Gosh, imagine how terrible it would be to die in a race car at the age of forty-nine, having been around the world and done almost everything I've ever imagined I could do, leaving my son as an independent millionaire with everything from an air-cooled 911 to a half-dozen PRS Private Stocks.
Hope that doesn't happen. Hope I can die the way most people die nowadays: in a hospital bed, or a nursing home, or on the toilet, or something enviable like that. I really hope I don't miss out on the chance to make that happen.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” -H.S.T.
I raced in Lemons in those early years and while our car had plenty of black donuts up the side of it, there was no other major damage besides some bumper scuffs. That I'm OK with because as Robert Duval once said, "rubbin's racin". We did have to dispose of one teammate because he was much more Cole Trickle than we needed.
Well, beg to disagree…. There is skill involved in making a clean pass, going 2 and 3 cars wide thru a corner with no contact between the cars, there is skill in bump drafting down the straight at 130+, disconnecting for the corners then hooking up again for the back straight. In tight spec classes like Spec Miata or SRF, or (presumably) your Micra Cup example, ya there’s going to be some incidental contact. That happens when 1-2 seconds covers a 30 car field, but there is a huge difference between skillfully racing side by side, nose to tail and deliberately drifting out and punting the guy on the outside of the corner so you “win” that corner or tapping his/her rear corner to spin them out. If you gain positions via contact, you belong in bumper cars, not race cars. I hate spending money on body work and suspension repairs, I‘d much rather buy more sets of race tires to race more.
We aren't really disagreeing. The new crowd of enduro-influenced racers are calling for an explicit end to that sort of thing, INCLUDING what you would call "incidental contact". They call that "avoidable contact".
In your three-wide scenario, if someone were to catch a little rubber or oil and slip over into the car next to him, causing no damage, that's an immediate DQ for both cars.
Nobody is suggesting that it be legal to deliberately spin the car ahead of you.
Well I would agree with you there. Stuff happens. Sometimes it really is unavoidable. The guy ahead of you spins and you have nowhere to go. It's stupidity, drivers not being aware of their surroundings, and the dive bombing passes causing contact that needs to be penalized.
That Micra Cup crash reminds me of the Paris tunnel scene in "Ronin" where the 406 driven by de Niro snakes by a Citroën ZX police car spinning on it's roof. Remy Julienne, the owner of the stunt company behind the film, says it in the DVD extras that that wasn't supposed to happen and the 406 driver just 'sent it' - creating one of the best scenes in that chase.
Once again Jack, a fascinating article. Though I truly enjoy racing, I abhor blocking. If your junks not fast enough, suck it up, hold your line, and let the other guy work his way around. If you want to drive like Joey Logan, race NASCAR.
Most of us reading this magazine have either raced legally or done screw loose racing on the streets. But let's not get too carried away with the macho stuff and drag Hemminway into this... he died by his own hand after all. Sorry Jack, it's silly to suggest that rejecting an exit strategy that calls for going up in a ball of flames makes one a coward. I'm finding it takes more guts to face aging head-on than doing the half-assed stuff I did when young like driving a Renault across the Atlas mountains on an unplowed road without guard rails for a hundred Ks in a blizzard on New Year's Eve ('77) after the military closed off the road, or playing a couple of rounds of chicken on an abondoned beach road. As they teach you in the Army, discretion is the better part of valor. As for the bulls, Mexico settled that one quite well IMO.
Wonderful article sir! I love auto racing, in most forms, but I agree this new "No Touching" guidelines/regulations/Commandments, are just a bit silly. I'm not in favor of ridiculous moves or retaliatory crashing of a competitor, but I am in favor of the occasional bump and run or 'argy bargie' as David Hobbs might call it. I do find it a bit interesting when you can see more rubbing in a old class race at Goodwood than you find in a current DTM or SCCA or even IMSA race. NASCAR tried to take the rubbing out of racing a few years back and that got them a LOT of negative publicity with their fans. Back came passion while driving. I seem to remember DTM and Aussie V8 Supercars used to have some serious paint swapping, back in the day, but nowadays, not very much. I am looking forward to the 24 hrs of Daytona coming up this weekend to see how much hip checking might happen in the closing hours.
I find the British Touring Car series the most exciting and fun to watch racing currently. They aren't afraid to look for that smallest opening and often two or more cars have a boisterous discussion regarding a particular corner approach, mid-corner, exit or even straight. 🙂 They do seem to respect one another, but they are all there to race and try to win. Not all racers, teams or drivers have a chance to win at all races, or sometimes at any races, but they still race. Sometimes you don't have the car to win, but you still have the car to race. So, you pull the belts tight and go out to give the best show possible with what you have.
I too am tired of the "Safety First" attitude that pervades society. That doesn't create innovation or breed free thinking individuals who can see things from all sorts of points of view and find new and different and better ways to skin a cat. Of course individuals are the problem, if you listen to a lot of people. The individual is passe, the group is all that matters! And, the group must be safe from anything that might hurt their feelings or damage their group-worth. Don't you understand: Individualism is NOT the future, it's a tattered remnant of a questionable past where people were injured and some died pursuing their own goals, not the goals of Society. Yea, not the place I want to live in either. I'll take individualism any day. Viva la-individuel!
Given the current climate though, Jack: More writing like this might get you banned from Twitter, You Tube and other Big Tech platforms like Mike Lindell of My Pillow fame. Too much individual, can get you cancelled. 🙂 I'm not on any social media, so I'm in no danger of that , myself...
For the record; I will shed my blood and/or dent fenders with you, Jack. I'd prefer to avoid a fifth concussion, but outside of that, I'm game. .
In lower level (non pro, unsponsored, non-factory-backed) racing, there will be contact. But when engaging in that "aggression" one must bear in mind that it's all a circle: what comes around goes around. Are you going to be happy with the "driver" that politely bumps you out of his or her way to the checkers? Probably not. A successful military fighter pilot has to believe that he or she is the baddest thing flying. In that venue, a loss of nerve means paying the ultimate price. In racing, it's not that serious. You mention that you put a torquey engine in your racer that comes off a corner harder thus allowing you to use more gear or a taller tire to use that torque to your advantage. Bravo for out-thinking the competition. However, if the rules in your class mandated that everyone must run the same equipment, then you would have to be a bit more cerebral in your approach to passing. Merely going for a quickly shrinking hole with no regard to the other competitors won't win you many friends, just as slamming the door on an attempted passer might involve an after-race conversation that could lead to missing teeth. By all means, race hard but race smart. Every action has a consequence.
I can understand why people with rare and/or super expensive cars wouldn't want them to get dinged up on a race track. What I don't understand is why they would think they have any business taking them on a race track to actually race. Racing has always involved two cars in the space of 1.95 cars.
Jack, I think you are overlooking the difference in finances between those whose race a Micra or Spec Miata and those who race Ferraris and Porsches. I bet many of these racers have a greater percentage of the family income tied up in their Micra or Miata than others have in their Ferrari/Porsche. The "cheaper" class racers have just as much to lose from a collision as the higher dollar racers do.