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Thread: The GCR and You

  1. #41
    Join Date
    Mar 2001


    Now that all seven of these are "stickied" to the top, they're taking up a good bit of real estate, almost all the screen when ones selects the Rules and Regs topc. I am going to work to combine all these into a single thread - maybe even combine all of John's pieces into a single post? - along with all the related discussion. This make create a bit of confusion initially, as responses may seem jumbled, but the topic list needs to be pared down.

    If this creates problems going forward, I can always split them back out again.

    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

  2. #42

    Default Should I file a protest?

    Something bad happens. Another driver blocks you on course or, worse, punts you, causing damage to your car. Or, you are called to the tower, where a steward informs you that you are being penalized for a pass under yellow.

    You believe that you have been done wrong. What do you do?

    In the latter case, where the steward wants to penalize you, your first step is to discuss it with the steward.

    Having a conversation with a steward who is minded to penalize you is much like being stopped for speeding. When the officer walks up to your car, he (believes that he) has the goods on you. Your best strategy is to give him a reason to let you off with a warning. If he gives you a ticket, you can still reverse it. However, this requires a trip to traffic court, and now the shoe is on the other foot: you have to find a way to reverse the officer's action.

    So it is with a CSA. When you have the interview with the operating steward, your best bet is to persuade him not to penalize you. If he does, you can protest it, but now you are trying to undo something which has been done.

    In the former case or, if the steward goes ahead and penalizes you, one of your options is to file a protest.

    Filing a protest requires a small expenditure of time and effort, and posting a protest fee ($25 for a regional race, $50 for a national). Is it worth doing? The answer, as it is to most questions, is, 'It depends."

    Let's look at some of the reasons why people don't file protests.

    Drivers sometimes tell me that they expressed a desire to protest a penalty, but were advised by 'a steward' that the SOM might increase the penalty if they protested it. Strictly speaking, this is true. The SOM, when reviewing a CSA penalty, can increase it, in addition to upholding it, reducing it, or overturning it. In practice, this happens very seldom. In all the courts on which I have sat, only one CSA penalty was ever increased (and I was Chairman!). Courts almost invariably return the protest fee to the protestor.

    Drivers have also told me that they didn't protest another driver's action because it was pointless; the SOM couldn't order the offending driver to pay for repairs to their car. This, also, is true. When we go on track, we accept that we shall be paying for our own repairs, no matter who caused the damage. (There is a recent Court of Appeals ruling underlining this fact.) Even so, there are benefits to protesting. By doing so, you help establish a paper trail around the offending driver. Over time, penalties can become more severe as courts see the same bad boy again and again. Contrariwise, if a court hammers someone who has a bad reputation but no formal history, the penalty can be (and has been) overturned on appeal.

    Drivers have also told me that they believe that the court (the SOM at the event) would not give them a fair hearing. I am not endorsing this view; I am simply reporting a perception.

    Finally, drivers tell me that filing a protest simply isn't worth the time and effort it takes. On some level, that's your call. It depends how valuable it is to you to try to correct what you believe to be a wrong.

    Now, let's now look at some of the reasons why you might file a protest.

    First, and foremost, it might be the 'right' thing to do. You may have evidence or a rule citation which justifies overturning your penalty or penalizing another driver.

    Second, as noted above, it can contribute to a paper trail on the offending driver. Over time, this record will contribute to ever more severe penalties.

    Third, there may be some psychic benefit in fighting back. Nobody likes to feel like they are being victimized, nor that they are putting up with it.

    Finally, even though you may lose at the SOM stage, filing a protest preserves your standing in the matter, and gives you the right to appeal the SOM ruling.

    In conclusion, it seems to me that that there are several factors to consider when contemplating a protest. Do you believe that you have been done wrong? Do you have some evidence and/or rule upon which to base a protest? What do you hope to achieve by protesting? Are you willing to invest a couple of hours in the effort? These should guide you toward an answer which is correct for you.



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