Pointing fingers

This incident happened at the AER race last weekend at Watkins Glen.

The Facebook thread about this is long and entertaining with people taking both sides. Some think that the POV car did nothing wrong: it stayed on line and got punted by the Miata. Others says that the POV car turned in on the slower car. Who is at fault? Let’s take a look at the AER passing rules to see if they shed some light on the situation. Red text is me making editorial comments.

  • 9. Passing
  • 9.1. Every competitor has the right to racing room, which is defined as sufficient space on the paved racing surface that under race conditions a driver can maintain control of his car in close quarters. There was plenty of track on both sides of both cars. Neither car was forced into this situation.
  • 9.2. The car entirely in front has the right to choose any position on track, so long as it is not considered to be blocking. Blocking is defined when a driver makes two or more line changes in an attempt to prevent the trailing car from passing. The slower car was not blocking. One key word here is entirely. The only car that was entirely in front at any point was the slower car.
  • 9.3. A driver who does not use his mirrors or appears to be blocking another car attempting to pass may be black flagged, and may be penalized. The slower driver certainly didn’t appear to be using his mirrors. If he had, he might have signaled a pass or moved over a bit when the POV car went outside.
  • 9.4. Ultimately, the decision to make a pass and do so safely solely rests with the overtaking car. The car being overtaken should be situationally aware of the fact that they are being overtaken, and not make any sudden or unpredictable moves or blocks to impede the ability of the overtaking driver to pass. The slower car didn’t make any sudden or unpredictable moves to impede the other driver. He drove a very predictable line. The responsibility to make a safe pass rests very much on the POV car.
  • 9.5. When possible and when it becomes apparent that a pass is going to occur, it is a courtesy and strongly suggested that the car being passed to indicate to the passing car on which side they would like to be passed on. Sadly, never happened.
  • 9.6. Cars who are not racing in the same class are strongly encouraged to work with each other to effectuate a prompt and safe pass. Drivers should be aware that they may come upon a situation where two other cars are in a heated battle in their respective class and should try to accommodate any passing required without holding up that battle. It should be noted that this applies to classes faster and slower than you. There was no attempt on either cars part to work with the other. 

Rules shmules. You know what matters more? That two cars ended up crashing, creating a waste of time and money for themselves and all their competitors. If you get tangled up with a much slower/faster car because you can’t figure out how to give each other enough racing room, it’s your fucking fault. If you hit a patch of oil, dude that’s on you. If the other guy hits a patch of oil and smashes into you, sorry, but it’s still your fault.

If lightning strikes the car while you’re in the car it’s your fault. — Doc Bundy

In a race with large speed differentials and driver experience, everyone has to be extra careful. AER cars have huge speed differentials. These two cars in question were lapping 20 seconds apart! AER doesn’t require that much experience to race with them. Some drivers may be professionals, others may be relatively new to the sport. The POV driver is a very experienced racer. But apparently he’s not used to dealing with large differences in speed and ability. As he drove up to the inner loop and saw the slowpoke Miata take a very cautious line, he should have been thinking “this dude is way off pace and may do something unexpected. I had better leave him a lot of room.” Instead, he drove inches away, even though there was a huge amount of track on either side.

In life, sometimes you go looking for trouble. Other times trouble comes looking for you. When that happens, you’ve got a split second to choose your role: hero, villain, or innocent bystander. Being a hero isn’t easy. Making other peoples’ safety part of your responsibility is a pain. It would be a lot easier to take out Doctor Octopus without having to protect Aunt May at the same time. But that’s what heroes do. Villains would try to use Aunt May to improve their chance of winning (which makes most racers villains). And innocent bystanders? Oh, screw them. Anyone not part of the solution is part of the problem.

OK, I’ve gone off track. Here’s the tl;dr. Slow, insecure driver appeared to be unaware of fast driver. Fast driver should have seen those signs and driven accordingly. I lay fault at 40/60 slow/fast.

With great power comes great responsibility — Peter Parker

One thought on “Pointing fingers

  1. Rule 9.4 is ally you need:
    9.4. Ultimately, the decision to make a pass and do so safely solely rests with the overtaking car.

    100% on overtaking car. He could have given the other car six more feet of clearance, he chose no to.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s