Driving Etiquette & Dealing with Traffic
Any time your car is involved in an incident then you are losing time. We look at proper driving etiquette and how you can use it to prevent incidents.
The following provides guidance on how to handle common situations when racing:
Drivers that are being lapped must give way to the lapping car. The race software may call cars that are about to be lapped when they cross the start/finish line but of course the leaders can catch people at other parts of the track. It can sometimes be confusing as to whether you are being lapped or not. If you are lapping someone and they are not moving aside then call out "red car lapping blue car" for example so that the blue car knows the situation. The blue car must allow the red car to pass without blocking them. Of course if you are racing for position and not being lapped then block away.
Staggered start passing
Staggered starts for qualifying (also called IFMAR Called starts) which are used at most large events, and also at club meetings in some classes, creates an interesting situation when passing or lapping and works like this.
If you wait until your name or car number is called before starting then that is a staggered start. During staggered start qualifying you are racing the clock rather than the other cars on the track. Your personal timer starts when you cross the start/finish line for the first time and ends when the race software calls the end of the race plus the lap you are on (always keep going until your name or car number is called as finished). The fact that other cars are on the track is irrelevant to you, it is only done to save time. Of course if someone blocks you in this situation then that can hurt your qualifying. You must not block people in staggered start qualifying. If someone catches you then let them past. Note that with staggered starts you should let people past if they are quicker than you, whether they are lapping you or not.
How to pass
How to let people past deserves some discussion. When you are learning to drive it can be difficult to move out of someone’s way without crashing. The best way to let someone past is to go slightly wide at a corner. Sudden changes in speed or direction can cause a crash. Slowing down suddenly might cause the car that’s trying to pass to crash into the back of you. If you let the person know when you will go slightly wide then they can take advantage of it to pass. If the lapping car is Blue then say “pass me on the inside Blue car at the next corner” or simply “inside Blue car”. If you know the persons name then use it to be even clearer eg; “inside Jim”. The passing racer will appreciate it and it will have the least impact on your own qualifying time.
You may have heard the term “hacked” or “taken out” such as “he hacked me”. This slang means that the person feels that someone crashed into them. If there is a racing incident that affects you then why not speak to the person involved immediately after the race. Racers who are new to the hobby sometimes need guidance on what is acceptable behaviour. As long as this guidance is provided in a positive and friendly manner then most of the time the person will change their behaviour. Sometimes people get angry in the heat of the moment. Walking away and trying to talk to them when they’ve cooled down often works. If the behaviour continues then notify the Race Director.
After a crash
If you cause an accident then the correct behaviour is to wait for that person to continue before you continue. An apology after the race never hurts either. But we should all be aware that the speeds and distances involved mean that mistakes happen and that's racing. It's how we handle it that matters.
Hitting someone from behind
If you hit someone from behind then it's always your fault. You control where your car is at any give time on the track. If the car in front brakes unexpectedley then that may well cause an incident but the fact that you ran into the back of them is your fault. If you are coming up behind someone you've never raced with before then be more cautious.
If your car has left the track or is on its roof then hopefully a marshal will assist you as soon as possible.
If a marshal doesn’t see your car is in trouble then a single call of “Marshal” is acceptable to draw their attention to it. Remember if you hadn’t crashed a marshal wouldn’t be necessary so treat marshals with the respect they deserve.
The marshal’s priority is to not cause issues for the drivers who haven’t crashed. So marshals will not rush in front of other cars on the track to get to your car.
When your car is back on the track do not pull out into traffic. Wait until there is a gap.