When two cars make contact, one of the drivers usually ends up saying “I had the line”. Well yes, there are rules that give one car priority over the other. As a very general rule, the first car that turns into the corner has right of way. Does that mean they can chop down on the trailing car? Yes and no. Yes, if you want to assert yourself as an aggressive driver, shutting the door on a competitor can be a smart move. The ensuing contact may be ruled in your favor, and that driver will probably avoid going door-to-door with you again. You win. However, there is an overarching rule that all cars deserve racing room, and if the officials say that you impinged too much on their space, the ruling may go against you. You lose. If you’re into amateur endurance racing, which is really the focus of this blog, then you lose even if you win because the other teams that didn’t get into these shenanigans all benefit whenever you pick up penalties.
One of the charms of amateur racing is the wide range of driver abilities. What looks like a driver aggressively shutting the door on another is often just lack of awareness. They had no idea the other car was there. The situation goes hand-in-hand with the bad driving tip #5, “always driving the school line”. Rank amateurs may believe that they are supposed to drive the line and let others work around them. But you can’t go outside-inside-outside if there’s a car on your door. You have to give the other drivers their racing room. Just like on the street, you have to check your mirrors before changing lanes.
In the first video below, a faster car blows by a slower car on the straight. They think they are in the clear, but they park it in the braking zone and then proceed to hit the slower car on the way to the apex.
In this next video, the slower lead car crosses the track in HPDE style and squishes the faster trailing car into a concrete barrier.
Here’s one more.
In just about every incident, there’s enough blame to be shared. In all three videos the car in front could easily have avoided the incident by checking their mirrors. The trailing drivers were the victims here, but had they realized how unaware the other drivers were, maybe they would have driven differently.