Friday, June 23, 2006

Racing vs. Driving

The more I get into the motorsports thing, the more this difference is brought home to me. So much so that it deserves its own entry.

What I'm into is HPDEs: High Performance Driving Events. They are educational, high speed, and very fun. They are billed as non-competitive, but that's a big whopper. Most of the folks I know there are QUITE competitive, at least with themselves. What you learn at these events is how to drive a perfect line around a road course. It's not a defensive line, it's the fastest line. There is also absolutely no sanctioned timing at these things, so it's not possible for anyone to "win". The way you measure success is by how many cars pass you, and (at the higher levels) who is driving when you get passed.

The psychology of the group is pretty laid back, save for those few with a chip and something to prove. Most of the lower groups are too absorbed with learning the line and the new reflexes that they are too tired to pick fights or get confrontational. The upper level guys are aware that the weekend isn't a race, and most of them are there to practice and compare notes. It's "neutral ground".

Racing is something else entirely. Wheel-to-wheel road racing is supposed to be one of the most fun things you can do on asphalt. Confrontation is a way of life in this venue. No one is giving anything away, though the bigger hearted players will offer help to anyone on the track, because beating a disadvantaged opponent is not as fun as going to the front of a fast field. It's a sort of self-motivated altruism wrapped up in honor, or so it seems from the outside.

The mindset of the racers is very different. I can't say for sure if I'll like it until I give it a try, but I imagine it'll be fine. I like confrontation and challenge. The side effect of this is that racing costs a GREAT deal more than HPDEs. In order to take your car on the track with a clear conscience, you'd need to be willing to go for around $3K over a weekend, assuming no big wrecks. You'd want to make sure you were covered by some sort of insurance so that you wouldn't pull out the first time you rubbed paint with someone.

There are racing schools, primarily taught by the NASA and SCCA. I plan on attending one or more when I get the car paid off and set up as a track animal. It'll be interesting to look back on this blog and see if I was right or wrong on the perspective.


Post a Comment

<< Home