A subject came up the other day while I was walking the aisles at the PRI show in Orlando. I was talking to longtime racer Wayne Anderson about his new F.A.S.T. series here in Florida and the subject came up about passing, how to and how not to.
The conversation was short, but it stuck in my mind. I jokingly asked him, now that he was part of the management of a series and a racer in that series, if he were to be involved in an incident if he would go to the back like everyone else was expected to do. Of course he immediately said he would. Once in the car he would be like any other driver.
I told him I remember the days when the veterans and more experienced drivers could pass without spinning out the other driver. There was a true art to driving, and in some cases still is, that takes place and is a thing of beauty to watch.
He said he completely understood my meaning and that when he nudged someone out of the way for being a bit slower, ". . . they never knew it happened." And that is the way it should be. The right kind of pass is of a nature that everyone is left wondering if the cars touched or not.
One of my all-time favorite races was between Jay Fogleman and Bobby Gill at St. Augustine in the Hooters Pro Cup Series some years ago. I had engineered Jay's car, so I had more than a casual interest in the outcome. With 25 laps to go and under caution, Jay was on the point and Bobby behind him. Basically there was no one in the race but them, they were the class of the field.
In those days, if Bobby was behind you with 25 to go, the best you could expect was Second Place. But Jay held on after the restart and at 10 to go, Bobby executed the precision pass that I am talking about going into Turn 3. Jay came right back going into Turn 1 and executed another precision pass and held on to win. That was good stuff because both cars survived. It was pure skill and experience at work.
Passes, the quality ones, take a few laps. You first give a slower car time to understand the situation and give way. If he really doesn't want to give away the position, then he needs to speed up, if he can. Some do that, for a few laps, but can't sustain the speed for various reasons from, 1) the car won't stay under them, to, 2) they fall out of the seat.
At any rate, once a pass has taken place, if the passer walks off and leaves the passee, then the passer had every right to nudge the other car out of the way so that they could get on with their race. It's only fair.
The problem with some newer drivers (older drivers have lost too much equipment and money and learn better at some point in their careers) is that they aren't patient and don't know how to skillfully nudge a car out of the way. They run into the other car hard and usually cause a spin with one or both losing ground or worse.
The solution is as it has been forever, if you make hard contact with another car, you get sent to the back or get the black flag. Officials take note here, show some authority and enforcement. Give me the flag and I'll throw it, gladly. It pisses me off when I see a lack of finesse with some of the drivers out there today. Maybe it's the fact they have too much money to race with or it could just be lack of experience, but if you put them back a few times, they will learn the art, trust me on that.
If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: Bob.Bolles@sorc.com, or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Senior Tech Editor, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.
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