Monday, April 23, 2007

Solo Spouse!

Went back to TWS this weekend, with Driver's Edge. This was a bit of an odd weekend, as we absorbed another motorsports club. The track, Texas World Speedway, ran its own driver education club. Wit the death of the track owner, and his promotion of the club, it started to shrink, until there were not enough signups to make the track minimum. Driver's Edge absorbed the 20 or so folks that would have otherwise been denied track time, and held the event.

We packed up Friday night, and drove down Saturday morning. This saves us a little cash, as we don't have an extra night of hotel fees nor house sitter. The roads are also very clear at 0500!

Our little driving group (AustinSpinDoctors) was well represented, with around 10 folks coming to drive. The informal group is getting more solid, which is nice. Edgar and his wife Angela came in the STi, Josh of course, John with his 'vette and a couple of newer folks that were part of the TWS club also joined us.

Saturday started off slow for me, and I found the back of the pack pretty fast. This is depressing, but I was not confident of the tires I had, so was struggling. I ended up following around a white C6 for a bit and I figured out what I was doing wrong. I was taking it too easy. So the last run on Saturday, I put on the two new tires I had (front; the backs could take care of themselves) and put the fucking hammer down. Much better! Sometimes, you have to just go out and do it. I managed to hold position pretty well, and was not a hazard to the other drivers.

Sheri was doing very well on Saturday, and got the word that she would check for solo status on Sunday, in the second session. That was good news for her, as a goal of hers has been to solo. Thus, Saturday ended well.

Dinner with Derrick, Josh and Edgar was good. Decent seafood in College Station. Weird.

But the big event of the weekend was that Sheri soloed! She finally turned off her active handling and got a whole new view of her trusty Corvette. She had a blast, and was giving me advice on the harder parts of the track by the end of the weekend. Congrats to my lovely wife!

Sunday saw our only two bad incidents of the weekend. In the first, a green group driver ran off after a fast right hander and overcorrected into a roll. Both driver and passenger were shaken, but fine. In the second, a blue group driver found the armco near turn four, and ended up nose down in a ditch. No serious injuries, thank goodness. I think it's been ten or more years since Driver's Edge has had two such things happen in one day. Very sad.

Those two incidents bring up the subject of risk. Motorsports are dangerous, no denying that. I do risk analysis as part of my vocation. It's natural that I should apply one to the other. I do all sorts of things to mitigate the risks I'm taking at the track, but it's not foolproof. However, most of the time, I feel like I'm safer driving at the track than I am on 183. I wonder if that's true? Lesee.... Risk can be quantified as the severity of an event, multiplied by the liklihood that it'll happen, multiplied by the ability to detect it. The scales you use are arbitrary, but I generally use 1-4 for each range, with 1 being inconsequential/unlikely or easy to detect, and 4 being severe/very likely and impossible to detect. The higher the resulting product, the worse the risk. So let's take two events: Having a wreck on 183 vs. having a wreck on the racetrack.

Track: 3. If it happens, it'll be bad because the speeds are higher. However, I don't rate this a 4 because of the additional safety measures taken at the track (firesuits, run off room, harnesses)
183: 2. Most wrecks on the road happen at 35 MPH or less, and the car is designed to handle that, mostly.

Track: 1. There are many, many fewer cars on this track, and I drive there only once a month.
183: 3. I drive it every day, and with a gajillion other cars and trucks. Sooner or later...

Ability to detect
Track: 2. I can see most everything coming, as there is excellent visibility and there are additional safety systems that alert me to issues that can hurt me (corner workers, radio, etc.)
183: 3. I can't watch everyone, and my ability to react to an incident is sharply limited by the vehicles around me. I can see only one or two cars behind me.
3x1x2 == 6
2x3x3 == 18
Higher is worse, remember. I could possibly downgrade the detection of the event on 183 to a 2, based on intense familiarity with the traffic patterns, and track experience, but even with that, it's still more dangerous than the track. Interesting calculation.