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Hell, a simple mechanical (yours or someone else’s) can put you in a wall... I spun going 100+ at Thunderhill because of coolant (my own) and at that point you’re just a passenger. I was lucky to only damage a sideskirt.
 

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Yes, Canaan is very lax. Did they have instructors available ?
Tech inspection?
Classroom time?
Yes, yes and yes.

There were instructors but they were very lax about instructors being in the cars. I mean I haven't been on a track in 5 years+ like I said and I drove in and hopped on the track. Luckily I spent the last 2 weeks doing a bolt check on my entire car (after finding several that were alarmingly loose) and I did an Autox a couple weekends before to get some general sense of how the car handles at the limit.
I didn't see the tech inspection procedure, but supposedly there was one. I was arriving late which was understood ahead of time, and I did do a full (autox style) tech inspection myself and rechecked lugs etc before hopping on the track, but none was done on the car.

There was classroom time, obviously emphasis on late apexing. After the miata crash there was an impromptu class discussion in the pits feet from the Miata that re-iterated the fact that driving on the grass is safe and this is why we late apex, even going as far as to use the "black lotus" being a good example of a graceful off earlier in the day :eek:
Me being the only black lotus there.

Still, for now Canaan is the only track I'll go to, even if Palmer is only an hour away, because there aren't barriers everywhere.
 

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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!
I had a 100 MPH spin leading to an off at TWS and missed a session getting a tire changed. The chief instructor was saying I should have just gone out in any HPDE group instead to get back on the horse as soon as possible!
 

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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
Everyone else is using the term "instructor", which indicates that the person has gone through a training program and is typically invested with authority to explain expectations, instruct a driver on technique and make judgements about the driver. These are especially relevant with respect to novices and others that the organizer is unfamiliar with. What is a "coach" ?
 

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craigyirush
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Great thread with lots of good comments.

I've been doing 2-3 track days a year for about five years and my biggest safety concerns are these -

1) organizations (and there are many) that allow drivers to tech their own cars rather than go to a competent shop for an independent inspection. I was at Chuckwalla once standing behind a guy in the tech line who was filling out his tech sheet while talking to his buddy about how much he'd had to drink the night before. He was barely looking at the form. I didn't run with that organization again.

2) The seeming lack of interest on the part of DE participants and organizers in what went wrong after a serious injury or fatality. Maybe there are post-mortems, but I haven't seen any evidence of it. After the fatality at Buttonwillow two years ago I was on a DE forum and there were a lot of condolences but not much discussion of what could be done to make the track (or the event) safer.
 

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Great thread with lots of good comments.

I've been doing 2-3 track days a year for about five years and my biggest safety concerns are these -

1) organizations (and there are many) that allow drivers to tech their own cars rather than go to a competent shop for an independent inspection. I was at Chuckwalla once standing behind a guy in the tech line who was filling out his tech sheet while talking to his buddy about how much he'd had to drink the night before. He was barely looking at the form. I didn't run with that organization again.
You don't think that I should be allowed to tech my car? I have had 100% of it apart and back together multiple times, but its going to get a better inspection from bob at the Porsche mechanic who doesn't know an exige from an elise from an esprit? I think 100% you should be allowed to self tech under certain conditions. You don't know how much time that guy put into his car tech before the event, maybe he was just filling out the form then because he lost the old one or whatever.
 

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Dave is an absolute legend. I miss working with him and really wish I got more in car time with him. He knows things.
 

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craigyirush
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You don't think that I should be allowed to tech my car? I have had 100% of it apart and back together multiple times, but its going to get a better inspection from bob at the Porsche mechanic who doesn't know an exige from an elise from an esprit? I think 100% you should be allowed to self tech under certain conditions. You don't know how much time that guy put into his car tech before the event, maybe he was just filling out the form then because he lost the old one or whatever.
You need to read closely before you post. I didn't say to take a Lotus to a Porsche mechanic. When I tracked my old 911, I took it to a Porsche guy. I now take my Lotus to someone who knows our cars. And do you really think that most of the people who do track days are competent enough to do a proper tech inspection? I don't.
 

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You need to read closely before you post. I didn't say to take a Lotus to a Porsche mechanic. When I tracked my old 911, I took it to a Porsche guy. I now take my Lotus to someone who knows our cars. And do you really think that most of the people who do track days are competent enough to do a proper tech inspection? I don't.
Most, maybe not, but some owners/drivers are most definitely qualified. So you want the rules to say that the inspection *must* be done by a professional shop? And you want the organization to decide if the particular shop was properly qualified? How would you do that, short of requiring the shop to be certified by the manufacturer of the car (qualified for warranty repairs, for instance). IMO that would be over the top. I do my own tech inspections and I sign the form indicating that I completed the inspection and that my car met the requirements. It's my rear end on the line and doing it myself I know its done right. There's something to be said for taking personal responsibility for making sure the inspection is done right (by whomever, professional shop or otherwise) and goes in line with taking responsibility for one's own actions while driving on the track.

my .02, -Ed
 

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You need to read closely before you post. I didn't say to take a Lotus to a Porsche mechanic. When I tracked my old 911, I took it to a Porsche guy. I now take my Lotus to someone who knows our cars. And do you really think that most of the people who do track days are competent enough to do a proper tech inspection? I don't.
1. There is no requirement that I take my car to a lotus mechanic to get a tech inspection, by any group anywhere AFAIK.
2. If I took my car to the local lotus dealer it would get looked at by a guy who spends 90% of his time looking at astons.
3. I didn't say most people, but with 100+ track days and having taken the car apart 20x I am sure I should be allowed to self tech. I didn't say everyone.
 

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He's on fire!
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I've heard that a lot of track day organizations are removing the tech inspection "from a shop" entirely, as there is concern if a shop signed off on the car, there is legal liability should a problem occur on the track.
 

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Discussion Starter #32
I've attended enough track days with several different clubs (Lotus, PCA, BMWCCA) and with some for-profit groups. Skill, car prep and tech requirements vary wildly. Any of us who attend these days should take this spoon full of salt into account.

Remember, you are exposing yourself to others who may not be as careful or prepared as you. When something bad happens, accept the fact that you chose to go out on track with people who you don't control.
 

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Mario Andretti Teaches You How to Conquer Fear on Your First Track Day


Lessons in courage, courtesy of Mario Andretti.




President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously told us, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” One wonders if he would have held to that belief had he gotten a chance to wheel his ’39 Lincoln limousine through Turn 2 at Mosport or Road Atlanta’s Turn 12 foot-to-the-floor, downhill right-hander.

Point being, there’s a lot to fear on a racetrack. An incomplete list: Other drivers’ mistakes, your mistakes, mechanical failure, oil on the track, and ultimately, injury or even death. But in spite of the real dangers, the experts echo FDR. To drive a car at its limits, one must learn to control fear.

“If you are afraid, you don’t belong there,” says Mario Andretti. “Fear itself can be quite dangerous in the sense that it would make you tentative. A driver that’s tentative does a disservice to him- or herself.”

Science backs the veteran-racer bravado. “Driving is incredibly precise and very cognitive. When we get too activated, both those things deteriorate,” says Tom George, assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Michigan. Fear, George explains, triggers changes throughout the body—nerves tingle, muscles tense, the field of vision narrows. A certain amount of this stimulation is helpful. That’s why coaches sometimes yell at and threaten athletes. But too much makes you jerky, tense—the opposite of what’s needed to deliver the smooth, controlled inputs required for a fast lap.

Being afraid is also, inherently, a distraction. “Fear is an emotion that comes from a certain perception that one has—cognition, thoughts,” George says. “Which means you’re not thinking about what you need to be thinking about, which is racing.”

The ability to control such thoughts varies from person to person and is, at some level, innate. “There’s certainly some genetic basis,” George says. It’s one of the things that separate elite athletes from the rest of us. Andretti recalls when Gordon Smiley was killed during Indy qualifying in 1982. It was a gruesome crash; his car hit the wall at some 200 mph. When the wreckage was cleared, Andretti was among the first back on track. “If you are going to be in the business, you have to go out there with confidence and think, It’s not gonna happen to me,” Andretti says.

We can’t all be Mario, but we can learn to be more like him. It starts with preparation. “If you’re extremely fit, and you’re confident in your equipment, fear can be pushed away,” says instructor and former professional racing driver Divina Galica. Flushing brake fluid, checking the torque on lug nuts, watching tire wear—all stuff you should be doing anyway—can have the bonus effect of putting the mind at ease.

George recommends coming to the track with a plan, perhaps a specific skill you’d like to hone. “Think about what you want to do,” he says, rather than fearing what you don’t want. When the lump in your throat starts rising, simple cue words (“Stay flat!”) can get you refocused. “When you’re telling yourself what to do, behavior follows,” George adds.

For novices in particular, fear can come simply from not knowing how fast is too fast. Those drivers should build pace slowly, taking the hair-raising corners as many times as possible to get comfortable. Galica also recommends racing simulators, where one can build speed in a danger-free environment. “If you’ve got fear on a simulation . . . take up fishing,” she laughs.

Finally, don’t confuse courage with carelessness. “I feel a responsibility when I’m driving,” Andretti says. “I sure as hell don’t want to hurt myself or anyone else around me.” He draws a distinction between concern—for the equipment, track conditions, and one’s own readiness—and fear. “You need to be smart. You need to be concerned.”

Everyone who ventures onto a racetrack is choosing to tolerate a certain amount of risk. To minimize that risk and drive at the highest level, one must make another choice: To be fearless. That’s not easy, but it is vital. It is also, perhaps, the point of the whole enterprise. “Quite honestly,” says Andretti, “if there was no chance of something happening, the lure would not be there.”
 
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