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Blocking vs Defending - 2015

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#1
Danny Steyn

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Hi all

 

Hope the new year has started well for everyone. The new racing season is upon us, and I for one am very looking forward to catching up with friends again, and especially to a great season of clean, hard racing.

 

Unfortunately the engine BS that put a real damper on the season, but one of the other things that got under my skin was the whole "blocking vs. defending" debate that, depending on who was doing it, would always justify it with the .... "the rule says I get one move, so I was not blocking" .... which is just PURE BS

 

Back in April I suggested that SCCA and especially the SM drivers follow the Indycar rule that can be paraphrased as follows

 

DEFENDING â€“ you are driving defensively when you make your PROACTIVE move in anticipation of a passing attempt and commit to the line prior to the passing driver making his passing attempt

BLOCKING â€“ you are blocking if you make your REACTIVE move in response to the passing driver making his move

 

Nice to see that Safe is Fast is championing the same approach, and its been adopted for IMSA as well (see at 2:00). When you see drivers of this caliber talking this way, it makes you wonder why so many club racers still feel they can get away with reactive moves.

 

 


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#2
MPR22

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Danny practices what he preaches.  Watch from minute 25:00.   He takes the defensive line out of turn 7 and discourages a pass inside at 8, Craig doesn't have a run so Danny then moves right to widen his approach to 8.  The lapper they come up to in the kink shows everyone what not to do when being passed.  Unfortunately that created a huge bottleneck that lead to a wreck.  

 

I don't see too much blocking at the front of the field the back to middle is just stupid with it.  I found myself having to start last or near last several times last year and working through a field.  I was hit way more by blocking and dive bombing by that group than i have ever been by the fast guys.  If i made a pass and didn't take an uber defensive line through the next corner I was surely getting dive bombed on the next one.  Never mind the fact I might 2 seconds a lap faster.  I guess the moral is don't F' up your qualifying or don't miss the call to grid at a NASA race. 

 

Danny, you race way more than me, do you see blocking as a problem up front.  Drago has the widest car I have ever tried to pass but I never felt he flat blocked me.


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#3
ECOBRAP

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#4
38bfast

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Key thing to take out of the interview, "respect". If you can drive respecting your competition and they respond in kind, you will have the best racing ever. But when one of the parties does not show that mautal respect then the racing will suck and metal to metal is ineviadable.
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#5
38bfast

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There has been a lot of bitching about halow the teqnical rules have are to blame for the cost of racing. Metal to metal can and has caused millions in damage. Blocking leads to frustration, frustration leads to incidents. Incedents lead to having to spend money you don't want to spend and takes all the fun out of the weekend. Racing clean is cheaper and much more fun.
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#6
FTodaro

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Good topic Danny, can we also discuss the concept of giving up a corner to live to fight another day. Things that frustrate me on track is blocking and racing for every corner and closely related, not willing to give up a corner which ends up slowing both cars down or wrecking each other. 


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#7
Danny Steyn

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Danny, you race way more than me, do you see blocking as a problem up front?  

 

 Michael, most drivers are respectful and not reactive - however there are still a few reactive drivers up front! I suspect some of it will come out in the wash this season.


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#8
Glenn Davis

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Great post.  Drifting offline as a preemptive move should be a part of racing, like running down the middle of the long straight and making the following car make a choice.  Driving in the mirror is just lame.


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#9
JRHille

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Danny, I agree completely.  Making a defensive move right as the driver is about to pass, whether it be the first move or not, is very dangerous.  What if it isn't timed right and the passing car already has a nose up on the "defending" car's bumper?  Not only is it dangerous, but it also builds massive frustration which can cause farther incidents. 

 

I'd also think its safe to say making the defending moves prior to the passing car's attempt is much more fun from a strategic standpoint. 

 

I, personally, have only come across this tactic once at the front.   To second other people again, the issue is definitely a bigger problem mid-pack. 


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#10
LarryKing

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 The lapper they come up to in the kink shows everyone what not to do when being passed

 

What should the lapped driver have done differently?


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#11
ner88

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He wasn't racing anyone. Situation awareness, at the speed the leaders were closing, start pointing and get the hell out of the way!


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MPR22

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He wasn't racing anyone. Situation awareness, at the speed the leaders were closing, start pointing and get the hell out of the way!

 

What should the lapped driver have done differently?

At 25:53 literally driving in the middle of the track.  As he approaches the Kink he stay well off line and actually uses the brakes at mid turn.  At 26:00 does not track out, has at least 2-3 feet of track to outside.  

 

 

From day one in DE you are taught to stay on the racing line and let the passing car figure out how to get by you.  Don't drive your mirrors just pay attention and drive the racing line.

 

Danny anticipates the guy will track out fully and he adjusted his line accordingly.  At almost track out you see Danny has to jink right to avoid contact as the lapper does not track out.   I get it, it can be nerve racking especially on the last lap and with the entire pack coming down on a lapper, however every year I have been racing we come up on a lapper that panics, half the time literally spinning in the middle of the track in front of the lead pack.  Good news is it rarely leads to a wreck as the front folks are expecting it and are ready to take evasive action.  Just messes up some races, or makes them more exciting depending if your perspective. 1st place doesn't like it, 4th place loves it. 


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#13
LarryKing

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I see two completely different recommendation above, 1. get the Hell out of the way, or 2. stay on line. (I agree with "stay on line" by the way)

 

Monday morning quarterbacking for sure, but if the lapper stayed on line in this case he may have cause an ever higher pucker factor for Mr. Steyn by moving the apex to the left by a car width. I also agree that tracking-out all the way to the left may have been best but as stated it's the passing car's responsibility to do so safely.

 

I don't think the Canada corner crash can be blamed on the back marker.


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#14
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We can ALL find videos showing defending and blocking even as hard as it is to believe among the pointy end folks. Even a dive bomb or two.  Generally when being passed using the track classis line is taught during SCCA schools.
 

WHY does the existing rule not work?

 

It may be simple to import some of Danny's words into this existing rule, so as not to be taken as a bunch of engine rule breaker, slam bangers attempting to upstage the elders and mess with a long standing  SCCA rule.  

6.11. RULES OF THE ROAD
 

6.11.1 On Course Driver Conduct
A.
Drivers are responsible to avoid physical contact between cars on
the race track.
B. Each competitor has a right to racing room, which is generally
defined as sufficient space on the marked racing surface that under
racing conditions, a driver can maintain control of his car in close
quarters.
C. Drivers must respect the right of other competitors to racing room.
Abrupt changes in direction that impede or affect the path of
another car attempting to overtake or pass may be interpreted as
an effort to deprive a fellow competitor of the right to racing room.
D. The overtaking driver is responsible for the decision to pass another
car and to accomplish it safely. The overtaken driver is responsible
to be aware that he is being passed and not to impede or block the
overtaking car. A driver who does not use his rear view mirror or
who appears to be blocking another car attempting to pass may be
black flagged and/or penalized, as specified in Section 7.
 


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I don't see too much blocking at the front of the field the back to middle is just stupid with it.  I found myself having to start last or near last several times last year and working through a field.  I was hit way more by blocking and dive bombing by that group than i have ever been by the fast guys.  If i made a pass and didn't take an uber defensive line through the next corner I was surely getting dive bombed on the next one.  Never mind the fact I might 2 seconds a lap faster.  I guess the moral is don't F' up your qualifying or don't miss the call to grid at a NASA race. 

 

Danny, you race way more than me, do you see blocking as a problem up front.  Drago has the widest car I have ever tried to pass but I never felt he flat blocked me.

Yeah right. More talk of how the front has it all right and the mid to back pack guys are the cause of all the woes. This comes up all the time but if I remember right 2 run offs ago the front was involved in taking each other out and the winner apologizing. And the last runoffs at Mazda more of the same.

 

Combine this with Danny's comments from another thread that the slow guys shouldn't even be on the track because they dont' have the balls of the front guys or just get off on being mechanics and one begins to feel that you guys would rather us remove our cars from the field and let you guys play alone. But in the next breath you bemoan car counts.

 

And as a side not; the engine stuff of this year may not be pretty and nice, but it certainly isn't BS. At least that is how the people that had no problem interpreting the rules feel.


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#16
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I see two completely different recommendation above, 1. get the Hell out of the way, or 2. stay on line. (I agree with "stay on line" by the way)

 

Monday morning quarterbacking for sure, but if the lapper stayed on line in this case he may have cause an ever higher pucker factor for Mr. Steyn by moving the apex to the left by a car width. I also agree that tracking-out all the way to the left may have been best but as stated it's the passing car's responsibility to do so safely.

 

I don't think the Canada corner crash can be blamed on the back marker.

 

 

I have been the guy that guy, the one in the way... (we all have at some point)  It is not always as easy to get out of the way as you would think. You are probably doing almost all you can as it is or you wouldn't be there. Your also nervous as hell as you don't want to screw up the race for the leaders. We need to remember that we are all racing in about 95-100% of our abilities.. So even if the backmarker is slower, he has as much ( or more) going on as you.  Personally,   If possible, I get completely out of the way. If there is any doubt that I can't do that, I stay on line. 

 

As far as blocking.. 

Good interview, good points.. 

My opinion is similar to the interviews. Wide is fine.. zig zag is not, two moves is not.. reacting is not.. 

Last few corners, whether you agree or disagree.. For me, the rules change a bit and while I don't think it is acceptable to block, you can get real close :)

 

Other points..

I agree and some don't.. squeezing..

I agree 100% and race this way. If I come out of a corner and chose the inside(or the middle third) and you pass on the outside.. I will move with you and force you close to the edge of the track and make you go the longest way around..  Same goes for the inside, if you chose the inside, I will move with you and try and put you to the inside edge of the track and limit the arc of your turn and try to hold you tight as I can without touching.  

 

Chopping/"right to a corner" 

Randy Pobst did a great seminar on this last year at MSX.  Many are guilty of this and what I dislike the most in Sm. Blocking doesn't even bother me as much as this.   Dare I say Mike Neal had this right?( Bonus: Who here besides Walter Vetter even knows who the lion? I have been doing this way too long!) If you don't have your nose to my mirror, don't expect room at turn in. I am turning in for the corner as you have not executed a pass. Dive bombing from three cars back out of control as I am initiating my turn in is not a legitimate pass IMO. You need to be completely along side at turn in.   If someone can find Randy's talk, please post it, it was very educational.

I completely disagree with many drivers I respect here. They continually tell me driver X chopped me B/C they got their nose inside of the rear bumper or rear wheel. You have no right to this corner.. You were not chopped.. You dive bombed or were beyond optimistic in your thinking. The bad thing is in these instances is the driver at the front, who is NOT at fault usually gets spun and causes hard feelings 9 out of 10 times. 

Jim


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#17
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As a mid-pack runner in countless 24 hour races, in the dark, by necessity you tape over the mirrors and then race your race and let the Corvette behind you do his own thing. Never had a problem. As a chief steward I have heard every argument there is. I stand by the rule, "avoidable contact" and use sensible judgement, which means assume the guy in front is brain dead.

In countless pro races you can see someone going for a spot that won't be there when he gets there because the person in front is sticking to his line.

My SM driver last summer got yelled at for staying in the center of the track because he knew he could corner better for the upcoming turn, video showed he never moved the steering wheel until someone nailed him from the side, ON THE STRAIGHT before the turn. 


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#18
LarryKing

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Who here besides Walter Vetter even knows who the lion?

 

The lion? We always called him "the pirate". Saul knew him well.

 

We all put yellow duct tape on our mirrors to indicate the demarcation. Good times.

 

 

The bad thing is in these instances is the driver at the front, who is NOT at fault usually gets spun and causes hard feelings 9 out of 10 times.

 

Kinda looks like this: https://www.youtube....h?v=uynImd7lZ6c

 

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Ron Alan

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I have been the guy that guy, the one in the way... (we all have at some point)  It is not always as easy to get out of the way as you would think. You are probably doing almost all you can as it is or you wouldn't be there. Your also nervous as hell as you don't want to screw up the race for the leaders. We need to remember that we are all racing in about 95-100% of our abilities.. So even if the backmarker is slower, he has as much ( or more) going on as you.  Personally,   If possible, I get completely out of the way. If there is any doubt that I can't do that, I stay on line. 

 

As far as blocking.. 

Good interview, good points.. 

My opinion is similar to the interviews. Wide is fine.. zig zag is not, two moves is not.. reacting is not.. 

Last few corners, whether you agree or disagree.. For me, the rules change a bit and while I don't think it is acceptable to block, you can get real close :)

 

Other points..

I agree and some don't.. squeezing..

I agree 100% and race this way. If I come out of a corner and chose the inside(or the middle third) and you pass on the outside.. I will move with you and force you close to the edge of the track and make you go the longest way around..  Same goes for the inside, if you chose the inside, I will move with you and try and put you to the inside edge of the track and limit the arc of your turn and try to hold you tight as I can without touching.  

 

Chopping/"right to a corner" 

Randy Pobst did a great seminar on this last year at MSX.  Many are guilty of this and what I dislike the most in Sm. Blocking doesn't even bother me as much as this.   Dare I say Mike Neal had this right?( Bonus: Who here besides Walter Vetter even knows who the lion? I have been doing this way too long!) If you don't have your nose to my mirror, don't expect room at turn in. I am turning in for the corner as you have not executed a pass. Dive bombing from three cars back out of control as I am initiating my turn in is not a legitimate pass IMO. You need to be completely along side at turn in.   If someone can find Randy's talk, please post it, it was very educational.

I completely disagree with many drivers I respect here. They continually tell me driver X chopped me B/C they got their nose inside of the rear bumper or rear wheel. You have no right to this corner.. You were not chopped.. You dive bombed or were beyond optimistic in your thinking. The bad thing is in these instances is the driver at the front, who is NOT at fault usually gets spun and causes hard feelings 9 out of 10 times. 

Jim

So Jim. would it be fair to say you are more aligned with the NASA passing rules than SCCA? This is what I think i'm reading?

 

At Laguna runoffs, there was 2 incidents at the exit of turn 2 that resulted in one car being retired in each. Almost identical in terms of what led up to contact. Turn 2 can be attacked several ways. A double apex type turn which is  a greater distance but faster exit or a single apex which is shorter with typically a slower exit. Regardless of approach...a pass can be made either way and is a popular attack zone.

 

In your case Jim, the car you were following took the the double apex route and you took the shorter in side line. As you both met at the 2nd apex you clearly had overlap(maybe 1/3 to 1/2 car)but the cars are pointed in different directions and slight difference in speed. The leading car either didnt realize you were there or said I'm going to that apex and he is going to back out because he hasnt earned it yet. Which do you think it was? And had either of you protested how would SCCA have looked at it?

 

That said...the identical situation early in the race resulted in a protest and a DQ...to the trailing car!?? I was stunned...because the reason indicated was "unsafe pass" . Those who know this corner know this happens every race and is a prime passing area. This is not a divebomb area(2nd apex...1st of course is!)...this is an apex that cars get to in different ways. But in this case the leading car(outside)pitted itself(or was pitted) and ended up stuck in the gravel and unable to continue. Because of this and the "unsafe pass" attempt, instead of a position penalty, the inside driver was DQ'd. Though my opinion as a local, and I know this corner, felt it wasnt unsafe at all...and a racing room question(not a divebomb) I do get the decision. 

 

Great early season discussion Danny! How I look at this and have told my drivers...its all about "Respect" and risk management. When the first is given both ways the 2nd becomes much easier!

 

But just an opinion on Jims "squeeze or move" comment. I agree this is racecraft and part of racing...but some of the worst wrecks I have seen have come from someone "leaning on" another car and that  car being of the same thought process isnt going to move. Worse yet it leans back!  Coming away with only a doughnut or broken mirrors is lucky!!! That said, if the other guy flinches...take it :)


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#20
Jim Drago

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So Jim. would it be fair to say you are more aligned with the NASA passing rules than SCCA? This is what I think i'm reading?


I no longer read rules, I am retired:) I subscribe to my own common sense and my own rules in this regard.

 

At Laguna runoffs, there was 2 incidents at the exit of turn 2 that resulted in one car being retired in each. Almost identical in terms of what led up to contact. Turn 2 can be attacked several ways. A double apex type turn which is  a greater distance but faster exit or a single apex which is shorter with typically a slower exit. Regardless of approach...a pass can be made either way and is a popular attack zone.
 
In your case Jim, the car you were following took the the double apex route and you took the shorter in side line. As you both met at the 2nd apex you clearly had overlap(maybe 1/3 to 1/2 car)but the cars are pointed in different directions and slight difference in speed. The leading car either didnt realize you were there or said I'm going to that apex and he is going to back out because he hasnt earned it yet. Which do you think it was? And had either of you protested how would SCCA have looked at it?



First that is a tricky corner and I can see how this type of crash can and does happen here. I "think" anyone who has raced here would come to expect an inside and outside pass here. So if I were on the outside, I would be very leery about turning in for that apex. Not that you would be "wrong" to do so, but if it ends in you being "right" but in the gravel with body damage, does being right really matter?

In my crash with Joey.. Just a shitty deal. My car sucked no possibility of getting to the podium. I had no real intention of passing Joey at that corner. I faked a move to the inside to try and force Joey into a mistake, which he made and locked up pretty badly and went really deep into 2. At that point I dove under and went for the pass. I don't think Joey would have turned in for apex 2, but he was called "clear" on the radio. Joey also recovered from the lock up much faster than I anticipated. Otherwise, I would not have went for the corner. I expected to go through two wide worst case. I was not side by side, so by my own definition I was "not" clear. If I were on the outside and locked up, I would be giving room at second apex, which I think Joey would have as well, had he not been called clear. Worst part was both of us were unhappy with current positions, unlikely either of us was moving up or back more than a spot or two which would have still been disappointing, so that made the contact even worse as neither of us were dying to finish 5-6 IMO. I could have finished 6th no problem as we had a good gap at that point, but pulled in because Joey was unable to continue.

 

I have no opinion of the other contact as I didn't see or know.. the courts.. well, it is a crap shoot most times, especially when many on the courts don't even race.

Jim


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