X-car rules...are we snobs or scared?

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Postby Kim Crosser on Fri Jul 23, 2004 8:54 am

I would LOVE to run TTs - I did a couple of QDEs renting Tim Comeau's 944 and it was great :D - I was looking forward to renting his car at some TT events at bigger tracks. However, to preserve domestic harmony, I have to back off for now. :(

I thought (from comments and Witness meeting minutes) that the QDEs and TTs weren't breaking even - they weren't losing much money, but weren't making any either. Sorry if I got that wrong.


I think the real issue in this thread is not X cars - it is whether we should allow non-PCA members to drive in PCA-SDR events. I cannot recall a recent case where a PCA member was not allowed to run an X car at an event.

My suggestion above was to formalize the policy - either just say no (seems to be the current unofficial policy) or define under what circumstances non-PCA members can run at our events.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone opposed to allowing a LIMITED number of non-PCA "guests" to run at lightly attended events. Why is this a bad thing? Why shouldn't we allow a few when there is no real impact on track time and resources?
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Re: Record for Mike

Postby ttweed on Fri Jul 23, 2004 9:03 am

David J Marguglio wrote:The two-seater Seven raced to 60mph from a standing start in 3.21secs, having hit the 30mph mark in just 1.45secs. With 100mph reached in an incredible 6.92secs, the Caterham stopped a mere 3.6secs later.
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Postby Jad on Fri Jul 23, 2004 9:26 am

I think they X car thing gets messy for the tech guys. There isn't really a clean line to draw. A Ferrari seems very logical to AX and is safe, but when you starting getting the 'open' wheel cars, or pseudo open wheel with 'tire covers' instead of real fenders it gets messier. If I put a plastic body on my kart, covering the wheels, could I then run it? Should you be able to run a Cayenne? An truck? A hummer? I feel I know a lot about cars, but I certainly don't know enough about 'rare' cars like we are discussing here to know if it is safe to autocross.

I am not saying we should not allow X-cars, but that line is very hard to really draw. Also, not sure what our insurance covers, members only? Porsches only?
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Re: X cars

Postby Jeff Grow on Fri Jul 23, 2004 9:28 am

I would like to hear what rationale has been applied to Sunday's event as I am aware of at least one other "X-car" being turned away presumably for reasons other than tech.

jack miller wrote:(sic) In principal, I think we should adopt as open a policy as space and safety permit at our events. We should err on the side of leniency toward space and, just slightly, on the side of strictness for safety. I have not heard anything from any chair or member that would lead me to think anyone disagrees.(sic)


I agree. I would also add that a preference should be made toward club members, then Porsche drivers, then all others in order to maximize the Club's financial return on each event. This means, in an AX, probably no non-club drivers. In a DE or TT, probably a few non-Porsches/non-members.

Without the x-cars, we would almost certainly not break-even on our big track events. Competition for TT drivers is much greater than for AX drivers; the attendance numbers bear this out.

We know from experience that members are unwilling to pay higher entry fees (remember all the whining about prices at the SOW event). This is, by definition, an "exclusive" club. But if there's room, and tech is met, then we should allow non-members in order to achieve a financial success. The goodwill also translates into more participation at our big track events.
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May I respond?

Postby Dan Chambers on Fri Jul 23, 2004 9:34 am

Now that David has had a chance to explain his arguement, I'd like to do the same.

My opinion of X cars is probably equal to most competitive drivers in the Porsche Club, I like them. Variety is a good and entertaining thing. One of the highlights of the year, for me, is running an X-car autocross. It is fun and enjoyable to see non-Porsches going through the course we design. Some are faster, some are louder, some are hanging it out there sideways. It's all good, and safe.

When David presented me with the request for an X-car at the DE, my initial reaction was ..... SAFETY FIRST! So I asked David the important and salient safety questions: Who's the driver? What kind of car? Preliminary information was given and I felt, initially, that it would be okay. I told David as such.

After spending most of the night and a bit of the next morning (the request was made less than a week prior to the event) researching the rules and regulations about the event, the expected safety considerations of a typical QDE, and reviewing the specifications of the driver and the vehicle, I came to the very difficult conclusion that the driver and the vehicle may not be an appropriate safety fit for this particular event. I had to do what I hate most; reverse my decision.

The basis of my final decision, based on safety, include:

1. The majority of the event drivers are newer or novice drivers who are looking to step up to faster courses, multiple laps, and passing conditions not experienced at an Autocross. It is fair to say that many of the participants are near the top of their comfort level of driving at QDE's. Some may be slightly above that level ... ie, a little "nervous."

Having an unkown car that is reported to have unbelievable sprint speed driven by an as-yet unkown driver to the PCASDR driving squad, in the mirrors of novice drivers is not a condition that I am comfortable with. I have to take into consideration the level of comfort of the least capable driver on the course. An agressive driver in a very fast car in the mirrors of a novice driver travelling faster than they, the novice drivers, may have driven their car before sounds extremely risky, and may significantly lower the educational and enjoyment level of the Lower-Level driver. Also, under the confines of a parking lot where light stantions and concrete K-rail barriers are unprotected, rattled or frightened lower-level drivers with a very fast car and unknown driver on their tail could potentially be the perfect formula for a catastrophic, car destroying, possible-bodily-harm-inducing "mishap."

2. Except for the information provided by research and word-of-mouth information gathering, I have no direct knowledge of the capabilities of the X-car in question.

Most specifically, how good are the brakes, how reliable are the fluid lines, tanks, pumps, etc? Could there be a fluid leak on the track? How appropriate is the suspension for a parking lot event that will see possible triple digits with cars in front, behind, and at times along-side? I have no way of knowing how safe the vehicle is to both its occupants, and the cars it will share the track directly with. Because we in the Autocross Team haven't seen this vehicle at any of our events, the vehicle is an unknown vehicle.

3) The person in question has not, to our knowledge, participated in a PCASDR event before.

Qualification to participate in the QDE includes a minimum of 4 Autocrosses or equivelent. And, by the way, when we say equivelent, we're talking about equivelent PCASDR driving events. Part of the reason is self-evident: we want the participants to be familiar with the fundementals of performance car-driving. In addition, we want the drivers to be familiar with the way PCASDR events are run. How do we approach safety? How do we coordinate run groups and Student-Instructor pairing? How is communication delivered? What are the responsibilities of each individual at the events? These and many other issues are learned by participants who attend 4 events prior to the QDE's. It is important that the participants know the ins-and-outs of our events. This knowledge helps to make the events run smoothly, on time, and with little or no incedents. Knowledge by the participants improves safety.

To the best of my knowledge, the X-car driver is a PCASDR unkown.

4) The QDE's are a program intended, developed, designed, and implemented for the education and advancement of PCASDR drivers who have an interest in developing skills above that of Autocross driving, in a safe environment.

As such, first consideration is targeted at the developing driver. The Autocross team works diligently with the CDI's and Safety Team to ensure the maximum amount of learning is available to the Novice and improving drivers. This concept was universally endorsed by the CDI's, Time Trial, Autocross, and Safety Chairs, along with the Board of Directors.

Comments from CDI's and Safety Team members indicated that my decision to prohibit the X-car and unkown driver from participating at this particular event was sound, and that I had the best interest of safety and education for the developing drivers firmly in hand. As a proponent of safety, and as facilitator to the CDI's for driver education, I feel I've done the right thing.

As much as I'd like to see exotic cars sharing the track with Porsches, I want to maintain an atmosphere of Safety and Education at Qualcomm Driver's Education Events.

After review of all the data, my conclusion was: there are too many unknowns, and the appropriateness of an X-car at an educational event is suspect.

If, in the future, anyone wants to participate in PCASDR events they are welcome to become a member, learn about our programs through appropriate participation (4 autocrosses for QDE, 6 for TT), and have a vehicle best suited for our events. Obviously, a Porsche would be a very good start.

If you have issues and points of view about this, I'm all ears. Please feel free to contact me via email (DWChambers@hotmail.com), phone: 619-889-9331, or talk to me this weekend. I'm open to all relevent points of view.

Thanks for your time.

See you at the Q!!
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Postby David J Marguglio on Fri Jul 23, 2004 11:18 am

I would like to thank all of you for participating in this thread and not allowing it to turn into something negative. Dan, as I mentioned in my original post, I sincerely appreciate all of the time and thought that you put into this and further evidenced by your last post.

In the interest of furthering this discussion and clarifying a few points, I wanted to add the following:

1. Several of you seem to be hung up on the question of membership. I believe that I mentioned in my original post that I had designated Brad as my “affiliate member”. Correct me if I am wrong, but that entitles him to the same treatment as a “member”.

2. To the question of whether this car is “properly equipped” to run in a parking lot, I will let Brad’s emailed response to me after I told him his car was disallowed to speak to this point.

As you know, my car was originally designed by Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars, as the Lotus 7. The first factory car was campaigned by a fellow named Graham Hill to very good effect, and the legend of the Lotus 7 was born. Hill later gained some additional notoriety driving German vehicles. In the USA Milt Minter and John Morton originally learned racing in Lotus 7s.

The tubular space frame chassis of my car is virtually identical to the original Chapman design. Stretched over the tubular space frame is an aluminum body and bonnet. The fenders, dash and nosecone are made of carbon fiber in order to save weight. An FIA approved rollbar provides additional rigidity and safety.

The suspension consists of double A arms with (24-way) adjustable coilovers at both ends. There is also a DeDion tube and adjustable Watts linkage at the rear. The handling can be adjusted within a very wide range from terminal understeer to deadly oversteer. The diff is a ZF clutch-pak type LSD.

The zetec motor started life as 140 HP Ford Focus motor. Salvaged from that duty it is now quite modified and still perfectly tractable. The head has been ported and skimmed. Kent cams have further improved the performance. A lightweight aluminum flywheel and underdrive pulley help the motor rev faster. The dry sump is said to add a few HP since the crankshaft no longer twists its' way through the Mobil 1. Jenvey twin throttle bodies with 90mm trumpets replaced the stock injection system. ITG supplied the airbox/filter; as they also do for 5-6 current Formula One teams. In present form the zetec puts out about 210-215 HP.

The transmission is a specially designed lightweight, close ratio, short throw six speed.

Four AP racing 4 pot disc brakes provide significant retardation when needed. The tires are Avon ACB10 speed rated high performance tires. Lightweight 13" 6.5 & 8.5 rims weigh 8-9 pounds each.

The car weighs 1259 pounds with a full tank of gas. Without driver the weight is almost exactly 25% on each corner. When I am in the car the weight bias is 45% front, 55% rear. This amounts to a front midengine car in terms of performance.

Speaking of performance, if you divide 1259 pounds by 210 HP it seems the car is moving about six pounds per HP; not very far from the figures provided by a very high performance modern motorcycle. I believe that a new Porsche 996 is pushing about ten pounds per HP (Do correct me if I am wrong by more than one pound). The Caterham factory claims that a car similar to mine with a 190 HP motor does the 0-60 trip in 3.8 seconds. Last year a Caterham R500 with a 230 HP 1800cc motor set a new world record for a street legal car in the 0-100-0 challenge: 11.25 seconds. The fastest Porsche was more than one second slower; as well as the Ferrari Enzo, Pagani, Noble, Viper, McLaren F1, etc. About the only thing slowing my car is the 200 pound driver!

Worldwide there are more than twelve Caterham-only racing series in places like Japan, UK, USA, Turkey and even in good old Deutschland (as the locals call it).

Given that the 7 was designed for racing 47 years ago and has been continuously improved and developed over those years to the degree that it still out performs cars that cost multiples of dollars more, the decision by the PCA that such a car can not run in the parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium is curious, to me. If these fellows know something that the rest of us don't know about the safety of 7's perhaps this knowledge should be shared with various international racing sanctioning bodies, including the FIA.

Best to you, Brad


In any case the point is moot now, but again, I appreciated everyone's input.
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Postby Jad on Fri Jul 23, 2004 1:06 pm

I hate to say it, but after reading that post about the car, I feel it has no business being at a QDE. About the biggest danger in driving, whether street or track, is variations in speed. As stated, the HP is comparable to a Porsche with 5 or 600 HP! That should not be on a track with 914, 944, etc. The FASTEST Porsche at the event will most likely be the Dieters car. If I were to guess, I would say that weighs ~1800lbs with 250 hp. Thus, this X-car will be the fastest car in the fastest group. His car should be on a big track, not in a parking lot. Not snob factor, just not the proper place for the vehicle. A shifter kart can be even faster and is perfectly safe in their venue, but not at a QDE.

On the other side, does he really want to be dicing with cars that weigh 3X as much??? I know I don't really want any Cayennes out there weighing 2X as much and I have significantly more protection than he does. If he spins in a corner and gets t-boned, it would be REALLY ugly.

I must agree with Dan, not that my vote counts at all, but you asked for opinions. I think Ferraris, maybe a Z or Bmw, but not lightweight racecars, would be appropriate for a QDE. Though, on a track with other similar cars, I am sure his is more than worthy.

Tom T, would you really want to be in your FF or new car door to door with a novice in a Porsche road car?
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Postby kary on Fri Jul 23, 2004 1:25 pm

Jack, I agree with your statement about the board allowing other cars to attend. Here is a hypothetical situation that might occur. A guy shows up with an open wheel car and we allow him to run with us. Whilte running a serious accident occurs where a fendered car (Porsche) slams into the open wheel (read: small car with little protection) and hurts or even kills a person in the small car. There might not be grounds for a lawsuit since we sign our life away to run, but there will likely be something from a family member. Now what does this mean in terms of our insurance liability?
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X-cars in AX and DE

Postby Greg Phillips on Fri Jul 23, 2004 2:42 pm

I think it would be heplful again to look at the issue of X-cars and/or non-PCA members participating in driving events. Since a lot of the registration is being done prior to the event, we could set a threshold number of drivers and if by a designated date, we reach that number then only P-cars and members would run, but if not the event would then be open to X-cars and/or nonmenbers to run (assuming they pass tech inspection).
Would hopefully leave less confusion around.

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additional .02

Postby gulf911 on Fri Jul 23, 2004 4:17 pm

Just a couple of points here, his car would run in red wouldn't it? Most if not all cars in red are not rookies (except Capt. Neptune of course). Nor are they running a 1.7L 914. That being said, if the car is as capable as stated, and is significantly faster than Steve G's car, I may lean 'slightly' in the direction of it doesn't belong at this QDE. If he wants to try a couple ax's first then you would 'know' the car and then feel better about allowing it to run at a DE?.

Note to Tom T. , My statements are usually tongue in cheek Tom! :) I was a passenger in your 7 replica and can tell you first hand I definately won't be passing you anytime soon.... :wink:
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Postby jack miller on Fri Jul 23, 2004 4:54 pm

kary wrote:Jack, I agree with your statement about the board allowing other cars to attend. Here is a hypothetical situation that might occur. A guy shows up with an open wheel car and we allow him to run with us. Whilte running a serious accident occurs where a fendered car (Porsche) slams into the open wheel (read: small car with little protection) and hurts or even kills a person in the small car. There might not be grounds for a lawsuit since we sign our life away to run, but there will likely be something from a family member. Now what does this mean in terms of our insurance liability?


Kary, you're not saying the open wheel issue has anything to do with the member issue, right? Anyway, I don't know what our insurance would say, but thinking about your hypothetical case makes me want to resign from the TT chair position, tho'. :wink: I will check exactly just what our insurance covers. I hope it covers chairs and event masters, that's for sure. As an aside, we've never had an open wheel car at our TT events. The most radical thing we've had is...a Radical.
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Postby kary on Fri Jul 23, 2004 5:03 pm

One of the reasons we have not had an open wheel car at an event is because of the rules. I thought it was Mr Tweed who wanted to run his forumla Ford at an event and was denied, Tom?

Jack you are correct I was not relating the open wheel issue with membership.
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Postby ttweed on Fri Jul 23, 2004 6:17 pm

Jad wrote:Tom T, would you really want to be in your FF or new car door to door with a novice in a Porsche road car?
Well, not necessarily with a novice, but I not only would, I already have. I ran my Lotus 7 clone in the last DE at the Q. I ran in the red run group on street tires, and there was not a problem with speed differentials or inexperienced drivers. I passed the slower cars when my car was running right, but I had no big advantage over the faster cars. I had an engine management problem in the first session, though, and the engine was cutting out in hard left hand turns, so I pulled off after 6 or 8 laps and put it on the trailer. On slicks, the car would be 2-3 seconds a lap faster, and I think I could run pretty even with Steve's 914 on a good lap, but my slicks stick out beyond the fenders (which is allowed in SCCA Solo2, where only 1/2 the tread of the tire must be covered by the fender when viewed fron the top.) My car's performance specs are very similar to Brad's Caterham.

I also ran my open-wheel FF in a continuous lapping event on one of the "Instructor Days" at the Q a couple of years ago. It's safety systems were equal to the Lotus'. I also ran it on 185/70-13 street tires that time, and I was not uncomfortable on the track with the bigger cars, given the controlled passing situation of a DE event, or any faster than most of the cars. When I brought it out to an autox, Ron Mistak and John Ricard told me I couldn't run it for safety reasons. I have never understood that decision (see comment on car-to-car contact above and ask yourself when the last episode of that was at an AUTOX), but I lived with it, just as I will if the final decision by the club this time is that my Lotus is too dangerous to run.

We are not talking wheel to wheel racing here, people, and I have never seen car-to-car contact in our TTs and DEs in my 7 years of participating. Your "worst case scenarios" make it sound awfully dire, but I think they are highly unlikely in the parking lot at the Q. We have had shifter karts run at our events. We have had Margi's S2000 ACRL car run. We have had sportsracers with similar power to weight ratios run with us at big track TTs. Mark Dalen's Radical was turning 1:24s at WSIR WITH A PASSENGER, if you want to talk about speed differentials! What if I buy a sportsracer next, with full body, full cage, crush zones, side intrusion bars and complete SCCA road racing safety equipment. Will it not be allowed to run because it is too fast??? I even know where a Diasio is for sale in N. Cal that looks like a 917 Porsche. Will that work?

Personally, I am a very conservative driver, and very safety conscious-- you all know that by my record with the club. I try to always drive within my limits and according to the event standards. I don't take chances, and I actually would not drive my Lotus in any big track event with any group without a NASA or SCCA spec cage, for rollover and side impact protection. But I am perfectly comfortable in the parking lot setting where average speeds are much lower and an off-track episode does not involve the surface changes they do at a big track, and where attentive drivers are not trying to pass one another except in controlled zones. There is no real "dicing" in that setting-- not like in a W2W race.

I was signed up to test my little yellow car at the QDE on Sunday, but I have talked to Dan now and am withdrawing from the event due to all this uncertainty which has been raised about the safety issues. I sincerely hope we can work out something fair and fun for all before the next one, as I don't see any reason to exclude these other cars.

TT
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N0!!!!!!!!!!!

Postby gulf911 on Fri Jul 23, 2004 7:23 pm

Tom, Did Dan C. tell you you can't run, or is it just the uncertainty? I am sure there is NO uncertainty regarding your ability and saftey record. Lets see, you know Tom, he is a PCA member, you know the car, since its been there before, whats the safety issue? His driving??? Plllleeeeaaaase....This is absurd, these are controlled passing zones! Sorry Dan, but if you said no to Tom, thats rediculous IMHO.
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Re: N0!!!!!!!!!!!

Postby ttweed on Fri Jul 23, 2004 7:43 pm

gulf911 wrote:Tom, Did Dan C. tell you you can't run, or is it just the uncertainty?
No, Dan C. did not have a problem with me running my little yellow car, but due to the uncertainty about the other driver and his car, doubts and concerns were raised by other members to him. Without a clear policy regarding this, it would look rather inconsistent and uneven for me to be allowed and others with equal equipment excluded, so I withdrew my entry voluntarily to save him any pain and grief over it. I hope that it will be allowed again at some later date when more reasoned analysis and discussion of the impact and risks of X-car entries can take place at the management level of the club.

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