Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

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ChrisHolmes
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Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by ChrisHolmes » Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:11 am

There has been a lot of posting on Facebook and here too regarding poor driving standards, marshalling standards and Track Day Operators (TDO) event management standards. A couple of months ag Dave Woodall posted in the Facebook TRACK TIME group notes from a meeting of several members of Association of Track Day Operators (ATDO) and the hot topic he was reporting was that live timing actually invalidates any insurance that a driver or TDO or circuit owner has and this provoked a lot of responses from people on the issue and branched off into posts raising concerns over driving standards, quality of cars, poor use of flags by marshalls, race cars driving as if they were in a race and a disparity between TDOs and circuits regarding rules application in general.
The safety aspect is of course the major concern as voided insurance will one day result in life changing consequences for someone in an accident either physically or financially or both.
I actually emailed Dave, several of the TDOs present, MSVT and the ATDO and received only one response. A second email received no responses at all.
The ATDO in reality actually does nothing other than provide a logo for RDOs to use on there websites and literature, the phone is not answered, emails are not answered and when I looked at the accounts on Companies House there is nothing happening on there, just the same numbers effectively filed each year.
The secretary and other officers are active and respected members of the motorsports events community and I propose to approach the ATDO "by the back door" so to speak and ask them for help in improving trackday standards.
Currently I am a lone voice if I was to make this contact now so this is where you come in with your contributions of events you have attended where you experienced any or all of the above mentioned issues.
My approach will be made personally and not under the auspices of the RX8OC.
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by warpc0il » Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:34 am

All track days that I've attended have "officially" banned "live lap timing", though most then point out that there's nothing to stop you checking your times, after the session, from on-board video.

I'm not sure who's insurance is invalidated by "live timing", as I've not seen any mention in drivers track day policies, and the disclaimers that you sign before they allow you on track makes it clear that you can't hold the operator liable for anything.

Maybe it's the operators insurance for their own staff...
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by Ranjan » Wed Dec 09, 2020 1:37 am

Frowning on timing on track days has nothing to do with insurance as I have hosted loads of corporate track days where timing was allowed albeit they were all in the USA. Going past your limits can happen if you are timing or not.

The main reason is that the day is about having fun on track and not about introducing the added pressure of gauging times with others which can introduce an atmosphere of resentment and where nothing matters but the time; and fun is thrown out the window.
If you want to time, well that is what test days are for, time to your hearts content but the atmosphere on test days is very different than on a track day.

Go with some friends and have some fun and stuff the lap times.

Ranjan.
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by New Duke » Wed Dec 09, 2020 3:06 am

Thanks for raising this Chris. I've noticed track behaviour and rule enforcement deteriorate. To the point that this year it came to a head and I've lost the will to book any more trackdays. It was my favourite thing to do in the world and they've ruined it for me and all they had to do was enforce their own rules. That's why I'm going off-roading next year. It's silly that despite having lots of experience at various tracks, a literal cliff looks safer and less frustrating than going on track these days. Prices escalating and the experience and accident risk getting worse? No thanks. They are businesses so maybe the notion that they are putting off regulars will register with them, but with all trackdays selling out nowadays I doubt it. Plenty of meatheads in their cheapo stripped out hatchbacks seem happy to pretend they're in a Mad Max film.

I noticed it started off worse with Opentrack and Circuit Days, so I boycotted them first in early 2019. But since then I've had terrible experiences with MSVT as well. Every time this stuff happens I've always raised it with marshals or directly with a TDO employee, but it never makes any difference. Javelin seem to be better but maybe that's because I tend to do Javelin days at the 'smaller' tracks where fewer race teams treat trackdays as test days. Same as the small indie tracks Mallory and Blyton. There's definitely a correlation between race teams of all levels and many of the issues on the larger tracks. I spoke to MSVT in July and they acknowledged that race teams are a problem. I can only assume that they prioritise the more frequent revenue from race teams over everyone's safety.

Anyway, a few things I've seen at various tracks spread across various days that I know the TDOs were aware of, some just seemed unfair:

- Dangerous driving in front of a marshal going unchallenged, such as undertaking on the apex, happens all the time, even on a warm-up lap.
- Race team engineers briefing drivers on sector times in the pitlane queue on their fancy tablets, while standing next to a marshal or the head of the TDO(!)
- Frustrated race car deliberately ramming a slower non-race car off the track in front of a marshal post. TDO told the victim driver 'tough luck' and the race driver didn't even get warned.
- Race cars blocking other people's garage exits for extended periods (because that's easier than reversing into their own garage).
- Cars dumping their oil or having a crash that causes an extended red flag, only then to be allowed to the front of the queue when the session restarts.
- Cars crashing and causing a brief red flag then being allowed through the pits and straight back on track without any pause to get their sh$t together.
- Cars overtaking on yellow flags in view of a marshal, given no warning.
- Drifting entire laps, sometimes multiple entire laps.
- Tailgating of slower cars, even on warm-up laps.

That's a few examples in addition to the general 'poor standards' many here will have seen, but I'm sure I'll remember more the minute I press 'Submit'. This year particularly at Snetterton in July with MSVT was a shocker.

I'm so annoyed at them about it. I really feel they've ruined my favourite hobby and stress release. If I could afford it I'd enter a race series instead. At least those do scrutineering, 'generally' seem to have some kind of rule enforcement and are competitive by design. I haven't decided whether to sell my track wheels and tyres yet, been mulling it for a few months.
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by Markl17 » Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:49 am

Hi
Looking at this from afar and not done an English track day.it would seem that the operators are selling to many places on these track days which will course frustration and aggressive driving ,there will always be be issues with driving standards because of the mix of machinery and ability.l track days in France and it is more expensive than uk and you have to have track insurance to cover any damage to the track which is 45 euro a day,if you drop oil on the track you have to pay 17 euro a sack for the abvorbent ,but a 45 car max at most tracks means on over crowding so a lot of these problems do not happen
Mark
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by ChrisHolmes » Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:28 am

@Ranjan the rules in the USA will be totally different to the UK. “Live” timing where drivers can see their times whilst driving is what the TDOs had raised as a real issue because the events are described as none competitive events and they have been advised by insurers that if some one is live timing and has an accident, or causes one then insurance cover will be void for the whole event. They further said, I think, that if safety practices such as marshalls flagging indiscretions are found to be lacking then potentially this would breech insurance conditions by allowing dangerous driving etc: to go uncontrolled.
Within the ATDO members there are those with serious concerns and others that don’t seem to care. Without the ATDO membership some circuit operators will not allow a TDO to book an event. Farcical when one considers that the ATDO despite having a Code of Practice, Constitution, Articles of Association actually does not appear to function in any meaningful way.
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by MightyCondor » Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:58 pm

I remember seeing that post on Facebook over the summer and thinking at the time that all the TDO’s were completely missing the key issues by getting so hung up on live timing.

The main issues I have are:
- People ignoring the overtaking rules and marshals not intervening when cars refuse to move over, or start doing reckless passes in braking zones. Or not backing off after indicating leading to you ending up side by side at the next bend.
- Lack of black flags for poor driving standards
- Any other example of TDO’s not enforcing their own rules
- Race cars
- Overcrowded days…more on that:

Mark’s post has provided a very useful contrast, and we do have premium TDO’s in this country which run lower numbers. However most of us are using the more mainstream TDO’s and have to accept some the consequences of their business models and our preferred price points. Although they should still be trying to find the right balance to ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment.

Overcrowding is a real issue at smaller circuits, and exacerbates and creates additional opportunities for issues with poorer driving standards. Having 60 cars on a Javelin day at Mallory Park is too many imo. I’ve heard numerous complaints about people getting no track time at Combe this year due to overcrowding, and it’s completely put me off booking a day there, despite it being one of my closest tracks.

On the ATDO, I had a conversation with James at Magnitude Events when he hosted the Rotary Trackday at Blyton last year. I told him that Reis had refused to insure me for the day due to his company not being on the ATDO list. He told me he’d tried to register with them, but couldn’t get anywhere and it’s effectively a racquet.
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by casey » Wed Dec 09, 2020 1:02 pm

In my experience, trackdays with MSVT, MoT, Javelin and CircuitDays have been well organised and safely run. Having said that, I haven't done a trackday with CircuitDays for, probably, about 2-3 years. I do have a serious issue with Opentrack and decided 2 years ago never to book with them again due to overbooking, poor management on the day, plus poor driving standards by their "regulars".

My biggest gripe are Feb/March/April days where you tend to get relatively large numbers of race cars turn up to do pre- and early season testing. To be fair, the vast majority of race car drivers are very sensible on trackdays and follow the rules, but there is always one (probably chasing lap times) who isn't prepared to wait for the next straight and dives down the inside at a corner. Race cars clearly use trackdays as test days, usually resulting in more "offs" and red flags, which is frustrating. This needs better policing by the TDO and Track Operator.

I agree that live timing should never be visible whilst out on track. If this is seen by an official, it should result in the driver/car being sent home as the rule is very clear.
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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by untakenname » Wed Dec 09, 2020 11:42 pm

One of the problems with the RX8 is that it's quick in the corners but slow in the straights so it's easy to get frustrated by people not moving over, imo when the blue flag is shown the person infront should have 30 seconds to get out of the way and if not then get a driver standards flag/pit in.

Oddly enough on MCM they covered the exact topic of timing on trackdays and purity of not analysing the time and just enjoying the moment

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Re: Track Day Standards. Driving, operating, timing, marshalling

Post by New Duke » Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:39 am

Markl17 wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:49 am
Hi
Looking at this from afar and not done an English track day.it would seem that the operators are selling to many places on these track days which will course frustration and aggressive driving ,there will always be be issues with driving standards because of the mix of machinery and ability.l track days in France and it is more expensive than uk and you have to have track insurance to cover any damage to the track which is 45 euro a day,if you drop oil on the track you have to pay 17 euro a sack for the abvorbent ,but a 45 car max at most tracks means on over crowding so a lot of these problems do not happen
Mark
Sounds good over there Mark. I may book a trackday in France next year in the hope of better management. Things would be so much better over here if the TDOs simply enforced their own rules.

As it stands over here you can buy an old banger, strip half of the safety features and reliable parts out and stick it together with tape. Then go on track and treat it like a race day, bumping folks and driving how you like. For idiots like that there isn't any incentive not to treat it like a demolition derby. They won't be punished or kicked out, their car cost about 20p and they don't need it to get to work the next day. The rules are the only thing that create a level (and safe) playing field.

This summer I contemplated lobbying the insurers of the circuits themselves to crack down on it. I still have a few contacts from my City days. If they knew (or observed themselves) how low standards are they might withdraw their cover, which would force the circuits and TDOs to clean up their act. They can't host an event without insurance. One suggestion I intended to put to them was that a condition of insuring track days be to insist that all cars on track have a valid MOT. As there is no scrutineering other than a line in the safety briefing about the car being in suitable condition, that some people clearly ignore and then turn up in some Frankenstein creation that they then aim at other drivers. Maybe have separate track days, those for MOT'd cars and more expensive days (because of the innate higher risk) for cars without.

I didn't approach the insurers because a) I've had bigger problems this year like my work industry being decimated by lockdowns, and b) I have friends in this club who have track only cars, who behave well on track and would be impacted by it.

This chat has got me pondering it... and annoyed again. If the TDOs and circuits won't play ball, there are certainly business-critical levers that can be pulled by concerned individuals.

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