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· Loose nut behind the wheel
1,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, I couldn't be more sorry for my actions of missing the red cross at Oregon Trail. Anyone that knows me knows I would NEVER intentionally put anyone at risk for personal injury. The fact is, I made a mistake, a big one. Only through grace did my actions not put someone at risk of injury. Another fact is, I missed the red cross, not Jeff. As there were no triangles displayed, I didn't call a triangle to Jeff. Therefore, Jeff never looked up out of the book.

This incident was my fault and only my fault. I have become keenly aware that I was too focused on the road and getting down the road safely and swiftly. Due to that, I missed the red cross that was displayed to me. I never saw it, period.

I ask for everyone's forgiveness and hope that we can all learn from my mistake. Please make every effort to remember all emergency procedures and follow them. Most importantly, realize that you cannot count on warning triangles to indicate a red cross is coming. If you don't see an OK, you must stop. I would like to say that again, if you don't see an OK, you must stop. I thought I was observant enough that I would see any signal that was displayed to me. I was wrong. It is very easy to miss the most important information if you are too focused on the road and going fast.

Again, please learn from my mistake. Review section 7.11 (starts on page 70 of the 2003 rulebook) and know what you need to do in an emergency situation. All of us depend on each other to follow these procedures and our lives are held in the proper execution of these rules.

I apologize to everyone concerned. It will not happen again.

Mark Utecht

· Retired Rally Photographer
2,119 Posts
>If you don't see an OK, you
>must stop. I would like to say that again, if you don't see
>an OK, you must stop.

I'm not sure what happened at the incident, and I do not care to speculate or get involved. I'm not sure what the rules are. I've never been at speed going down a rally stage. But I've seen 2 red crosses displayed on my corners this year, and I 100% agree with what Mark quoted above. Don't look for the red cross. Look for the OK sign. If you do not see an OK, then immediately stop. Never assume. Even more important, lets hope we never have to see a red cross again.


· Registered
43 Posts
hi Mark

Let me start by saying, this could easily happen to anyone that is involved in such close competition as you are in Group N. My issue is not with what happened..the problem I have is how the penalty was arrived at.
The Series Manager stated that he has known you for 20 years and that you would not have passed the red cross if you had seen it.
I think that goes without saying, however the converse is what bothers me ... if someone passed the red cross that he didnt know, then i think the outcome would be alot different, as we have already seen in other incidents.
I wish you the best for the rest of the year.
niall d

· 3/14=my 42nd rally anniversary
4,247 Posts
>hi Mark
>My issue is not with what happened..the problem I
>have is how the penalty was arrived at.

Frankly, I'm amazed there is not a more glaring difference between the penalties handed out. On one hand you have a driver who misbehaved last year, was thrown out of a ProRally due to that but chose to follow that indiscretion with a vain attempt to get a stage thrown (and salvage a finish) by displaying a red cross at STPR. As Daphne correctly pointed out, there was nothing to be gained blowing past a red cross sign at Oregon, so that one might best be summed up as an incident (mistake?) that needed to NOT go unpunished.

The only question left unanswered in my mind is why someone with a commanding class lead at STPR would throw that away chasing cars in another class and then resort to unsportsman-like conduct to try and mitigate a problem he created for himself. But to each their own, I guess.

Halley ...
Owner/Driver ProRally #86 - world's first New Beetle Rally Car
RealAutoSport, LLC

· Registered
3,391 Posts
>indicate a red cross is coming. If you don't see an OK, you
>must stop.

First off, Mark having been the guy that stopped the stage last year in Maine becuase of a similiar problem, we all know that he wouldn't blatantly disregard a red cross. Secondly, and more importantly to me, you CAN'T do the above quote as long as the rule book states that the OK must be displayed to only the next 3 cars! I've commented on this before and now am going to formally request a rule change. There is absolutely no reason, IMHO, that one of the competitors can't be required to display the OK till sweep comes thru. I always have and I think it should be the rule.

· Registered
130 Posts
>>indicate a red cross is coming. If you don't see an OK, you
>>must stop.
I've also been fighting the 3 car OK rule for 5 years now.
It is plain stupid and impossible to implement.
Put the OK up and leave it up.

For those interested I've made up hard plastic reflective
OK - Red Cross signs that can stand on their own like a TeePee
so you can set it out and leave it.

Contact me off list if you are interested

· www.christianedstrom.com
2,229 Posts
>I've also been fighting the 3 car OK rule for 5 years now.
>It is plain stupid and impossible to implement.
>Put the OK up and leave it up.

The PRB will address this for the 2004 rules season, and will ask the PRD to issue a competition bulletin for the remainder of this season.

This isn't official communication, but you can take it as good word that I'm going to ensure this change gets made.

- Christian

Bjorn Christian Edstrom

· Registered
113 Posts
So, let me get this right, the OK sign only has to be displayed to the three following competitors????

The scenario............First car on stage Car 1) gets a puncture and stops to repair it. Three cars go by (Car 2, 3 and 4) See OK sign and guys doing repairs. First car takes off trying to make up lost time, crashes, front end damage, not obvious from behind. Injures crew!!! All cars following from the fifth car (Car 5)thinks all is well because none of the previous three cars did anything and they weren't aware Car 1 had stopped for another reason and been passed by the preceding three competitors.

Seems fairly obvious to me that the OK sign should stay up till the sweeper goes through.

· don't cut
2,539 Posts
Here's an interesting scenario:

You come up on some cars off suddenly (no triangles). To late to slow down, you just react and blow by at speed. Codriver's head is down, and you're concentrating on keep the car on the road. Several seconds later when you're back in control, you ask yourself "Did I see an OK sign?" Now what do you do? Several seconds at speed can mean a lot of distance. Number one rule of rally (According to divisional school instructor Bruce Wienman) is never travel backwards on stage, so turning around to find out is a no-no. I guess technically you'd have to stop, throw a red cross, and run back to the car, but is this realistic? Is it safe?

BTW Mark, after a stage one of my codrivers could tell me every good looking, big chested women in the woods, and their miliage. All I could remember was trees, rocks, and intersections. It's easy to miss the important stuff. :)

Dennis Martin
[email protected]

Be gentle with me as I'm new to all these things, but couldn't radio communications car to cars increase safety?

Or would being able to call trouble in on the radio create other issues?

Obviously a visual supplement, but my thinking is that the quicker you let cars on stage know of an issue, the better. Likewise, my understanding of the present situation is that the 2nd car is proceeding ahead to tell someone at a radio control what is going on.

Since the competitors and marshalls are already given the ability to effectively stop the stage, there isn't a reason not to have the ability to communicate problems immediately.


· Sucker for good roads
718 Posts
"OK" Sign Rules

I was certain that the OK procedures were adequately stated in the rules. I was wrong. But I think we all know the rule very well. In fact I think we would all consider it unsportsmanlike conduct to be stopped by the road and NOT show every subsequent car the "OK" sign (or at least an alternate signal if necessary - sometimes a mooning suffices, sometimes when a tire is being changed or whatever the sign isn't held, but they wave at us, etc). It is NOT CORRECT that the rulebook only requires the "OK" sign be displayed to the next 3 cars - that rule (7.11.H) only applies when the car is not visible from the stage road. It IS CORRECT, though, that the "OK" sign procedure for more normal situations is amazingly not specified in the rules at all! I'm glad to see it will be fixed.

Mark Utecht - Thanks for the sincere full-disclosure and apology. Much appreciated, well understood. Your solution is the perfect one I think we've all had in mind all along - the lack of seeing a red cross is not enough - don't pass a car unless you actually do see the "OK" indication. Thanks for reiterating that. You're a champ in more ways than one.

Lauchlin and Christian - Thanks for doing the absolutely perfect thing - the only ideal action for the circumstance. As we all would have expected, you made the right instantaneous decisions, adapting for the good of us all. For all the reasons stated, it was the right call. Even with the benefit of hindsight. Any unknown condition resulting in vehicles that aren't supposed to be there on a hot course require exactly the response you took - getting things stopped asap while the scope of the problem can be assessed and corrected.

It is amazing to me that experienced competitors would end up off-course this drastically, then, worse yet, back on another course. Surprising it could have happened at all. Glad it was handled correctly. Officials followed the letter of the rules exactly too, unfortunately having us transit out - but that's the only call allowed.

· Registered
524 Posts
Believe it or not, even with notes I'm always glancing up and down and I find it helps me keep pace with the notes better.

On the last stage of OT Brian and I started behind Lurch who was 2nd in our class and some 19 seconds in front of us overall, it had been close all weekend. Shortly after stage start Lurch was off the road on my side back end first and no signs were visible and I couldn't see movement inside because of the angle, we slowed as looked things over then told Brian to stop as I was unhooking myself. Running back and down to their car with my sign in hand just in case, I was glad to see Lurch moving around and then telling me they were OK to go on.

Mark is a professional and good person as well. I can see how he may have missed the sign, alot is going on inside the car during a stage. Brian and I do talk back and forth and if there is any doubt two sets of eyes are better than one and I prefer that he trusts me to make the call if we need to stop while he busy staying on course, I can always find my place later.

I'm glad Lurch and Cindi were fine, we have to be able to count on each other out there in the woods and if there isn't a clear sign then stop. If you leave your car on the side of the road then make sure that the OK sign is clearly visible. In Lurch's case we got there not long after it happened and they were still fumbling around inside for triangles and the OK sign was yet to be displayed. Lurch was sorry and verified the fact which allowed our time card to be adjusted which placed us solid in 2nd place. Getting the missed time back wasn't a issue, making sure that one of the family was safe was.

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