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Thread: The GCR and You

  1. #1

    Default The GCR and You

    [Editor's Note: the following is a series of articles written in the Summer of 2009 by John Nesbitt, describing many functions/features of the GCR, and how our Club Racing processes work. This series was originally done in seven different threads, but for the sake of clarity I have merged them all into a single topic. As such, the reader responses may at times seem a bit disjointed; your patience in this regard is appreciated. You may also note indiciations where I edited posts; that was done solely for descriptive purposes (e.g., titles, format, etc) and no content was changed in any way. - Greg Amy]


    Part 1 - SCCA Protests and Appeals

    As a steward, I get to see what happens after the incident on track or measurement in Tech. I am distressed at how many SCCA drivers forfeit their rights under the GCR from not understanding the rules and process.

    In particular, many drivers don't understand how the SCCA 'judicial' process works - the role of the Chief Steward, and protests and appeals.

    SCCA has a 3-tier system which is fairly simple, yet committed to providing due process and review to all participants. Here are the basics.


    Chief Steward's Actions

    By this, I mean any official action taken by the Chief Steward. This includes all the normal executive actions at an event, as well as disciplinary actions taken as a Chief Steward's Action. (When I write 'Chief Steward', I include also the Assistant Chief Stewards, such as operating stewards, tech stewards, safety stewards etc. to whom the Chief has delegated authority.)

    The Chief Steward (CS) can identify an infraction (e.g. underweight at tech or a pass under yellow) and apply a penalty by means of the Chief Steward's Action (CSA). The CS will give you a coupon from the CSA, specifying the infraction and the penalty. You will see that it has a box "Chief Steward's Action" ticked.

    You can protest the CSA, or any executive action which is not specifically exempt from protest. Ask the CS for a protest form. You submit the protest to the CS, who must transmit it to the Stewards of the Meeting.

    Be aware of two critical facts: first, there is a strict time limit (30 minutes) in which to protest an official's action; and, second, you cannot appeal a CSA as your first step - you must first protest it at the event.

    The words 'protest' and 'appeal' are often misused, even by officials. The only recourse you have to an official's action is to protest it in a timely fashion.


    Protests and Requests for Action

    The second tier involves the Stewards of the Meeting (SOM) at the event. They act primarily as a first court, with the duty of enforcing rules and resolving disputes. They cannot take any part in running the event.

    There are three ways in which disputes reach the SOM:
    1. A driver protests an official's action, including CSA's.
    2. A driver protests another driver for something they did (e.g. contact) or for a mechanical issue.
    3. The CS files a Request for Action (RFA), requesting the court to investigate a participant's action. Essentially, the CS is protesting the participant.

    The SOM process is identical in all cases. Again, remember that there are strict time limits in which to file a protest.

    If the SOM find that you have committed an infraction, and assign you a penalty, they will give you a coupon specifying the infraction and the penalty.

    The decision of the SOM is binding. However, all named parties to the action have the right of appeal. Again, there is a strict time limit in which to file your appeal.


    Court of Appeals

    The Court of Appeals is the third tier. Its judgments are final and cannot be protested or appealed.

    Be aware that the Court will entertain only appeals of judgments from first courts. It will not accept an appeal of a CSA; you must first protest it.


    More Information

    You can find complete details about these actions in the GCR. You can also read a condensed version here (sections 4 and 5): http://offtotheraces.net/PortableDri...isor2009-1.pdf

    Process matters. Nobody likes fooling with paperwork. However, the day may come when you need to assert your rights under the GCR. If you do not understand the rules and process, you risk forfeiting your rights.
    Last edited by Greg Amy; 08-18-2009 at 10:18 AM.

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    That is as good a summary as I have EVER seen in 25 years + doing this game. There's a certain finality to something that the typical racer hears from the "CHIEF Steward." I think that leaves them feeling that they've done all they can do without getting Topeka involved...

    K

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    Thanks John - that was an excellent summary - the process must be followed and I expect little sympathy for the driver who doesn't understand it.
    BenSpeed
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    John,

    A steward once told me that, unlike a civil CoA, the CoA also has the power to find violations that have nothing to do with the specific issue before it. Example - you get dinged for a PuY and appeal. The SCCA CoA looks at the evidence and upholds the protest but, in reviewing your race tape, determines that you hit the car you were overtaking and imposes a penalty for that. A civil CoA wouldn't have that option.

    True or false?

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    Jeff:

    That is no longer the case. At the COA's own urging, 8.4.5.B was added to the GCR.

    B. At no time shall the Court of Appeals act as a first court.

    Dave

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    Thanks Dave!

  7. #7

    Default Part 2 - Impound, Inspection, and Teardown

    (Part 2 of what seems to be turning into a serial titled 'You and the GCR'.)

    Part 2 - Impound, Inspection, and Teardown

    Congratulations, you are a podium finisher! Now what? GCR section 5.9.3 covers most of what you need to know.

    Normally, the top 3 finishers in each class are required to report to impound. Check the supps; they may specify a different number of cars. It is the competitor's responsibility to report to impound. If you are not sure whether you are in the top 3 (or whatever), report anyway. The Chief Steward may also decide to impound cars after any session. If you are directed to impound, go there. Failure to report may result in a penalty.

    Each impounded car will be inspected to ensure conformity to its class rules. Here is the relevant portion of 5.9.3.B: "Each impounded car shall be given an inspection that shall, at minimum, include verification of conformity to the minimum weight and two additional items as appropriate for the class, as determined by the Chief Technical Inspector and Chief Steward."

    If your car is found underweight on first weighing, it will be immediately re-weighed twice (once in each direction). Section 5.9.4 sets out the standards and procedures for the official scales. If the car is confirmed to be underweight, this will be noted in the logbook, and the car weighed before receiving a tech sticker at its next event. Also, you are subject to penalty.

    Section 5.9.3.B continues: "The Chief Steward may also order the removal of a wheel or intake choke(s) or restrictors during impound. These inspections are not subject to the fees outlined in section 5.12.2.C.5. Additional inspections may be conducted through the protest procedures outlined in section 8.3.3."

    So, the tech team can measure track or ride height etc. but, if they want to measure your camshafts, for example, they must follow the procedures in 8.3.3 (Protests Against Cars) and 5.12.2.C.5 (Powers of the Chief Steward).

    These teardowns (i.e. teardowns not as a result of a mechanical protest by another competitor) fall into a category called 'Chief Steward-directed teardowns'. By 'Chief Steward', we mean the Chief Steward, as well as any officials (Assistant Chief Stewards, Chief of Tech, or members of a compliance team from Topeka or Enterprises) to whom he has delegated authority. These teardowns have previously fallen into a grey area, but are defined in the 2009 GCR (see section 5.12.2.C.5).

    In a nutshell, the Chief Steward may order a teardown of a car without having received a protest against the car. The concept is very similar to a mechanical protest, with the Chief Steward essentially protesting the car. If the car is found compliant, the race organizers (i.e. the Region) must stand the cost of disassembly, inspection, and reassembly. The race organizers must approve the teardown bond before disassembly can begin. Two spec classes, FE (9.1.1.A.5.19) and SRF (9.1.9.C.20), have specific teardown rules which are consistent with the general rule.

    If the Chief Steward orders a teardown of your car you must permit it, keeping in mind your rights in the event that your car is found compliant. Insist that a proper bond first be established, and approved in writing by the race organizers. Refusal to permit a teardown will attract an automatic penalty of disqualification, a 6-month suspension, and a $250 fine.

    These rules apply to all Chief Steward-directed teardowns at an event, whether post-race, after a qualifying session, or at any other time. Remember that they apply to national and regional races only. The Runoffs have different teardown rules, as do SCCA Pro races.
    Last edited by Greg Amy; 08-18-2009 at 10:21 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Part 3 - SCCA Penalties

    (Part 3 of 'You and the GCR')

    Part 3 - SCCA Penalties

    Here is an FAQ around the SCCA penalty process. It will be of only academic interest to most drivers, who never meet a steward in any official capacity during the course of their racing careers. The rest of you (and you know who you are) might find this informative.

    Penalties aren't (or shouldn't be) handed out capriciously. They happen in a context. They are triggered by an infraction of the rules, are applied following a defined process, are (usually) applied in proportion to the offence, and are subject to review.


    Who can be penalized?

    Any member who participates at an event, whether as driver, entrant, crew member, spectator, or official, can be penalized. In addition, drivers and entrants are fully responsible for the conduct of their crew members [2.2.3]. I have sat on courts which have penalized drivers for the actions of their crew. Also, anyone who signs a minor waiver is held responsible for the minor's behavior [2.2.4].

    By signing an entry form or applying for a license (including a crew license), you agree to be bound by the GCR [4.1.1].


    What can be penalized?

    The short answer is: any breach of the rules. The rules include the GCR and the event supps (which can specify modified or additional penalties). The GCR is basically 600 pages of rules, and any infraction of these can be penalized.

    Aside from compliance issues, most penalties involve infractions of the rules of the road [6.8.1] and the flag rules [6.11.2]. There are also umbrella rules of behavior (unsportsmanlike conduct etc.) [2.1].


    Who can assign a penalty?

    At an event, there are two groups which can assign penalties. The first is the Chief Steward (CS) and any Assistant Chief Stewards to whom the CS has delegated authority [5.12.2.B/C]. The second is the Stewards of the Meeting (SOM), the court which enforces compliance with the rules [5.12.1.A].


    What is the process for assigning a penalty?

    The Chief Steward assigns a penalty via a Chief Stewards Action (CSA) after observing an infraction. The offender receives a notice form, and can protest the penalty (see below) and possibly have it reversed. An exception to this is when the CS orders a Black Flag penalty during a session (typically for a jumped start). This, too, can be protested, but has an immediate effect on the race itself. For this reason, stewards are usually reluctant to penalize someone while the race is on, preferring to assign a penalty after the race.

    The SOM assign penalties following the hearing of a protest or a Request for Action (RFA) from the CS. Again, the offender receives a written notice specifying the offence and the penalty. This can be appealed.

    The CS has complete discretion in deciding whether to act via a CSA or an RFA. In most cases, the CS will use a CSA, since this permits two levels of review of the penalty. However, the CS may well use an RFA in more complex or more serious cases. Also, the SOM has the power to assign harsher penalties than does the CS.

    When choosing a penalty, stewards are given a fair amount of discretion, subject to review. For common infractions, there is a set of guidelines (see below) which stewards typically follow. For unusual or serious infractions, stewards try to assign a penalty commensurate with the offence.


    What recourse do I have if I am penalized?

    The SCCA provides a process to review all penalties, both at the track and beyond the event.

    If you are penalized by a Chief Steward's Action, you have the right to protest the action. You must file your protest within 30 minutes of being notified of the action. The SOM will hold a hearing and may uphold the penalty, overturn it, or modify it.

    If you are dissatisfied with the judgment of the SOM on a protest or RFA to which you are a named party, you have the right to appeal the court's decision. Normally, you have 10 days in which to file your appeal, but there are exceptions [8.4.8].


    Can officials be penalized?

    Yes. Officials are subject to the all the rules applicable to every participant, including the general behavior rules in GCR 2.1, which can be the basis of a protest and penalty.

    Beyond any actions at an event, officials (and drivers) can be subject to an officials (or drivers) review. This is a special court convened by the Division's Executive Steward to examine the behavior of an official (or driver). It functions in a manner very similar to an SOM, and can impose all the normal penalties, as well as revoke licenses. Its judgment can be appealed.


    What are the Recommended Minimum Penalty Guidelines?

    These are a set of guidelines for assigning penalties. They were established by the Executive Stewards of all SCCA Divisions, and are used throughout SCCA Club Racing. The purpose of the Guidelines is to normalize outcomes for common infractions, “... so that all participants will have an expectation of what we will do in common situations."

    The Guidelines have not been widely publicized, but neither are they secret. Copies are posted on the websites of several Divisions. Here is a link to one of them: http://sedivracing.org/2009Minimum-StandardPenalty.pdf.

    The Guidelines are not part of the GCR nor of any event supps. In my experience, almost every steward brings a copy to races, and consults them when assigning penalties. Note the words 'minimum' and 'guidelines' in the title.

    They have been in existence for several years. The Court of Appeals has referred to them in rulings. There are several instances where the Court has reduced a penalty to bring it into line with the Guidelines, but none where it has increased a penalty explicitly to conform to the Guidelines.

    The Court has affirmed that they are guidelines, not rules, and has deferred to the SOM as having a better understanding of the particulars of a specific case when assigning a penalty.

    So what does this mean for you? For most, it means nothing since most drivers never get penalized. For those who do get penalized, it means that, for example, a pass under yellow would tend to attract a similar penalty wherever it happens. I would read them as meaning, "If you commit this infraction, don't be surprised if you receive this penalty."

    In some broader sense, the Guidelines represent an effort to produce a uniform set of outcomes, and to discourage pockets of local practice or arbitrary penalties.
    Last edited by Greg Amy; 08-18-2009 at 10:23 AM.

  9. #9
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    not an scca event, but there could have been some penalties here!
    http://www.vimeo.com/5838617

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    I would argue pass number 1 and 2 are both legit and no penalty should be incurred. The flag station is well past the turn in and the pass apears to be made before the apex/flag station. The 3rd pass however is definetly in violation since the entire area from the start finish line through the turn in and up to the waving yellow flag. I have never raced at Summit and maybe the station is before turn in and the video makes it appear to be closer to the apex

    Just my take on it, I wouldn't try to make the move though... to risky to argue that in front of the stewards.

    Stephen

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    I would suggest that the bigger question is why they did not get the dead car off track sooner. They should have thrown a full course caution and sent out the tow truck right away. I did not like the position of the disabled car at all.
    Peter Linssen
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    Quote Originally Posted by itmanta View Post
    I would suggest that the bigger question is why they did not get the dead car off track sooner. They should have thrown a full course caution and sent out the tow truck right away. I did not like the position of the disabled car at all.
    Because the disabled car is not on course. It is in the grass. For me the bigger question is why they moved it at all. One lap standing yellow and let the folks race. The car was in a low probability impact zone and putting an EV out there with people only increases the likelihood of someone getting injured.

    Why the standing yellow at S/F? There's no incident between S/F and Turn 1. That particular incident was half-way to turn 3! They've shutdown 20% of the course for a freaking hot pull in the grass.

    Why the waving at turn 1? Waving denotes a condition that warrants extreme caution. Unneeded escalation of the flag condition teaches drivers to ignore the flags.

    I recognize that each sanctioning body has its own rules, but those two flags conveyed incorrect information to the drivers. And that's all a flag is... information. It doesn't protect flaggers or EV volunteers.

    What can be more simple than:
    Waving = paving. Something is on the pavement that will damage your car. You may need to adjust your line. Use extreme caution.
    Standing = grass. Keep your car on the road and everybody will be OK. Use caution.

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    this was not an scca event.

    i suspect the yellow at s/f and waving yellow at t1 were because so many folks had blown off the yellow at T1 already. i would much rather have that than a full course or black flag.

    the car off was kinda right after track out for t2. i have seen cars go off there and run up the grass right where the car was parked. good call getting it out of the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlytle View Post
    i suspect the yellow at s/f and waving yellow at t1 were because so many folks had blown off the yellow at T1 already. i would much rather have that than a full course or black flag.
    How'd that work out for them? Based on the video, not so good. As a flagger, I'm against things like this. I display the flags and it's up to the drivers to obey/show situational awareness. One or two cars blowing the flag, OK.. we'll let the stewards handle it. Widespread ADD... I'm going with "Control this is 1. The driver's are ignoring my standing yellow and over-driving the course condition. I would like a FCY." Most stewards will toss the FCY for a request like that, especially if they know the flagger.

    As a driver, I'm OK with that. Give me the opportunity to race until we collectively misbehave.

    the car off was kinda right after track out for t2. i have seen cars go off there and run up the grass right where the car was parked. good call getting it out of the way.
    "Control, we can leave the car there, nobody ever goes off there." - Anonymous SP flagger for a car sitting on the berm between turn 8 station and registration building. (Back in the corner where the woods start)

    "Control this is 8. We just had an unknown car go off driver's right and impact the car on the berm. We'll need a second tiltbed." -Anonymous SP flagger about 45 second later.

    "There's no safe place at a race track." - S. Wantland
    There are varying degrees of comfort. I've spent many weekends flagging T1/T2 and wouldn't have asked for a hot tow for that car. IMO, the increased risk of having an EV with vols exposed outweighs the risk of someone hitting that car. YMMV.

  15. #15

    Default Part 4 - Signals

    (Part 4 of a series, 'You and the GCR')

    Part 4 - Signals

    Or, But I thought you meant ...

    There are very limited means of signalling to/between drivers. It is therefore important to remember what signals are prescribed by the GCR, and to not confuse matters. Let's review GCR-mandated signals.

    Official to Driver Signals

    1. Flags

    Flags are the only means that officials have to communicate with drivers on track. The flag meanings are set out in GCR 6.11. Please note the injunction, "They shall be obeyed immediately and without question."

    Please note also GCR 5.5.4.B: "The yellow flag shall be displayed when a corner worker or other personnel move to a less protected or unprotected area." Whenever you see a yellow flag (standing or waving), proceed on the assumption that one or more workers are in an unprotected location.

    If signals lights are used as a supplement to flags, the event supps will describe their usage [6.11.3].

    2. GCR-Mandated Signals

    On the grid, you will receive signals at the 5-minute and 1-minute marks. At 1 minute, crews must clear the grid and cars not in position start from the back [6.1.2.F].

    If the field is not properly formed, the Starter will wave off the start by "... by making no flag movements whatsoever, and at the same time shake his or her head in a negative manner, to indicate that a start shall not take place. This will inform the drivers to proceed on another pace lap. Drivers will raise one hand to indicate that the start is aborted." [6.2.2.H].

    3. Common Practice

    Flaggers may indicate by hand signals that drivers should traverse an incident scene on one side of the road or the other. This will always be done in combination with the appropriate flags, which are the official signals.

    Also, if you go off-course, flaggers will, if possible, give you hand signals to help you safely re-enter the course. This is not mandated by the GCR, and these signals do not absolve you of your responsibility to drive safely.


    Driver to Driver Signals

    1. Mandated Hand Signals (GCR 6.8.2)

    "A. Before entering the pits from the course, the driver should signal by raising an arm.
    B. An overtaken driver shall point to the side on which an overtaking driver should pass.
    C. The driver of a stalled car shall raise both arms to indicate that he or she shall not move until the course is clear."

    2. Full Course Yellow (GCR 6.3.2)

    "Drivers of cars that are disabled or cannot keep the pace should not hold up the field. These drivers shall signal that their vehicle is disabled by raising an arm, pulling to the side of the course, and staying well off the racing line. Other drivers may safely pass the signaling vehicle."


    And that's it.


    Unfortunately, we do see other signals which confuse more than they help.

    1. Flaggers showing a waving yellow for an incident off-track.

    This is a well-meant gesture, usually done for an incident close to the track or a more serious incident. It is bad practice because it dilutes the proper message, "Waving on the paving; standing on the grass", and induces drivers to start discounting the waving yellow.

    I don't buy the argument that the waving yellow (or any flag) is to 'protect' the workers. A flag doesn't protect anyone; it informs.

    The emergency workers and flaggers are protected when we - the drivers - first, see the flag; and, second, obey it. The onus is on the driver to see and obey. A driver causing a second incident in a yellow flag zone can expect no mercy from the SOM.

    2. Drivers who start waving their arms in crisis situations.

    Forgive me, but that is what they do. I have witness statements and videos. Typically, this happens under a yellow, when one driver is trying to draw other drivers' attention to the flag. As often as not, the following driver (who has already seen the yellow) interprets it as a point by, and passes. This unexpected move simply compounds the danger inherent in whatever triggered the yellow and exposes the passing driver to penalty.

    Sometimes a driver will start waving to warn following drivers about an incident immediately in front on the road. Again, the following driver will (should) have seen the incident and/or flag. The driver doing the waving is merely distracting himself from the task at hand, which is to safely navigate the incident zone.


    The bottom line is, don't make signals to other drivers except as set out in the GCR.


    Tune in again soon for our next episode, 'Mechanical Protests'.
    Last edited by Greg Amy; 08-18-2009 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Correction to start procedure.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Nesbitt View Post
    Sometimes a driver will start waving to warn following drivers about an incident immediately in front on the road. Again, the following driver will (should) have seen the incident and/or flag. The driver doing the waving is merely distracting himself from the task at hand, which is to safely navigate the incident zone.
    John, I'm going to disagree with you on this one. While I agree with your characterization of "should have seen the incident and/or flag", we both know that's not always the case. There have been numerous times when someone has been tucked up under my ass (drafting, setting up for a pass, in formation toward the green flag) where a vigorous wave has gotten the attention of the passing driver to the situation at hand. In fact, in our driver's schools we actually teach drivers to wave during a race-start-wave-off.

    Case in point, last weekend's crash at LRP. Had the leading driver waved vigorously to catch the attention of the trailing driver (assuming the leading driver had the clock cycles and car control availability to make that happen), I have zero doubt that this situation could have turned out differently.

    Nope I strongly disagree, and should I be placed in that situation again I will most certainly warn the driver behind me of a dramatically changing situation via a vigorous hand/arm wave. If the trailing driver misinterprets a vigorous wave back-and-forth as a point-by, well, not my problem as it's obvious that person has totally lost situational awareness, and nothing else I could have done would have improved it...

    Greg Amy


    P.S., Nicely-done series. Looking forward to the next one(s). Please do consider combining all these into a PDF doc for future downloads.
    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Amy View Post
    John, I'm going to disagree with you on this one. While I agree with your characterization of "should have seen the incident and/or flag", we both know that's not always the case. There have been numerous times when someone has been tucked up under my ass (drafting, setting up for a pass, in formation toward the green flag) where a vigorous wave has gotten the attention of the passing driver to the situation at hand. In fact, in our driver's schools we actually teach drivers to wave during a race-start-wave-off.

    Case in point, last weekend's crash at LRP. Had the leading driver waved vigorously to catch the attention of the trailing driver (assuming the leading driver had the clock cycles and car control availability to make that happen), I have zero doubt that this situation could have turned out differently.

    Nope I strongly disagree, and should I be placed in that situation again I will most certainly warn the driver behind me of a dramatically changing situation via a vigorous hand/arm wave. If the trailing driver misinterprets a vigorous wave back-and-forth as a point-by, well, not my problem as it's obvious that person has totally lost situational awareness, and nothing else I could have done would have improved it...

    Greg Amy


    P.S., Nicely-done series. Looking forward to the next one(s). Please do consider combining all these into a PDF doc for future downloads.
    +1 on everything tGA said, including the PDF doc. That would be great to hand out at a driver's school.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Amy View Post
    John, I'm going to disagree with you on this one. While I agree with your characterization of "should have seen the incident and/or flag", we both know that's not always the case. There have been numerous times when someone has been tucked up under my ass (drafting, setting up for a pass, in formation toward the green flag) where a vigorous wave has gotten the attention of the passing driver to the situation at hand. In fact, in our driver's schools we actually teach drivers to wave during a race-start-wave-off.
    Greg,

    I recognize that there are two sides to this. As a steward, perhaps I tend to see the bad outcomes from misplaced signals.

    On waved-off starts, the GCR requires a hand signal (see corrected original post - I dropped a sentence).

    John

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    John, agree that this has been a great series.
    But...also have to disagree about in-car hand signal. I have had two distinct instances in the past couple years where my vigorous in-car hand waving (with my right hand) has kept a following car from plowing me. Both involved following cars tucked up close, once being a spinning car directly in front of me and the second when I missed a shift. After both races, the following driver told me he appreciated the warning.
    A point-by is much different from a vigorous wave.
    Steve Linn | Fins Up Racing | #6 ITA Sentra SE-R | www.indyscca.org

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    Thanks John for the reminders, I know I can use them.

    As a relatively new driver I was taught, and continue to use the raised arm to indicate to the cars behind me that I am suddenly slowing. Whether this is for a yellow flag, waving or standing, that I have observed, or a mechanical condition of my car. Am I wrong to do so?
    For me, it is good common sense and I have had other drivers do the same as I approach them. It is different than a point by and easily understood by the following car if they see the raised hand.

    FWIW I had 6 lanes of interstate lit up by brake lights Tuesday afternoon as people dropped from 75+ to dead stop for a tractor trailer on fire on the median wall. Not only did I check my mirrors and leave myself an escape path I realized, after coming to a stop, I had raised my hand to alert the drivers behind me. I feel much safer on track than with the idiots I normally commute with.

    Paul
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    ITS '72
    1972 240Z
    "Experience is what you get when you're expecting something else." unknown

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