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> If You Do Open Track Events......, Something to Consider
SMeyers
post May 3 2018, 08:18 AM
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Among other reasons, this is a big factor for me not participating in this type of event.

Just food for thought.

Can't happen to you? Happened to Tage, Director of Arizona NASA. Like this driver, he had the proper gear and training.

Do you?

Click below.

Risks On A Racetrack


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Scott Meyers
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SSLance
post May 3 2018, 08:52 AM
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I have read several of stories similar to this and have watched a good friend's car burn very badly from inside my car on track at National Corvette Museum Raceway in 2015. Jeff lost a brake master cylinder and backed his 63 split window into a fence where a bumperette ruptured his fuel tank. His GoPro showed flames inside the car in 5 seconds and it was so hot it quit recording at 17 seconds...he was lucky to get out fast and only have some singed eyebrows and some burn marks on his firesuit. I was about 20 seconds behind him on course and saw flames 20' tall coming off the car with him running away from it as I crested the hill...

This is why when I do track days I wear all of the protective gear I can to protect me from a NASCAR 3 layer firesuit, fire resistant underwear, socks, balaclava, shoes, even 5 point harnesses and my HANS device... Last year I finally put a fire extinguisher inside the car and I have a full fire suppression system in a box with a 10# bottle and 3 nozzles that I am going to install in Barney before my next track day.

I shudder when I watch videos of those making runs on track days without all of the protective gear because I know things can go bad in a hurry even if you are only driving at 8/10s or less. Any mechanical failure (they do happen) can create fire in a hurry... Track days are super fun, but you have to respect everything that can go wrong at them every time.


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Dave Munsey
post May 3 2018, 06:14 PM
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QUOTE (SMeyers @ May 3 2018, 08:18 AM) *
Among other reasons, this is a big factor for me not participating in this type of event.

Just food for thought.

Can't happen to you? Happened to Tage, Director of Arizona NASA. Like this driver, he had the proper gear and training.

Do you?

Click below.

Risks On A Racetrack



Food for thought. I am getting ready to do some track days this summer and that article has me thinking maybe it is time for some safety gear.


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DAVE MUNSEY
2002 Boxster S
A Street Prepared
( ASP?? Your kidding me aren't you? Oh, I forgot, it's a Porsche. )
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SMeyers
post May 3 2018, 08:05 PM
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QUOTE (Dave Munsey @ May 3 2018, 06:14 PM) *
Food for thought. I am getting ready to do some track days this summer and that article has me thinking maybe it is time for some safety gear.

To paraphrase another saying........."Safety gear is like a parachute: if you don't have it when you need it, then chances are that you won't ever be in need of it again."

Like that. wink.gif

Another one is "Don't Open Track a car you can't afford to lose". huh.gif


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Scott Meyers
2001 Mustang V-6 (aka: "Hank")
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freakin_elrod
post May 4 2018, 07:21 AM
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QUOTE (SMeyers @ May 3 2018, 09:05 PM) *
QUOTE (Dave Munsey @ May 3 2018, 06:14 PM) *
Food for thought. I am getting ready to do some track days this summer and that article has me thinking maybe it is time for some safety gear.

To paraphrase another saying........."Safety gear is like a parachute: if you don't have it when you need it, then chances are that you won't ever be in need of it again."

Like that. wink.gif

Another one is "Don't Open Track a car you can't afford to lose". huh.gif



You literally have to be willing to "pay to play".


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Sid Elorde
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SSLance
post May 4 2018, 09:04 AM
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There are places to get track day insurance now to protect your car at least... I think it's Lockton Insurance (could be Hagerty) that now has policies for the guys and gals participating in SCCA Track Night in America. It's not really cheap but in the other respect it's not bad piece of mind either.

Last time I bought one it was $125 for a weekend event with a $1,000 deductible I believe.


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Lance Hamilton
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Project.D
post May 4 2018, 03:00 PM
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Wow. Looks like I might want to do some extra prep work before I start doing track days once I can pay for them with a decent job after I graduate...


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TJ Triolo
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hatrick6
post May 6 2018, 03:58 PM
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I have done only a couple track days with NASA in their "beginner" class where you must take an instructor and they keep you super safe. Having said that though I simply can't afford their $160 a day price tag to race, nor can afford to lose my car into a concrete wall or ball of fire tongue.gif


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Bob Lob Law
post May 8 2018, 03:15 PM
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Well, that is not even close to what happened to Tage. There was a little fire but it was a very minor one car fender bender after a blown brake line. Much of the damage was caused by him trying to reverse off the track quickly, and he ended up backing into a barrier. He was fine and the car was easily back together for the next race.

He and all the other NASA drivers who actually do wheel-to-wheel racing are in dedicated race cars will full safety gear. Simply hot lapping in HPDE or time trails is much tamer.

It is much cheaper than autocross if you divide by time on track, and you don't have any work assignments (or if you work one day, you race the other day for free).

That said, it is a good reminder that track days are hard on street cars in a way that autocross is not, and if you want to do real racing in a proper race car it is incredibly expensive. If you depend on a car for work/life you should not be tracking it, and track insurance is a total ripoff anyway.



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SMeyers
post May 8 2018, 05:11 PM
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Paragraph at a time. See below.

While not *exactly* what happened to Tage, he did have to bail from his moving car to escape the flames. Or so he shared at lunch a while back. His burn scars were still somewhat visible, but he was very lucky. If you call burned and scarred "fine" (he was healing nicely), we will have to disagree.

Carefully note here the phrase "full safety gear". Yep. While other forms of Open Track Events are "much tamer", still, at very high speeds with no safety gear and a car that is far from prepped for such activities is really pushing one's luck. I will say that exceptional efforts are made at NASA Events to stress and enforce safety above all, and it is their "prime directive". There are very few "incidents", thanks to their diligence. But, there are some who attend these that follow the rules better than others.

In your paragraph three, we very much agree.


The last Open Track I went to (yep, tried it a time or two) was put on by the Shelby Club, many years ago. At Firebird, the track that ran under a bridge close to the Freeway. It's been quite a while.

Fun moment #1 was going down the first straightaway, and was being approached by a Formula Vee or similar. At the end of this straightaway was a tapered right-hand corner. Rule was, "No passing in corners". I was well ahead of him in my much slower Dodge Shelby Charger, so I set up wide for the corner, and in a blink "Mr. Vee" decided that was his chance to get past me. Rules be damned. I entered the corner expecting no one to be there, and missed him by literally inches as he dove inside. Probably 70-80mph. I had a helmet and seat belt on. Oh yeah, higher tire pressures too. dry.gif

Fun moment #2 was only a sad observation of another driver. During the day, as different groups ran, it so happened that this young man (even then I was older than most) had out for a fun time his brand new Mustang GT. I'm guessing he was having a very fun time until one lap he came upon that bridge I mentioned earlier. Apparently, as the evidence suggested, he approached that corner way too fast for either his or his cars abilities. Yep. He went straight into the bridge wall. His brand new Mustang afterward was about a foot or two shorter. He was physically unhurt.

As fate would have it, he had not told his wife he was taking their brand new Mustang out to this event. And, even more sadly, it was only a month or two old and heavily financed. This is a true observation. It was also my last Open Track.

So, carefully re-read paragraph three a few more times. Absorb it's meaning. Bad things can happen to good people, despite best intentions.

Or, as Clint Eastwood is known for saying...... "Are you feeling lucky.......?"

QUOTE (Bob Lob Law @ May 8 2018, 03:15 PM) *
Well, that is not even close to what happened to Tage. There was a little fire but it was a very minor one car fender bender after a blown brake line. Much of the damage was caused by him trying to reverse off the track quickly, and he ended up backing into a barrier. He was fine and the car was easily back together for the next race.

He and all the other NASA drivers who actually do wheel-to-wheel racing are in dedicated race cars will full safety gear. Simply hot lapping in HPDE or time trails is much tamer.

That said, it is a good reminder that track days are hard on street cars in a way that autocross is not, and if you want to do real racing in a proper race car it is incredibly expensive. If you depend on a car for work/life you should not be tracking it, and track insurance is a total ripoff anyway.



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Scott Meyers
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Bob Lob Law
post May 8 2018, 09:44 PM
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QUOTE (SMeyers @ May 8 2018, 06:11 PM) *
So, carefully re-read paragraph three a few more times. Absorb it's meaning. Bad things can happen to good people, despite best intentions.


Er...are you telling me to absorb the meaning of the paragraph that I wrote?

My main point was that HPDE is not something to be scared of. It is specifically intended for new drivers with normal cars. You can not expect anyone to build a cage, buy a fire suit, install fire suppression, etc. just to go dip their toe into the track world. The safety requirements ramp up as the danger does.

Statistically speaking, I would bet HPDE is as safe as driving to work, and that both are safer than riding a bike around Phoenix.

Again, bad things can happen, but you are drastically overstating the severity of Tage's accident (which was in a race and not HPDE).


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Todd A.
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SSLance
post May 9 2018, 08:31 AM
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Me and my good friend Jeff sharing a few laughs Sunday morning in front of our RV in paddock at a USCA event at NCM June 2015




That is him off my right flank as we get started for one of our hot lap sessions that morning.




Taken by my wife from near our RV about 5 minutes into our second session on track




The guy in the black firesuit is Jeff watching his 63 split window that he has owned forever and driven to about 42 different States burn...



How I first saw it...

End of 2nd session NCM


I can not find the GoPro footage from inside Jeff's car right now nor the after fire pics, he may have pulled it all down. There are many things to consider about how this happened, how to prevent it and how to protect one's self if it does happen. I learned greatly from it but still am in a grey area when I track day my Monte.

Jeff and I are both "tweeners" we are tracking street cars at a level higher than novice HPDE entrants but not close to TT or door to door tracking and it's tough. I do everything I can to protect myself given those restraints. ie: I can't put a containment seat in a street driven car

I do run strong 5 point harnesses, SFI rated race seat, HANS device, properly built 4 point roll bar and am working on installing a built in fire suppression system. I also keep the car in as good of mechanical shape as I can, check it regularly, and as a driver try my best to not drive over my head.

Jeff's accident happened because of a brake part failure, an aftermarket master cylinder failed...he lost his brakes in the worst spot possible and backed it into the armco where a bumperette punctured his fuel tank. You can see from the picture, if his car had stopped up against the armco, he wouldn't have made it out of the car no matter how much safety gear he had on. He was VERY lucky. Some times you make your luck, some times it just happens.

I can't wait to do more track days around here, I'm itching to get out on AMP and Bondurant... But I am going to make sure the car is back to my high mechanical standards first as well as higher on the safety list. And I'll continue to drive it at 8/10s and have fun...and not try to WIN my HPDE...







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renfield90
post May 9 2018, 11:24 AM
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QUOTE (Bob Lob Law @ May 8 2018, 03:15 PM) *
Well, that is not even close to what happened to Tage. There was a little fire but it was a very minor one car fender bender after a blown brake line. Much of the damage was caused by him trying to reverse off the track quickly, and he ended up backing into a barrier. He was fine and the car was easily back together for the next race.

This post has a number of factual errors.

Tage's fire was made worse by the fact that he had removed his rear window to save weight, and the fire ducted itself underneath the car and through the rear window into the cabin. But it was most certainly not a small fire, and the car was out of action for a very long time. The breakage was transmission or motor related, I forget exactly, but hot oil got sprayed on the header and ignited. He never tried to reverse off track because he bailed from the car before even getting it stopped (with the car spinning and nearly running him over in the process - still a good call, broken bones are preferable to burning to death).

https://youtu.be/q6YHGon8emQ

Despite first class safety gear he received 2nd degree burns and spent the better part of a week in a burn center. He was a few seconds away from 3rd degree burns.


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renfield90
post May 9 2018, 11:42 AM
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Fires happen either due to electrical issues (which generally speaking are rare, unless you run a DIY wiring harness or use the wrong fuses) or due to oil/fuel leaks.

If you want to DE a car with an aftermarket oil cooled turbo, yeah, you should consider fire safety gear (in fact, the only car fire I've seen at a DE was an NSX with aftermarket turbo; the fire was put out before serious damage occurred because he managed to stop near a flag station). IMHO, same goes if you have an older car, or an otherwise very heavily modified car. Newer OEM parts generally don't fail in ways that ignite fires, while older parts and aftermarket parts can (due to the part or the install).

I've only heard good things about people who needed a payout from track insurance, they file the claim hassle free and get money pretty quick. The rule does remain though that you should absolutely be prepared to walk away from a streaming pile of metal if you do a track day. I think $100 got me $14k or so of protection at the last TNIA and includes any aftermarket parts I list.

DEs aren't for everyone and there are other risks I'm not covering, but fact is the vast majority of participants leave the event with their car in the same shape it started. It's a lot of fun as long as you're smart about it.


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Manfred Reysser
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2013 FR-S

"As long as my car goes I drive it. I like racing to the limit, first and last." - Gilles Villeneuve
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Bob Lob Law
post May 10 2018, 12:47 AM
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QUOTE (renfield90 @ May 9 2018, 11:24 AM) *
QUOTE (Bob Lob Law @ May 8 2018, 03:15 PM) *
Well, that is not even close to what happened to Tage. There was a little fire but it was a very minor one car fender bender after a blown brake line. Much of the damage was caused by him trying to reverse off the track quickly, and he ended up backing into a barrier. He was fine and the car was easily back together for the next race.

This post has a number of factual errors.

Tage's fire was made worse by the fact that he had removed his rear window to save weight, and the fire ducted itself underneath the car and through the rear window into the cabin. But it was most certainly not a small fire, and the car was out of action for a very long time. The breakage was transmission or motor related, I forget exactly, but hot oil got sprayed on the header and ignited. He never tried to reverse off track because he bailed from the car before even getting it stopped (with the car spinning and nearly running him over in the process - still a good call, broken bones are preferable to burning to death).

https://youtu.be/q6YHGon8emQ

Despite first class safety gear he received 2nd degree burns and spent the better part of a week in a burn center. He was a few seconds away from 3rd degree burns.


Ah there's the confusion, I had assumed we were talking about his accident that just happened this March. That video was from 2011.

And you bring up a good point, every fire I have ever seen has been a fluid leak on a modified car. I have seen a couple of street cars with major drivetrain failure, and insurance does not cover that. Another thing I have noticed is that none of the instructors wear their fire suits when riding in the HPDE cars.


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APEXLVR
post May 15 2018, 02:09 PM
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I'll continue to do open track days. I believe I'm much safer on track than I am driving to or from it.


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Travis Kelley


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Dave Munsey
post May 15 2018, 06:42 PM
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I have mixed feelings about track days. Given the choice to autox or do a track day I would pick autox every time. Best of both worlds is an autox on a track like the Bondurant Course. I went to NASA events a few years ago long enough to move to HPDE 4. There are drivers there who make every session a race and should move up to Time Trials or Race group but don't move up. I learned to always leave a car width on the inside of every turn because someone is going to try to drive past you on the inside much of the time. I do not care for the download sessions after each run group which often consists of someone complaining that so and so would not let them pass and often they were trying to pass where it was not wise to do so. I am going to try out Pro auto sports this summer. A very good idea for anyone who is going to do an HPDE is to check the condition of your brake lines/hoses. Brake fluid ignites very quickly if it is spraying on to something hot like an exhaust manifold or even very hot brakes. You have to drive defensively at a track day , just like on the street. Keep an eye on everybody.


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