A Passing Thought

HAVING GONE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC TOGETHER, we’ve all been starved for track time. With our Driver Education format favouring Mosport (CTMP) due to its convenient location for most members, there are a lot of opportunities missed. Recently I made a few small changes in my suspension and didn’t want to wait for another DE to see if I got it right or wrong. So I decided to avail myself of some evening lapping at Shannonville. The temperature was very hot, but it was fun. Not having any responsibilities other than to drive my own car was quite a change from my normal routine. They were kind enough to let me just go out whenever I felt like it, which was perfect for suspension testing. I could do enough laps to heat the tires up and then make ride-height adjustments. Then go back out and do a few more laps to see if that was an improvement or not.

One thing I am conscious of when I drive with another group is that UCR members are always ambassadors of our program. If their group standards are lower or their enforcement less frequent than ours, I don’t rub my hands together in glee and look forward to driving like an idiot. I follow all of our protocols anyway. It takes no effort to be considerate in traffic. There was another UCR driver at the event and he was using the opportunity to take his family out for a few laps. Out of consideration for other drivers and safety for his relatives, I noticed that those rides took place in the intermediate group, rather than the advanced group that he would normally drive in. No one had to tell him to do that, he instinctively knew that it would be the responsible thing to do. He was following our safety guidelines at an outside event.

During the two hours of lapping there were spin-outs, loud music, missed corners, lines that were unfathomable, and a few cars that apparently didn’t have rearview mirrors. I was amused by some of the worst offenders actually coaching each other. Why create one lousy driver when you can have two, both making the same mistakes? Some track-supported events are HPDE (High-Performance Driver Education) in name only. These are little more than revenue generators for the track, so participants are left to their own devices. I always encourage UCR members to drive at different venues, attend events with a variety of different PCA regions, and expand their driving experiences. What I always hope is that our members are the best-behaved drivers on the track. Never mistake enthusiasm for skill and make us proud.

Passing should never be a contentious issue. I don’t care if the person catching me is driving a clapped-out BMW or a Carrera GT, they get a passing signal at the very first opportunity.

Since I mentioned track traffic, I should say a little about passing. Passing should never be a contentious issue. I don’t care if the person catching me in a corner is driving a clapped-out BMW or a Carrera GT, when they catch up to me they get a passing signal at the very first opportunity. Regardless of how short the straight may be there will be no conflict in the next corner because I know how brakes work. The reason that the instructor group can pass between 5a and 5b is because we assist each other in passing. Don’t get the red mist trying to stay ahead of anyone. Point, lift and enjoy the rest of your day. The other driver will enjoy theirs too.

Please keep in mind that other drivers may be doing something different than you. They could be bedding in a set of brake pads and not wanting you to follow them. They could be explaining something to a student and not accelerating where you expect them to. They could have a mechanical or set-up issue that they are working with. For example, I never thought it was a good idea to drive hard at the end of the weekend. You are not at your mental or physical best after two days of lapping. So, during the last run of every weekend I try to drive perfect laps. I slow down a bit and hit every mark as perfectly as I’m capable of. It’s a rewarding feeling when I get it right and I leave the weekend on a high note, rather than on Robin’s flatbed. The message here is drive your own car and stay out of each other’s way. It’s easy and it’s more fun.

I’m just giving everyone a heads-up on what kind of COVID protocols we may have next season. Not because we want everyone to be injected with a microchip so we can track you, you already carry a cell phone for that, but because we care about our friends and every member of our club. So, my personal message is, regardless of your hesitancy, please get double vaccinated so everyone’s life, and our program, can return to some normalcy. There is no such thing as herd immunity if you’re not in the herd. If you don’t do it for yourself, then do it for someone you care about. I’m sure grandma will be grateful.

It’s very likely that we will need some kind of verification of vaccination, in order to convince any instructor to get into your car with you. Our IT guru, Peter Carroll, is adjusting the registration system to accept a download of your COVID vaccination receipt that was issued by the Ontario Ministry of Health. With your second-shot PDF file attached to your driver’s profile it will be a simple step towards accepting student applications. Once the system is up and running, you will just update your existing private medical-information section in your profile, prior to signing up for next season. We are currently discussing what to do about those who are either not vaccinated or do not provide a copy of the verification.

With months to go before next season’s registration and constantly changing circumstances, we want you to know that we are working on a reasonable plan to keep everyone safe. These are interesting times, so drive more and worry less. Your life will be better for it. See you trackside! </>

Photo by Christopher Hebert

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