Has SCCA road racing gotten too rough? And, if so, who or what are to blame?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
May 2, 2022 | SCCA, road racing

Has SCCA road racing gotten too physical and, if so, how do we put the genie back into the bottle?

Eric Prill, the SCCA’s vice president of road racing and also a national champion, shared the following letter to his fellow racers.

Dear SCCA Hoosier Super Tour Drivers,

I write to you today, not solely as the staff lead of the SCCA Road Racing program, but as a fellow driver.

Friends, we need to talk…

Over the last couple of years, staff has heard concerns from many of you about the level of driving, the number of incidents and the amount of discipline at our events—specifically the Hoosier Super Tour weekends.

Speaking to several of you over the last season, there is a belief that the driving quality has degraded, and the number of incidents increased over the last couple of years. Aside from the number of actions during a weekend, which has not shown a meaningful change outside of the Runoffs, we have not had a mechanism to specifically track the on-track activity.

So, following this year’s VIR Super Tour (April 8-10), we combed through the T&S data and Communication logs and complied that information.

Some specific data from VIR:

Number of participants: 409

Number of sessions: 40

Number of sessions that were interrupted (FCY, BFA, Early Checker): 22

Number of sessions that went un-interrupted, Green-to-Checker: 18

Total incidents* reported on race logs (from corner station calls): 212

Spins: 92

Total Cars involved in metal-metal: 65

Number of vehicles requiring a tow of some kind: 57

Individual cars involved in incidents that stopped a session: 50

Laps not completed on Sunday due to reaching 35-min. time limit: 25 out of 112 possible (22%)

*Spins, metal-metal, barrier impact, stopped/mechanical – anything that either stopped a session or could have potentially stopped a session. Did not include calls of four-wheels off not involving a spin. The number should actually be higher than 212, but some of the hand-written notes were difficult to decipher.

This information gives us a baseline, something that we can track and compare future events to. As I looked through the logs, it also became clear that they don’t include every single thing that happened on track. For instance, one (metal-to-metal) incident that prompted a protest was not mentioned in the session log.

This is a great reminder that, as outstanding as our corner marshals are, it is impossible for them to see everything that happens from their posts, particularly when they’re reporting on the 212+ other incidents throughout the weekend. So, if there’s no report, and the drivers don’t say anything, there is no record and no opportunity for investigation.

Without previous data for comparison, we don’t know if any of these numbers are better or worse than previous events. For the sake of this argument, let’s assume they are worse.

Why is this happening, and why does it seem to have happened over the last couple of years? Here are a few considerations that have been relayed to staff recently by the racers themselves:

COVID forced all of us to take time off from doing the things we loved. Now that many of us have returned to racing, there may be some rust, pent-up aggression and feelings that we all need to “seize the day” every chance we get.

Whether it is politics, inflation, personal loss, or the overall state of the world, many people are kind of ticked-off in general. And some are taking that frustration to the racetrack.

Yellows breed yellows. When you don’t have faith in your group making a lot of green laps, there is a sense of desperation. Desperate driving creates more incidents.

Send it. A popular rally cry for some, but generally not a solid strategy, particularly in amateur motorsports. See also, “disposable racecars.”

Too much, too soon? It’s outstanding that we have lots of new drivers coming into the program. The Hoosier SCCA Super Tour is designed to be the “big stage” and there are a lot of racers that take racing very seriously.

For a new driver, that can be daunting. When you add a daunting racetrack to that situation, it can be downright intimidating. There is neither shame in asking for help nor recognizing that you may need to take a step back from the big stage. In fact, many would consider it admirable.

There are many other reasons for sure, these are just a sample that we’ve heard over the last couple of seasons.

What is SCCA going to do to fix this?”

This is something that I, and others, have been asked multiple times recently. From “hurry up the safety teams,” “harsher penalties,” “different run groups,” to “tiered licensing processes,” there is no shortage of ideas for program leaders, race organizers and officials to consider.

Ultimately, there are many things that can influence change here. And that all starts with us, the drivers. It starts with getting through Turn One. And then Turn Two, and all the way through Lap One, and so forth.

It is acknowledgement by us, the driving community, that 57 tows over a three-day weekend is unacceptable.

It is a commitment by the driving community to protect our sessions, and strive to go Green-to-Checker without interruption.

It is a pledge to be the driver that you want everyone else to be.

I know the staff team, program leaders and officials will endeavor to seek out ways to improve the experience during our events.

I ask that we, the driving community, do our part to start this Green-to-Checker (G2C) movement.

See you at the track,

Eric Prill

VP, SCCA Road Racing & Driver

(who has made his fair share of mistakes behind the wheel over the last 30 years, but always strives to be better)

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Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/2/22 11:48 a.m.

It's a difficult balance from a sanctioning body standpoint. Graduated licenses would be great, but some potential competitors would view it was a money grab or requirement to run a minimum number of events a year in order to be able to move up. And a system for tiers would need to be established and class sizes would shrink. 13s would work with consistency of implementation. You also have consider how other sanctioning bodies are going to counter punch whatever you do in an effort to recruit drivers. There are more options than ever with regards to with whom to run with. It's a complicated matter to address, but one that does need evaluation, then addressing with confidence. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/2/22 11:57 a.m.

I know that rubbin's racing, but to quote Randy Pobst, Crashing sucks. 

(Editor's note: "Rubbin's racing" is sarcasm.)

BA5
BA5 GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/2/22 12:29 p.m.

I stay out of wheel-to-wheel because I've long gotten a bad vibe from the crowd.

Although in all competitions there's always a few folks who seem to forget that we're all just out there to have fun.

johndej
johndej Dork
5/2/22 12:44 p.m.

Sounds like they're going the right direction by keeping actual numbers from events. Perhaps put in some sort of points system for being involved in a certain number of incidents per events (not per year as I imagine someone could just take a few races off to reset) and penalize appropriately. Everyone has a camera now so shouldn't be hard to verify.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/2/22 12:47 p.m.

Some things to ponder:

How is it  vintage races manage to have far fewer incidents?

[Before anyone chimes in about high speed parading I would suggest you've never vintage raced. Egos & the desire to win abound there as well. Pretty sure Tim isn't building a Mustang to parade around].

Years a go a dear friend asked me how come men act like pigs, to which I answered "because you let them".

Every time a group gets out of hand it's because we let them.

Think I'm exaggerating? Sports Renault (now Spec Racer Ford) was known as Sports Rambo & we all know about Spec Pinata (Note SM was very well behaved at the RunOffs this year).

This is and has been an on and off problem for the SCCA for some time; years ago I was at a regional where Marge Binks was the Chief Steward. The Spec RX7 group were driving like buffoons, she put them on notice. Lo and behold their standards immediately improved. 

Randy Pobst (among others) worked hard to establish passing standards but at the end of the day they need to be enforced.

Rubbing is not racing at the amateur level; that is total BS. For a case in point see the 2021 F500 RunOffs race; two drivers going at it hammer and tongs while showing each other great respect.

How to fix it:

1. You need to be clear about the expectations and that over aggressive driving will not be tolerated  (even at the RunOffs). 

2. Take this out of the drivers hands; there is a culture of not wanting to protest, if there is contact (incidental or otherwise) both parties should be summoned to the stewards. (this is what happens at vintage).

3. Weed out the bad apples. Now that on board cameras are required it's much easier to sort how who did what. Those who repeatedly send it & cause crashes are not only damaging peoples cars, they're damaging your participation numbers. 

Finally:

Yes, some drivers will claim you've wussified the racing and threaten to leave but most of us would welcome the discipline. 

This is what I once told a very talented driver who had a habit of bouncing off people "you are pretty much inch perfect everywhere, well how come you can't be inch perfect when you're next to other cars?"  

rustomatic
rustomatic Reader
5/2/22 1:32 p.m.

This sounds like a case for more demolition derby events, not road racing.  It also sounds like an Atlanta freeway:  constantly unchecked (until the inevitable, spectacular wreck)/unchained aggression.  People need some outlets that do not involve driving, AKA a punching bag in the basement.  Perhaps dating without the Tinder app might add to societal balance as well . . .

drsmooth
drsmooth HalfDork
5/2/22 1:52 p.m.

Rubbin isn't racing, it leads to dissatisfied customers, and it is the sanctioning body's fault. 

Club racers are customers plain and simple. They are paying a fee to the sanctioning body to get on track.

Driving behind the pace car sucks.

Having your race shortened because someone in another group did something stupid sucks.

Having your car damaged because of someone else sucks.

Somebody with a mechanical issue that doesnt pull off to a safe spot, just so they can get a tow back to the pits in a vain attempt to get back into a 20 minute race 5 laps down sucks. 

 

Dissatisfied customers don't tend to come back. There are allot of options to get on track today, and customers will chose the one that is the best bang for their buck. 

Also, with regards to what is to blame, physics. Vehicles are designed to have far more grip than they used to and they're bigger, including wider chassis, with wider grippier rubber and the vehicles weigh more. So momentum is king as opposed to agility and transition. Thusly, power and straight line speed becomes more important and then you fall into situations due to situational awareness, mechanical failure or mass x speed portions of the equation. 

The amount of potential grip available is so much more than used to be possible, which makes changing direction at speed more difficult, as settings lean towards high speed stability. 

EDT (Forum Supporter)
EDT (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/2/22 3:40 p.m.

I believe safety is a major factor. As the sport grows safer as a whole and a larger percentage of accidents become non-issue s as far as bodily injury, there are fewer repercussions that aren't monetary. I have lived around high levels of kart racing for a while now and have seen the sport get more and more aggressive as metal bumpers transition to bigger and bigger plastic bumpers, wheels become harder to get caught together, helmets and neck braces advance, etc. The kids who advance from karts often carry these aggressive, if I can't get around you clean I'm just going to push you out of my way, mentalities into cars and you can see this issue being discussed by many series. Is it an issue of the series not policing incidents well, younger drivers being immature, or drivers who have never had to worry about crushing their heads after busting through a hay bale and straight into a concrete wall? I'm not going to say that we should make things more dangerous to reintroduce the fear of injury in a wreck, but there must be something done to curb the almost "hit the reset button and try again" method of today. In karts, push back bumpers that penalize a hit of a certain force has done quite a bit to quell the aggression, but in other ways it's just made drivers get creative with how they're going to hit someone. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
5/2/22 3:50 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

How is it  vintage races manage to have far fewer incidents?

As far as I know, all the major vintage racing groups have a strict no-contact policy.  It seems like those specific words "strict no-contact policy" and things like the 13/13 rule are constantly reinforced and have a big psychological effect on the drivers.  As soon as you open the door that -some- contact is OK and that enforcement is somewhat arbitrary, now everything is open to interpretation and certain people will see how much they can get away with.

The other big difference with vintage racing is that it's not spec racing.  Most SCCA classes are incredibly competitive with very well matched cars, and the openings to make a pass are usually razor thin.  It doesn't take much of a judgement error to lead to an incident.

That said- yesterday some clown took out my buddy's Morgan and a 356 trying to jump the start at the HSR event.  The green flag wasn't even out and he was already caroming off of cars.  Apparently he took out another car coming back through the field during the race.  By the time they went to find him he was already packed and gone.  So apparently sometimes the rules have nothing to do with it, and it's about the individual.

I'd be curious to look at the data and see where in the pack the incidents usually take place.  My completely subjective opinion is that the frontrunners and backmarkers usually have skill and courage in somewhat equal proportion, and the mid-pack drivers often get that equation out of whack.  As a mid-pack driver myself, it's really hard not to.  You know that to make a pass you're going to take risks you're not always comfortable with.  And when being passed, you don't always recognize when the smarter play is to back out of a corner and wait for the guy to make his next mistake.  

CWArmbrust
CWArmbrust
5/2/22 3:52 p.m.

Eric and others,

 

I too have caused my share of various flags and scattered parts on the track.

I also spent a lot of time on flag stations, in Race Control, and as a Race Chairman.

At the 2020 convention in Las Vegas, a group of us from the NEDiv presented a co-authored paper entitled "Green Flag Racing." In the discussion were some statistical samples of the developing problem you mention here. 
 

This package is still available on the SCCA Website Portal. 
 

We did a joint presentation with three of us, each representing an area of involvement. One from the drivers' perspective, one as an accomplished steward, and one from administration and operations. 
 

There are a lot of moving parts. It will take a broad and committed effort working in cooperation to begin to turn this ship.

W

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/2/22 4:26 p.m.
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) said:

The other big difference with vintage racing is that it's not spec racing.  Most SCCA classes are incredibly competitive with very well matched cars, and the openings to make a pass are usually razor thin.  It doesn't take much of a judgement error to lead to an incident.

 

My completely subjective opinion is that the frontrunners and backmarkers usually have skill and courage in somewhat equal proportion, and the mid-pack drivers often get that equation out of whack.  

Two vaild points: 

Note fully half of vintage racing is spec racing.   You have classes that are spec (Formula Fords, S2000 & Formula Vee) and then some classes that are pratically spec. B-sedan is mainly 510s & 2002s which are very evenly matched as are the classes running Spridgets.

As for the observation about mid-pack drivers (be it vintage or modern) it's extremely valid. This of course is a generalization but in general the mid-pack drivers are at a point where they have enough talent to get themselves into trouble but not necessarily the talent to get themselves out of trouble. Note there are also some mid-pack drivers who think they can go from 11th to first in the first turn. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/2/22 4:32 p.m.
CWArmbrust said:

There are a lot of moving parts. It will take a broad and committed effort working in cooperation to begin to turn this ship.

I agree but the biggest thing is setting the tone early; you have to make it known that certain behaviours won't be tolerated.  We also need to be consistent about it as well.

My .02

Eric60
Eric60 New Reader
5/2/22 4:41 p.m.

This was an increasing problem in the old Cendiv region in the 90s when I started racing. The combined Showroom Stock and IT race group was particularly bad. One weekend, on grid at Mid Ohio, the Chief Steward announced to all; "If any of you start banging doors, BOTH of you are going to meet me after the race and BOTH of you better bring your checkbooks! The penalties start at $100"

We had a LOT less contact after that little announcement.

Make it very clear that BOTH participants will share blame and penalties for any contact and stick to it!

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
5/2/22 4:50 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

Some things to ponder:

How is it  vintage races manage to have far fewer incidents?

[Before anyone chimes in about high speed parading I would suggest you've never vintage raced. Egos & the desire to win abound there as well. Pretty sure Tim isn't building a Mustang to parade around].

Years a go a dear friend asked me how come men act like pigs, to which I answered "because you let them".

Every time a group gets out of hand it's because we let them.

Think I'm exaggerating? Sports Renault (now Spec Racer Ford) was known as Sports Rambo & we all know about Spec Pinata (Note SM was very well behaved at the RunOffs this year).

This is and has been an on and off problem for the SCCA for some time; years ago I was at a regional where Marge Binks was the Chief Steward. The Spec RX7 group were driving like buffoons, she put them on notice. Lo and behold their standards immediately improved. 

Randy Pobst (among others) worked hard to establish passing standards but at the end of the day they need to be enforced.

Rubbing is not racing at the amateur level; that is total BS. For a case in point see the 2021 F500 RunOffs race; two drivers going at it hammer and tongs while showing each other great respect.

How to fix it:

1. You need to be clear about the expectations and that over aggressive driving will not be tolerated  (even at the RunOffs). 

2. Take this out of the drivers hands; there is a culture of not wanting to protest, if there is contact (incidental or otherwise) both parties should be summoned to the stewards. (this is what happens at vintage).

3. Weed out the bad apples. Now that on board cameras are required it's much easier to sort how who did what. Those who repeatedly send it & cause crashes are not only damaging peoples cars, they're damaging your participation numbers. 

Finally:

Yes, some drivers will claim you've wussified the racing and threaten to leave but most of us would welcome the discipline. 

This is what I once told a very talented driver who had a habit of bouncing off people "you are pretty much inch perfect everywhere, well how come you can't be inch perfect when you're next to other cars?"  

Well said. In vintage racing we are as aggressive as we feel comfortable.   
 The 13/13 rule is always hanging over our head.  It means basically contact puts you on suspension for 13 months. Any contact with anyone in that period and you are banned for 13 months from competing.  Doesn't matter who's fault it is.  Contact is not allowed.  

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
5/2/22 5:01 p.m.
Eric60 said:

This was an increasing problem in the old Cendiv region in the 90s when I started racing. The combined Showroom Stock and IT race group was particularly bad. One weekend, on grid at Mid Ohio, the Chief Steward announced to all; "If any of you start banging doors, BOTH of you are going to meet me after the race and BOTH of you better bring your checkbooks! The penalties start at $100"

We had a LOT less contact after that little announcement.

Make it very clear that BOTH participants will share blame and penalties for any contact and stick to it!

I'm not sure cash penalties will end the problem.  Some of those who race have enough that they pay others to count it.  
     Instead have them suffer ( for minor contact). Loss of starting position.   ie start at the back of the pack the next race weekend. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
5/2/22 5:04 p.m.

I went through the stats in the OP about the VIR Super Tour event.  If you assume that none of the 409 drivers had more than one incident:

 

- over half of the drivers had an incident (55%)

- almost 1/4 had a spin (22%)

- 1/6 had metal/metal contact (17%)

- 1/7 took a ride on a tow truck (14%)

- 1/8 had an incident that stopped a session (12%)

 

This seems completely insane to me.  Who would sign up for an amateur race if they knew in advance that these were their odds?

Chuck McAbee
Chuck McAbee New Reader
5/2/22 5:24 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Rubbin's isn't racing - it is crashing in a small way. The worst role models for racing have been Dale Earnhardt Sr., Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and the Hamilton/Verstappen 2021 F1 Season.  All those named leave one thing out of their racecraft - something sung with conviction by Aretha Franklin - R E S P E C T.  In their lust and red mist for victory they all lost RESPECT - respect for themselves as well as the other compeitiors.  With 'Officialdom' accepting the actions of those named as acceptable racing and not penalizing them for their transgressions we have what we have today.

Within SCCA it has evolved into 'I have the funds for repairs - Do YOU? Send it!'  That is not what Club Racing should be at any level - Drivers School to Super Tour events to the Runoffs.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/2/22 5:35 p.m.

In reply to Chuck McAbee :

Trust me, I know that rubbin's not racing. Just a little sarcasm. 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/2/22 5:50 p.m.

I've seen it marshaling more and more. I'll never forget one SRF race a couple years ago. There was 7 incident reports I had to fill out for 1 race. SEVEN and that was just my corner.

I know for me, I'd rather go Lemons or Champ than SCCA racing now a days and I've been around SCCA racing for a couple decades now. I already lost one race car when I was younger to someone else's red mist. 

The cost of running is just too high both in time spent and parts costs. 

buzzboy
buzzboy SuperDork
5/2/22 6:01 p.m.

Racing with 24HoL and LDR things seem pretty friendly out there. Lemons aggressively enforces no-contact. Here and there is a rough race and they'll black flag the whole field a ream you for it. Not been to an SCCA race but that doesn't sound fun. I'm out here to race not to crash. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/2/22 6:04 p.m.

In reply to ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) :

The one out of seven drivers needing a tow truck ride is pretty eye-opening. If you have seven race groups, that's an entire group coming in on the hook. 

Don49 (Forum Supporter)
Don49 (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/2/22 6:30 p.m.

I have been racing at the National level with SCCA since 1988. The biggest issue I see is overly aggressive driving and low percentage moves. In the past few years I have been punted off the track by drivers who were qualified slower dive bombing into a turn with no hope of making the corner if I wasn't there to carom off. Enforcement is the key. One of the drivers I'm referencing put another car on its roof at the Runoffs last year making a overly aggressive attempt to pass. Repeat offenders need to be sat down for a period to contemplate the error of their ways.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/2/22 7:18 p.m.

I'll share two stories:

Back in the Late 80s the motorcycle club I was road racing with was having issues with an increase in the number of offs / crashes and it was increasing there insurance costs.

In response the club came up with a tiered system. Any off course excursion was a trip to black flag. Go off a second time done for the session. Go off a third time done for the day. Avoidance maneuvers were exempt from this; you still were supposed to come in but they didn't count towards your tally. Crashes were similar but a second crash meant you were done for the day; third crash done for the weekend.  I don't remember what the benchmark was but at some point your were banned for the year. This basically cured most of the idiot behavior. 

Many years ago at the big Spec Miata race in support of a pro race weekend the stewards told the field of 70+ drivers that they weren't going to tolerate bumping and banging. Again everyone behaved.

SCCA only needs to look in the mirror; we've allowed this to go on for far to long and it's time to fix it. The fix is simple, stop tolerating it.

 

 

Byrneon27
Byrneon27 Reader
5/2/22 9:48 p.m.

Fine I'll be the bad guy... 

 

19wheneverthehell-2006ish... SCCA club racing the premier amateur racing in the country with a well thought-out, tough but fair system that combines equal parts "let the boys play" and "don't berkeley up" 

Mid 2000s... Everybody sets up an amateur sports car racing sanctioning body almost all with agressive "no contact" policies

Today... SCCA style racing has too many incidents... They play too rough. 

 

 

It's been a minute since I've done any road racing so maybe I'm wrong but from the time I started until the time I stopped doing it regularly the competitor changed. People who don't know how to be passed, people who just generally expect you're going to give them a mile, people who cannot run in a pack, etc etc. If people are routinely getting Saturday night short track dumped at SCCA races yes that's a problem. If people who know how to race for real are encountering people who haven't devloped those skills yet the outcome is pretty obvious. 

 

Is it not pretty well understood in vintage racing the first thing to do is not crash? I don't follow vintage stuff but is it really competitive or more rolling car show? (Not intending to sound like a jerk I see the comparison often) 

 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
5/2/22 10:12 p.m.
Byrneon27 said:

Is it not pretty well understood in vintage racing the first thing to do is not crash?

I think the more relevant question is- shouldn't this be understood in all amateur racing?  I don't think anyone would question that SCCA is closer and more competitive racing than vintage or endurance, and people go in knowing that.  But when over half of your sprint races can't get from green to checker without being flagged, and one out of every five or six cars gets crashed out every weekend, I think you have a problem to fix. "Don't show up unless you have buckets of money to fix your broken car every race" isn't really a sustainable philosophy. 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
5/2/22 10:42 p.m.

"If you are not prepared to sweep your car up on the back straight now and then, perhaps motor racing isn't for you."

But... stuff is faster, tires have more grip, and the edge is a bit farther out there now.    People are less used to having things go wrong every day, and society has more of a "This situation I find myself in is of someone else's making."  "That guy hit me, and there was nothing I could do, other than give him the corner..."

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
5/2/22 11:32 p.m.
Byrneon27 said:

Fine I'll be the bad guy... 

 

19wheneverthehell-2006ish... SCCA club racing the premier amateur racing in the country with a well thought-out, tough but fair system that combines equal parts "let the boys play" and "don't berkeley up" 

Mid 2000s... Everybody sets up an amateur sports car racing sanctioning body almost all with agressive "no contact" policies

Today... SCCA style racing has too many incidents... They play too rough. 

 

 

It's been a minute since I've done any road racing so maybe I'm wrong but from the time I started until the time I stopped doing it regularly the competitor changed. People who don't know how to be passed, people who just generally expect you're going to give them a mile, people who cannot run in a pack, etc etc. If people are routinely getting Saturday night short track dumped at SCCA races yes that's a problem. If people who know how to race for real are encountering people who haven't devloped those skills yet the outcome is pretty obvious. 

 

Is it not pretty well understood in vintage racing the first thing to do is not crash? I don't follow vintage stuff but is it really competitive or more rolling car show? (Not intending to sound like a jerk I see the comparison often) 

 

To answer your question. There is a lot of real passing in vintage racing. We are just aware that it's the person overtaking with is responsible to make a safe, contact free pass.  The person being passed knows that he has to maintain his line. ( no blocking ) 

       It's real racing.  I'll out brake anyone I can ( safely). I'll out accelerate any one I can ( safely). And I'll out corner  anyone I can (safely). They will do it to me.  
   The real history of the car has already been made.  It's not as fast as the new stuff.  But that's OK 

    The first Vintage race I entered (1976) we agreed to  pass and be passed  for 8 of the 10 laps but the last two  were serious. 
     I was running about 18th  in a stone stock 1953 MGTD following Mark in a Highly modified MGTC ( supercharger, magneto, big valve head 1500 cc ). Lightened,  well prepped.    I could almost stay behind him if I was inches off his back end.   I had better brakes and slightly better handling.  So I let him lead the 9th lap by a significant amount. On the 10th lap I sucked up close to him and down the long main straight I stayed an inch or two behind him. On the banking he slid up higher giving me the inside  coming into 3 when he went for his fading brakes Early I pulled ahead and out brakes him into the corner taking the line away from him. Knowing he was faster he took my inside line and as a result killed his speed through the corner. 
 I kept taking the line in 4-5-6-7- 8 but I let him have the line in turn 9  which put me on the inside going into 10. He came over to block me going into 10 so I took the outside line, big radius turn holding my speed in 4 th gear.   Down the main straight I started out several car length ahead but that supercharged engine was catching me.   So I put myself down the line he'd always taken in the past and he caught me but couldn't get past me before the checker. 5 feet later but it was 5 feet too late. 
   Ask me about the Grand Bahama's with Sit Stirling Moss. 
 

my point is Vintage is real racing without contact.  

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/2/22 11:51 p.m.

In reply to Byrneon27 :

Having raced both vintage and SCCA both organizations state that not crashing is the main thing. Unfortunately SCCA isn't as good at enforcing this.

I'm glad Eric Prill brought it up as it's about time. Again the solution is simple, you need to enforce the rules and make it clear contact is not OK.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/3/22 8:01 a.m.

Sounds like spec Miata just in different cars.  

russelljones48
russelljones48 New Reader
5/3/22 8:52 a.m.

I'll take a slightly different perspective than most above..  My perspective is based mostly on what it takes to get on track; it takes $$$$ and time.  And all of our team members are somewhat or woefully short of both.  I missed the boat as a younger man and had no time or money for racing.  I'm now retired and have some of both - but our team members (my children and friends) can't afford to come home from either a track day or a race with major (or maybe even minor) repair bills requiring an unplanned expenditure of time and money to get back on the track.  As I suspect most of us do, we would like to be able get faster and race in a "better" series.  However, I'm appalled at the carnage I see in most televised series and it seems to be rolling downhill.  

In my opinion, if any sanctioning organization pretends to want to attract new racers, the cost and frustration of on track damage must be minimized.  When we have a spare million maybe we can try some door banging - until then we're only barely able to recover from self-inflicted wounds.  

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
5/3/22 9:10 a.m.

Lemons is the death on metal to metal contact. Zero tolerance. Both cars are black flagged and parked. It doesn't matter who is at fault. Repeat offenders get parked longer or even get their wristband cut. It still happens, but everyone knows the consequences of being an idiot behind the wheel.

The last event I competed in at CMP had zero metal-to-metal incidents over 14 hours of track time. That's pretty amazing for a bunch of cheap cars that are beat up to start with and piloted by drivers who frequently get their racing license by paying the $50. 

Much like dealing with children, the SCCA needs to draw a line in the sand and when a driver crosses it, they need to be consistent in how it is handled. The drivers need to know where the line is and know the consequences of crossing it. Zero tolerance is a good place to start. Park a few cars for a few races or boot some drivers for the weekend and the bad drivers will either straighten up or leave. 

 

 

 

 

johndej
johndej Dork
5/3/22 9:38 a.m.

Lol, I pulled up some of the video from that VIR race and looks like quite the cluster. Also everyone gets to mouthing off later on the Facebook groups about it as well so can definitely see there's some open hostilities between drivers who state clearly they won't back down to certain others. Here's an especially bad example of driving from an earlier Sebring race.

 

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
5/3/22 10:21 a.m.

In reply to johndej :

The guy in the orange car would have gotten his wristband cut by Lemons after the 2nd incident.

Edit to add: The SCCA's failure to discipline these drivers is what causes them to get the attitude of screw'em, I'm getting even.  

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
5/3/22 11:29 a.m.

That video is a great example of why people should be allowed to punch people post race.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/3/22 11:45 a.m.
dean1484 said:

Sounds like spec Miata just in different cars.  

SCCA has a Spec Miata class so the stats in the letter include Spec Miatas.  It might be interesting to see how their stats compare with the those in the other classes.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
5/3/22 12:02 p.m.

I grew up in the circle track world and remember as a kid watching incidents on track being resolved in the pits. I know road racers are a different breed and it would be more like a Saturday Night Sissy Fight or a shouting match but as Mike Tyson said "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." Which might make the aggressive tactics on track simmer down a bit. 

This is a completely different take on things; but, one of the Air Force units I was stationed with used to let us knuckle draggers resolve our differences with boxing gloves and head gear. They were occasionally used but just the thought of that or being "smoked" by leadership was enough for most people to stay in line. 

ANYWAYS.....

This kind of stuff all comes down to the sanctioning body. They need to be better at enforcing rules, laying out punishments, and having zero tolerance. I love that WRL requires cameras and will review footage to deal out punishments for incidents. Champcar could be better but they still won't hesitate to throw someone out for crappy driving. Lemons seems to just have happy go lucky, "just going for a Sunday cruise" drivers that don't make questionable moves that put life and equipment in risk in my experience racing with them. 

Racers are the customers of the SCCA but it is still the SCCAs sandbox. They need to lay down the law and really put it to offenders . 

Berck
Berck Reader
5/3/22 12:31 p.m.

That video... I know it was bad, but I didn't know it was THAT bad.  I agree with others: if the SCCA wants to stop this sort of behavior, they should stop it.  We race hard in Vintage, and this doesn't happen.  Some vintage clubs (like CVAR) have a run group where they agree not to race hard so that they can take their expensive race cars out with minimal risk--but this is the exception in Vintage rather than the rule. 

None of that is to say that we don't have our share of incidents.  I've certainly made my share of mistakes; I'm learning from them and striving to be a better, safer driver.  My club had this happen back in 2020:

 

A red-flagged race with 4 damaged cars in 2 incidents in a single lap.  The drivers were all okay, but this resulted in a major reckoning with significant penalties.   As a result, the FF group had no issues last year.  And I'll note that while there were poor decisions made in this video, none of it was as egregious as the above Miata race.

It's not just the metal-to-metal incidents we take seriously.  In our club, you get a single spin/off-track incident per weekend, for free.  The second one in a weekend ends that race, and the third one in that weekend ends the weekend with you on probation for the next weekend.  If the SCCA wants to reduce their incident count then institute rules to prevent them, and enforce them.  I decided to race Formula Vee specifically because I didn't want to be part of Spec Pinata even though I'm a Miata guy.  If the SCCA has a reckoning, I suspect there'd also be a shift in who races with them.

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
5/3/22 1:45 p.m.

The thing that hurts SCCA the most in this is, they entrust the volunteers of a region to handle all the discipline.  Many times, the Steward of the Meet is a racer himself, and friends with quite a few of the people he must oversee.  Without someone from National, like you have with Champ, Lemons, or a vintage org., what responsibility does a volunteer have to SCCA National to discipline his friend.  It's not like National will remove him.  In fact, if he wants to be continually voted in to positions, he gives preferential treatment to people for votes.  As a 31 year member of SCCA, I've seen this snowball to the point it's at now.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
5/3/22 3:22 p.m.

Was that orange miata the same car/driven by the same person every time?  Wow, I'd feel incredibly unsafe being out on track with someone like that.  There also seems to be no feeling of self preservation or worry about injuring a fellow racer. 

I've had zero interest in being involved in racing due to my perception of the amount of time/money and potential for car damage and seeing that really seals that for me. 

SCCA needs to get a handle on this and do it by banning people like that orange miata from being able to participate for multiple seasons and maybe for life.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/3/22 4:20 p.m.
Berck said:

That video... I know it was bad, but I didn't know it was THAT bad.  I agree with others: if the SCCA wants to stop this sort of behavior, they should stop it.  We race hard in Vintage, and this doesn't happen.  Some vintage clubs (like CVAR) have a run group where they agree not to race hard so that they can take their expensive race cars out with minimal risk--but this is the exception in Vintage rather than the rule. 

None of that is to say that we don't have our share of incidents.  I've certainly made my share of mistakes; I'm learning from them and striving to be a better, safer driver.  My club had this happen back in 2020:

 

A red-flagged race with 4 damaged cars in 2 incidents in a single lap.  The drivers were all okay, but this resulted in a major reckoning with significant penalties.   As a result, the FF group had no issues last year.  And I'll note that while there were poor decisions made in this video, none of it was as egregious as the above Miata race.

It's not just the metal-to-metal incidents we take seriously.  In our club, you get a single spin/off-track incident per weekend, for free.  The second one in a weekend ends that race, and the third one in that weekend ends the weekend with you on probation for the next weekend.  If the SCCA wants to reduce their incident count then institute rules to prevent them, and enforce them.  I decided to race Formula Vee specifically because I didn't want to be part of Spec Pinata even though I'm a Miata guy.  If the SCCA has a reckoning, I suspect there'd also be a shift in who races with them.

One of the reasons I run with RMVR (the club Berck is referring to) and not the SCCA is the emphasis that RMVR has on keeping your car under control and not running into each other. 

 

Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/3/22 4:26 p.m.

In reply to johndej :

Holy berking E36 M3, oramge #46 needs to be pistol whipped. I saw at least 3 intentional wrecks by that car. What the actual berk?!?

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/3/22 4:37 p.m.
docwyte said:

I've had zero interest in being involved in racing due to my perception of the amount of time/money and potential for car damage and seeing that really seals that for me. 

I've been racing for 37 years, including bikes, and knock wood I haven't ever had to repair any crash damage.  I tend to use a mantra you may be familiar with "do no harm".  I'm an extremely aggressive driver but I still drive heads up.

If you choose where you race carefully the likelihood of your car being damaged is pretty low. Also the most likely person to cause the damage is you. 

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/3/22 4:46 p.m.

I think it's many things, and America is just behind the curve.  Europe, and the UK in particular, seem to have been dealing with this for 20 years now.  Club racing getting more and more aggressive with more on track incidents.  My belief is the following are the main root causes.

  1. Declining standards in professional racing, starting with Senna, and continued by Schumacher.  Those were two of the greatest natural talents the sport has ever seen, but they were both dirty, unsportsmanlike drivers on track.  For some reason their actions were tolerated by the FIA.  Young drivers watched them push people off the road left and right with no comeback, and figured that behaviors was acceptable, so did the same coming up through the ranks.
  2. Cars are so much safer, even sedans, than 20-30 years ago.  Heck, late last century there were several series that still allowed wheel to wheel racing with only a rear cage.  No HANS, weaker seats etc. etc.  The chances of serious injury or worse has declined meaning a gradual loss of self preservation.
  3. While racing on the whole has increased, I think a lot of the race for the experience people are heading for the various budget series (Lemons, Champ car), Others have found time trials, other are staying with track days.  All those are far more prevalent than 20 years ago.  This means that those who are still attracted to SCCA tend to be more 'hard core' racers where winning and being competitive is of greater importance.  This means people are trying harder.
  4. The divide between circle track and road racing has been blurred more.  30 years ago most people associated affordable racing with various circle track type events, where physical racing is more acceptable.  Second, there was more of a champagne set image for road racing.  I think with the popularization of track days, time trials, etc. more people have been exposed to road racing, so people who may have gone 1/2 mild dirt oval racing then, are more likely to go road racing today, bringing the physical aspect with it.  Remember the 'rubbin is racing' BS came from NASCAR, where small local dirt and asphalt ovals are the feeder series.  

As I say I can't prove this with facts and figures, but these are my beliefes based on decades of observation.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/3/22 6:20 p.m.

I've only attended a small number of road races, so I have no insight into that side.  I've been to lots of kart races however. 

For the SCCA, how much of it has to do with money? 

In karting, you'll get the dad who sponsors an entire series.  Basically, funding all the track workers and stuff.  More often than not, that kid will seem to get a "pass" more than others.  Also, the drivers with money and an extra chassis (or several) in the trailer seem to worry less about breaking stuff.  And it all becomes a domino affect.  One does it and goes to the front with no penalty, so the others think they have to do it to win.  Very quickly, everyone thinks to compete/win you've got to be aggressive.  So, it's not just one driver doing it, but half the field.  Full disclosure, had to have a talk with my son and tell him to be more aggressive at nationals.  Only problem was unlearing that same mentality when coming back home to a local race.  It caused issues.  :(

-Rob

 

danteriyaki
danteriyaki
5/3/22 7:04 p.m.

In reply to johndej :

Holy E36 M3, I've seen Forza lobbies with less carnage than that.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/3/22 7:18 p.m.

I've posted this before but I think it's appropriate for this topic.

I'm driving the red 1200 coupe directly in front of the camera car.  We are racing hard, in fact I'm aggressively squeezing other cars in spots yet we have no issue. You can race hard without banging into each other.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsApTh6m2Xw&t=306s

(note I don't know how to make the video post up directly).

 

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/3/22 7:23 p.m.

Wow. Senna, Schumacher, World Championships, money and sponsors?

I thought the guys in the Miatas were just racing for plaques and trophies. Somebody is actually going to stuff another driver into the wall to win a $10 trophy? But then again I have seen people on the freeway run other people off the road to get to work five minutes earlier, so I believe it. It's just sad.

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Dork
5/3/22 10:14 p.m.

The problem is a pattern of incidents, lots of them.  So it's bigger than just a few drivers.  I'll be the bad guy and say the problem is the officials.  My experience is that the officials are very reluctant to assign fault.  Far, far too often it is ruled a "racing incident."  No, most of the time, someone is AT FAULT and it is the officials' job to determine fault.  And they need to not be shy when someone is AT FAULT.  Stop trying to please everyone and stop trying to be nice to everyone.  When there is significant sheet metal damage NOBODY is going to be happy.  But the officials can at least ensure that the victims don't feel like they've been taken out with no consequences.  The officials have the job of making the hard decisions and the unpopular decisions.  The officials MUST have the guts to assign fault.

If the officials don't determine fault then three things happen.  1)  The officials harm their organization because the victim races with someone else.  2) The perpetrator gets to continue to make bad decisions and put others at risk of harm.  And 3) the other drivers see that crashing others is tolerated and will start making low-percentage passes because (it appears) that is how to win.

Want to kill a series?  Have wishy-washy officials make the ruling on contact.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
5/4/22 8:33 a.m.

I don't know who all these people are that can afford to bang into each other constantly during a race. They must live a different life than I do.

Racing at the club level is EXPENSIVE for the average person, of which I consider myself one. Racing a spec sedan class was (five years ago) a $1200 per weekend expenditure. I built the cheapest car possible for the class I ran in and had $10k wrapped up in it. I had some good close racing and my car never got touched, thankfully. This was NASA, not SCCA.

But, one of my spec class buddies had a lapped car drive onto the track after going off with no regard for my friend's oncoming car. That car was totaled. He is no longer a racer. He couldn't justify the cost of buying or building another car. Put his money into a vintage street car instead.

I gave up road racing simply because of the cost. I'm a upper-middle class income person with no kids and a lot of paid-for stuff including my home. I still couldn't justify the cost/benefit ratio of club racing with the risks of driver stupidity that exist, and this was with an organization that (IMO) does a superior job of policing it's drivers than the SCCA.  If I were ever to put on a driver suit again, it would be to run with a vintage club.

Pretty sad when a series like LeMons that is nothing but a bunch of crapboxes running around a track can run mostly incident free but so-called 'professional' drivers in a major club aren't made to behave themselves.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa PowerDork
5/4/22 8:45 a.m.
johndej said:

Lol, I pulled up some of the video from that VIR race and looks like quite the cluster. Also everyone gets to mouthing off later on the Facebook groups about it as well so can definitely see there's some open hostilities between drivers who state clearly they won't back down to certain others. Here's an especially bad example of driving from an earlier Sebring race.

 

Dude in the orange car deserves several cans of whoop ass opened on him.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/4/22 9:14 a.m.

Showed this to my wife who has been with me racing. Been to many track events. She summed it up quit nicely. 
 

"The drivers suck. "
 

That one comment made me realize that we are over thinking this and making up a lot of excuses for all this. 
 

The bottom line is a "good driver" has mastered all the skills.  Not managing contact, overly aggressive tendency's and a disregard for your actions on track means you have not mastered all the skills required to be a good driver. 
 

You may be a fast driver with amazing car control but that is only a small part of what makes a good driver.

Using the waterlogged sponge between your ears to make good decisions while on track is also a skill and sadly it seems to be one that is lacking more and more these days.  

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/4/22 10:17 a.m.
ddavidv said:

Pretty sad when a series like LeMons that is nothing but a bunch of crapboxes running around a track can run mostly incident free but so-called 'professional' drivers in a major club aren't made to behave themselves.

At least around here (SF Bay Area) incident-free Lemons and other crapcan races seem to be mostly mythical.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/4/22 11:22 a.m.

In the old days in Nascar, they'd just beat each other up after the race.  Driving aggro on track? See how it is when you don't have 4000lb of car around you...

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
5/4/22 1:17 p.m.

I grew up with SCCA  it was gentlemanly racing where inch perfect was the standard. By the 1980's some of that had gone away but then the rules took over.  One guy lost the Championship because he had his SUN visors tie wrapped to the roll cage instead of    Properly screwed in place.  Engine tear downs just became part of the weekend. 
   Finally for a brief time SCCA  was actually cheaper to race then Vintage events.  
       But then the rules.  I couldn't race my Black Jack special because my steering wheel had a wood rim. 
    Now with the demo derby mentality I won't risk my cars. 
 

 

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
5/4/22 1:20 p.m.

We're beaten on this topic harder than an orange Miata

At the end of the day  it comes down to this:

Why do drivers behave badly?

Becuase you let them.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/4/22 5:04 p.m.

In reply to dean1484 :

I'd second that. What a crapshow. It's embarassing for the sport.  

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