Five minute warning?



As an only occasional racer I hate to complain much. But given the rarity of my racing, a situation occurred yet again in the Group 3 race in Spokane during the Saturday race.

Several "fast" cars missed the five minute warning so started from the back. Of course, they were passing us by turn 3 and one narrowly missed wheel contact with me only because of me taking evasive action. Not that I could have stayed with those that qualified in front of me over the race distance, but it effectively ended my "race".

So I was considering the merits of a rule change that would make those missing the five minute warning have to start from the pit lane - after the race has started. It would at least give the field some time settle out before having to deal with being lapped by hi-speed traffic. What happened in Spokane was just plain dangerous.

I know the current rule has been in place for about forever, any comments?

I agree something needs to change here. I too have experienced having my doors sucked off by those who were late to pregrid and recklessly ran through the field to regain what their tardiness lost them.
Agreed Gary, I had a great start only to get blocked into turn 2 and lost my draft on you. I also have some dings in my helmet and visor from some large asphalt chunks and stones that were pelting me as we hit turn 1. I will say that being late to grid at Spokane could happen more easily than at other tracks due to the lack of a announcer or loud speaker. But hey, all the fords made it down in plenty of time, so I guess those who were late didn't watch their clocks very closely.

Give it a shot in the fall with a rule change proposal and see what happens. Also chat with Ron Muro about it as well, or I would anyway.

Good seeing you over there, it's been a long time.
Yea, my newly painted car and new helmet both look like I went through a sandblaster wash after being in Spokane!

I think the whole situation could be controlled if the fast guys who didn't make grid on time could at least show some consideration to us slow guys. But how do you police something like that?

Imagine if someone in an open car went over where the RX-7 did - rock in the cockpit. Not good.
What is it that needs to change?

That's a question to provoke thought and analysis, not a challenge of the safety issue.

First, I would presume that drivers that are late to grid are innocent of any bad sportsmanship, such as the knowledge that their speed differential allows them to catch up with their class within the first 1/2 lap or so.

One idea to consider may be closing the Pre-Grid to cars entering at the one minute warning. Once all of the properly gridded cars have been released behind the pace car for their pace lap, those held cars can be gridded single file, then released safely after the green flag has been displayed at S/F and the last car on track has passed Pit Out.

My thoughts here are that by the time they get up to speed, the group has a chance to settle out a bit. Also, being late to grid carries a heavy price.

I would also be in favor of one of those nastily noisy canned air horns with two one second blasts for the five and a single one second blast for the one minute (in the direction of the paddock). Of course, only for use at a track that doesn't have an appropriate address system.

So there's a couple pennies from my shoe.
It dosnt sound like a rules issue but instead a issue with a driver being caught off guard, group three will have cars lapping other cars and the occasional glance in the mirror might have avoided any shock caused by these faster cars. as a EIP driver in group 5 at most tracks I start lapping by lap 5, its up to them to hold their line and me to make a safe pass. I must say group 5 drivers do an excellent job of making it safe for all of us. I will try and time when and where I catch a slower car so as to not mess up their race as well. hopefully the drivers you are talking about will read this thread and try to do the right thing next time.
This is an on-going issue in group 3 Daryl. We saw them in our mirrors at the start, but there's no way to stop them from storming through in their rush to the front. The closing speeds are far greater than what they are in most of the other groups, so that just compounds the issue. Especially when you often have to take the evasive action like Gary referred to so you don't get run over or lose your nose! It had nothing to do with anybody being caught off guard, as the group 3 drivers are a savvy bunch, and I think it should be addressed further at whatever level is necessary.
Ok, i'll put it in a less subtle way.

The rules are in place to punish dangerous and agressive driving, no car being overtaken should vary from his normal racing line unless he wants to/and is safe for him to do so. Gary, protest them next time, they will get the message.
I can't imagine anyone ever accusing you of being subtle Daryl, lord knows I've never been accused of that!

1504. Responsibility in overtaking. Under all conditions, both the passed and the passing car shall be equally responsible for the safe passing of one by the other.

How's that for ambiguous and wide open to interpretation? How do you police that on lap 1, turn 1? Point is, it has to happen before the green drops, and if it's done by holding the late to grid cars in pit lane, so be it.

As Ken said, if they start from there, the race will be a bit more sorted before they start tearing through the pack hell bent for a 10 dollar trophy.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, lunch.
I have to agree with Daryl. This sounds like a matter of personal driver conduct and group culture, not rules shortcomings. Changing the pre grid rules to further delay late comers really doesn't address the core issue.

Being fortunate enough to have a car with a lot of speed potential, I find myself in overtaking situations on a regular basis in Groups 1 and 4. I try to emulate the excellent example of polite consideration demonstrated regularly by Mac Russell, the Millers, and others, and stay out of other people's races as much as practically possible. There are good (and much safer) places to overtake, and it's really neat that these guys will basically suspend racing each other until clearing other inter-class races within the group. Of course there are times when it isn't practical, but there are still ways to overtake, or be overtaken, so that everybody's race isn't compromised. As a follow up, I personally try to make an effort to solicit feedback from other drivers in my groups about my on-track style and demeanor, to foster teamwork so that we can all have as good a race as possible.

Also, I don't necessarily agree that high closing speeds are exclusive to, or necessarily greater in a combined Group 3/6. My data recorder showed consistent terminal speeds on the front stretch at SRP of 165-168 mph. I'm sure many of the cars in Groups 1 and 4 in other classes aren't going more than 125-130, if that, so I'd be willing to bet if anything the speed differentials are greater than a combined Group 3/6.

Not to mention, and probably more importantly, I weigh at least 1000 lbs. more than many cars, so the total kinetic energy difference is vastly greater than the difference between various Group 3/6 cars. All this in more heavily populated groups, which increases the potential for issues, and it's relationship to whatever safety argument can be made to perpetuate separate open wheel run groups.

Lastly, I'm sure this will probably piss off the open wheel guys all over again. It really seems like an eventuality that the Pro3 class will grow to the extent that the car counts will make it impractical to combine them in Groups 1 or 4 any more. It will simply make the most sense from a practical perspective, given only so many hours in the day's schedule, to permanently combine Groups 3 and 6, and move Pro3 into their own run group. As it is now, with even only a fraction of the current race ready Pro3 cars typically showing up to race, let alone the cars currently under construction, the total Pro3 cars are nearly equal to all the cars combined in Groups 3 and 6.

It may be prudent to try to think about getting used to running all open wheel cars together, what issues that brings up that could be addressed proactively to make everyone's racing experience better, and to modify the group culture so the issues don't get out of hand.

Or I could be completely wrong about everything...
For what it's worth, in my early racing days, ALL open wheel cars were run in one group(FV through F5000), with no particular problems. It was a little gut wrenching, when overtaking a group of 5 FV's, at the end of the Riverside straight(for instance), when they would all fan out trying to outbrake each other, virtually blocking the entire track. Perhaps a little hard braking on the part of the faster cars, but I don't remember any disasters. There were a few official chastisments, however. By the way, they were all standing starts at that time!
Wes, I stand corrected on that rule, I ass-umed ICSCC has similar wording to SCCA where it is the overtaking cars sole responsibility to make a safe pass. I prefere it the latter.
I'm not exactly sure what would be protestable. I can't blame the fast guys for wanting to catch up ASAP. And the situation was a little unusual in that there were several cars that missed the five minute warning, but how am I to know how many or where they would have lined up time wise? I wouldn't think this would be limited to Group 3.

Hence the suggestion that perhaps there should be a bigger price to be paid if you miss the five minute (done that many times myself, but I was starting from the back anyway...).
Another aspect of cars arriving late to grid.

A late driver is in a rush which is distracting in itself, but creates a danger even before they get onto the track.

The few Pre-Grid personnel that are usually available have very little, if any time to check for proper safety considerations. Little things like oil/coolant leaks, tech sticker, belts, operational transponder, gloves, window on.

I'm sure that every driver attempts to remain calm and sedate as they put the helmet on, climb into the car, and prepare themselves for a bit of fun. How much of that focus is lost with the realization of being behind, whether it's the clock or another competitor?

I've seen cars at excessive speeds through Pre-Grid disregarding whistles and hand signals because to get on course is the driver's only program being processed.

A modification of our current rules may not change that. Perhaps just talking about it will help. But it's a sure bet that if there is nothing to deter that kind of behavior, it will continue.
Thank you Ken, as usual I think you are right on the button with this issue. How about we just eliminate the 5 minute rule, and then we can all show up whenever we feel like it.

I have no problem running with the group 6 cars, but they seem to have a problem with group 3. SCCA has done that forever and it was never an issue the few times I ran races with them. I do however continue to have a problem with giving up one of only 2 groups we have to begin with. Once that takes place, we'd never get that group back, and that bothers me. I can't speak for group 6, but group 3 is rebuilding, and will continue to do so. The car counts between CF and Pro3 are very similar, and the growth of both may continue on a parallel, so the O/W class deserves as much consideration as the fendered guys.

The closing speeds between a CF and an Atlantic are similar to what you mentioned with your groups Randy, fortunately there are very few Atlantics and few of you, so it's not usually a problem. With FV's in the mix the closing speeds will be very high, so that would liven things up for sure!
Having been a grid person and on the short end of the speed stick in Group 2, I find that those that miss the 5 minute warning tend to end up well and truely annoyded. This means that they tend to make bonsai moves through the pack in order to get back to "their rightful place." In one instance "way back when" the culprit was not even detoured by the fact that his group had not gotten the green. He ended up getting the whole group brought in and rearranged. While that steward "chatted" with the driver, the rest went out and started their race with the offendee going out just before the group came round on their first lap of raceing. However, usually stewards do not take action, because no one steps up and complains with cash.

The only thing that screws up a class race worse than those that are late to grid is when a fast group decides to go for a split start, either with the official okay, or by unoffically just coming late to grid.
Margie B
My one thought on this is this. No matter what you do there will always be someone late to grid. It happens. You are working on the car, you lose track of time and now you are late. If you eliminate the Five minute rule you wont eliminate that problem. It will now happen at the One minute warning instead, and you will still have the driver trying to make up for his mistake in the first turn.

I have spent time working pregrid at Mission. CACC does not have a five minute rule, SCCBC finally added it to the sups. We were expected to grid the cars untill we released, which we never did - we grided to the one. There were occasions were the drivers missed the one. It happens.

If the five minute rule is elimanted what happens the engines off at five and on at one. Does that get completely elimanated so we now have all engines running in pregrid.

I dont see where elimanting the five will make a difference, you will still have drivers late to grid no matter what time you use to determine that they are late
I'm pretty sure that Wes was just cracking wise with the "How about we just eliminate the 5 minute rule, and then we can all show up whenever we feel like it." comment.

It is interesting to note how other sanctions deal with the situation.
Yes Thomas, I was just cracking wise, sorry. The engines off at the five is a system that works well. The lack of a 5 at CACC events creates a problem in Mission on a Conference week-end since many of the Cdn. drivers aren't used to that rule. So they sit there idling while everyone else properly shuts off. Most of the time when it happens, from what I have seen anyway, it seems that pre-grid is quite slow to pick up on it unless the other drivers are yelling at them. Heck, it still happens frequently at PR and PIR, so some guys just never seem to figure it out.

The late-to-grid issue I don't believe is a major issue, nor does it happen much, (pre-grid am I wrong about that?), but when it does happen with the fast guys at the back it sure can cause havoc at the start, which makes it a potentially dangerous situation.

How do other sanctions deal with this issue Ken?
6.1.2. (SCCA)Starting Positions for a Race

F. Cars not in position on the grid prior to the one (1) minute signal (6.2.2.A and 6.2.2.B) shall relinquish their starting positions and shall start from the back of the field.

6.2.2. SCCA Standard Start (Rolling Start)

A. On instruction of the Chief Steward, a signal, plainly audible or visible to the full grid, shall be given at five (5) minutes and at one (1) minute prior to the scheduled starting time of each race. This will alert drivers to man their cars, and crews to complete last-minute preparations.

B. At the one-minute signal the Starter or Grid Marshal shall give the signal to start motors.

C. At or before the expiration of the one-minute period, the Starter or Grid Marshal shall signal the field to begin the pace lap.

6.2.4. Late Starters
After the field has left the grid, the Chief Steward may add an alternate entry that has started or permit a gridded entry to push start and join the field at the back of the pack. The Chief Steward shall direct whether the car may enter the track during the pace lap or start from the pit exit after the green flag has been displayed.

Let those sink in and compare these procedures/rules to the ICSCC Reg. 707.

You may then realize that some modification can be made to clear up the differences.