Over the course of the weekend, I was involved in three incidents of minor contact with other cars, and then one major impact on Sunday afternoon. I feel awful for having inflicted such damage on the car lent to me by Jim Graham. But I console myself with the belief that the big crash was not entirely my fault. There were extenuating circumstances (ie. excuses), which I will cook up later...
I actually feel most guilty over of this relatively minor event that occurred at the start of Saturday's third Rubber Class race. Luckily it caused no damage. The thing is, this incident was 100% entirely my own fault. And worst of all, it was Jim Graham that I hit!
|Below is a series of still images illustrating the incident.
The green numbers on this circuit diagram indicate the locations of the
following 11 images. A video clip is at the bottom of this page.
The map is not to scale, but it gives a rough idea of the track layout.
|#1||Due to the large number of cars and the wide range of performance
levels, the mixed FWD/RWD Rubber Class races always begin with a rolling
The pole sitter led the pace lap at a fairly good clip, then slowed dramatically as he approached the line. The starter waved the green flag (right of picture) and the front row took off while everyone at mid-pack was still hard on the brakes trying to slow down. Hence the large gap here at the start.
I'm starting right behind Red #98 (again!!!) while Jim Graham in Red #78 is on my left.
|#2||Because I really don't trust him yet, I leave #98 a little extra room on the start. Turns out, it's too much room. Jim has a better start than I do, and he slots in between me and #98.|
|#3||Landon Goudreau was gridded behind Jim at the start and is now tight
on my left side. I would much prefer to drift left and tuck in
behind Jim coming off this corner, but there's no room for me there.
Anxious not to lose another position, I squeeze on too much throttle exiting the corner. In response, the rear of the car steps way out of line giving me an ugly moment of fright. This would really not be a good time or place to spin as there are a lot more cars still coming behind us.
|#4||Jim in #78 is gaining on #98 and looks like he's setting up to slide
left. We should all be heading much further left in order
to set up properly for the following critical tight right hander.
But Landon is still beside me, so I can't get there from here.
For some reason, perhaps he was distracted by the bizarre line taken by the FWD car ahead of him, #98 touches the brakes for a moment.(!?)
|#5||Jim, clearly surprised, has to brake to avoid hitting #98. We
normally wouldn't even lift here, let alone brake. Jim has lost
momentum and now he's screwed.
I hesitate for only a fraction of a second, then stay full on the gas and aim right. In the video clip you can see the yellow flash of Landon's car in my mirror as he suddenly swerves to tuck in close behind me.
|#6||#98 is following the tight line of that blue FWD Dodge Omni.
We should really be much further left where everyone else is running.
Jim was trying to set up for a proper wide entry into the next tight right hander, from where he would surely have beaten #98 down the following straight. But, seeing that both Landon and I are now trying to take advantage of the situation, Jim instantly changes his mind and squeezes right to head us off.
It's a perfectly legitimate move. He's not really blocking. He's still ahead of me and he's merely crowding my line to intimidate me into backing off, which is what I should have done.
|#7||But, I've already decided to go for it.
I trust Jim not to pinch me into the snowbank. He's certainly not going to make this easy for me. But I know he's seen me and I trust him to leave me just enough room to go through the corner side by side with him. In putting himself in this position, he's also indicating to me that he trusts me not to hit him.
This makes it all the more embarassing for me when I subsequently do hit him.
|#8||I'm braking and the car is swinging nicely into the turn.
But I've pushed it too deep. I usually don't come at it from this sharp an angle. I really should be much further left on my approach. I already suspect this won't end well.
Then I screw it up completely by braking too hard.
|#9||Just a bit too much pressure on the brake pedal, and the front
wheels lock up first. Right away the front of the car washes
out of the turn.
I get off the brakes immediately and the car responds by turning in again. But it's too late. I miss the apex and push wide into Jim's line.
|#10||Bang! I've slapped up against Jim's car, door-to-door.
He saved me from sliding way wide. But I've transferred all my sideways momentum to him, and pushed him off line onto the really slick surface on the outside of the turn.
|#11||Landon and I both pass Jim as he scrambles for traction on the
outside of the corner.
Fortunately neither car was damaged. But I regret the damage this incident may have done to the trust Jim previously had in me.
This was the only time all weekend where I felt I was fully responsible for causing an avoidable collision. It figures that it had to be Jim that I hit.
This is an ASF file video clip (0.5 MB) of the incident as recorded from my in-car camera.
|Clear of Jim's car, I set off in my never-ending pursuit of the red #98 car. See Pass Attempt #3...|