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Thread: May the odds be ever in your favor.

  1. #1

    May the odds be ever in your favor.

    I'm wondering if anyone feels like safety and/or driver skill has taken back seat lately? Is Battle Royale a new feature at Conference events?

    Group 5 and 2 are budget/entry level run groups but they now feel more like groups for people with disposable cars. It seems like a culture of contact and "rubbin's racin'" is becoming acceptable. In the past I've seen suspensions be handed out more liberally, drivers who got sent back to novice (deservedly so) and other drivers who were "invited not to race" the next day after what the stewards saw on Saturday. I don't see the same emphasis on safety and remaining in control lately.

    Is this the new normal, is it now better to be lucky than good?

  2. #2
    Yes, I believe you are correct. I just had a bad experience last weekend with a driver that should not have even been on track. Now I have a few thousand dollars of damage to pay for. Sad.

  3. #3

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by colin_koehler View Post
    Nice video! I was working 3B Saturday and had a nice ringside seat for some of that.
    Jim Phoenix
    FV 44

    "For a little more, you can do it yourself." - Ed Hollingsworth

  5. #5
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    "Well, there's some hard racing and a tiny bit of contact here and there, but nothing really... oh, no. Oh, HELL no. Wait, what'd he just do? And what did THAT guy just do?!"

    I just read an article that says workplace accidents tend to go up when the weather's really hot. I wonder if any of that played a factor?
    My favorite racing quote: Jan Magnussen, when asked by a reporter how he could be "so brave" on the racetrack, replied, "I've had hospital food; it's not so bad."

  6. #6
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    Agree Steve.

    In the video posted above, accept for a couple of passes under the yellow late in the video, it looks mostly like very competitive racing with a couple of minor contacts..
    89 Reynard FC (sold) - CREW or F&C

  7. #7
    I started in Conference running CF. I then built a Pro 7 car in 2006. Ran for a season and got back into CF. When you have fenders, you have little respect for the space you and your competitors cars take up. I've been full throttle, interlocked wheels, with Stu Dye through turn 2 in my CF at SIR without incident, but had the crap beaten out of my RX7 at Spokane by multiple door-slammers. Nature of the beast, I think.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Adams View Post
    "Well, there's some hard racing and a tiny bit of contact here and there, but nothing really... oh, no. Oh, HELL no. Wait, what'd he just do? And what did THAT guy just do?!"
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Broadhead View Post
    Agree Steve.

    In the video posted above, accept for a couple of passes under the yellow late in the video, it looks mostly like very competitive racing with a couple of minor contacts..
    Er, no. While there was some minor contact and a few instances of much more than that, there was a LOT of overly-aggressive and (imo) boneheaded driving late on.
    My favorite racing quote: Jan Magnussen, when asked by a reporter how he could be "so brave" on the racetrack, replied, "I've had hospital food; it's not so bad."

  9. #9
    For context, every incident in the video occurred within the first couple laps of a start or restart. None of the driving is particularly malicious but there are many drivers that aren't aware of the other cars around them. Unaware drivers are a huge hazard, especially at the start of the race. Behavior at the beginning of races has been a point of emphasis with the stewards but it appears that drivers haven't taken it to heart. The expectation should be zero contact and cars getting bounced off track at the exit of T2 at PR should not be considered minor. To those that disagree, how much spending of your money is acceptable to repair damage caused by other drivers not paying attention and how many DNFs are you willing to have caused by this?

  10. #10
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    Okay, I just watched the video again. I do not see ANY horrible driving except for the passes under the yellow. I see a couple of off road incidents with no clear cause a couple of 'strange' swerves here and there. But all in all, just hard racing at the start of a couple of races.

    If you guys who are complaining about this video see a LOT of messy driving I think you should get out of your cars and take up bowling. Back in the 50's and 60's when I was active, nobody would have complained about anything in that video except the yellow passes.
    89 Reynard FC (sold) - CREW or F&C

  11. #11
    Sorry Richard, I'm not with you on that one. I'm glad that my "back in the day" is different from your "back in the day" because when I started racing in 2004 I don't remember a culture of "licking the stamp and sending it". There was a lot of focus on safety and etiquette. If rebuilding your car or doing major body work every other weekend is par for the course, then that's a shi*ty course - for everyone.

    The BMW's wrecking at the start, the smashed up RX7, the punt in T2 and the contact in T3b were all very avoidable to say the least. Please keep in mind that video was JUST 1 run group... If I had video from Group 1,4 and 2 that video montage would look a lot worse, especially if it included the fact that the police were called - which I hope wasn't normal in the 50s and 60s.

    Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the car count but there's a lot of seasoned/senior drivers making some very uncharacteristic mistakes and I'm hoping things calm down as opposed to this being the norm because it's my understanding a lot of incidents are from first time offenders leading me to hope this is a fluke - but I also think there's something else below surface which is why thought a conversation to see if others see what I see would have value.

    For the larger topic at hand:
    As some offline discussions have taken place, I've come to realize that what I thought was a common truth, isn't and unfortunately some folks are not on the same page regarding driver's etiquette. Whether that's being respectful of out-of-class cars or to fellow competitors in-class. I associate driver etiquette with safety and see them as intrinsically linked - whereas other folks do not think driver etiquette has any correlation to safety, which boggles my mind. I'm also of the opinion that penalties for avoidable contact should be stiffer and accompanied by a probation period even for first time offenders, because why not nip it in the bud?. But I'm not a steward, probably to the relief of most.

    A breakdown in drivers etiquette combined with light penalties is an absolute recipe for a toxic atmosphere and dangerous environment on-track. Unfortunately there's not really anything one can propose at a membership meeting that could lead to a culture change, if in fact we do have a cultural problem relating to contact - it's difficult to legislate behavior and if the prevailing opinion throughout the paddock is that etiquette =/= safety and that "rubbin's racin'", I can absolutely predict a rapid decline in car count is in our immediate future.


    :edit: To be clear, I think Scott and Dave are excellent stewards who are doing a damn fine job and we are lucky to have them because while it's easy for me espouse an opinion on a message board, they are doing the heavy lifting and walking a fine line on what's appropriate, right and fair.
    Last edited by colin_koehler; 15 Aug 2018 at 09:49 AM.

  12. #12
    The attitudes expressed here towards the acceptance of contact are more disappointing than the events in the video.

  13. #13
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    Wanted to follow up on this thread from a standpoint of what IRDC as a club heard and has taken action on:
    1. The feedback on guidance and training for novice drivers is legit and was delivered – I spoke to Steve Clinton directly at the Portland race weekend a couple weeks ago and he committed to making sure it’s part of what’s communicated and emphasized to drivers.
    2. Feedback on driver etiquette and safe passing was also communicated to the ICSCC stewards. This messaging of safe passes, especially on lap 1 of a race and having etiquette for drivers involved in championship points races was also emphasized during the driver’s meeting at PIR and we’re going to ask that same treatment happens at each IRDC race.
    a. Special note – Lap 1 and turn 1 incidents of avoidable contact or dangerous driving were going to get up to a 5x fine at the Portland points races and we had no lap 1 incidents the whole day (I think).

    I've been engaged with Colin on the offline discussions, communicated the above actions that were going to be taken (and were) and also that if he or any other driver/member believes these actions and acting on our existing rule set is not enough, we're in the prime season to make proposed changes. He and all IRDC members are welcome put forth a rules change proposal and gather support via IRDC and other members through their respective clubs. While being in-person for these meetings is not required, when you're trying to make change happen and you have a vested interest in that change, its super helpful to attend in-person or the risk is that the change proposal will morph into something else.

    As we can tell from this thread alone, one person's POV on "incidents" may seem cut and dry but is not at all to others - so having a respectful, engaged dialogue about topics like this is critical.

  14. #14
    Are you going to be there tomorrow? A few more of us are planning on attending because of you.

    Not sure how you or anyone else thinks that we can "propose" a rule change to legislate behavior but we'll be there nonetheless and open to hearing what people have to say about things. I've spoken with several drivers and was surprised what I heard (worse than I perceived them to be). Not all those drivers are IRDC members, not all want to be named either - but the concerns will be raised of which new ones have come to light.

    I hope you're in attendance tomorrow Gama due to how important this meeting seems to be.

  15. #15
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    That’s the plan! I will be at the Ridge prior to the meeting but will either be here in person or will be calling in.

    An example of potential rules change could easily be “increase all avoidable contact penalties by X”.

  16. #16
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    So very, very difficult to bite my tongue here. The truth is that in the early 2000's when Group Two was huge and competitive we used to come out of the paddock to watch that race because of two things. 1) Many of the top drivers in Conference came out of that Group and the racing was fierce and exciting and 2) they ran into each other in fits of red mist more often than blindfolded anger management patients in a figure eight race.

    I am the very example of someone who doesn't like contact so don't take this as someone advocating for uncontrolled carnage - your rose colored glasses would not be able to protect you from the bright light of reality concerning how kind and considerate your racing was in your earlier days. I started a few years before you Colin so I remember exactly what it was like including the cars you wrote off ....

    Yes, the average cost of cars racing in Conference has risen dramatically. The spread between the most expensive and the least has gotten larger by an order of magnitude. The demographic mix of drivers and their backgounds, interests, opinions, and financial resources has continually changed. What has remained the same? Conference is actually operated by VOLUNTEERS drawn directly from the ranks of our drivers and workers so the idea that somehow it no longer represents the will of it's members is virtually impossible! The club members who are sent to the E-board are primarily interested in representing the needs of the members, making it possible for club racing's continued survival and most importantly protecting the safety of everyone involved with our activities.

    I am lucky enough to have interacted with most of the Stewards during my couple decades of racing and even having volunteered to be one. Each and every one was committed to continuing a legacy of FAIR and CONSISTENT enforcement of ICSCC rules and protecting the safety of participants. As someone who has possessed the infamous "black book" I can tell you that the gross majority of people who have held a Conference license have ONE or ZERO entries in that book. Those that insist on re-offending are assessed, coached, watched, and candidates for much larger fines, probation, and suspension where it is appropriate. This is not something where those of you who are suddenly offended by the amount of contact in racing are in opposition with the clubs and Conference - we have been addressing this for years! It would be a large undertaking, but I can dig out the records and compare incidents per year and it's pretty likely that it isn't going to show the statistical trend you are suggesting.

    Here is the simple truth - you don't want contact, the clubs don't want contact, the Stewards don't want contact, the workers don't want contact, and Conference doesn't want contact. When cars are operated at the edge of their performance envelope by competitive but mistake prone humans there are going to be incidents of contact regardless of how "polite" people are trying to race.

    Frankly, I don't want to be in a position where I have to drive 7/10ths to insure I have room to make up for my innocent and unintentional mistakes. Doesn't seem much like racing to me. On the other hand, I've given people room who, by rule, didn't deserve it because I want to take the same car home with me that I came with whenever possible. Each driver decides how much competitiveness is enough for themselves and doesn't get to do so for others.

    Lastly - all contact is avoidable. If you leave your car on the trailer it can never get hit. Better yet you can enjoy and safe and pleasant drive in your car and solve all of these problems by simply starting last on the grid and staying a safe following distance from the rest of the cars. Taking an activity that we all voluntarily choose to participate in and attempting to fundamentally changing it for everyone as an emotional reaction to something negative that happened to you personally rarely serves the group as a whole. My solution has always been to try to know my competitors, make sure they know the person that is in the car that they might hit, talk over issues, and then identify people that are problems and assist with their rehabilitation, punishment, or exclusion.

    Worked pretty well for me so far.
    Rick Bostrom
    ICSCC #155
    Groups 1/4/5

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by rick_bostrom View Post
    So very, very difficult to bite my tongue here. The truth is that in the early 2000's when Group Two was huge and competitive we used to come out of the paddock to watch that race because of two things. 1) Many of the top drivers in Conference came out of that Group and the racing was fierce and exciting and 2) they ran into each other in fits of red mist more often than blindfolded anger management patients in a figure eight race.
    That's horrific, it's not a good thing and unfortunately, explains quite a lot.

    I started a few years before you Colin so I remember exactly what it was like including the cars you wrote off ....
    My understanding is that in the years before me (pre-2001, the Chris Bowls days) things were really bad and I'm glad they improved under Dennis Peters, Dan and Rick D. No reason they can't be improved again. Also, no other drivers were involved in the 2 cars I've written off so if you need to attack me, please find an more applicable avenue to do so.

    Yes, the average cost of cars racing in Conference has risen dramatically. The spread between the most expensive and the least has gotten larger by an order of magnitude. The demographic mix of drivers and their backgounds, interests, opinions, and financial resources has continually changed. What has remained the same? Conference is actually operated by VOLUNTEERS drawn directly from the ranks of our drivers and workers so the idea that somehow it no longer represents the will of it's members is virtually impossible!
    And you accuse me of rose colored glasses? The demographic of the audience has dramatically changed but the rules have not and nor do they adequately serve their current audience. We simply do not have a consistent policy of fines, probation and suspension that adequately deters avoidable contact. A $50 or $100 fine and loss of a lap is a "nothing penalty" after costing another driver hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage and/or ending their weekend prematurely.

    This is not something where those of you who are suddenly offended by the amount of contact in racing are in opposition with the clubs and Conference - we have been addressing this for years! It would be a large undertaking, but I can dig out the records and compare incidents per year and it's pretty likely that it isn't going to show the statistical trend you are suggesting.
    In the last memo alone there's 5 instances of avoidable contact over 2 weekends that didn't have a large turn out. Just in G5 at Pacific there was physical damage across 10 of the 39 cars however, 1 penalty for avoidable contact was issued so pulling historical data isn't going to the tell the whole story. If we can't race at 10/10ths without a quarter of the field taking damage, it's my opinion and that of several others, that change is necessary.

    Frankly, I don't want to be in a position where I have to drive 7/10ths to insure I have room to make up for my innocent and unintentional mistakes.
    If you're committing unintentional mistakes at 10/10ths that consistently damages other people's property - then you absolutely should be operating at 7/10ths. 10/10ths probably isn't for you.

    Taking an activity that we all voluntarily choose to participate in and attempting to fundamentally changing it for everyone as an emotional reaction to something negative that happened to you personally rarely serves the group as a whole.
    It's exceptionally rare for a driver to be smashed into and be totally cool with it. I think prioritizing safety and non-contact as an ICSCC core competency DOES serves the group as a whole. After attending the last IRDC meeting with several suggestions, there was a lot of opinions and some overdue but tough dialogue. I'm thankful that Gama twisted my arm and coerced me into attending because the interest for improving the status quo was overwhelmingly positive. There is an appetite for better policies that better and more equitably deter avoidable contact that still allows for 10/10ths driving. Rules change proposals have been submitted.

    To everyone who feels ICSCC club racing should strive to be a non-contact sport, please don't remain silent. Attend your next meeting and consider the proposals.
    Last edited by colin_koehler; 19 Sep 2018 at 08:18 AM.

  18. #18
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    This wasn't about you in particular nor a personal attack and characterizing it as such simply works against what you say you are trying to achieve. In essence attacking me because I disagree with some of your characterizations of Conference racing is attempting to squash useful discussion of the subject rather than encouraging a dialogue that actually has an opportunity to make things better for all. Is it just opinions that disagree with your that are the problem?

    The standard for Conference racing is already no contact and we strive for that every race. The simple truth is while we can target that, it is unattainable if you actually want to race. The majority of incidents at Conference races are much more minor things like crossing blend lines, passing under yellow, sound violations, and being underweight. Out of all the contact, which is still statistically small considering the number of cars and miles traveled, the majority of those are "racing incidents" and a large portion of those are rules such at the insistence of both drivers. My comment about your cars was simply an example, not a perjorative. When you lost control of your cars the only reason someone else wasn't involved is because you were lucky they weren't in the area the car went out of control in. I have had exactly the same experience - I spun my Mazda while vying for the group lead at Portland many yearrs ago and managed to miss the group (or more likely they were able to miss me!) by what can only be described as sheer luck after crossing the grass and the track again on the far side of the corner. In my case it was two cars side by side at the apex after each thought the other was going to brake first and cold tires. It was 100% a racing incident and I learned a lot from it but if we are going to freak out every time there is a racing incident then racing as we know it will end.

    The point I was trying to make is that there just as many people doing just as good a job trying to achieve what you state as your goals as there ever were. You use a few examples of Stewards who I have immense respect for and who have participated in Steward training since their tenures to insure we maintain consistency. In the case of Dan Heinrich he has been either the Steward or Assistant Steward what seems like half of the years I have been racing! How has he not been one of the most consistent forces focused on event safety and fairness year after year? For my part, I handed down the largest fine and penalty ever issued in Conference to my knowledge and spent endless hours trying to educate drivers and change mindsets to achieve cleaner safer racing.

    I will look closely at any rule proposals that emerge and if they look like they would be effective without harming the fundamental nature of Sports Car RACING I will wholeheartedly support them. Most of what has been mentioned does not meet that standard.

    1) Increasing fines tenfold will simply encourage drivers to race elsewhere. If the penalty for misjudging a braking marker or going side by side into a corner is $500 it will probably reduce contact among actual grass roots racers. They will either not drive in a competitive fashion to stay out of trouble, race with other organizations, or quit racing altogether. On the other hand, the drivers that I hear people complaining about having too much money and can just replace their cars when they wreck them so they don't care? I don't really subscribe to that theory but if there is any truth to it, $500 penalties won't deter them.

    2) Being responsible for other drivers cars if you are found at fault in an avoidable contact incident? The last comment times a million. If you lose control of, oh lets say, a Honda and pancake a $150,000 Porsche is your insurance going to cover that? Are you going to sell your house to pay that bill .... if you own one? Are we going to have a Conference lawyer to defend us in the inevitable lawsuits and being called as witnesses in court cases determining race car damages? A rule like that would make me unwilling to go out in either Group 1 or 4 as there are some cars I race against that I couldn't afford to buy and I wouldn't risk depriving my wife and dogs of a house to live in.

    3) Vintage racing points system - ok, but it is just a more formal version of what we are already doing. The Stewards look at incidents, culpability, remorse, and history and fine, assess probation, and suspend as required now. If you like the idea of racing in an environment that is intended to be more of a 7/10ths car parade where contact is not only frowned upon but forbidden why not just go race with Sovren?

    We are fighting for the very survival of club racing at this point. Your frustration about contact is no different than most of the people at the races including mine, so acting like we are on different sides is ridiculous.

    In my humble opinion, the biggest issue is that everyone wants to do only what they personally want whether it is a late dive for a corner that turns someone around and wrecks them or pushing for radical changes because of things that frustrate them personally. When you take the time to look people in the eye and know something about them I believe it makes people think about the person in the seat rather than the car they think they have to get past at any cost. Spec Miata and Pro3 both went through stages where as they grew they lost a little of the personal connection and contact started happening more. In both cases drivers from INSIDE those groups started pulling people back together and making them feel invested in their fellow racers. Any time very closely matched cars race it increases the potential for contact but both of those groups have been working hard to get that going back the other way. Maybe what we need is to replace the Sunday drivers meeting that is usually no longer held with 6 "group" meetings with a respected group "leader" where they can introduce themselves and talk about issues and concerns. I really think the carrot is the way forward, I don't think the stick will make things better - I think it will reduce participation and make the problem worse.
    Rick Bostrom
    ICSCC #155
    Groups 1/4/5

  19. #19
    Rick,

    Now you're on to something and your points are well made. Let me be clear, nothing that has been formally proposed is outside of the Steward's current authority. I also want to add that the proposals are not me acting unilaterally. They are the result of a very long meeting and follow up discussions with the IRDC board and membership - we are in a good place and the ability to race at 10/10ths (safely) should not be affected.

    One place where you and I appear to fundamentally disagree is in regards to attracting or deterring members (promoting/preventing growth) and I feel that less avoidable contact is a more attractive proposition vs the acceptance of it. I think plenty of folks feel that "safety sells".

    To the 3 points you mentioned - I do agree with them and so did everyone else at the meeting and that's how we found proper common ground.

    Regarding the stewards - you're right, they've been great, including yourself. I think the regulations don't effectively support them and in that there's room for improvement. It will also help the stewards if the drivers know what the penalties/deterrents are prior to hitting the track and they'll be able to do so when the system of accountability is better defined in the regulations.

    When you take the time to look people in the eye and know something about them I believe it makes people think about the person in the seat rather than the car they think they have to get past at any cost. Spec Miata and Pro3 both went through stages where as they grew they lost a little of the personal connection and contact started happening more. In both cases drivers from INSIDE those groups started pulling people back together and making them feel invested in their fellow racers.
    We differ here to. I've made the effort to familiarize myself with other drivers on the grid but turnover is pretty rapid and there's a lot of cars being rented... Frankly, the burden shouldn't be on me to know each driver intimately to keep from being crashed into. I don't think there's anything wrong with being able to expect your fellow racers not to crash into you. If we can't do that, what are we doing? How many cars need to be destroyed before a class of cars have their come-to-jesus pow wow? An ounce of prevention is better than.. well you get the point.

    It is (not all that) ironic that the thread immediately below this one on the forum is someone requesting a lead for a good body shop.

    EDIT: removed circular arguments
    Last edited by colin_koehler; 21 Sep 2018 at 07:38 AM.

  20. #20
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    Avoiding "AVOIDABLE" contact is a great "goal" but what makes you guys think you are 'THAT GOOD"?

    Think about it NASCAR, INDY CAR, Formula 1, World Endurance Racing (Le Mans included), FORMULA E (cars max out at 137 MPH), and all the other PRO level racers. How many of those absolutely TOP LEVEL drivers avoid ALL avoidable contact?

    So, do you really think ICSCC drivers are far superior?? I personally have my doubts. If you really want to experience contact free racing, get a Formula Ford, Formula Continental, or a Sport Racer. There's "almost" zero contact (avoidable or otherwise) week after week, month after month, race after race.

    How about just focusing on INTENTIONAL AVOIDABLE contact as the 'real problem'?
    89 Reynard FC (sold) - CREW or F&C

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