This e-mail was originally sent on April 28, 2022 to drivers participating in Hoosier Super Tour or Runoffs events since the beginning of 2021

Dear SCCA Hoosier Super Tour Drivers,

I write to you today, not solely as the staff lead of the SCCA Road Racing program, but as a fellow driver. Friends, we need to talk…

Over the last couple of years, staff has heard concerns from many of you about the level of driving, the number of incidents and the amount of discipline at our events—specifically the Hoosier Super Tour weekends.

Speaking to several of you over the last season, there is a belief that the driving quality has degraded, and the number of incidents increased over the last couple of years. Aside from the number of actions during a weekend, which has not shown a meaningful change outside of the Runoffs, we have not had a mechanism to specifically track the on-track activity. So, following this year’s VIR Super Tour (April 8-10), we combed through the T&S data and Communication logs and complied that information.

 Some specific data from VIR:

Number of participants: 409
Number of sessions: 40
Number of sessions that were interrupted (FCY, BFA, Early Checker): 22
Number of sessions that went un-interrupted, Green-to-Checker: 18
Total incidents* reported on race logs (from corner station calls): 212
Spins: 92
Total Cars involved in metal-metal: 65
Number of vehicles requiring a tow of some kind: 57
Individual cars involved in incidents that stopped a session: 50
Laps not completed on Sunday due to reaching 35-min. time limit: 25 out of 112 possible (22%)

 

*- Spins, metal-metal, barrier impact, stopped/mechanical – anything that either stopped a session or could have potentially stopped a session. Did not include calls of four-wheels off not involving a spin. The number should actually be higher than 212, but some of the hand-written notes were difficult to decipher.

This information gives us a baseline, something that we can track and compare future events to. As I looked through the logs, it also became clear that they don’t include every single thing that happened on track. For instance, one (metal-to-metal) incident that prompted a protest was not mentioned in the session log. This is a great reminder that, as outstanding as our corner marshals are, it is impossible for them to see everything that happens from their posts, particularly when they’re reporting on the 212+ other incidents throughout the weekend. So, if there’s no report, and the drivers don’t say anything, there is no record and no opportunity for investigation.

Without previous data for comparison, we don’t know if any of these numbers are better or worse than previous events. For the sake of this argument, let’s assume they are worse. Why is this happening, and why does it seem to have happened over the last couple of years? Here are a few considerations that have been relayed to staff recently by the racers themselves:

  • COVID forced all of us to take time off from doing the things we loved. Now that many of us have returned to racing, there may be some rust, pent-up aggression and feelings that we all need to “seize the day” every chance we get.
  • Whether it is politics, inflation, personal loss, or the overall state of the world, many people are kind of ticked-off in general. And some are taking that frustration to the racetrack.
  • Yellows breed yellows. When you don’t have faith in your group making a lot of green laps, there is a sense of desperation. Desperate driving creates more incidents.
  • Send it. A popular rally cry for some, but generally not a solid strategy, particularly in amateur motorsports. See also, “disposable racecars.”
  • Too much, too soon? It’s outstanding that we have lots of new drivers coming into the program. The Hoosier SCCA Super Tour is designed to be the “big stage” and there are a lot of racers that take racing very seriously. For a new driver, that can be daunting. When you add a daunting racetrack to that situation, it can be downright intimidating. There is neither shame in asking for help nor recognizing that you may need to take a step back from the big stage. In fact, many would consider it admirable.
  • There are many other reasons for sure, these are just a sample that we’ve heard over the last couple of seasons.

“What is SCCA going to do to fix this?”

This is something that I, and others, have been asked multiple times recently. From “hurry up the safety teams,” “harsher penalties,” “different run groups,” to “tiered licensing processes,” there is no shortage of ideas for program leaders, race organizers and officials to consider. Ultimately, there are many things that can influence change here.

And that all starts with us, the drivers. It starts with getting through Turn One. And then Turn Two, and all the way through Lap One, and so forth. It is acknowledgement by us, the driving community, that 57 tows over a three-day weekend is unacceptable. It is a commitment by the driving community to protect our sessions, and strive to go Green-to-Checker without interruption. It is a pledge to be the driver that you want everyone else to be.

I know the staff team, program leaders and officials will endeavor to seek out ways to improve the experience during our events. I ask that we, the driving community, do our part to start this Green-to-Checker (G2C) movement.

See you at the track,

Eric Prill

VP, SCCA Road Racing & Driver

(who has made his fair share of mistakes behind the wheel over the last 30 years, but always strives to be better)