November 3, 2011

How to pass 14 cars in one lap and then...


...get black flagged and f-bombed for a pit lane speed violation.

Team Axis, The Freep, Pete and myself, were at New Jersey Motorsport Park this past week end for the NASA North East season finale.

Great time to go, a freak early NorEaster storm hit the east coast covering much of the East Coast with a half a foot of snow. We were lucky in southern New Jersey, only torrential rain and 30 degree temperatures. Perfect conditions for a track day, don't you think?

In any case we soldiered on, I ran the trials and won my class (mostly because most other competitors would not come out and play in those conditions) and Pete won his Spec e30 race in the deluge.

Sunday saw temperatures barely in the 40's but with sun and drying condition. Pete qualified 3rd overall in his run group and was ready to go out without any intention of taking prisoners when disaster struck: on the way to the grid, the engine in the 343 BMW died.

We all hopped out of our cars to help: jiggle this, bang on that, pull this fuse, whack that fuel pump. As the field rolled out of pit lane, a DME was swapped in and the car roared back to life. Freep did a valiant job zip-tieing the DME in place, doors were slammed and off Pete went. This is where you pick up the action in the video below.

What happens next is awesome and dismal at the same time. Pete launches out of the pits and catches the field just as the green drops, he passes 14 cars in one lap, 15 if you could the end of the front straight. slashes though the field and is about to catch the leading group when he gets black flagged.

His crime? you guessed it, speeding through the paddock. Fair enough, for sure he was faster than the prescribed 5 or 10 mph. I believe that is an offense punishable perhaps with a drive though. But what happened next, is inexcusable.
The NASA race director meets him in the pits and accuses Pete of speeding and "...almost taking out two officials'. This is clearly shown as a complete fabrication by the video.

What is worse is that said race director tells Pete, a client of NASA after all, to the "the F-ck off the track". This is simply not acceptable and unprofessional.
Later he threatened to ban Pete for the 2012 season.
While we understand many of these positions are manned by volunteers, NASA is a for profit business, NASA racers are customers and customers should be accorded some respect by the organizations they choose to patronize, not be hectored by hysterical frustrated people lacking facts.

Anyway, that's our story, here's the video, you tell us what you think.. Pete's version of events is after the jump



"This past weekend, NASA NE hosted its last event of the season at Thunderbolt Racetrack at New Jersey Motorsports Park. After Freep and I packed up at the secret warehouse, it was off to the rack to meet up with AC.

I excited about the event,  expectations were high. I had been watching videos and going over data for the prior two weeks, trying to find new speed. But all those notes went in the garbage with a weather forecast for Saturday calling for lots and lots of never ending rain and near freezing temperatures.

I wish I could say Saturday practice was uneventful: first trip into turn 1 and I quickly found my brakes and tires were not up to temperature. I locked up the rears and spun a 720 ending up in the run off area.
Note to self, Brakes, especially rear brakes need careful warming on freezing days.

Deep water streams were running through the track. So much water we were getting wheel spin in 4th gear down the main straight, this with a 155 RWHP car. I qualified on pole but  I was very disappointed the e30 field went from 8 to 3 due to breakdowns and the snowpocalypse north of the track

The race saw the same crappy weather but was able to take the win even with a spectacular mid race spin. A new braking line into turn 1 resulted in a spin right into a gigantic puddle. I was told the water went pretty high into the air. (Ed.: it was a spray about the height of a two story building!  we thought he was a goner)   Most went inside the car and soaked me, great feeling on a 33 degree day!


Sunday,the rain was finally gone but temperatures were barely hitting 40F,  Our cars and anything we had left outdoors were covered with ice.
Qualifying took place on a near damp track, with some standing water. I again started at the top of the spec e30 pack and had a great overall spot of p3 on the grid.
Right at race time, luck ran out.  As I drove 343 to the grid, the car sputtered and shut off maybe 200 yards from the track entrance.
It became immediately apparent this was not a simple bad electrical connection, it was something worse. Quickly AC, Freep, Johnny A from Drivegear and I, went into diagnostic mode. Just as we narrowed it down to a faulty computer, we heard cars rolling off the grid for the pace lap. Then, just as the pace car led the field through turn 3 on the track, the Axis 343 fired up! Freep frantically secured the DME as I pulled on the belts. I was so excited!
I'm off to the long pit lane.  Excited to be on the track, I began to push the car on very cold tires to catch up with the pack. Somehow I managed to catch up just before the last corner.

Green flag and I was on a mission to pass everyone!  Up to 4th overall in just 2 laps, I began to throw down qualifying pace laps trying to catch the first 4 cars.
Just as I was getting close to the P3, a car that was smoking and blowing oil on the track, I got a black flag pointed at me at start/finish line.
I thought that it was a mistake but at turn 6 the corner worker had my number and a black flag.

So now I know that black flag is for me and I start to wonder if  something is wrong with the car , maybe my hood is open.
I roll into pit lane thinking it was something simple and kind of enjoying the prospect of going out and having to pass more cars again, which is always fun to do.

Not so. I am directed off the course and accused of almost hitting two officials in the pits. I was confused so instead of making a big deal out of it, i just went to the pits to check the camera: it had been a chaotic start of the race and I had been very focused on getting in the race so wanted to make sure I hadn't done anything wrong.
After checking the video,  it was clear I was not even close to anyone, much less almost "taking out" not one but two officials.

I approached the race director, same one that told me to get (the F...) off track, to try and figure out what the problem was. After politely starting a conversation, I was quickly blown away with the completely disrespectful attitude that I was getting from him. Listening to him curse and preach safety, I quickly had enough all his BS. Did I mention that he stated he was banning me for the 2012 season over this?

I took the matter up with the owner of NASA NorthEast. He was aware of the problem and addressed why I received the black flag but had no real answer as to o why I was kick out of the race.

He said thatI would not banned for 2012, which was good, but if things dont change with his staff, I won't be back anyway. The rude, cursing race director is an employee of his, and I am one very unhappy customer at this point. What a disappointing end to a season. This is a good example of why Chris Cobetto and his NASA Mid-Atlantic group, draws in cars from all over the country. When you drive in a NASA Mid-Atlanticevent, you treated with upmost respect!



  1. Ugh, what a disappointing experience.

  2. I can't believe it, looks like Russia...

  3. were they talking about the Dude on the golf cart? cause I don't see anybody else in the video! What a BS!!!...

  4. Someone seems to like power, but doesn't know how to use it.

  5. He's probably a Hamilton fan....

  6. I guess Pete himself has to ban the next season at NASA - they can't treat their customers like that. By the way, one can sue you due to speeding only with speed cameras & radars like they do it in FIA.

  7. Couldn't see any officials you almost hit... you were going too fast for me to see

  8. Scaring 2 people, No. Speeding in the paddock, Yes.

  9. The only two people I see are one guy walking on the drivers side and one pointing you out. Usually when you read something like this you see something on the borderline of an issue and it's a point of view thing. In this case I see ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong in the video...guy was just a jackass with power.

  10. I'll admit I was surprised at the speed through the paddock at first, but I totally understand where you were coming from; behind everyone, not sure if they're going to put you on track. I get that.

    I looked, really, really hard, to see the two officials you almost ran over. Like Don said, I saw one guy walking on the driver's side, and one pointing you out on track. Not only were you not really close to those two, you slowed your speed near them.

    Yeah, you sped in the paddock, which should be addressed. But this is excessive.

    Someone put this race director out as a road marshal on a stage rally. I bet he'd crap his pants.

  11. NASA is one of the most pretentious organizations I've ever encountered. It is worth paying extra to get track time with an organization that respects you as a person, and not just a wallet with wheels. Say NO to NASA!

  12. @Jacob I disagree, I found NASA to be easy to deal with. That said, no official should tell you to get the fuck off the track or be as hysterical as this guy way. He really owe Pete an apology.
    But I would not condemn the whole organization because of one guy, especially if this gets handled properly i by NASA in the end.

  13. what I don't understand is why did it take 5 laps for them to black flag you. if they thought you were speeding your should have been black flagged on lap 1.

  14. Watching the video, I have to say I have a different take than most here. That was pretty egregious paddock speeding. I didn't see Pete get near any officials, but that's not where I have a problem.

    Let's get real here, Pete wasn't just "over the prudent 5 or 10 mph", he was flying around the paddock. He broke the tail loose when he took off, and went flying around the Mitsubishi (or whatever that was). What if the Mitsu had been planning to pull over, or turn around or make any other maneuver that would normally be safe with other cars at paddock speeds? Pete wouldn't have had much shot at a podium if he was parked in the side of a street car.

    As unfortunate and as embarrassing as that could have been, we haven't even touched on the real issue. Paddocks are busy places, it's not just officials standing still, it's people running for brake fluid or water, or whatever. As frenzied as the repair was on the E30, imagine if someone had yelled "Get me some zip ties!". The nearest crew member would have broken out at a run to the nearest tow vehicle with tools with nothing on his mind but getting those zip ties.

    Now advance to :38, and imagine that that crew member was working on the orange car. Now replay the clip.

    After that, nothing else really matters.

  15. Officer pulls you over and asks you how fast you were going, you say, oh only a few miles per hour over the speed limit. Never ever do this, you just confessed to a crime. A punishment, not of your choosing, is justly deserved.

    This video reminds me a lot of above scenario. Clearly there is speeding in the pits at the beginning of this race. It just happened that from this particular angle and this particular situation no-one appeared to be in mortal danger. However, the track organizer MUST look at the larger picture, if he allowed everyone to speed like that in the paddock, people WILL be hurt. In fact, if someone was hurt, they would point to your video as precedent for the organizer being "negligent."

    As far as a "fair" punishment, the punishment should be a minimum of a black flag-drive w/ drive through up to ban from organization forever. Consider yourself lucky.

    ex NorCal NASA Official

  16. Pete,

    EFFF that I would have done the same thing as you did. To the bone head with the what if statement. Really?? I drove with Pete for a few years and if there was someone there he would not have flew by him. What if that car was on fire? What if there was sink hole. GHEY there was no one there, what if my ass.

    Pete I think I will have my race license next year and we can dice it up again. I really miss driving with you and Justin. My old e30 is 6 tenths off your lighting record.

  17. Nobody is disputing whether Pete sped or not. He spoke with the Region head and accepted the penalty. Rather, people are disputing the conduct of the "Race Director," who, ironically, was not directing the race which was taking place. Losing one's temper has never saved the day. From the NASA CCR:

    2.2 Conduct of Officials
    Officials shall conduct themselves in accordance with all of the rules and regulations found in the CCR. Officials that are on duty shall conduct themselves with exemplary and professional behavior, and shall be an example for the participants. The Officials are as much a part of a sporting event as the competitors and shall be bound by these rules in the same manner. Any Official that has been found to have made a mistake, yet acted in good faith, shall not be punished, however may be assigned to other duties or sent for more training as necessary.

    2.2.1 Misconduct
    Any NASA Official that has been found (in connection with NASA) to have violated any
    governmental laws, acted in bad faith, showed bias, or willfully attempted to cause detriment to a competitor, may be reported to the Regional and Executive Director. The Executive Director may evaluate the case, and if deemed to be sufficient cause to believe that the Official in question was involved in any of the aforementioned accusations, the Executive Director may convene a meeting with National Chairman and the Regional Director. Other consultants may be invited as necessary. Upon conclusion of the meeting the Executive Director will carry out the agreed upon course of action which could range from a reprimand to permanent expulsion, and notification of governmental authorities if applicable.

  18. While we're posting rules...

    NJ Chapter 62, Section 3.10 (***STATE LAW*** nothing to do with NASA whatsoever):

    § 13:62-3.10 Speed limits

    (a) No vehicles shall be operated in the paddock or staging areas at a speed in excess of five miles per hour.

    (b) No vehicles shall be operated in the pit lane in excess of 20 miles per hour during any event, except race and practice sessions.

    (c) The pit lane speed limit during races, practices and qualifying sessions shall not exceed the revolutions per minute(rev) limit speed set by the sanctioning authority or event organizer. In all classes of racing, the rev limit speed shall not exceed 55 miles per hour.

    Pete was well over on A & B and, in my opinion, probably pretty close on C. I saw a Millville Police cruiser at the end of pit lane during the race. State Police frequent the track as well.

    From NASA's CCR:

    5.1 - Paddock Rules:
    The speed limit in the paddock is five (5) MPH for any vehicle other than emergency vehicles. This speed limit applies to bicycles as well.

    Fearless Freep, you caught the "Conduct of Officials" but conveniently left out "Conduct of Participants" ???

    23.1 Participant Conduct - Expectations
    It is expected that every participant and driver (entrant) at a NASA sanctioned event shall conduct themselves according to the highest standards of behavior and sportsmanship, particularly in their relationship with other drivers and Officials, and in a manner that shall not be detrimental to the reputation of NASA. Failure to do so may result in harsh penalties.

    23.1.1 Good Sportsmanship
    NASA considers good sportsmanship to be the very essence of the sport, and the basic foundation of any competition. Competitors are expected to hold the qualities of fairness, honesty, courtesy, and justice to be more important than the outcome of the race. Real sportsmen/women may have an intense desire to win, but ***not at all costs***. A person that has won by cheating, or by any means less than honorable, has simply found a way to acquire a trophy, but not a victory. The actual winner is the true sportsman/woman that might go home with nothing in his/her hands, yet his/her heart is overflowing with satisfaction. This satisfaction comes from understanding that the value of winning is not found in a trophy, but rather in the sheer pleasure of playing the sport with honesty, fairness, and integrity. This affords total fulfillment during times of introspection, and validates that fulfillment by earning valuable respect from fellow competitors. NASA will demonstrate its commitment to good sportsmanship by rewarding the driver that displays the most outstanding acts of sportsmanship each season. There will be a trophy presentation and prizes for the person chosen as the recipient of the “Best Sportsmanship” award at the season banquet (regionally).

    23.1.2 Unsportsmanlike Conduct
    Any unsportsmanlike conduct, on any scale, is not welcome at NASA events. Acts of unsportsmanlike conduct have many forms such as arguing, yelling, intimidation, aggressive physical contact, and losing without grace. Other forms are willfully using non-performance technicalities to hurt another competitor’s point standings to the benefit of one’s own, “sandbagging,” and failing to report a mistake in scoring that benefits themselves. No form of unsportsmanlike conduct will be tolerated at any NASA event. Competitors that show poor sportsmanship due to a mistake in judgment will be educated, and punished if necessary. However, competitors that commit repeated acts of unsportsmanlike conduct cannot be educated; therefore expulsion is most likely the only remedy.

    Finally, there is an appeals process covered under Section 17 of the CCR. If Pete or anyone else feels that what happened was unfair, this is probably the avenue to pursue.

  19. Let's see,
    § 13:62-3.10 Speed limits
    A). Guilty
    B) was during a race...
    C) debatable but unenforcable as no speed gun was set up to measure anyone's speed. Inaction by State trooper would support pit lane speed ok.

    CCR 5.1: yup, guilty of violating a rule clearly not enforced. And that INCLUDES bicycles! :)

    As for the rest, I don't see where Pete was unsportsmanlike. He did not curse at the official...he was the one told to get the fuck off the track and falsely accused of almost hitting people, remember? Where do you figure he broke any of those rules?

  20. You guys are brutal... Pete was clearly just trying to make the start and he chose to speed through the pits to make it. Not a "law-abiding" call but sometimes you have to break the rules to get what you want.

    Speeding in pits= drive through... thats fair enough, but getting profanities thrown at you from some fat-ass who cant even fit in an E30 is simply bullshit...

    I would seriously consider calling/writing NASA about this guy. Motorsports have gotten a lot of bad press with all the recent deaths and we dont need angry, fat officials DQing members for a mild infraction like pit speeding.

  21. 23.1.1 and 23.1.2 both address "sportsmanship," specifically cheating, and cheating's not the issue here. Pete sped, accepted the (overly reactive) penalty, and that's settled. Rather than pursue an appeal, it seems much more effective to expose an unprofessional and out-of-control "Official" on the interwebz. The guy clearly could use some therapy but I wonder how many other customers he abuses during a given season. What's the American expression about "customer beware"? I think it applies here...

  22. Yes, you were speeding in the Paddock, the penalty is justified. It is sad that the official wasn't very professional.

    It's unfortunate how many people don't understand how amateur club racing works. You're a member, not a customer. Race officials are mostly all volunteers, and probably paid for gas and lodging to come put on the race event for you.

    I would suggest you read your CCR (Can be found here - maybe attend some meetings, and (god forbid) work a few races and see what it takes to let you guys have fun on the track.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a NASA member, I'm a SCCA member, club racer, and F&C worker.

  23. I wondered when the first "preachy volunteer" would show up to this thread... no wonder he's from the SCCA (the very reason NASA is devouring SCCA). I didn't find anything about volunteerism in the CCR, but I did find this:

    2.6 All Officials- General Philosophy
    All Officials shall be trained and licensed (where required) before being allowed to perform official duties. All Officials-in-Training should be supervised. All Officials shall strictly adhere to these two basic rules:

    1. Friendliness. All Officials shall be friendly and courteous to all NASA participants. Participants are valued members. If an Official has a problem with a
    member, refer them to the Event Director. Under no circumstances shall an Official be rude, sarcastic, or impolite to any NASA member. Disputes with other Officials shall be settled quietly and in private. Any unresolved problems should be reported to the Event Director.

  24. Just reading through this thread, and sorry for sounding like a teenager (I'm 36 I swear), but OMG I can't believe some people are more angry about the use of the F word from a track official than they are about the dude going 40mph through the dang paddock.

    And I agree with Anonymous, some of you would do well to volunteer. I've worked flags and I have a lot of respect for track safety. It's obvious to me that bad judgement on the part of drivers can cause a lot of damage.

  25. The marshal's violation couldn't cause any damage.
    Pete's violation of the rules could of ended lives if it was at the wrong place and time.
    Quit acting like the marshal was the enemy in this story, he offended Pete, Pete could of offended the entire region by being the guy that maimed a guy at NJMP.

  26. Hang that the official completely fabricated the charge he almost hit two officials is cool with you? Because Pete did not come close to hitting anyone at any time as the video clearly shows. That and the behavior of the officials are facts, the rest is just speculation. What if an asteroid hit the paddock just then,, didn't happen but it could have! :)

  27. The odds are a lot better of Pete hitting someone in the paddock than an asteroid being flung from space to punish someone for saying a bad word. Quit acting like Pete being offended is grounds for underestimating how stupid it was to spin the wheels in the paddock and to speed.

  28. That's higly debatable, facts however remain facts.... he did NOT "almost take out two officials" not while in the car anyway :)

  29. Pete totally admitted his speeding was stupid, and he promised not to do it again. The "official" (more like asshat) has yet to do the same in accounting for his own behaviour. He has not apologized or stated he was wrong, or admitted that he made up the story about "almost taking out 2-3 officials" or retracted his claim that pete hit "70mph" in the paddock (it was nowhere close) or apologized for his unprofessional conduct and compltely losing his cool. An official who loses his temper under any circumstances is just a clown. You can't expect ppl to respect an official who behaves like that. Just doesn't workt that way.

  30. A "racer" who can't obide the rules is also a clown. There is a speed limit in the paddock. He should have obeyed the speed limit late to the race or not.

    And agreed, let's stick to facts. He was speeding in the paddock. Unjustified. I don't care about nearly hitting someone, yadda, yadda, yadda, all heresay. I see him speeding unnecessarily in the paddock.

    Facts are facts. He was speeding.

  31. ... and Pete will be the first to admit he sped in the paddock and accepted responsibility for it, as you can read above.

    Now on to the insane over reaction of the official who fabricated accusations and threatened to ban him for a whole season based on those false accusations...

  32. Exactly what everyone has been saying, you are using this as an excuse to "overlook" how stupid it was to put everyone's lives in danger in the paddock.
    You've only defended Pete with "Well look what HE did?!"
    Its like a 2 year old telling on his brother to get out of trouble.

  33. He put "lives in danger?? Get a hold of yourself.... seriously! LOL

    yeah he sped in the paddock. Drive through penalty, end of story.

  34. It is a sad day when people get more upset over a racer/grown man getting his ass chewed by an official, only to dismiss his wreckless paddock speeding and dis-regard for the safety of other track patrons. I can assure you that (and heaven forbid) if he were to hit someone in the pits, he would have gotten a much worse 'tounge lashing' than what he got at the pit-out stand.

    I think some of the posters on here need to develop 'thick skin', step off their egotistical pedestals, and take the situation for 'what it was...which was speeding in the pits. Thankfully no one got hurt form this, and it should serve as the example to others about their actions in the paddock...race or no race.

  35. Sorry but I dont sign a waiver on entry to a racetrack and expect someone spinning the tires in the paddock. Even the 16 year old kid at his first track day acts better than Pete. His little cry baby hissy fit at the end didnt help his case either.
    Just because you didnt hurt anyone this time doesn't mean it's ok.

  36. Well maybe you should sign your posts too

  37. It seems that they were both at fault. The driver shouldn't have been driving that fast and the official shouldn't have acted that way. However, the driver admitted that he was wrong and took responsibility, so it seems the official is a little out of line.


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