RSR Rendez-vous January 2000
Happy New Year Everyone!
About the time you’ll see this, we’ll know whether the Y2K bug is real or not. If it is, then you’ll be busy lighting candles and fighting off hordes of vandals trying to get your food and water. If that’s the case, put this aside, it can wait.
Changes to Track Rules for the 2000 season:
Anybody involved with DE who has email knows about the “slicks war” that went on for months. For those who don’t, here’s the capsule summary:
Rennsport voted to interpret the standing PCA tire rule as meaning that tires
had to have 3/32 nd deep grooves. This meant that tires with no water evacuation, i.e., pure slicks would not be allowed at our events.
In case you’re wondering this did not mean that DOT R compound tires like the Yoke A032R, Pirelli P0 etc. would be banned. Far from it, as those tires do have adequate water evacuation grooves.
The vote was taken and the resolution passed. I wrote about it in the Auspuff noting that the change would apply to the 99 season. Then the fun started.
A few very opinionated people protested. All sorts of rumors were circulated leading many uninformed people to conclude that the ban applied to DOT approved “R” compound tires. Completely wrong, but by then emotions were high.
I was smack in the middle of the controversy, because I thought the executive decision was correct and worse, I wrote about the rule change in Auspuff. No matter what was right or wrong, the club was divided – not a good thing.
The one thing the rule change did not do was address the bigger issue. what the heck is DE anyway? If I see race cars on the race track, does that make it racing? Why are their race cars out there anyway? Should an inexperienced driver be allowed to use a race car, or a car loaded with racing technology? Tough questions all.
Rainy days aboard Redline provided ample time to think about the whole issue. On the one hand, DE is designed to make us better drivers, and improve our skills and awareness on the street. I wish I could get the statistic, but I’d bet that frequent users of DE have better driving records and way fewer accidents than the average driver of a high performance automobile.
That line of thinking suggests that DE is about street driven cars. What about cars that aren’t street legal? Do they have a place?
I compare DE with skiing. I enjoy both and often use skiing analogies when talking about car balance and the need for finesse.
Ski equipment comes in three broad ranges, beginner, intermediate and race. Novice boots and skis are softer and more forgiving of errors. At the other end, race boots and skis are stiff, demanding and in the hands of an advanced skier are the tool of choice.
Are cars similar? I think so. A professional skier can make nice turns with any kind of equipment. To fully enjoy the sport he or she will use race skis and boots. It seemed to me that driving is a lot like that. As our skills progress, why not take advantage of high performance equipment to better enjoy the art of driving?
If you’ve followed my thought process so far, it makes sense that advanced drivers deserve advanced equipment to exercise their skills at the highest level. In car talk, this means racing technology because as in skiing the highest performance equipment is developed for racing. Does that mean that I’m racing when I strap on my Lange boots and Volkl racing slalom skis? Nope. I haven’t been in a ski race for years, and when I did we were called “The Old Runners”. Like a million others, I use race skis and boots because I appreciate the extra performance they deliver.
Skiers will also understand that you don’t send a beginner off on a pair of race skis. Those stiff tailed carving machines will likely take a novice for a ride into the trees. I think anyone who has taught skiing to a beginner will agree that high performance race equipment retards the learning process. If you’re just starting to make skidded turns (beginning parallel) the last thing you need is a race ski which will: a) cross your tips in an eyeblink; or b) refuse to turn if you are even thinking of sitting back.
If the parallel (snicker) between skiing and driving is valid, does it make sense to encourage novice drivers to set off in a race car? Probably not. Like skis, racing performance enhancements like ultra stiff suspension, super sticky tires and such, trade off forgiveness for performance. You can’t have both.
The result of all this mensuration is a proposal submitted to the Club exec this fall. It was approved unanimously. The proposal does two things:
· It refines the Club Philosophy of Driver Education to embrace cars using Racing Technology. Racing Technology Vehicles (RTV’s) are those using non-stock performance enhancing components normally used for racing cars.
In other words a street legal car with a racing suspension race tires etc. is as much an RTV as one which arrives on a trailer by necessity. We’re willing to accept these cars because advanced drivers have the skills to enjoy them within the spirit of DE. In case you are wondering, my otherwise stock 993 on race tires (as opposed to DOT approved “R” compounds) would be considered an RTV. On any DOT approved tire would not and that includes the P0 C’s I’m so fond of.
· Accepting RTV’s we also established some guidelines governing their use. For example, a pure novice who shows up with a 1,600 HP Porsche 917 will be discouraged from learning in that car, although every instructor will fight for the opportunity to drive it for a few laps!
The rules are flexible. We’ve made allowances for exceptions. For example, Rob Martin sells that ugly yellow 911 that won the Concours and buys a fire snorting 962. Barb will still want to drive the car in a lower run group. We can handle that.
While we have allowed for exceptions at the discretion of the Track and Safety chairs, we won’t encourage a novice to show up on racing slicks.
As an aside to a few people who are contemplating using slicks on otherwise normal cars, don’t bother. Real racing slicks need suspension calibrations that a normal car doesn’t have and without them the car will handle worse not better.
It also goes without saying that cars using slicks (as in tires with no grooves) will not be allowed on the track if the conditions are wet. Cars who chose to use slicks will have identifying dots on both sides so that flaggers can see them. If it starts to rain during a session, those cars will be expected to carefully drive to the pits. If not, we’ll know who they are and the Track or Safety Chair will take appropriate action. This explains why Mike Delaney has asked for a couple of war surplus bazookas I guess.
The entire proposal is on the Rennsport Web Site. I haven’t checked with my boss, (Dr. Weld) but he may print the whole boring shebang in Der Auspuff one of these days. If you have questions, send me an email. and I’ll do my best to answer them. Anything really tricky will probably have to go to one of the Chairs responsible or, even the full exec.
Porsche Automatic Mania
The Boxster S was unveiled last week. Like quite a few others, I rushed to see the car I’ve had on order for several years now. I missed the party at Lauzon, which bummed me because as usual they put on a really nice event. Still I managed to see one. Did everyone notice that the cars available now are Tiptronics? While I like the Tiptronic in my Audi A6 Quattro, I don’t want one in a Porsche. Had the dealers lost their minds I wondered?
When I asked John Raymond whether he had forgotten to take his pills the day he ordered the cars, he replied that Porsche has a new policy, all the first deliveries of a new model will be Tiptronic only! Bad enough on a Boxster but can you imagine it on the 996 TT? There will probably be a two year waiting list for a new Turbo but if you want one sooner, there will be a choice of colors sitting in the showroom with automatics which nobody will want.
If this story is true then I’m upset. This reminds me of the crummy game Porsche played with the last year of the 993 TT. They added a bunch of useless cosmetic and junk to the 993 Turbo and upped the price by about sixty thou over the previous year’s model. They threw in twenty odd extra horsepower to justify calling it an “S”. A five percent increase in power hardly justified raising the price by over a third. Besides, I don’t like spending six thousand dollars on a faux carbon fiber dash! Whatever marketing genius who came up with the Turbo “S” scheme surely lost his bonus. They didn’t sell. I think it proved the point that the average person who can afford a $160,000 car does have enough brains to know a rip-off.
The current automatic gaff isn’t as bad. The newer cars have broader appeal than the old ones and I suppose that they’ll sell more automatics than before. Still, does this mean that Porsche prefers to cater to the Mercedes SL and Z3 crowd instead of the loyal customer base?
..A Porsche with automatic reminds me of garlic ice-cream.