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Would you/Do you/Have you let a rookie start a race???


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I was just at a Lemons race two weekends ago and a well established team let a w2w novice start the race.  I thought it to be less than wise and inquired (they were paddocked next to us).  Their response was that he had a lot of track time (HPDE) and autocross experience.  Hmmmm.  To me not the same as w2w, and here are a few reasons why I think that way.  

Are they going to recognize the performance difference between cars and be more realistic about their own performance and not get caught up in trying to keep up?

Have they ever gone into Turn 1 with 3 wide?  If so, will they maintain/recognize their lines and space?

There car is completely surrounded, do they even check mirrors/brakes/corner workers flags/gauges/etc?

And ETC......  

 

Just wanted to get some viewpoints.  Different strokes.....

 

ps, before the end of his stint (stint 1 of the race for them), he came in with a broken axle and two bent rims on the flatbed.  He had been running some respectable times though.

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If the person is a normal person and not some douchebag that doesn't respect your car it doesn't matter if it's his first time on a track, it's not that hard. Take it easy and stay out of trouble! Starting is good since you get a few warm up laps before the mayhem begins.

 

Plenty of first timers in races, they do fine. Feels like 20% of Lemons is first timers. 

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17 minutes ago, Crank Yankers Racing said:

What if the whole team is made up of novices and you're the only one who had ever been on track in their life at a HDPE? There are still complete novice teams in ChumpCar that keep coming. 

 

I get that, but that was not the case here.

 

I don't know, I just want some experienced person in the car when the field is still thick, and drivers are trying to win the race in the first dozen laps or so.  

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8 hours ago, Crank Yankers Racing said:

What if the whole team is made up of novices and you're the only one who had ever been on track in their life at a HDPE? There are still complete novice teams in ChumpCar that keep coming. 

 

That was us at Thompson.  Our first race with the car, in chump.....heck, one of my drivers had never even been on a race track or in a race car.  Now, he didn't start the race, but he did very, very well and was only just off pace.  I started the race and tried to be smart.  Start in the back, recognize faster cars and let them go, and generally feel out the race.  Easy peezy.

 

If it someone with decent awareness, and reasonably intelligent, it shouldn't be a big deal.  

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At the actual drop of the green, traffic is actually going what? half speed? Not as dangerous as Kimi makes it look. After that, there is just traffic. Maybe a little more because there has been no attrition, but it's really just another stint. As long as the rest of the team doesn't freak out the new driver and the rest of the field doesn't try to win a 7,8, or 24 hour race in the first stint, everything should be just fine.

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9 hours ago, UMDgrad said:

I was just at a Lemons race two weekends ago and a well established team let a w2w novice start the race.  I thought it to be less than wise and inquired (they were paddocked next to us).  Their response was that he had a lot of track time (HPDE) and autocross experience.  Hmmmm.  To me not the same as w2w, and here are a few reasons why I think that way.  

Are they going to recognize the performance difference between cars and be more realistic about their own performance and not get caught up in trying to keep up?

Have they ever gone into Turn 1 with 3 wide?  If so, will they maintain/recognize their lines and space?

There car is completely surrounded, do they even check mirrors/brakes/corner workers flags/gauges/etc?

And ETC......  

 

Just wanted to get some viewpoints.  Different strokes.....

 

ps, before the end of his stint (stint 1 of the race for them), he came in with a broken axle and two bent rims on the flatbed.  He had been running some respectable times though.

 

Well where do you start when you are a noob? When we were all noobs, it didn't matter. We have a philosophy of racing the track, not the traffic... or try to. We try to be good citizens, pointing faster cars by and so forth. 

 

We have often started our less experienced drivers first just so they can circulate the track under yellow to learn the track... and settle their nerves. The race isn't won in the first stint, but it sure as hell can be lost. Something everyone needs to learn the hard way it seems. 

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I started our first race (in lemons) with only a single HPDE prior.  Did pretty well and set FTD despite having team mates with years of track experience. 

 

That said, we have never had drivers w/o at least HPDE experience and I don't like to start anyone that hasn't driven the car prior.  In my experience, most of the self inflicted problems show up in the first stint so its important to have a driver that can recognize problems with the car.

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Same, at our first race not one of had any sort of w2w experience, so I got the start.

 

Now that all of our team is getting more experience I try to rotate through all stints.  As for a rookie starting now, no.  Why would I do that?  Might as well put them in the 3rd stint once everyone has settled down a touch, a bit of attrition has happened and the final push for the finish has yet to start.

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There's another way to look at this. The idea of trying to barrel 3 wide into T1 sort of assumes you are choosing to put yourself in that situation.

 

Start the rookie, and have him near the back of the pack. The driver will have several laps getting more comfortable with other (generally slower) cars around them before the pack of leaders catch up and pass at speed. I think that is a better intro than sending a rookie to pit out during a hot race and having fast cars bearing down on them as they try to approach T1 with much lower speed.

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I was a w2w rookie (never been in a open passing group either...or rain) going into VIR24 and my team put me in first.  At that point, I had done 13 HPDE's over the course of 10 years.  For me it was a vote of confidence and kinda gave me a boost.  Everyone warned me about all the craziness that happens in the first stint and to just keep my eyes up and be aware of whats happening around you.   The best advice I  got was to hold my line and let the other cars do the work to make the pass.  I was Mr. Nice guy for most of my stint, I recognized the fast guys and let them get by ASAP.  I was giving out point by's like free candy from a creeper van.  The first lap in we were going 3 wide into 1 and even had some 4 wide down the back straight.  Once the nerves wore off I started pushing a bit and made up some time and spots (70th to 32nd).  I kept my nose clean and didn't do anything stupid.  Brought the car in clean and handed it off to the fast guys.  Hell later that night they put me in for the 4-6am stint in the wet.

 

I'd say as long as its made clear to the rookies what the goals are for his stint and the team has a good feel for him, putting rookies in first isn't an issue.

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Lots of good points.  It seems that the consensus would be that the novice's temperament/mentality/maturity, or whatever you want to call it, is supreme.  

 

I was an outsider looking at a team with wins in EVERY Lemons class, who fields 2-4 cars per weekend, and with drivers who are very good.  I was just surprised and it made me think, and I wanted to see what everyone thought.

 

I say it really depends on the individual, but it still surprised me.

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14 hours ago, Snake said:

We did it at Sebring.   Driver had no w2w but had thousands of laps at Sebring.   He ended up with contact but at no fault of his own.   Don't regret the decision as he was a fast consistent driver.  

This. 
And I'll add, when we watched his video, he was quick, consistent and safe. 

I'll also point out that the contact he had very much appears to to have been caused by a much more "experienced" team. And that's based on direct observation (I was behind the incident), in-car video and two outside videos. 

S.  

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In 7 years and in mixed experiences with both new and experienced drivers, we have rationalized this both ways as discussed in this thread...

 

Ultimately my opinion has boiled down to this - while the extra few pace laps are good for a new driver, that does not offset the pressures of 1) the new driver taking the green flag at the beginning of a race and 2) the new driver having little to no experience in efficiency of working traffic. Traffic is the heaviest at the beginning of the race (especially at a large entry race like Daytona, Sebring, Road Atl, etc). 

 

Now my strategy is to put in a shoe who is comfortable working traffic and use that to our opportunity. 

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I will be having to face all of these realities before our first race. I have a ton of W2W and have won several short track races. I competed against all the Trans-Am drivers at an event in 1990 before the Sears Point T/A race at Malibu Grand Prix and I beat every one of their times by over 2.5 seconds. Tommy Kendall and Lynn St James were very supportive and said I could be a professional driver if I could catch the right breaks. Then to my surprise Dave Vodden from Thunder Hill who was the track announcer at my very first race at Baylands Raceway Park which I finished second to the defending track champ, was so impressed (he was the region president of SCCA at the time) bought a car for me to drive. It was the National Champion BRE prepared Datsun 510 in the either ITA or ITB class, can't remember which one. 2 weeks later I broke my back and was told by my doctors to never drive again. I actually took the advice like an idiot without getting a second opinion which was wrong because the doctor was wrong. I was missing racing terribly and went to another doctor who treated motocross riders and said they come back in 5 mo with my same injury. They cleared me to go and the rest is history. Dave was my one and only shot to become a professional road racer and some bad luck, and my lack of thinking clearly let it slip away.

 

We will have to ride on my past experience which is more than many have. I have had a reputation for showing up and being competitive right away. I am not expecting that here, but I will guarantee the learning curve will be short. I probably have some negative feelings about letting other drivers in my equipment. I have only done it once before. Fortunately that was a great experience. It was a girl in CA who's dad raced a 494ci Can-Am Lola in the day. It was Mark Donnahue's car that was previously owned by Roger Penske. It's now a vintage racer.

 

She qualified 5th, finished 2nd in the trophy dash and finished 5th in the main in my street stock. The car was the track record holder at the time.  The following year at the first race I went to, I was approached by a lady driver. She thanked me for putting Gina in the car. She said it convinced her husband that a woman could compete in the class with good equipment. I was proud to have influenced someone to leave the stands and into the pits. Just like I had done years earlier.

 

That being said, the goal is to attract top drivers with good, competitive and reliable equipment. But they will be looking for more experienced/competitive teams. So it will be toughest in the beginning. Getting good results that will attract quality drivers. The goal is to have good drivers want to drive our car(s). Eventually we will have our pick of drivers. My first job as a motorsports professional was in SCCA Pro racing. It was for a team that raced a concept called the American City Racing League. We were Team Las Vegas. Walter Peyton raced this series along with the Olympic skiers the Mayer brothers.

 

The point is, I learned an interesting business model that showed how to profit in the rent a ride business. That was 1988-89. I see that same model being applied here by those with the knowledge and work ethic to get it done. My last experience with the rental model was the Summer Shootout that 600 Racing promoted at Charlotte. I saw Legends and Bandolero teams with Cup haulers catering to the guys like Richard Childress. Clay Hair had the Cup rig, (hospitality) the Dillon's as his clients and somehow made a living doing it. I can't wait to get to the race at RA and see who the competition is. The common thread was they they attracted money clients with the ability to provide a hospitality situation at the track. Cup haulers with a lounge was the proof of your success to these people. You could win races every week but if you didn't have the image of money to go with the results, then you aren't seen as being someone to do business with. My question will be, are Chump's renters going to be the same? Image over substance?

 

I just don't know where I am going to fit into all of this. But I am jumping in with both feet. I am not looking to make money even though that would be great. More than anything want to drive again without losing money once I am settled in. (I know, good luck with that)

 

 

And to reply to another thread yes, we will be incorporated. I have too much to loose if I don't.

 

I will be looking to folks for advice. Just so much to know. Life just isn't the same for me if I don't have some racing in my life. So far, it seems like a great group of people and it has lit a fire I haven't felt since I left Charlotte. That was 9 years ago. Last time I went racing (crew chief) the drivers we competed with were Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Bubba Wallace, Brandon McReynolds, the Dillon brothers and a bunch more kids that race in touring series today. I am proud to say that every one of those drivers finished behind us in points. I still have the files for the graphics I did for Timmy Hill's Bandolero that is driving in Cup now. Good Times. Looking forward to making some new memories....

 

Hell, I'm ready to get in and drive right now but I need a new helmet and a HANS. Oh yeah, and a car that is finished. My $1000 carbon fiber best Bell helmet made in 2005 won't pass tech. It was the same model helmet Geoff Bodine was wearing in the truck at Daytona he shredded in the catch fence. I saw the impacts it took in the pictures and bought one. Only wore it for a few races. What a waist of a perfectly good helmet. Carbon doesn't break down nearly as fast as fiberglass....

 

I have a streak I am proud of that I am willing to extend. Over 200 races and not once did I ever come in on a hook. Been pushed off for mechanical failures, but even the 1 crash that knocked me out, I drove the car back to the pits and came back to race and win the main. Short track racing isn't the NFL. No concussion protocol there. I had no symptoms anyway...

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