Rubbin's racin'?

Summer is in full swing in the southeast. As the mercury rises and the tarmac shimmers, the racing absolutely sizzles. This year's July Fry at Road Atlanta was aptly named for the temperature as well as the on track action.

When things get a little too hot, it always pays to take a step back and cool down. I came away from the weekend with this lesson firmly entrenched in my racing consciousness.

A spec class naturally fosters tight competition. Good racing and contact, in my opinion, are mutually exclusive. A number of top SM drivers share this sentiment and have petitioned the SCCA to review these incidents and start penalizing offending drivers. 

Germane to this discussion (find the thread on MazdaRacers.com) is the idea that the intent of the driver matters. That the motive of a particular race move should be taken into consideration when assessing penalties.

Here's where this argument fails: It is very difficult to interpret intent. In or out of the cockpit.

Saturday's race is a canonical example. 

I was a bit off pace, not having raced at my home track in over a year.  A few small errors let the green and silver car behind me close the gap.  In the late stages of the race, we had contact 3 times. Once I was hit from behind coming out of 10A, and twice side by side into the braking zone of the same corner.

My thought process was this- First hit: accidental,  he misjudged the closing rate. Second hit: Woah, did he just bump me side to side at 105 MPH? Did I squeeze him?

Third hit: What the hell? Is this guy trying to intimidate me? Payback because he though I hit him?

When I got out of the car I was a bit hot under the collar. I was mostly frustrated with myself about my lack of execution that put me in that position, but also irritated that another driver would intentionally bang into me.

I went to talk to him, video in hand. Fortunately he was racing in the enduro so I passed the word along to his team that I was not okay with what happened. This gave me some much needed time to cool off. 

Sunday's race had us battling again, this time cleanly. It was a fierce, but respectful contest.

Afterwords, he took the time to come over and talk to me. From his vantage point,  I had intentionally nudged him as an intimidation tactic. 

We cleared the air in couple of minutes of friendly conversation. I was genuinely glad to make his acquaintance, and look forward to racing against him on his home turf in Charlotte a few weeks from now. 

 Within those few moments my perspective shifted 180 degrees. It all hinged upon the ability   (or lack thereof) to interpret intent. 

If the side to side contact down the back straight had resulted in either car spinning into the wall, bending sheet metal and possibly bones, it doesn't matter that I only 'intended' to push him to the edge of the outside track and no further. 

I hope the Spec Miata class can get back to keeping the racing close but clean. And when it isn't, I plan check the emotions and focus on the driving. Respecting each other will go a long way to fix the on track incidents, and prevent them in the paddock.

Up next on BumpDraft, a way to keep your head cool, literally.

 

 

 

 

Bimmer for the winter

Bimmer for the winter

When I was kid, a BMW was referred to as a 'Beamer.' But in the Bavarian enthusiast circles, that term refers to the motorcycle, and 'Bimmer' is the accurate slang term for the four wheeled models of the German brand. Either way, these cars are a blast to race, and I'm lucky enough to have a close friend who owns a 1997 E36 M3 that is IP class prepared.

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