2011-09-26

About expensive cars on track

Note: the comments are closed, as I am not seeking to add fuel to the controversy.

The other day I unfortunately witnessed the results of a car-to-car contact on track. One of the cars involved was comparably cheap, and the other relatively expensive. I will not go into details or link to gawker albums of pictures of the wrecked cars. Much rather I would like to use this post to talk about something I see happen a lot.

When an owner of an expensive car gets in trouble, it is frequently the first instinct of the public to pile on and badmouth the "rich guy" without even knowing the details.

First, a disclaimer. This is me speaking for myself, and myself only. I am not representing any club or have knowledge of the ultimate truth of what happened. I have not seen the incident happen, but driven past it under yellow. Everything I am about to share is based on what I heard from other drivers, and my personal experience with one of the people involved in the contact.

So from what I hear, the expensive car spun on top of a blind turn, and the mass-produced car was not able to avoid the spun vehicle and drove into it. It is not unusual for people to lose control and spin out at that turn, and I have spun there in the rain myself. I have to tell you, I will not soon forget how I watched a gaggle of fast-moving cars part to avoid me on both sides, while I was staring straight in their faces. It was not all out of the realm of possibility for them to hit me, and I was fortunate that nobody did.

I was giving a student a ride in my car that session when I saw a waving yellow. I slowed down a touch, and when I crested the hill, there were the two cars sitting about 10 meters apart, their front-ends about a foot shorter. As soon as I saw them, I made an effort to look for the opening to get around them instead, because the last thing these two cars needed was my Miata as a hood ornament. Next flag station held out a red flag, and shortly after we were directed to clear the track.

Back in the pits, I found out with relief that both drivers were okay. I listened to one of the eye-witnesses as he was recounting what he saw, and that was the end of that. I did not get to talk to either driver after the incident, and I did not go to the graveyard to look at the cars after they were towed in. I learned early that it's in bad taste to ogle someone else's misfortune.

Today I found out that there were online discussions in which people were blaming the driver of the the expensive car for driving aggressively and generally getting what he deserved.

Gentlemen, I call bullshit.

I actually know the driver of that car, and I shared the track with him a number of times over the years, and he has always been very polite on the track, and a clean passer. He drives a fast car, and he drives it well. Sure, he closes on you fast, but always passes clean, and if you keep your eyes up, he'll never scare you. I know this because I am fairly slow, and he never ever bullied me, or anyone that I saw.

He made a mistake and spun in a spot where many people spin, and another driver's mistake cost them both dearly. End of story.

Were it two spec E30s or two Miatas, nobody would even start a discussion, but just shrug it off as an unfortunate, but not specifically noteworthy event.

I am sure both drivers are feeling awful now, but this was a track incident. They happen. Get over it people.