Jump to content
LuckyKid

How Does ChampCar Help New Drivers?

Recommended Posts

Getting new drivers into motorsports is the core of the series, but other than allowing new drivers to race and making it affordable what is ChampCar doing to get new drivers up to speed?  From the EC thread there is talks of safety and speed differentials, but it seems that the greatest risk and speed differential is 100% green drivers with experienced drivers on the track at the same time.

 

In SCCA we had to attend a 2-day drivers school, which was costly and a barrier to entry into the sport.  However the school offered a long classroom session along with on the track shadowing, flag practicing (red, yellow, double yellow, black) which was very valuable.   I would very much like my spouse to get into the sport, but there is no way I would allow that without getting track experience first, it just wouldn't be safe.  Our options are to find non-champcar sanctioned and sponsored lap days that may or may not allow our car, or have her drive a street car at these events. 

 

I believe its within the vision of the series and would improve the value, attendance, and safety to address this issue in a convenient manner for participants.   

 

Currently at some races there are test days, which I think is great, but I think more can be done easily to improve the value of the series.   IE: have one hour guided touring sessions for new drivers before races.  Have a formal Champcar school with arrive and drive teams. Offer newbie specific races with a school the day before the race.

 

Thoughts? 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Set up something so experienced teams can volunteer time to mentor new teams. The new teams can sign up to receive help if they want it. I always tell people the best part and the scariest part of Champcar is anyone with a drivers license can race and the best way to feel/be safer out there is the ability to go faster. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's usually not the newbs that get into incidents.

 

Also, at every champcar race they have a rookie class.  Usually on Friday night.  It isn't on the track, but it does go over a bunch of important items.

 

Champcar hardly ever has practice days at any race.  In fact, I can't think of any other than Watkins Glen about 3 or 4 years ago.  Those track days are solely put on by the track and are not champcar affiliated.  Champcar would need to spend money to rent the facility during those days.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see where you're coming from, and I like it, but with our series, I worry it's going to be more difficult to implement. 

 

Another series we run with, VSCDA, does something similar to the SCCA method, but a bit abbreviated and cheaper. First race of the year there's the school. Couple hours in the classroom on Thursday, then 3 run groups with track, classroom and break time Friday, then the normal races Sat/Sun. Last session on Friday is a "practice race" with a double file start and some black and red flags thrown in for educational purposes. While it works great for us, it works great for one big reason - we're a regional club. We host 5 events a year, all in the midwest, most of our membership lives within a 7 hour tow of all our events, and we accept licensing from other clubs (SCCA, VMC, etc). We had 186 cars across 6 run groups last weekend, so I don't think the requirements are hurting our car count there.

 

Champcar is a bit of a different animal, with races all over the country and basically year-round. I don't expect a team from Texas that wants to run Hastings to have to go to Daytona for a school before they can run that event, so you're stuck doing whatever you're going to do at every event, so we have to keep it a bit more trimmed down in my opinion.

 

To me there's 2 simple things we could add to the existing "Champcar rookie school" that would improve things a good bit without adding much time/effort to the new drivers meeting:

 

1) Rookie "X's". Teams with new to Champcar drivers would be required to put an "X" on the front, rear, and each side of their car. Normally we just use some 2" wide painters tape and make them the same size as the numbers. Makes it easy to see you're coming up on a rookie, and we find people give a bit more time/patience/space to the folks with X's. It also helps make it all a bit more predicable as you know while you're catching them that their line might be a bit off or they might brake early/throttle late/etc. 

 

2) "wagon rides" All it takes is a few volunteers, the track's blessing and a half hour or less. Load up the newbies in a few street cars, take them on a low speed lap or 2. Gives them a chance to see pit in/pit out, the track and have a loose concept of the racing line. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The whole point of ChampCar (nee ChumpCar) is to get people involved without all the politics and bs that amateur club racing makes you put up with.

 

Go to the Rookie school on Friday evening, race Saturday morning is the absolute best way to get new people involved in the series.

 

 There is more on track courtesy in our 100 car fields than you'll ever find in a CASC or SCCA club race. I invariably find that it's those of us with so called racing licenses and racing experience that are the most impatient and unforgiving out on track.

 

This is, without a doubt, something that ChampCar has succeeded with and does not fixing in any way whatsoever...!!!

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We will be rookies to Champcar and road racing but not to racing.  In all the years we ran WKA (world karting association) sanctioned races the rule for rookies was 'X' on the back of helmet AND have to start in the back - regardless of qualifying, and you're a rookie for 3 first races.  Some regional or local series would modify the rules to allow start where you qualify.  Champcar doesn't have qualifying so only speaking for our team - we'd be fine to start in the back.  Unfortunately you can have all the schools you want but it only teaches the basic rules along with theory of race craft.  You don't learn race craft without seat time and racing in traffic.  Keep things simple is the best way to attract new drivers to the series IMO.  If the ECs and experienced drivers don't want to run with rookies on the track then I think there are other series they can race.  Again - IMO only.

 

To answer the main question of this topic:  Again, keep it simple, open, affordable and inviting for newbies.

Edited by Todd K
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This all assumes the inexperienced drivers are a "problem".  Many avoidable incidents seem to stem from those more "advanced" drivers driving way too aggressively for an endurance race let alone the first half of the Champcar (amateur!!) race they are entered in.  This includes those who are licensed.  Licenses and "experience" are as much warning labels of who to avoid as an X on the back of the helmet.  Several incidents at Road Atlanta stick out in my mind, one even involving a pro team completely running over a slower car that was giving up the corner/line;  I'm sure there are examples at every race weekend.  If anything, there's evidence that licenses and experience don't fix dumb moves, and green drivers don't equal unsafe drivers.  Assuming only people new to champcar or racing have anything to learn is...bold.  I would be interested to see the data graphed: years of license held vs. contact incidents made.  

 

The novice class the night before each event is very helpful.  I have been to multiple.  None were very well attended but all contained valuable information including discussions about flags and how to respond to them, rules of the road, suggestions for pit lane, etc.  Also included were numerous reminders of the nature of endurance racing, keeping cars in one piece, penalties for contact, don't dive bomb cars just cause you're faster, don't assume the car you are passing knows you are there, overtaking car is responsible for a clean pass.  You know, all the stuff you see being ignored in those onboards of incidents after races?  Most likely a big a$$ sign at Pit Out and at start/finish reminding license holders that this is NOT a club race would be highly effective.

 

Ease of entry is one of the marketing points champcar has.  Creating a mandatory license and/or on track school (remember, that costs $$), only to go out and get run over by someone who can't wait until the next straightaway to pass you? Entry barrier we do not need.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, BollingerChump said:

This all assumes the inexperienced drivers are a "problem".

This is an excellent point.  Although the spark for this question was from those identifying EC as a safety issue due to speed differentials, perhaps perception does not meet reality as far as safety is concerned.  Does Champcar log data on incidents?

 

Thinking about this from the mission of Champcar in helping people get into motorsports, I've seen atleast three people who were extremely nervous to go on track, so much so that they've limited their stints because of it.  The speed differential was too stressful for them and I completely understand how one would feel this way.  In addition, in the case of my spouse and brother in-laws, I am not recommending racing in Champcar because there is such a big skills/speed gap. 

 

Has anyone else seen someone too nervous to drive?  Has anyone else not recommended ChampCar to a non-racer because of the speed differential?  Perhaps there is an opportunity here.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, LuckyKid said:

Getting new drivers into motorsports is the core of the series, but other than allowing new drivers to race and making it affordable what is ChampCar doing to get new drivers up to speed?  From the EC thread there is talks of safety and speed differentials, but it seems that the greatest risk and speed differential is 100% green drivers with experienced drivers on the track at the same time.

 

In SCCA we had to attend a 2-day drivers school, which was costly and a barrier to entry into the sport.  However the school offered a long classroom session along with on the track shadowing, flag practicing (red, yellow, double yellow, black) which was very valuable.   I would very much like my spouse to get into the sport, but there is no way I would allow that without getting track experience first, it just wouldn't be safe.  Our options are to find non-champcar sanctioned and sponsored lap days that may or may not allow our car, or have her drive a street car at these events. 

 

I believe its within the vision of the series and would improve the value, attendance, and safety to address this issue in a convenient manner for participants.   

 

Currently at some races there are test days, which I think is great, but I think more can be done easily to improve the value of the series.   IE: have one hour guided touring sessions for new drivers before races.  Have a formal Champcar school with arrive and drive teams. Offer newbie specific races with a school the day before the race.

 

Thoughts? 

 

 

 

Take your wife to below

7EECEB1F-9C44-446A-B1BC-EEE4EF5AE1E1.png

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Todd K said:

To answer the main question of this topic:  Again, keep it simple, open, affordable and inviting for newbies.

 

giphy.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In IDK......60+ Chump races I have run, I have had 0 incidents with any new or very inexperienced drivers.

I have had lots of "near miss" incidents with "pro" drivers or people who think they are quite talented.  

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, red0 said:

In IDK......60+ Chump races I have run, I have had 0 incidents with any new or very inexperienced drivers.

I have had lots of "near miss" incidents with "pro" drivers or people who think they are quite talented.  

Dude, I already apologized for all of those incidents.  

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, LuckyKid said:

I've seen atleast three people who were extremely nervous to go on track, so much so that they've limited their stints because of it.  The speed differential was too stressful for them and

Not the write up I started this morning but it struck a nerve, you can add ME to this comment, not on my 1st, 2nd or 3rd race but 25 Champ races in with a off pace car having a bad day, trying to get some track time to justify the days expense vs people out there racing 10/10 @ dusk.

 

Our first event we self limited to hour stints to ensure everyone got a turn and that we were able to physically/mentally do the deed. Turns out we were accustomed to 20 minute sprints, a hour was quite taxing until we got the hang of it.

 

If it feels unsafe for any reason, pull off, think about whats not right, ask for advice, practice, sleep on it, ask your pastor, whatever....give the wheel to someone else, or in our case, quit/repair the car.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Relating our team's experiences as they're relevant to the subject at hand. Since starting in Champcar in 2017 we've done 5 events and had a total of 8 different drivers in the car. Of these 8, only 2 had wheel-to-wheel experience prior to ChampCar, and of the 6 others, only 2 had prior track (HPDE/Racing School) experience. We chose ChampCar for our team precisely because of the relatively low barrier of entry compared to SCCA, and hitting the sweet spot of seriousness between Lemons and WRL/AER. Our car (1.6 Miata) is not the slowest but certainly not the fastest either. 

 

The rookie classes at each event are a good introduction to the series and to any track specific rules in effect - we make sure all new drivers attend and all drivers (regardless of experience) discuss afterwards to ensure we are all aware and on the same page. Because ChampCar is giving us novices the opportunity to race on track, we believe that trust works both ways and there's a personal responsibility to ensure we're as prepared as possible. Things we do as a team to ensure our new drivers get the best and safest experience:

  • Experienced driver always takes the opening stint on the day (when traffic is heaviest and speed differentials most pronounced due to random start order)
  • New driver never has their first stint at night or in the rain (we'll swap driver schedules based upon latest weather info)
  • If in doubt, pit in - nobody is going to yell at you for pitting if you're unsure/worried/overwhelmed/ill etc.
  • Briefing from opening driver when getting in the car on latest track conditions (eg. cement dust in T4) or particular traffic (eg. give the orange cars a lot more room)
  • Dedicated sim sessions and races in the weeks before the event

The last item is maybe the most important - one thing that all our novice drivers have in common is many hours in iRacing, practicing and racing on the same track on which they will be competing. Whilst not the complete sensory experience of real-life racing, it does give a novice an idea of how to drive multiple lines on track, how to deal with faster and slower traffic, approximate braking and shift points, and muscle memory to react to steering inputs at the limit. We've found that having these basic fundamentals down then leaves the novice driver more "brain space" to cope with the additional inputs in real-life and is a safer and more in-control driver in their first stint. Our drivers have all credited their sim experience with preparing them for making the step into ChampCar. That's also the logic behind the creation of the SimSeries, and I would really recommend it to any drivers interested in making the step into a team with little experience - it's cheaper and safer in the long run! 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is speaking from a racer and member. We got into this series because we wanted to race the best tracks in the US. I completed one track day and the rest had been autoxing. This series doesn't have any license requirements except for a valid driver's license. This is the easiest path to getting amateurs on track just like we did. In my own personal opinion the only way to grow our membership is to gain access to new teams. The more requirements we put on mandatory rookie training the less our potential market is. There are other series out there that do require a license or mandatory HPDEs.

 

ChampCar is still the best avenue to get into wheel to wheel racing without the restrictions for an average Joe or Jill to drive your favorite race tracks in the US. 

 

As suggested track days at local tracks or if there is a practice day then get your significant other on track with other cars to start getting used to the traffic. Usually they let you put in a passengers seats for this too so you can coach. Yesterday I went to Nelson Ledges and we were able to get a new driver in the car for 2-3 hours so he could get used to the car and learn it before Indy. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a long time ago I was a porsche club instructor...We had an informal OSB rating for some students ( other sports beckon )....sometimes people can never acclimate to a racing speed enviroment ..If you have a rookie driver that seems too nervous to drive....pull him out ,  he probably won't ....and that puts us all in jeopardy ....If you don't because of a rental fee , then you are the problem..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm as noob as you can be. I'm setting up for a race in SLC in a few weeks with only a friend of mine, also a noob. Many questions and not sure what the next step should be.

 

But I tell you what, this forum has answered every question I had, often in the hour. It's how you get guys in the sport and how to keep them in your serie, by being helpful and giving non condescending free advices. On a other side of the coin, watching YouTube vids of Champcar with a whole army of guys working on the car with equipment galore definitely makes you feel that you don't have much of a chance with your shoestring starting budget to be remotely competitive. But it's ok, it's more for the experience than glory.

 

See you folks in SLC. (hopefully) 😎 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Olythekid said:

I'm as noob as you can be. I'm setting up for a race in SLC in a few weeks with only a friend of mine, also a noob. Many questions and not sure what the next step should be.

 

But I tell you what, this forum has answered every question I had, often in the hour. It's how you get guys in the sport and how to keep them in your serie, by being helpful and giving non condescending free advices. On a other side of the coin, watching YouTube vids of Champcar with a whole army of guys working on the car with equipment galore definitely makes you feel that you don't have much of a chance with your shoestring starting budget to be remotely competitive. But it's ok, it's more for the experience than glory.

 

See you folks in SLC. (hopefully) 😎 

Just letting you know that all that fancy gear and an entire crew isn't needed.

 

At limerock a few years ago me and 1 other racer won an 8 hour champcar race with just us.  My wife did help on pit stops, but that's it.

 

Also, we have beaten sahleens about 50% of the time, using the same platform, against 2 or 3 of their cars.

 

It can be done.  

 

In fact, there comes a time when all that stuff can cause confusion.  Having everything pared down to the simplist setup can help pay dividends as well.

 

We only bring spares to the track for things that we could easily and quickly repair at the track.  We don't bring spare engines or trans.  If we have to tear that far into the car, our weekend is a bust anyway.  Spare brakes, suspension parts, alternator, etc is what we bring.

 

Good chairs are a must!  A cooler with ice is a must.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/6/2019 at 8:08 AM, wvumtnbkr said:

We only bring spares to the track for things that we could easily and quickly repair at the track.  We don't bring spare engines or trans.  If we have to tear that far into the car, our weekend is a bust anyway.  Spare brakes, suspension parts, alternator, etc is what we bring.

 

I used to pack light to races.  Then this happened.

 

 

Luckily we had a spare engine.  We salvaged more than half a day of racing.

 

And I could change a trans on the old car in about an hour.

 

If either blew during a test day, they would be worth their weight in gold, no matter how much of a pain in the dick they are to load into the truck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...