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Let’s make Champcar better.
 
This is an outreach to all drivers and team folks who compete in Champcar to help make the racing better, get more people to feel comfortable driving on track and promote the series by having the level of driving skill on the track be better.
 
Champcar is an entry level racing group and welcomes new drivers, which is a good thing.  But it appears to fall short of ways to help drivers improve.  It is a great program that encourages people to get out on the track for the first time and go racing, but after that you’re kind of on your own.  How do we get people to have continued improvement and instruction without coming across as “you suck, you need to listen to me because I think I’m better”?
 
When I started, you didn’t get to go racing until you had the nod from your fellow racers who had seen you drive, ridden shotgun in your car and kind of got to know you a bit.  If you weren’t a lunatic behind the wheel and/or a complete a-hole you got to join the club.  This has its downsides as it makes it pretty hard to get on the track.  It does have the upside that your fellow racers are fairly high quality drivers who you can anticipate and trust.
 
We did the Road Atlanta event a few weeks ago and I was pretty appalled at some of the things I saw.  Not the first time I’ve been surprised at the level of skill being presented at Champcar events, but this really got me thinking about about what can be done to help those who want to be better.
 
Learning to drive on the track is not an easy proposition, there are more ways to do it wrong than to do it right and even Michael Schumacher admitted – no one ever has a perfect lap, just those who are better recognize the mistakes sooner and have a better plan to correct them.  Letting people just fend for themselves and hope they get it is not a plan that is likely to succeed, drivers need coaching, they need help, they need feedback.
 
So how do we do it?  I don’t claim to be the best driver or the best instructor so don’t take this as the only way to do it.  But I do believe that it starts with the recognition that people are willing to help those who want it and that when tasked with offering advice, being reasonable about it.  Instructors need to provide their message in a manner that is well received. 
 
Drivers and instructors need to know their limitations.  Drivers need to know when to ask for help.  Instructors need to know when they are out of their depth and shut up.
 
Champ does a new driver meeting for drivers who are green.  But what about another meeting that will get someone with 1000+ laps at the track (doing W2W events) and do a chalk-talk on where the fast line is, where passing works vrs where the low percentage moves happen?  If this was offered, how many people would attend?
 
I’ve been stewing on this since the RA event which was an F’ing poop show with regard to drivers being dumb and now someone has posted a video of a stopped car getting walloped hard enough to tag the EV. 
 
Drivers can do better, but it won’t happen with out some effort.  So how do we do it?  Let's hear ideas.

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No way around the learning process ...seat time ..seat time ....seat time ...Champ makes this easier than most . who would frown on voluntary class time ..My bet it would be poorly attended .  I have seen poor driving in a number of organizational events ...including IMSA...In my experience red mist and the resulting tunnel vision are individual character traits...Hard to school out....kind of like stupid...If you are a better more skilled and experienced driver , you will anticipate some of the situations that might lead to bad moves by less skilled drivers ...that is part of being a experienced driver in an amateur series ..I have been impressed with the driver mix overall..and don't see a glaring problem...by the way, the  video was another series which has been touted on this very forum , as having a more experienced group of drivers ...

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I’ve been stewing on this since the RA event which was an F’ing poop show with regard to drivers being dumb and now someone has posted a video of a stopped car getting walloped hard enough to tag the EV. 
 
That was not ChampCar. That was another endurance series. Not ChampCar
 
How were drivers dumb at Road Atlanta.
I have been racing in ChampCar since 2010.
I know that most of the stupid moves I saw in my 60 plus events were due to licensed drivers from other 4 letter series sanctioning bodies inability to handle the speed differential and something about owning the line etc.  
But that's just my opinion from over racing in over 60 cces and working almost 65 events.
It's not a bad thing. It's just they have not had much experience with the speed differential.
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7 hours ago, Bill Strong said:
I’ve been stewing on this since the RA event which was an F’ing poop show with regard to drivers being dumb and now someone has posted a video of a stopped car getting walloped hard enough to tag the EV. 
 
That was not ChampCar. That was another endurance series. Not ChampCar
 
How were drivers dumb at Road Atlanta.
I have been racing in ChampCar since 2010.
I know that most of the stupid moves I saw in my 60 plus events were due to licensed drivers from other 4 letter series sanctioning bodies inability to handle the speed differential and something about owning the line etc.  
But that's just my opinion from over racing in over 60 cces and working almost 65 events.
It's not a bad thing. It's just they have not had much experience with the speed differential.

 

 

RA - Let's see.  How about 2 cars clouting the wall on the back straight, one of which happened during a full course yellow.  How about a car on it's roof on the practice day due to someone trying to dive into the pit lane too late.  How about the cars that came to a complete STOP on both sides of the last turn/front straight due to a red flag (and the guy who slowed down and came to a controlled stop got SCREAMMMMED at by a pit steward because he coasted down to where he could better see the flag station).  Did you count the number of FCY's?  Yes, the conditions were poor, but it wasn't as if it changed instantly.  How about the number of people that went off during a FCY that required a second recovery to take place.

 

Yes that video is not Champcar, but that is a similar series and if it can happen there, it can happen here.

 

Luckykid - well, I suppose you've answered my question - looks like you brought it up and it went nowhere.   Can we try again?

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9 minutes ago, MMiskoe said:

Luckykid - well, I suppose you've answered my question - looks like you brought it up and it went nowhere.   Can we try again?

CCES is the best series for a driver to start W2W, but I think we both agree it can be better. That said I don't have the time and I am not willing to do the work right now to volunteer to put together a non-mandatory drivers school.  We would need someone who'd be willing to put in the work to get something across the finish line.  I believe CCES is flexible enough to let something like this happen.

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For every novice driver causing problems there are two over confident seasoned drivers also causing problems.

 

I think that Road Atlanta race is a poor example of what the series really is.  Many of the things you're complaining about also happened at last year's German Grand Prix, and most F1 drivers have more expirience than 10 average CCES teams combined. The conditions were beyond worst case scenario, and no racing school besides Tim O'Neal's rally school will teach you how complete in those situations.

 

That being said, I feel the novice school should be more comprehensive, but that's to cover many more things than just flags and whatnot.  I also think a quality video presentation to explain what does, and does not constitute a safe pass could be very beneficial.  We had a car roll last weekend after attempting to execute a very risky pass.

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2 minutes ago, SonsOfIrony said:

For every novice driver causing problems there are two over confident seasoned drivers also causing problems.

 

I think that Road Atlanta race is a poor example of what the series really is.  Many of the things you're complaining about also happened at last year's German Grand Prix, and most F1 drivers have more expirience than 10 average CCES teams combined. The conditions were beyond worst case scenario, and no racing school besides Tim O'Neal's rally school will teach you how complete in those situations.

 

That being said, I feel the novice school should be more comprehensive, but that's to cover many more things than just flags and whatnot.  I also think a quality video presentation to explain what does, and does not constitute a safe pass could be very beneficial.  We had a car roll last weekend after attempting to execute a very risky pass.

 

I would agree that conflating these incidents with lack of attending drivers school would be at best pre-mature. 

 

I think a CCES drivers school should be evaluated on other merits, in particular its ability to help achieve the mission vision of the series. 

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Track walk. Doesn't matter how many times you point out in a drivers meeting that the crest at X turn is blind and the flag stand is over there- till you see it, at slow speed, it's not a real thing. Make it part of the drivers school by putting a different flag at each corner station that will be staffed and then talk about the flags as you get to them. Walk onto the track via pit road, stop at the stop, talk about timer turn in, then continue on around, get off the track using pit lane, talk about pit in, stopping and timers again. Big tracks like Daytona, Indy, maybe RA, would probably only be partial required due to length, but still could use the pit and the first few turns to do the driver school. Maybe release folks to carry on around the track if they wish.

 

I turned a couple hundred laps at Gingerman before running a Midwest Council event where they did something extremely similar to what I'm proposing. Anyone new to the track or their group was to do the track walk lead by a few of their staff. Next time in the car not only did I drop some time, but I felt a lot more comfortable about where I was looking and where I was turning in, where the better options to ditch to the grass were if needed, etc. I now make it a point to walk every track I run at and I try to make a point of walking it again if there's been any work done (re-surface, runoff changes, etc)

 

Champcar is a place that really opens up the world to us in terms of tracks we've never been to. We watch videos and sometime even turn a few laps in a racing game or 2 before showing up to a new track, but nothing prepares you better than seeing the track with your own eyes. An hour spent walking the track in the evening is an easy way to familiarize drivers with the facility in a safe, controlled, and inexpensive way. We only run a couple events a year right now (time and budget....), but I'd be happy to help where I can.  

Edited by Wittenauer Racing
grammar
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3 hours ago, SonsOfIrony said:

For every novice driver causing problems there are two over confident seasoned drivers also causing problems.

 

I think that Road Atlanta race is a poor example of what the series really is.  Many of the things you're complaining about also happened at last year's German Grand Prix, and most F1 drivers have more expirience than 10 average CCES teams combined. The conditions were beyond worst case scenario, and no racing school besides Tim O'Neal's rally school will teach you how complete in those situations.

 

That being said, I feel the novice school should be more comprehensive, but that's to cover many more things than just flags and whatnot.  I also think a quality video presentation to explain what does, and does not constitute a safe pass could be very beneficial.  We had a car roll last weekend after attempting to execute a very risky pass.

 

 

Disagree that the conditions were to blame.  The track was wet.  Wet tracks happen all the time and it went from dry to wet in a pretty gradual manner, it wasn't like a thunderstorm.  Both cars into the wall on the back straight happened in dry conditions, as did the incident at pit in.  Watched the German GP last year, don't remember anyone crashing or sliding off the track during FCY.

 

Yes, Video walk through would not be a bad thing.  That is a good suggestion on what could be done to help.

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4 years ago the winning car at RA turned a 1:45.9,

 

This year in terrible conditions the winning car turned a 1:42.1, 

 

Almost 4 sec a lap faster in 4 years. Could have been more like 6+ if it was clean this year. We have crept the power and speed of the cars substantially in the last few years. Not sure the skill creep and decision making creep is that fast. For an entry series we might be better off limiting the kinetic energy....

 

Seems like we could benefit from a refresher course on the rules for passing. This weekends VIR rollover showed a very optimistic attempt at a pass that resulted in the end of the race for the car passing. Did the car he passed move slightly from his line....most likely. Do most of our definitions for "responsibility of passing driver to execute a pass" mean you wait until you have a half car width margin or more laterally, well for most teams with clean fenders yes. 

 

I think too much of our contact can be handled by just copying and pasting:

 

Fast car approaches slow car trying to pass without being held a split second,

Slow car twitches or moves from the line the passing car wants him on (sometimes this means the slow car was simply on the racing line)

Fast car passes when there is little lateral margin, considering skill of slow car

Fast car runs into slow car, debate over what precision the slow car should hold the line the fast car wanted ensues. Words like "overlap" or "my line" or "bumper rule" come out, even though our series does not recognize this as part of the passing rights (passing car has little to now rights in our series).   

 

How to fix that, not sure. Speed\power maybe. Speed creep of fastest cars making gap wider...maybe. Might be a little bit of everything. Maybe two classes with different banner colors, so you know to steer clear of the novices (make hitting a yellow stripe car a 2x penalty). 

 

Edited by Black Magic
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4 minutes ago, Black Magic said:

How to fix that, not sure. Speed\power maybe. Speed creep of fastest cars making gap wider...maybe. Might be a little bit of everything. Maybe two classes with different banner colors, so you know to steer clear of the novices (make hitting a yellow stripe car a 2x penalty). 

 

A sticker on novice or "new to the track drivers" would help me ALOT.   I have to make decisions based on maybe one corner of observation as to whether or not the driver will run a normal line, or perhaps something different entirely.  Same with brake zones, can this person threshold brake or not?   Its my responsibility to pass safely, but more information helps everyone.

 

Maybe a little battery powered light on the back of the car that can flick on-or-off when they do driver changes.  Completely optional.

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Speed differential - if this is the problem, then it needs to get solved.  The slower drivers are always going to be slower whereas the cars at the other end are just getting faster.  A combination of better development and rules creep means that the speed differential is only going to get worse.  I don't see the faster cars getting slowed down, so even if it doesn't get worse, it will at least remain where it is.

 

I do not agree that the speed differential is a problem.  What I have experienced is things like people getting in over their heads and making mistakes, or the novice driver that every time you lap them, they are off-line and seem to be unpredictable or overall lack of situational awareness.  All are items that come with experience, but only if the driver is encouraged to make it better.  Speed differential had little or nothing to do with the issues at RA.

 

Track walk would be great.  If the track is too big to walk, a van ride that goes slowly enough to explain things.  Perhaps this can be worked out with the track ahead of time that it can be done at the end of the day when corner workers are packing up.

 

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In my humble opinion.

 

Track walks are great for good cardio.  Not much else.  And I have walked a bunch of them.

The slow or entry level drivers are the lifeblood of this series.  There is not much you can do except let them learn and try to avoid hitting them if you are a fast driver/car.

Most of the issues are with the experienced drivers, like me.  Sometimes I do stupid stuff.  Look at this weekend, there were two of the front runners that got into each other resulting in a torn up race car and both pointed at the other for causing it.  Both are right and both are wrong.  It happens, unfortunately.  

Classes are ok and give a novice something to think about, but not backed up with on-track instruction it is very limited.  Guys should spend time at a non competitive track event to learn car control, then go race.  But how do you encourage that?  Tough sell.

 

Edit:  I take that back on track walks, one time I was doing a track walk at COTA and was hoofing it trying to catch up to the crowd and these two guys came up on a golf cart and asked if I needed a ride.  Being lazy, I said sure.  Turns out they were both Trans Am series drivers and they gave me a few pointers, especially how to close on someone in turn 7.  So I guess that one was helpful.

Edited by Burningham
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The only time I have been involved in anything major was due to people making bad decisions.

 

Like, don't go 3 wide up the middle with 5 hours left in a race.

 

In other words, we have a fairly clean driving record.  Most of that is because we dont take the risky passes.  Sure, i have had to put 2 wheels over a curb to complete the pass.  But, i was able to do that because i was thinking ahead about what might happen if the other driver didnt see me.  Sometimes they dont see you.  You better have a plan to deal with strange actions from other drivers. 

 

If you cant plan the pass AND an escape route, maybe just sit back for a second or 2 and make the pass on the next section.

 

You aren't gonna win the race because you made that risky pass, but you sure as he'll could lose it!

 

In other words, I believe this is more about mentality versus skill.  

 

What media would be appropriate to guide people to proper passing technique and good decision making?  I don't know.  Maybe just a montage of accidents or incidents and how they SHOULD have been handled?  Include some near missus? (Ugh, auto correct....  misses)

 

This could be done as part of the Friday night "party".

Edited by wvumtnbkr
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24 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

Include some near missus?

 

This could be done as part of the Friday night "party".

Interesting idea to bring along some wives but I'm not sure how many people other than their husbands would listen...

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I know a couple of wives that run in champcar that I wouldn't mind hanging out with!  He'll, I even listen to them!  Haha!

 

Edit: left the typo above but clarified

Edited by wvumtnbkr
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Not sure how many teams have this luxury, but I'm a member at the local track (Harris Hill) and I often reach out to other teams to come as my guest and get seat time as well as test their car's performance/reliability.  It's not widespread help that will improve safety across the board but it's a little thing I can do to help out.  If I can get 2 teams more seat time between races, I've hopefully helped make 6-8 people better drivers when the stakes aren't high (open track day vs race).  Yesterday the track was empty so we did some purposeful passing drills in corners to give a few total novices a little experience it's hard to get at DE track days.

 

So if you have access to tracks, try to bring along other teams where possible to help raise their skill with seat time.  Every little bit helps!

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54 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

What media would be appropriate to guide people to proper passing technique and good decision making?

Randy Pobst articles , remember his little briefing at Sebring on day two?     And Ross Bentley.  Lots of great info from those two dudes.      

 

 

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57 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

You aren't gonna win the race because you made that risky pass, but you sure as he'll could lose it!

This needs to be read many times by nearly all of us.   

 

Calm down own and get the car back to the next driver in one piece.   

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I have always thought new teams could use a mentor to help coach them and keep them on the right track.  This could be throughout the entire process from the build all the way up to the first race.  If there was a veteran driver with a lot of races that person could certainly help a new team out. I think coaching and preparation would help with knowing what to expect. On radio coaching and expectations of edict on track. We could do iracing sessions and walk people through what to expect with headsets and since a lot of us have been on almost every track we could coach them on what to look out for throughout the lap.

 

I would gladly volunteer to help a new team and get drivers get into Champcar and I am sure most of use would also.  This has been tossed around for years and I have brought it up several times and was told something is in place, but never materialized. I was told we will have a video series, ect, and nothing happens to help out new teams that first time. I think something could happen it could benefit new teams and drivers.

 

Also, a less defined structure could be to pit new and old teams together and have introductions fro the weekend ahead of time. Such as, you are a new team and we are going to pit you with X team that has done 40 races. They are aware you are new and will be willing to help you out as needed. The veteran team would take the new team under its wing for the weekend and help out with pits stops, crew, strategy, safety, driver etiquette. There are so many little things we take for granted that we could really help a new team.  We could even go over the car on Friday and pick out items that we have all seen fail that they have not. 

 

If we can make the experience that much better for a new team they will keep coming back.

 

If you are new team and want some help or advise just pm me and I would be glad to do so.

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Car upside down at Road Atlanta test day was an experienced racing team with experienced drivers but new to ChampCar.
The person that drove around the track during the red flag. I kinda remember something about that, but I won't comment as I don't really have that info. We go by what the corner workers tell race control.

 

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18 hours ago, wvumtnbkr said:

You aren't gonna win the race because you made that risky pass, but you sure as he'll could lose it!

There is always a time and place to send it. 

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