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Author Topic: Looking for advice... not build advice
Dainbramage
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I am going to be starting my 1st SSM race January 30th at MSR Houston with NASA. I've got my car complete, I have 2 years of seat time in this car in this configuration (minus the stock airbox), and I've got all safety equipment lined up. The advice I am looking for is more in the details of some tricks of the trade at the event. Mainly tips in regards to qualifying, don't do this or do this at the start, coming off the track go to this place if you finish X place, and any other tips I can get. I'm going to be asking a million questions when I get there and all through the event. But I know my mind will have to be in a million different places so I'd like to be prepared as much as possible before the event.

Thanks in advance!

Joe Self
#78 SSM

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Joe Self - NASA TX #78 Red/White

John Mueller Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
Okay, not the slowest anymore...

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Joe;
Each region @ track have slight differences between them... So someone who has specific knowledge of what the norm is for MSR Houston will need to chime in. But, if know where a few things & people are located you should be golden.

Know where Tech & Impound is and post session if you have any questions or doubts go to Impound, they should know. Oh, and weigh after each session if scale lanes are not too terribly long.

Know where your regional SM director/team leader is pitted; they should have all the specific answers, forms and schedule info.

Hope this helps.

--------------------
Thanks,
John Mueller
NASA SM National Director
http://www.Weekend-Racer.com
#13 "Tiger Miata" - 2009 SoCal SSM Champion

Greg Bush Verified Driver
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Go have fun.

Don't sweat the other stuff.

Treat others as you expect to be treated on track. Drive predictably, no sudden lane changes.

Fun with no dents is more fun than fun with dents.

You probably won't know what place you are in, so go to the scales every time.

Don't bother hooking up with someone in qualifying until you are very used to being close to other cars, then pick a dance partner you trust. Many people race better than they qualify.

wheel Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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In addition to tech and impound, find the false grid and figure out how to get from your pit to the grid. You don't want to be messing around driving through the paddock, when they blow the 5 minute whistle. Some tracks are pretty tricky as to how to get to the grid. Get there early, so you have plenty of time to belt in, pull your fire pins, make sure your helmet is attached, etc.

Read the supplemental regulations that come with your registration packet.

wheel

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Joe,

Watch your mirrors, in particular on Sunday when the 40 minute race is scheduled. There is a distinct possibility that the race leaders may lap some of the slower cars so just be aware that if they come up on you to get out of the way. Like they say in the DE's, there is a race going on and you are not in it!
Watch the corner stations and keep your head up. Don't sweat the qualifying stuff, just go out and run the best you can to qualify and you will learn the tricks as you get some experience. When you come in from qualifying you will need to go to the timing tower to check on your race starting position.

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Gale Corley
99 SM GRE Super Deluxe
93 SM GRE Jr. Deluxe

SAE113 Verified Driver
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quote:
Originally posted by trimless1:
There is a distinct possibility that the race leaders may lap some of the slower cars so just be aware that if they come up on you to get out of the way.

I have to disagree with this. It's safer to hold your line and let the fast guys get around you.

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Steven Elicati
'92 Protege ITA#01
'94 Miata ITA#99

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I don't know if it's required anymore by either NASA or SCCA, but put some X's on your car...both sides, front, and back that way other guys around you will know to treat you with kid gloves. What Greg Bush said above, "Drive predictably, no sudden lane changes." is the key. However, if you don't know the line @ MSR yet then the X's will help fast guys lapping you know that you may not know your braking and turn-in points yet.

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"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

trimless1 Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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quote:
Originally posted by SAE113:
quote:
Originally posted by trimless1:
There is a distinct possibility that the race leaders may lap some of the slower cars so just be aware that if they come up on you to get out of the way.

I have to disagree with this. It's safer to hold your line and let the fast guys get around you.
I see you are from out of state so you probably have not raced MSR-H. The track is tight and has several sections where there is no room to pass and it's single file turns unless the car being overtaken gets off line.

I agree, in general hold your line if there is room for the faster car to get around. However, I can remember not too long ago being in a close race for P2 at MSR-H and we both came up on a lapper and I got around but the other guy had to wait and was held up because the lapper refused to get off line and let him by.

So my point was if there is time to get out of the way that would be the thing to do. If there are other cars close by or there's no time to make a sudden unpredictable move then by all means hold the line.

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Gale Corley
99 SM GRE Super Deluxe
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B Wilson Verified Driver Series Champ
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One of the biggest and most dangerous mistakes a new racer will make is to persistently keep driving the line they learned in DE events and schools. You will be driving in close quarters with other cars and need to learn to adjust your line to allow others racing room. That will mean slowing down a bit if you are side by side with other cars through the corners. Read section 6.11.1 in the GCR and relate that to what I just said, be situationally aware at all times and you will be fine.

-bw

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Bruce Wilson
2010 Oregon Region Champ
2010 Monte Shelton Driver of the Year
2010 25 Hours of Thunderhill E3 and Under 2 liter Overall Champion
Oregon Region SM Class Advisor

Johnny D Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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quote:
Originally posted by Dusty Bottoms:
I don't know if it's required anymore by either NASA or SCCA, but put some X's on your car...both sides, front, and back that way other guys around you will know to treat you with kid gloves. What Greg Bush said above, "Drive predictably, no sudden lane changes." is the key. However, if you don't know the line @ MSR yet then the X's will help fast guys lapping you know that you may not know your braking and turn-in points yet.

In SFR we use an orange Lic. plate to tell others your a novice. Check the region.
I beleive an "X" means you're an instructor.
J~

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In the Southeast "X" on the front and rear for novices. As Derek Whitis told me at my first race "put them on every side of your car and up high so people know you are a novice!" I kept mine on until people who qualified behind me (without "X") started complaining that i wasn't a novice! [rolling on floor laughin]

Get your car ready well in advance of each session i.e. practice, qualifying, or race. Check lug nuts (80ftlb), air pressure, fire pin, ear plugs, helmet, gloves, hans and then remember to breathe and have fun! Use a checklist and have someone help you get into the car and get your belts on and net up.

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Paul McLester

Dainbramage
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Wow... thanks for the responses so far!

I have driven at MSR Houston before and actually the 1st time I drove it I did a "school" that included starting on pole and going 3 wide into 16+17 (my numbers may be wrong) while going CW. I was 3 wide with Al Mitchel on my inside, I was in the middle, and another student was to my left. We were fortunate enough to have absolutely no contact the entire race. I believe James told my I was running in the 1:55 range.

One of the things I've been working on alot in the past several HPDE's I've done is driving off line as much as possible. I feel like I've got a good understanding of the typical line and so I want to make sure I'm prepared when needing to alter that "ideal line".

I'd really like some more input in terms of what the typical front runners would expect/prefer for being passed under a lapping condition. I watch my mirrors and have normally been told to give the overtaking car the responsibility of making the pass. However I'm going to be using my head and will allow the leaders plenty of room to get by but will not alter my line while in the middle of a corner. I understand especially since I've been doing more and more de's that unpredictability is very unsafe, and realy annoying haha.

Anyone have any tips on race starts?

I have made large X's for my car and am painting the back of a license plate neon orange with a big black X on it hoping that it's a pretty obvious way to tell that I'm a rookie.

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Joe Self - NASA TX #78 Red/White

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I use "Point By" when there on my A$$. Indicating were I want them to go by.
J~

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When I am doing a practice or qualifying session and I'm on a lap that is a throwaway, (for a missed corner, or to cool off the brakes) I watch the mirror for overtaking cars. If I see them coming, I will pull way off line and slow down, especially on a straight. This prevents me from having to deal with them in a corner and gives them the line to continue their lap in peace.
If, on the other hand, I am on a flyer and I see somebody coming up behind, f@k 'em. I drive the line and they need to find a way by whenever they can. The key is, if you change your line, to let somebody go by, don't do it at the last second, entering the corner. Think way ahead and make it obvious that you are moving over to let them by.

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I was doing a test day at Sebring with all types of cars on track. One of the EP RX-7 drivers (also an instructor) came to my paddock to tell me to never move off my line when a faster car is approaching. With EP cars and the like they will be on you before you have finished moving out of the way...therefore, you end up in their way.

In SM with the Whitis's, Drago's, Tucker's, Von C's and Chipster's they will lap you like an EP car! They will find a way around you if you stick to your line.

On the start....remember that you have to get thru the first corner!!!!! If you manage to qualify higher in the grid than your racing skill level (or they penalize 8 drivers and they end up behind you)....let them go and then chase them down for the first few races until you get used to an SM start.

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Paul McLester

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I'm only entering my sophmore season, but learned quite a few things last year. I think the best stress reliever is to get your car ready to head to grid WAY before you need to be there. Get into a routine of things that you check. Always stash the things you need prior to strapping into the car in the same place in your tow vehicle, trailer, paddock area. There's nothing worse than your wife hanging your suit to dry after qualifying in a spot that you don't expect and you can't find it when you need to go.

Use point-bys for front running cars coming up behind. This way the passing driver knows that you see him and aren't oblivious to his presence. If you spin, floor the clutch and brake pedal or you're going to get hit as you're doing loopty-loos in front of cars trying to get by.

From what it sounds like given your experience, you shouldn't be getting lapped so just try to keep the car dent-free, learn from other drivers around you and have fun! That's why we do this [Smile]

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-Cy
Supported by LTD Racing & Speed Shack - New England's Premier Auto Accessory Store
Rt1 AutoMile - Norwood, MA
http://www.speedshackonline.com

B Wilson Verified Driver Series Champ
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quote:
Originally posted by Dainbramage:
[QB]
One of the things I've been working on alot in the past several HPDE's I've done is driving off line as much as possible. I feel like I've got a good understanding of the typical line and so I want to make sure I'm prepared when needing to alter that "ideal line".

Anyone have any tips on race starts?

QB]

That't great Joe... It's really good to hear when folk do their homework before trying to jump into racing. Having run an SCCA school for the past couple years, I can tell you it's very frustruting when folks try to take shortcuts to the learning part of racing, You'd be amazed at how many folks don't try to learn the basics (heel and toe for one) before trying to get their racing license.

Back to your request for advice on racecraft and qualifying. You really should get some more race time under your belt before you go too far trying the difficult stuff as it is usually adds more risk. Just go out and stay out of trouble for now. That's probably why everyone is giving you basic advice. So, okay if you want to study up on racecraft, do a search on this site. As far as qualifying goes, just try to get a tow off of another car for now and work on have a zero mistake lap. Theoretical laps data from data acquisition will help you understand how many mistakes you really make.

-bw

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Bruce Wilson
2010 Oregon Region Champ
2010 Monte Shelton Driver of the Year
2010 25 Hours of Thunderhill E3 and Under 2 liter Overall Champion
Oregon Region SM Class Advisor

cnj
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Joe,

The front guys will come by you very quickly,in places you did not expect and with what feels like a lot of aggression. Don't let this distract you. If you see them coming up fast behind you the most important thing is to (1) know they intend to go by you without waiting and (2) don't be surprised, ie. turn in on them, lift suddenly or brake late, when they suddenly appear next to you. Often the front runners will be running in a pack and so 2-3 may pass you at once which can be a surprise. Racing is way, way more aggressive than any DE and it takes a while to get used to it. Be patient.

A very common mistake for new racers during qualifying is to forget that you are racing the clock, not another car. Sounds obvious but you will be surprised how hard it is to fight the urge to race the other guy. The faster guys will run extremely close to each other (drafting) and often will have agreed to do this before qualifying. In other words, wait till you have more experience and know the other drivers well before you try running really close to another car.

Don't try to be a hero on the first corner unless you are wealthy and enjoy fixing your car. It will feel like total chaos with 20-25 cars. Just get through the first corner. Whether going CW or CCW on MSR Houston the cars will bunch up a lot on the first corner so look far ahead. Starts are my favorite part of racing.

Don't hesitate to ask any SM driver you see for advice on any issues (racing of course...). Nearly all of them are very friendly .

Get to the track early and be ready well before the race. Your adrenaline will be pumping and you don't need to be worrying at the last minute about tire pressures, fuel etc.

Most of all have fun!

Craig J

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Craig gives good advice that I'll expand on.

In my first race I drove really hard into the inside of one of the first corners.

I had failed to account for the accordian effect and ran up swiftly on a gaggle of cars that were braking well ahead of the usual zone.

I caught it just in time. But I almost sailed into the corner and could have taken out three cars and ruined mine in the process.

Be patient and realize that the first lap or two might be very different from what you are used to running alone in DE events.

Frank Todaro
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I am enjoying this thread as I will be doing my first race in the spring too. Can I hijack for a question. I am wondering what is the proper answer for when you are overtaking a car and lets say you are passing him on the inside of the corner and you stick your nose in and he closed the door as you get to the apex. when can you expect that you have earned the line to continue on the inside and when should you lift and yield?

--------------------
Frank
Member: No Pain Racing

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Joe -

Figure it's going to take you several race weekends before you get enough experience on and off the track to be relaxed in the process. Find a few experienced guys to hang out with. Just about everyone is happy to help out a newbie. If you are like I was, you will start out near the back of the pack and will probably be lapped by the front runners. My advice would be to drive a normal line and point them by. It will be appreciated. They may be as apprehensive about passing a novice with 4 guys on their tail as you are about being passed. You may also want to play the first couple of turns on the conservative side at first. Let your peers knock each other around and watch for a way through.

Frank - I wouldn't be sticking my nose in too many places in the first couple of races. You will meet the guys you are driving with and be able to tell pretty quick by their personalities on and off the track which one's will turn in on you and when. If you have to ask.......

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Muda Motorsports
"We're all here 'cause we're not all there."

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Frank...you should expect to get hit. I can't speak for the Ohio/GLD races, but here with 30-50 car fields you can expect to have the door closed and hard. I was in the same position in October at Sebring going into the carousel. I had my nose in the inside of the corner and another driver came across my nose, closed the door and spun me...where another driver hit me head-on powering out of the corner and trying to avoid my car sitting in the middle of the track (both feet in)!! [censored]

Two weeks on the frame machine, paint, new fenders, new front suspension, new shock, and money was the result. You will find that you will be racing against all types of people. Some who care a lot about their car...some who must own a body shop and don't care what happens to their car. Muda is right....you have to know who you are racing with and whether they care about their car or the position.

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Paul McLester

B Wilson Verified Driver Series Champ
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Too bad there is no concensus on that question Frank. The SCCA GCR says nobody has the right to cut down on you and the stewards are starting to rule as such, but there are MANY folks and even stewards that still think that if you don't have your nose up to a certain imaginary line on the car you are passing, then the other car has the right to the line. In NASA that IS the rule, but not in SCCA. You can do a search here and find many heated discussions on the topic. I would suggest you bring that up in the driver's meeting and make sure that everyone you race with is on the same page, or you will wind up like Paul with damage because you are playing by different rules. Find out what is the norm in your region and play by those rules.

Mote: dive bomb passes will always be considered dive bomb passes, so the racing room rule does not apply in that situation.

-bw

--------------------
Bruce Wilson
2010 Oregon Region Champ
2010 Monte Shelton Driver of the Year
2010 25 Hours of Thunderhill E3 and Under 2 liter Overall Champion
Oregon Region SM Class Advisor

Dainbramage
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What I've been taught is that if the front fender/wheel well of your car is clearly visible to the driver being overtaken while said driver is looking out a side window and you're in this configuration at the turn in point then the driver overtaking in this instance has the "right of way". Now I clearly understand the statement I am about to make and will definately abide by it: there's a difference in racing theory and actually racing. I guess it would depend on your willingness to risk different factors if you would push the issue if you were the overtaking driver.

Just my $.02

Starting out (not having experience with the other drivers around me) and not competing for the world title, I will more than likely lift earlier and just drive clean. Especially when I'm trying to get a race director's signature after every race I participate in.

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Joe Self - NASA TX #78 Red/White

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your plan is sound Joe, and what you've been taught is good advice when you are trying to oevertake. But just remember if you are the car being passed, there is no such thing as "right of way", and according to the SCCA GCR, you are obligated to give the overtaking car racing room regardless of their position relative to your car if there is any overlap. Any takers on a new I'm nobody's b*tch "discussion" [Big Grin] I've got pictures of the entire sequence of the totalling of my car and SOM ruling to backup my case this time.

-Bruce

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Bruce Wilson
2010 Oregon Region Champ
2010 Monte Shelton Driver of the Year
2010 25 Hours of Thunderhill E3 and Under 2 liter Overall Champion
Oregon Region SM Class Advisor

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You have to get to know which drivers are aware they have mirrors too. I've seen a couple guys who are completely oblivious including one who hit the same driver 4 times in one lap, once really hard. (I thought it must be intentional he did it so many times.)

He actually thought he was leaving the car he hit a bunch of room on his right. If he used his mirrors he might have known the other car was already along side him on the left. [Roll Eyes]

There are some guys I just don't like trying to pass since they're just plain dangerous (not just SM). I try to hug their bumper until they become frustrated and take themselves out instead.

--------------------
Keith Novak
(Will work for tires)

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Joe:
You've received some excellent advise here. The one thing I can add is that you'll need to race a lot to gain meaningful racecraft skills.

I can barely bear to watch videos from year one and two.(I'm in seven now). I ran HPDE's for several years, autocrossed for five or more and when I took the first green flag learned that wheel to wheel is a whole "nother" deal.

Race clean, try to remember that you can't win in turn one and that if you couldn't pass that guy in turn X for the last two laps, you probably can't this one either. Folks who mistakenly think they have discovered "magic brakes" that will allow that dive bomb to suceed, generally learn that what they get for thier trouble is a bent race car and the ire of the guy who they took out.

Welcome to the fun!
Rick

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Fortune Cookie Racing SM 60
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Frank Todaro
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quote:

Starting out (not having experience with the other drivers around me) and not competing for the world title, I will more than likely lift earlier and just drive clean. Especially when I'm trying to get a race director's signature after every race I participate in. [/QB]

Now this is advice I will take to heart. I am not going to push my luck, and I do need 8 clean races to get that R off the car, I expect i will be one of the drivers that rates my success in part by bringing the car back home, this is for fun. But yes, i agree Lifting and learning at first is the way to go.
I will also find out what the local rule is and see how well its followed.

--------------------
Frank
Member: No Pain Racing

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quote:
Originally posted by B Wilson:
One of the biggest and most dangerous mistakes a new racer will make is to persistently keep driving the line they learned in DE events and schools.

-bw

Forget that, the DE line makes you super slow and it takes YEARS to erase from your mind!

quote:
originally posted by dainbramage:
One of the things I've been working on alot in the past several HPDE's I've done is driving off line as much as possible. I feel like I've got a good understanding of the typical line and so I want to make sure I'm prepared when needing to alter that "ideal line"."

I would advice only to do this where it is very safe in the first couple of races. So if you're not racing anybody and you know you're about to be lapped but the leaders are not that close, go offline and slow WAY down for the leaders until they pass you in the straight. I would advice against worrying about getting offline in any tricky sections until you are comfortable with traffic. At least do this for one race you will know when you are ready to take weird lines to let leaders by. Read Wheel's post 10 times. You will have to learn which leaders or faster guys you can trust to pass you cleanly and what they do. One of my scariest moments in racing was an inverted start where I had the fast guys including Aaron McSpadden [Eek!] Ara Malkhassian, John Phillips and other luminaries that intimidated me passing me in T1 of TWS (110+ mph). It still took a long time to learn how other guys race and how fast guys deal with lappers and it took even longer before I stopped focusing so much on my race that I did not notice flags or leaders lapping me. So be mindful of that. As far as a point-by, you may not be experienced enough to know how far ahead of time you can point by so that is why I mentioned the straights is a safe place. Some leaders may miss your point by, some may not care. There was a fast guy (when he didn't spin his car) in a black and yellow SM that scared the living daylights out of me (not you Joe if you're reading). I would point one way and he would pass the other way. I learned to just stay the hell away.
Next assignment is read craig's post 10x (cnj) except the part "unless you are wealthy and enjoy fixing your car" because there are guys who are on a much tighter budget than you. Maybe you got an SM to not track your nice car on DE's but there are guys eating Mac-n-cheese and sacrificing a lot so they can race. That is their prerogative, don't ruin a season for them for a $13 trophy or one position at the start. I think this is a Carroll Smith Cliche, but you can't win the race in the first corner, you can only loose it. Only a meathead ( [duck] [Big Grin] ) would fail to realize that. Stay close to the guy in front, don't play any games. If you stay really close, a light bump is not a big deal if he has to suddenly stop. If you are really close to him, don't stare at his bumper once the flag starts. Stare way ahead. Look as far ahead as you think you can react. In racing and in everyday driving people make the mistake of looking at the car in front. Only look as far ahead as you are able to do something about it (true in life and in racing.) I hope that makes sense, I'm on my second Tommyknocker.

quote:
originally posted by dainbramage:
What I've been taught is that if the front fender/wheel well of your car is clearly visible to the driver being overtaken while said driver is looking out a side window and you're in this configuration at the turn in point then the driver overtaking in this instance has the "right of way".

This is the last thing you should be thinking about before or during your first race. First race, if in doubt, give the position. Don't wreck on your first race. Don't even lightly bump on the first race. Get through the first few races cleanly. You will have to learn not only racing lines but how other guys drive. You have to meet the drivers and figure out what car # they are. I wish I could go this weekend to MSRH and help you out. I know how exciting the first race can be. Enjoy it.

Oh yeah, if something does end up happening, keep a very cool head. Watch your video first. I know there were a few times where I thought, "that so-and-so cut me off!" then I watched the video and it wasn't as big a deal as I perceived. Just take it easy and you'll feel things out better.

Above all, have fun and relax.

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"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

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Buried in Dusty's essay was some sage advice:
WATCH THE FLAGS! I see people who have raced for years fail to do this.

Adam Figarsky
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Advice...so many things to consider...
-Racing is filled with so many actions and reactions during the course of an event...
things to consider...
1. warm up your tires and brakes
2. know the corner stations and pulloffs
3. dont compromise your line in an attempt to dive bomb someone...your time will come...and your exit speed is more important than getting the position and losing momentum
4. finish
5. give me money
-
enjoy yourself and be safe...

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TeamFigMented

2009 NARRC and NYSRRC SSM Champion
2009 SSM NESCCA Enduro Series Champion

Dainbramage
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I just want to say thanks to everyone for being so helpful. I look forward to racing with you guys (and girls).

Keep the advice coming! I'm like a sponge and I take this stuff to heart!

Thanks again

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Joe Self - NASA TX #78 Red/White

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Watch race video to learn the track and see how SM racers interact with one-another. youtube and vimeo for vids. Maybe try to pick out the flag stations so you know where they are already when you arrive at the track.

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-Cy
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Good advice Cy. Watching videos of other drivers should help to develop an "awareness" of the track @ speed.
Adam...you crack me up ! [laughing]
If #5 works for you, remember, it's nice to share.
#'s 1 - 4 = good too [yep]

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Whatever you do don't forget the accordion effect! Everyone 4 cars back thinks he is the king in the brake zones. When everyone stacks up it feels like they are much slower. Defend and be aware, if you see a hole, but don't go Rambo with a low % move. Making the most laps in a given race is the goal, passing guys due to this effect slows you both down, the guy in front has to fight back by you and meanwhile, the guys up front have checked out.

AT ALL COST, don't do anything that will result in you slipping back from the guy/gal 3 cars ahead of you! You may feel like you can pass the guy/gal in front at every turn but unless he is causing you to drop back from the next car in front, RIDE.

I never make a pass unless I see the guy look at me in the mirror. I always put myself in their car, will he see me, am I taking his apex, am I in his blind spot?

This is true for everyone except Robbie Kollar, I bonsai him everywhere because he never looks in his mirror.... [Wink]


Saves TON of headache to just wait a few turns.

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I am going to my 1st comp school in 11 years next month... This was a good read, thanks.

   

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