Wise Words For Track Drivers... - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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Wise Words For Track Drivers...

Track season is over for most so I thought now would be a good time to reflect about this adrenaline pumping hobby of ours.
My good friend, classmate, and driving instructor, David Thilenius, has some rules he presents to all his students. I wanted to share them with all y'all.

Here are Dave's 10 governing principles for driving on track:
1. Don't die.
2. Don't die.
3. Don't die.
4. Don't die.
5. Don't die.
6. Cars break.
7. Driver's make mistakes.
8. Driving at the limit is not like riding a bike. If you don't do it regularly, you will forget.
9. Sooner or later, you will crash. Prepare like you are going to crash.
10. The driver is 100% responsible for everything that happens to the car he is driving.

Dave has won at Daytona, the 'Ring and has driven countless tracks. He has coached many Lotus and Ariel drivers over the years and knows our cars very well. Dave is also the Ride & Handling engineer for us so his professional opinion is something I trust and follow.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 07:53 AM
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I used to do a lot of DE events, and instructed at PCA and CCA schools.

It's very common for people to talk about these events as safe. "There's no racing, it's for fun only. It's a great way to learn without worrying about hurting yourself or your car."

That's totally wrong. DE events ARE dangerous. You CAN die. You can certainly hurt your car, yourself, or someone else.

There's a great analogy in the private aviation field. John King is a well-known expert, aviation promoter, and founder of King Schools, and he gave a surprising interview where his main point was that flying IS NOT safe, and by pretending that it is, you reduce your ability to manage the risks.

Interesting read.
Battling the "Big Lie"Ô€”John King┤s Crusade to Change Aviation┤s Culture
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 09:40 AM
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Great advice!

There are two types of drivers on track...
> Those that have crashed (one or more times)
> And, those that will crash

Anyone saying it's "Safe" is an idiot. There is a real risk and as driver's we must do everything possible to mitigate the risk and the outcome of crashing.

Cheers,
Kiyoshi

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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 10:06 AM
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Wise Words For Track Drivers...

Quote:
Originally Posted by khamai View Post
Great advice!



There are two types of drivers on track...

> Those that have crashed (one or more times)

> And, those that will crash



Anyone saying it's "Safe" is an idiot. There is a real risk and as driver's we must do everything possible to mitigate the risk and the outcome of crashing.



Cheers,

Kiyoshi

I think when people are saying it's "safe", they are referring to the Novice driver that is going out to their first DE.
I have seen wildly different thoughts as to what safe is, between different organizations running these events.

In my experience, a novice driver that participates in a DE with a reputable organization who is critical of their choices for instructors and does proper tech inspections, will go home safely at the end of the day 99.999% of the time.

That is, if the student listens to his/her instructor.

A good instructor will pit in, and refuse to allow the student back on track if they aren't listening and or acting like an asshat.

Again, my experience has been that you're more likely to see an "accident" in the intermediate run groups, where instructors typically aren't required. Drivers get tunnel vision and can find themselves in a sphincter puckering moment quickly.

Once you get into Advanced/instructor run groups there is typically a heightened sense of safety as these drivers have been doing this for a while and can appreciate the risk/reward. While the accidents at this level seem to be more spectacular due to speed, the drivers are typically better equipped from a safety perspective (cages, HANS, fire suppression, etc....) to walk away.

I have told enthusiastic newbies that there are absolute dangers in taking your car on track, but if they listen in class, listen to instructors, have a safe car, they should feel that it's a relatively "safe" sport.

I don't consider myself to be an idiot.
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Last edited by LotusCC; 11-30-2017 at 07:38 PM.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 12:29 PM
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Int2 is always the crazy group. Getting faster than they are good and skilled at emergency corrections for example.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 04:00 PM
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The only way to find your or the car’s limits,

is to exceed them.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khamai View Post
Great advice!

There are two types of drivers on track...
> Those that have crashed (one or more times)
> And, those that will crash

Anyone saying it's "Safe" is an idiot. There is a real risk and as driver's we must do everything possible to mitigate the risk and the outcome of crashing.

Cheers,
Kiyoshi
I also think when people say that driving on the track is "safe", they are comparing it to driving on the street. I would always advise to test the car's limits on the track than the street, well...because it is safer.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 04:58 PM
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An instructor friend explained to me when I was starting out that there are 4 stages of driving:

Unconscious Incompetent (you don't know what you don't know)
Conscious Incompetent (you know what you don't know)
Conscious Competent (you know what you know, but have to think about it)
Unconscious Competent (you know it and don't have to think about it)

Most probably never move past stage 3, and even intermediate drivers are most likely still in stage 1. I think recognizing the framework is a great way to check your ego and improve your odds of staying out of trouble! And I agree that high intermediate is by far the most dangerous group. I had most of my close calls at that stage, definitely.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 06:32 PM
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"In my experience, a novice driver that participates in a DE with a reputable organization who is critical of their choices for instructors and does proper tech inspections, will go home safely at the end of the day 99.999% of the time.

That is, if the student listens to his/her instructor.

A good instructor will pit in, and refuse to allow the student back on track if they aren't listening and or acting like an asshat."

This is extremely relevant to a recent incident at a Lotus group HPDE.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 06:59 PM
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Elaborate?

Anyone can make something complicated. It takes genius to make it simple. Einstein.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 07:30 PM
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Sorry, no. Those responsible know what I am talking about.

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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khamai View Post
Anyone saying it's "Safe" is an idiot. There is a real risk and as driver's we must do everything possible to mitigate the risk and the outcome of crashing.
Wow! I guess I should have expected the reaction to "Idiot". I suppose that makes me the "idiot".

My point is that no one should go on track and assume it is "Safe". Going on track must be treated with respect and the realization that SH*T can happen. Having a Coach can help, but a coach can't make a driver change their mindset.

I always ask the newbie driver, "Why are you here today?" "What are your goals for the day?" And, depending upon the answers I will set about my job as a coach, which includes getting out of the car right then and there.

Cheers,
Kiyoshi
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azac View Post

This is extremely relevant to a recent incident at a Lotus group HPDE.

Well......are you going to leave us hanging?

What happened?

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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 02:39 AM
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Sorry, just noticed your reply to XHILR8N

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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 04:22 AM
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On my first HPDE with the Lotus, I noticed how lax the event was running.
And the first time the novices went out after lunch, we had a Miata over correct and head nose first into the guardrail.
It was the only corner on the whole track you really needed to watch out for, because it's off camber and its the only section of the track with a guard rail. But the other side of the track is a grass field.

Instead of using the generous grassy runoff, he panicked, over-corrected, and came shooting back head first into the guardrail.

That was a huge wake up call for me on my first trip back to the track in probably 5+ years
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post #16 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 05:16 AM
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Yes, Canaan is very lax. Did they have instructors available ?
Tech inspection?
Classroom time?

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post #17 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by centerpunch View Post
I used to do a lot of DE events, and instructed at PCA and CCA schools.


It's very common for people to talk about these events as safe. "There's no racing, it's for fun only. It's a great way to learn without worrying about hurting yourself or your car."

That's totally wrong.
What I love about PCA is that in some regions you're allowed to wear shorts as a driver, but now it's mandatory everyone has a SA2015 helmet, above SA2010

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post #18 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 06:32 AM
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8. Driving at the limit is not like riding a bike. If you don't do it regularly, you will forget.
9. Sooner or later, you will crash. Prepare like you are going to crash.
Boy these last two are huge. With my students in NASA, I'd word #9 a bit different. I teach to always have an exit path in mind. Perhaps a better way to describe it, is an "escape route." It totally depends on the experience of a driver, but stating, "YOU WILL CRASH," isn't exactly encouraging But, this is best way to make the point clear with a stubborn and arrogant driver!

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post #19 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 07:33 AM
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What's amazing about crashing, is how fast it happens. You're doing great, and then just a couple mph too hot into the next corner, or a little too far outside on the entry and you have time to think "Uhoh" before you hear the BANG and are staring at steam covered in broken glass.




I think you will crash is accurate - it conveys the proper mindset to the vehicle you're going to race. If you can't handle that it will be crashed, you should stop before you start.
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post #20 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 08:05 AM
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Agreed.

Safety is no ****ing joke...

Was pushing a tad too hard on a drying surface and had a little whoops in the lotus this summer at a grass roots time trial.

I think it's pretty key to get right back on the horse. Took a friends TTD car out for the next session then ran a full 8 hour endurance race the weekend after, Live and learn, not going to be my last so keep your safety gear current and in good shape everybody!
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