November 3, 2013
Nicki Thiim is the 2013 Porsche Supercup Champion.
Danemark's Nicki Thiim won round 8 of the Porsche Supercup championship in Abu Dhabi and becomes the 2013 series champion. He did it in style, with a great move on the last lap of race when he let Carrera Cup Asia's champion Earl Bamber outbrake himself and run off the pavement.
Surely a win with a heavy heart for Thiim who dedicated the win to Sean Edwards. We applause Porsche for not giving in to the public pressure raised by an online petition demanding for the German manufacturer to give the championship to Edwards. We are guessing a racer like Sean would never have gone along with such a plan.
After the tragic accident in Australia there was a lot written online about it, some was good some was not as appropriate. Given the circumstances of the accident, we reached out to professional driver coaches for their thoughts. Ross Bentley, head of a group of extremely experienced professionals who publish the Speed Secrets newsletter, shared his thoughts on this difficult subject after the break
I recall thinking that Greg was far too young, and had far too much left to accomplish, to contribute. It wasn’t fair.
A few weeks ago I watched a documentary, “1,” about Formula One from the 1960s to today. It focused on how dangerous F1 was compared to today. It tells the story of the era when multiple drivers would be killed every year, where racers would sit in a driver’s meeting and look at the others around them and wonder which one would die that day. But now, drivers walk away from some of the most horrifying crashes. The documentary points out that no Formula One driver has been killed since Ayrton Senna back in 1994 – almost twenty years ago.
When Senna died, I recall thinking that it was not fair.
Three weeks ago I had that same feeling. This time it was Sean Edwards I was thinking about. I didn’t know Sean, but I knew of him. I knew of his ability behind the wheel. And many friends, before that time and since, have told me stories about how helpful he was to others.
The difference with Sean was that he was killed while instructing another driver, while riding in the passenger seat, not driving. For instructors, that hit home - it was especially shocking. If it could happen to Sean, it could happen to them.
I’ve instructed from the passenger seat with thousands of drivers over the past three decades. While I’ve had more than a few “scares,” I’ve been fortunate to have never been in a crash while instructing. But I always knew it could happen.
I’ve heard much talk about whether instructors should ride in the passenger seat of a car being driven near the limit on a race track. Some say no, some say yes. I say, “It depends.” If I feel confident with the driver I’m instructing, that he or she respects me enough to truly listen to what I say and we’re working as a partnership in learning, I’m perfectly okay with in-car instructing. In fact, I love it. I feel that I have a huge amount of control, almost driving the car with my words and actions.
But in-car instructing is not for everyone, and those who don’t enjoy it should not do it.
Disturbing to me, I’ve even heard it said that Sean wasted his life, dying while coaching a driver, and not racing himself - as if coaching someone else is not as meaningful as driving. But it was apparent that he had a passion for helping others learn to be better drivers.
Sean Edwards’s last Twitter post was, “Time to hit Queensland Raceway today, should be fun, hope there aren't too many kangaroos like at Bathurst!”
His mother, Daphne McKinley, was quoted as saying, "I said to him just a few days before 'why are you going to Australia to do a lesson? You are winning the championship. You don't need to go'. And he said, 'well Mum, I love mentoring'. He loved bringing on young drivers though the ranks, and he died doing it."
Does that sound like someone who didn't enjoy coaching, someone who was wasting his time, and his life?
Much has been said and written about the fact that Sean, like Greg, Ayrton and many others, died while doing what they loved to do. Is that how we try to put things like the death of someone with much more to contribute in a way that we can accept? Is that how we try to make it seem more "fair?"
Maybe the only thing that is unfair is when people haven’t found their passions the way Greg, Ayrton, and Sean Edwards did.
In the movie, Le Mans, Steve McQueen said, “When you’re racing, it... it’s life. Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting.” Maybe it’s only the waiting that’s unfair...