you need to do a little research before hitting the "publish" button.

cmcgregor Dork
April 13, 2017 4:57 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote:
cmcgregor wrote: Looks like they changed the title too. They also refer to this as a "hot lap" and the filming Miata as a "track car" - seems like race and race car would have been more appropriate. Typical internet "news site" asshattery.

It's basic hack writing. I won't even call it journalism. It's lazy. L-A-Z-Y.

It's obvious that the video was posted by Eric Prill. One minute on Google would reveal who he is: F Prod Miata racer and SCCA VP and COO. Have a question about the incident? He's easy to reach.

It's extra work, but sometimes you need to do a little research before hitting the "publish" button.

I would lament the state of automotive journalism (present company excluded, of course) but it's unfortunately not limited to just our little corner of the world. Research doesn't drive those sweet sweet clicks!

Ovid_and_Flem
Ovid_and_Flem HalfDork
April 13, 2017 4:58 p.m.

I first met Chris when I was Club racing in improved touring in the early nineties. Never have I seen someone squeeze so much out of a low-budget race car. Even when he was starting out the racing on a shoestring his cars were always meticulously prepared. And to top it all off he is one of the most self-effacing and truly nice guys both on and off the track. Glad you're okay, Chris.

David S. Wallens Editorial Director
April 13, 2017 5:01 p.m.

True story, Chris was first featured in our mag for his Solo Nats effort--his Blazer From Hell. Yes, like the truck. This might have been in the '80s.

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 13, 2017 5:04 p.m.
cmcgregor wrote:
David S. Wallens wrote:
cmcgregor wrote: Looks like they changed the title too. They also refer to this as a "hot lap" and the filming Miata as a "track car" - seems like race and race car would have been more appropriate. Typical internet "news site" asshattery.

It's basic hack writing. I won't even call it journalism. It's lazy. L-A-Z-Y.

It's obvious that the video was posted by Eric Prill. One minute on Google would reveal who he is: F Prod Miata racer and SCCA VP and COO. Have a question about the incident? He's easy to reach.

It's extra work, but sometimes you need to do a little research before hitting the "publish" button.

I would lament the state of automotive journalism (present company excluded, of course) but it's unfortunately not limited to just our little corner of the world. Research doesn't drive those sweet sweet clicks!

When you're being paid by the article, they have a shelf life of about 35 minutes and the only way to put food on the table is to publish 20 articles a day - research is not a priority.

The sad thing is that clickbait headlines are based on what actually works.

David S. Wallens Editorial Director
April 13, 2017 5:06 p.m.

cmcgregor, you're totally correct. Sometimes I'll read a piece in the New York Times and think, Dang, there's a ton of research in there. I know we're getting totally off-topic here, but this article in particular impressed me. How many hours are in that piece?

HappyAndy PowerDork
April 13, 2017 5:20 p.m.

As hydraulic hoses are a big part of what I do to make a living, I can add some insight, it might even be worth more than .02¢. (but not more than .04¢)

Since it failed at the crimp, and in fact, looks like it pulled out of the fitting completely, it was a manufacturing defect.

The hose may not have been fully inserted into the fitting before crimping, or the crimp was not tight enough. That could happen for a few reasons. The few times that I've had braided stainless hoses made, the very top of the hose that goes down inside the fitting were wrapped with tape like packing tape to keep the braid together. If there is too much tape, the tape is sloppy or the braid for some reason starts coming apart, it will be very difficult to 100% correct crimp. It will probably be loose, but look good. Certain types of crimping dies will more likely to have this problem than others.

When they break in the fitting, or just past it, the crimp is usually to tight or not centered in the die.

APEowner Reader
April 13, 2017 5:43 p.m.

So, would there have been any way to determine from a visual inspection that there was an issue with that line?

wlkelley3 UltraDork
April 13, 2017 7:17 p.m.

I see in 1st post it suggests that the failed line was the one that was replaced the day prior. What are the odds that it really was the other side that failed and not the replaced line? I know I've learned the hard way when it comes to brake components to replace in pairs or all. If one side failed, the other side is soon after. After all, the have pretty close to the same wear. Sometimes the other side fails because it becomes the weak link after putting a new component on the other side. Learned that with brake cylinders, one fails replace both because the other will fail soon after.

April 13, 2017 7:40 p.m.

Glad he's okay!

I'd be curious to see the failure rate of the hoses that shop made.

Have you guys ever had a stainless brake line fail?

I've been in the hydraulics industry before, and I still have a friend that makes stainless brake lines. His machines all have a dot number crimped in every line sold so it could be traced back in the event of a failure. Last I asked (a few years ago), he never had a failure. I wonder if that's changed.

Shaun HalfDork
April 13, 2017 7:47 p.m.

I had a ss brake line failure at the crimp that thankfully made itself apparent as a weep. Operator error was the cause since I installed them. They looked groovy at full droop with the wheels off but bad things were happening in use.

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 13, 2017 8:55 p.m.

I've seen that with some of the ones we've sold. You get a bit of leakage at the crimp as soon as it's installed. Naturally the line gets replaced immediately. Never had one blow apart.

I have recovered a Jeep that suffered a line failure. The line was rubbing against the tire and had eroded away the sheath so the Teflon inner liner was exposed. The guy taking care of the Jeep knew it, too. Can't blame the line for that one.

Ransom PowerDork
April 13, 2017 9:04 p.m.

I have had a braided stainless line fail by pulling out of the crimp like that. Mercifully at an autocross with lots of room and not much momentum.

I was really hoping never to hear of another instance.

chrispy HalfDork
April 14, 2017 11:12 a.m.

Very glad he is ok. When I had my Golf, I used his advise for set up and tuning. Really great guy.

HapDL
HapDL New Reader
April 16, 2017 9:42 a.m.

Never had a brake line failure but I had a rear shed the entire block of friction material from the backing plate while braking for Turn 5a at Mosport. That foot to the floor moment was the biggest pucker incident of my racing life and I am still amazed that both car and driver emerged unscathed. I was off pace slightly from overtaking a slower car in 4 and I am certain that was what made the difference. The brake pad supplier recommended we countersink rivets through the friction material as a safety measure, I changed manufacturers instead.

amg_rx7 SuperDork
April 16, 2017 11:31 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote: By the way, this is why we research things before putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or whatever metaphor have you. Yes, it takes more time than just just spouting off the first thing that comes to mind but, in the end, I feel better about our place in life. No, we are not a click bait site. We are here for the long haul, and this is our community. End soap box.

I've crossed paths and observed in action some of the people that write there. They seem to make up some stuff in a quest for grandioseness and getting articles out quickly :)

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