Absolute power does what?
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Boulder, CO
Can I cannot quite disagree. You're 100% right that there are many many things that can happen that an instructor can't prevent. I think you're also right that if you can't afford to walk away from the financial aspect of balling a car up you shouldn't be putting that car on the track. I know from experience as I totally a 9 month old 350z at the track and State Farm gave me the big finger
I suppose it all comes down to your owe personal aversion to risk. Every time we get in a car things can happen, and of course we have insurance for that but the percentage of incidents vs. incidents at the track is hugely different. I've probably done 200+ track days in the last decade and I can count on one hand the number of major incidents I've seen happen. If this is something you're going to do once or twice, and if you own a Lotus you damn well should, then I wouldn't say you were stupid for getting track day insurance. However if you're someone looney like me and are going to do 25+ days a season the logistics and cost of trying to get insurance for each of those events just doesn't make sense. This is one reason you're right about the cheapness of Formula cars, although I'd argue the high cost of constant work, fixing, changing, replacing doesn't necessarily make them a smart financial investment (but not bad). Something like a Miata or E36 M3 is a really fantastic bang/buck car as they are huge fun but if you do have to walk away from it you're in for under $10k.
I had a former student about 5 years ago who had just bought a 2nd gen Boxster. On his first day out with it the bolt at the bottom of the front A arm snapped and did $5k damage to the car (that he paid $10k for). Took him a season to get it back on the track (mainly due to financial reasons). On his first day out with it that season after the repair our local track ran an odd configuration that few have seen. He made a very rookie mistake and took the first (new to him) corner much too fast, slid off, snapped back across and rolled. Rolled 3 times and thankfully landed on it's feet (vs. roof). He had a friend in the car with him, another former student of mine - and let me tell ya it was the blind leading the blind. Thankfully they weren't hurt at all, save for being beat up pretty bad but clearly the car was toast. He's never been back as not only did the wife lay down the law (and I sorta can't blame her in this case) but he couldn't afford to get another track toy.
I can think of 3 other incidents in the past 10 years and again none had instructors with them. You are completely right that can't stop things like oil dumps, etc. but even those are so very very rare. Again I'd never tell someone they were dumb for getting insurance but whenever someone asks me about it my advice is always to save their money and spend it on instruction instead. In this case I'd say neither of us is wrong - but if you said I was wrong I wouldn't argue with you - this is your toy not mine.
I will say this does make me reconsider the modifications I make to my car as honestly if I were to ball it up I wouldn't be replacing it anytime soon. From purchase to all the mods I have in it now I'm just under $100k. The mods I'm planning this winter to "finish" it are probably another $45k. Insane to some, not much to others. For me the main silly part is I bought my house 8 years ago for $200k. Not many $150k cars in my neighborhood...
Definitely a too each their own...
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