July 3, 2015

You be the Steward: Track Position

Let's put you, the reader, in race steward shoes again.   This time it's four rather than two wheels and the consequences of the on track action,  spectacularly more severe.

Challenge Car Racing is a independent racing series with no affiliation with Ferrari, it is high end club racing for owners of Challenge cars of different vintages, from 355 to 458.   Round four of the series took place at Road America as a support to Pirelli World Cup.

The Ferrari 458 driven by Jim Booth and the 430 of Steve Hill touched on what on a track map looks like a straight but in reality is a significant left kink approaching the turn 5 braking zone.

The resulting video is both one of the most spectacular and graphic depictions of a crash ever recorded thanks to the multiple cameras on Booth's car and a testament to great engineering at Maranello: the driver walked away from a 150 mph crash, the 458's front and back windows still completely intact.  

But now you make the call:  would you rule against the black 430 for blocking or the red 458 for sticking its nose where it should not have been?


  1. It sure looks like the 430 moved over on the 458, until you see the onboard footage and there is no steering left until after the hit. A bit strange that.

  2. Black car driver is at fault. There was a car between his and the grass, he didn't leave enough room. As soon as there 1mm overlap between your car and another, you don't go into it, you leave room for it, one car width min. It goes for both the defending driver and the one making the move. Here, one of them didn't leave the room. I believe it is simple. Ban the black car driver, he is dangerous.

  3. Sure the black 430 did didn't steer left, but he was looking in his left mirror and would have seen that the 458 was coming up fast on his inside, so whats important is that he steer right to allow room due to the fact the track pinches in. By doing nothing he willingly allowed a 150mph car to car contact.

  4. The black 430 did make it very tight for the 458. Because of this the 458 put both left side tires on the grass and lost traction on that side and slipped to the right into the black 430.

    That being said this series has a strict no contact rule. With that the black car should have left more room. Black car at fault.

  5. Reasonable responsibility is on the red 458. The black 430 is driving the racing line, there is no real blocking involved, just look at the steering input. What looks like a blocking move from the 458s angle is just an optical effect from the fact that the car is running a non racing line parallel to the course/kink. It doesn't tighten for the 430, it tightens for the 458.. Critically the 458 is looking to pass on the inside but has not caught up enough to merit space being made instead of just holding the line. Which for BOTH cars is the safest course of action by the car being overtaken when there is such a speed and power differential between the two cars.

    The 458 is obviously the faster car, overtaking from behind and with an advantage of having complete view of the situation. The overtake should have either been done on the outside or, if on the inside, after the kink. With the 458s power advantage it would have been easy enough with the right planning.

    Even tough I wouldn't agree, perhaps it could technically be argued otherwise. However, given the nature of the series I cannot see how it could be argued that no matter who's fault- overtaking right then and there was not the correct choice given the risk vs reward. To finish first you have to first finish.

  6. 430 at fault. 458 had their line and was already committed to the pass... never moved on to the grass till the 430 came down on him to try and block. Some block but reality is things like this happen with disastrous consequences... so it isn't something I particularly like but it's a trend that has to be accepted.

  7. C'mon now. This is clearly an ill-advised blocking move - or the 430 driver was not checking his mirrors, although you can clearly see his head move to the left just before the contact. Although he doesn't appear to move the wheel left, given that it's at the kink just keeping a straight line would cause the car to shift track position. He knew he was under attack and failed to take note of the following car's position. I feel like it was an honest mistake by Steve BUT given the regs of the series and the circumstance of being in a heated dogfight, he should have had a better position on track at that time.

    The 458 was just trying to make the pass on a long straight that shifts and had nowhere to go go - once he put his nose alongside the 430 he was committed and likely expected to be given the room to race - something that's written into their rules, apparently, along with the no-contact rules. I've never driven at RA irl but have played numerous examples of it digitally and while the correct line seems to be what the 430 was on, there are a few ways to approach T5 and should have been plenty of room for both cars to make it to that turn.

    I'm hanging my conclusion on the fact that Steve did look in his mirror and knew the 458 was coming up alongside him and he didn't make any effort to adjust his line and ensure a safe race. Losing a position is not a good enough justification to cut someone off like that. Verdict: 430 should have allowed the 458 enough room on the pavement to attempt the pass as they approached the braking zone. The 458 may have been overly ambitious in trying to pull alongside but that's racing. If you aren't ambitious, you might as well stay in the pits.

  8. Looks like Steve Hill just graduated from the FIA F3 championship, or was thrown out. Even if he did not appear to steer left to block, the left bend to the track should have had him going to the right of the track.

    I understand blocking but don't really like it. If someone has a run on you just let them go, especially in this weekend-warrior gentleman racing.

    Bone-head move from a bone-head driver. But it doesn't matter he didn't total his own car. Park him. Make him pay for repairs to the 458. Put him in the stewards office in order to observe other decisions. Don anything to get him off the track for a while.

  9. I am the driver coach for WIsko Racing who is running Mr Booth in the 458.
    I was involved in the post crash video analysis and I learned an important lesson:
    Using only one video perspective to make a judgement is not adequate.
    We used 4 clips and three of the four told completely different stories. Jim's nose cam makes it look like Hill moved over on him, but the video from the following car and Hill's in car does not support that. Clearly the left edge of the track moves to the right in relation to the conventional line that Hill was driving and JIm pushed into it as it was closing up at the narrowest point. Normally in pro racing this would lead to the conclusion that Jim was at fault for pushing into a deteriorating situation, but at the CCR drivers meeting we were clearly and specifically told that if there was a car closing in the areas that close up like this to move over and leave room. In Hill's in car video you can clearly see the 458 fully revealed in his side mirror and his turned to look at it..but he held his line and let the gap close.
    Having to set aside friendships and team loyalty is very difficult to do when trying to be objective, and it was my conclusion that the responsibility for the contact was shared equally between the two drivers. Thankfully, I am not the steward and I am not sure if any official decision has been made.
    Regardless of fault, the important result is that Jim is OK and ready to go racing again soon. There are many important lessons to be learned form this crash not the least of which is to be certain your safety equipment is top notch and make sure you fit into your car perfectly..also make sure there is nothing sharp within flailing room of your arms, Strap into your car and imagine you will be placed into a giant blender set on crush. Prepare accordingly.

  10. Great post, maybe all can learn from it...

  11. Tough to add anything to the comments of a guy on the scene, knows the corner and guys and drivers meeting comments.....

    I think that is an unfortunate racing incident.... That said if I could ever afford to race a Ferrari, and I am aware of the kink.... And have been able to easily dice with Mr Hiil and pass on other sections of the track, there is no way I am risking my nice 458 by sticking in that position....at that point on the track....live to fight on another corner....

  12. Black car lost momentum on the turn 3 pass with tight radius. His two options, free up the car, let the car go where it needs to without scrubbing speed,to gain back momentum. That line will take you to the right of the track. Second, know you have no speed and block all the way down to turn 5. Seeing they gave each other room and traded spots a number of times that lap, I'm sure the red car would not expect the black to come over. black car fault, lucky nobody killed. Blocking is ridiculous in ameture racing.

  13. I keep reading about how great the safety elements of the Ferrari were in the crash but the door is ripped open really early in the incident and stays open until the end, leaving the driver, I feel, dangerously exposed.


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