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Pobst Position: Crashers, Crashees, Crashing
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Pobst Position: Crashers
More knowledge of the natural laws of passing equals less crashing. Having just been unceremoniously torpedoed out of the championship lead by an experienced and fast yet still young racer who should know better, I've been inspired to climb back up on my passing soapbox. Adam, remember Randy's Rule of Racing #29: Never hit the guy that writes the column! We SCCA road racers need a simple, standardized passing guide. After a recent World Challenge driver's meeting, I suggested to our venerable and wise chief steward Pat DiNatale that we should have a few short and to-the-point briefings during our meetings to help bring all our competitors to the same level of understanding. It would be training for the rookies and establish standards for the regular drivers, and maybe help tone down the loose cannons. My goal is to take this further, too. I propose that the SCCA define and put on paper a few fundamental natural laws of passing.

Since I first started racing in 1985, I have been surprised by how very little is written on the subject in the General Competition Rules (GCR). I recall only a noble and vague reference to the responsibility for a safe pass resting upon the car doing the passing. Let's provide a couple simple definitions and diagrams. Anything will be an improvement. Our race stewards need better guidance, too. I recall a visit to the SOM at a National race where my crasher proudly displayed his in-car video. "See? Randy hit me right in the nose with his back wheel." They all looked at me and nodded in agreement. I was stunned speechless by the ignorance. Like the Police song, "Da-doo-doo-doo, Da-daa-daa-daa, is all I want to say to you."

Most of what I've learned has come through paddock talk (too random) and the on-track school of hard knocks (too expensive and too dangerous). We have many crashes because drivers simply do not understand what constitutes a safe pass. I like my most basic rule: If you can see it, don't hit it. This means if by the normal turn-in point the other racer is still far enough ahead that you can see it, then you do not have a clean pass, you did not take the line away. Back off, give up the corner, try again later. It also means that you have the responsibility to know that you have enough of a braking and handling advantage in the corner entry to get in there without contact. The inverse is also true. If your attacker appears in your peripheral vision, inside, before the turn-in point, then he won the corner. Your best bet is to back off and follow him through the apex. Trying to hang on from outside and behind will probably end up with you off the road. "But many times it is close, not at all clear" you say. I know just what you're talking about. That's when you go through side-by-side, Hero, leaving each other the pro racer's "car-width-and-an-inch," and the car with the best traction and torque off the corner wins. Good racers do it all the time. Two can tango.

A corollary to this idea involves a corner with a short or no brake zone. This means that without a mistake or traffic, it will be nigh impossible to make a clean pass on another fast driver. There is no time to get cleanly into the vision of the car you're chasing. A good example is Mid-Ohio's turn nine, closely following eight. The pavement goes straight for a bit, but the racing line looks like an S. Here I watched my friend (Randy's Rule #29 again, Adam...) send a BMW clear to the tire wall just a couple laps before it was my turn over in seven. "But I was almost completely next to him," you point out. Too late, Brother! You've got to get into the other driver's vision by the turn-in point. That's where you get position and take the line away. At the apex is too late. He cannot see you. He's been turning and you're going straight in. Ka-BOOM. Hey, I've been there, too, my man, we all want to win. Let's create and elucidate a few standards based on the natural laws of clea
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