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NASA Rally Sport grassroots!!!
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2003 STPR Sup Regs:

18.2. If you are disabled, you may be passed by Tracker, even if you are not time barred. If you are over maximum lateness, you may be asked to surrender your time card.Tracker is not a course closing vehicle, and will pull over if you are able to get back in the rally.

I don't see a sanction exemption for this. It seems to me that it would be in conflict with 7.5.C: "Exclusion for exceeding the maximum permitted lateness may only be applied at an MTC, a Regrouping Control or at the end of the rally."

The middle of a stage doesn't sound like a MTC or RGC. Was not getting this exempted an oversight?

Anders
 

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straight at T
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>2003 STPR Sup Regs:
>
>18.2. If you are disabled, you may be passed by Tracker,
>even if you are not time barred. If you are over maximum
>lateness, you may be asked to surrender your time
>card.Tracker is not a course closing vehicle, and will pull
>over if you are able to get back in the rally.
>
>I don't see a sanction exemption for this. It seems to me
>that it would be in conflict with 7.5.C: "Exclusion for
>exceeding the maximum permitted lateness may only be applied
>at an MTC, a Regrouping Control or at the end of the rally."
>
>The middle of a stage doesn't sound like a MTC or RGC. Was
>not getting this exempted an oversight?

Probably. Various events seem to get away with things that are contrary to the rulebook but aren't explicitly identified as sanction exemptions.

I have more of a concern that you could have non-competition cars interspersed with full-speed competiton cars (tracker passes you, you get going again and are now pushing because you are behind).

Adrian
 

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NASA Rally Sport grassroots!!!
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Discussion Starter #6
Now that's a tasty snaction!!! :)

Anders

(I read them today, using Netscape 7.0 and Adobe Acrobat 4.0)
 
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Some combinations of Internet Explorer & Adobe Acrobat Reader have problems reading PDF's on line.

Try right-clicking on the link to the PDF file and saving it on your local machine, and then opening it.
 

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I have never been a fan of the STPR tracker cars, but I may not fully understand the purpose.

Now that I know they can PASS eligible rally vehicles I am even less of a fan.

(RANT MODE ON)

Does the tracker car do more than locate disabled cars?

What I do know: while working the service area radio a few years ago I was instructed to not give teams with disabled cars location info until the tracker car verifies location.

This practice alone seems a waste of everyone's time. The quicker we can get a crew to the location of a disabled vehicle and team the quicker everyone gets home. Once a car is confirmed out, send the service crew to the start or finish and have them wait until the stage is done to retrieve the vehicle.

It is not always possible to get accurate info before the stage is done, but we typically know if the incident is mechanical or in the woods, if the info is unsure the smart thing to do is hold the service crew with a radio operator until we know what the action should be. Med Sweep or Sweep is soon enough in these situations.

The rally and teams should have a plan before the event, many won't, but the radio net should be able to communicate team locations and movement intentions.

I also advocate a medical sweep vehicle -- a first responder on the road one minute behind the last car. No need to run at speed, but you'll find most qualified people for this position will drive safely just a bit slower than the last car on the road.

If a tracker vehicle is on the road in front of a competitor, is there still a medical sweep, where are they, are they following the last car?

Any non-competition car on stage should end the stage. The dust at STPR is enough of a reason to never put a non-competition vehicle in the middle of competition vehicles.

Having passed many a rally car on stage (4 alone last year at LSPR, but that is another story), I can tell you that as a driver I try to pass as quickly (safely) as possible. Yes I calculate these moves, but in last year's example there were at least two competitors that likely did not know I was there until we were door-to-door. These are high risk moves for both cars; the likely-hood of getting bumped and bumped off the road at any-point is very high. STPR roads are not exactly wide... Are tracker cars caged, are drivers belted and helmeted, are these 'teams' prepared to suffer body damage, or a trip into the woods?

As said, I do not fully understand the function of the tracker cars. AND importantly we have not yet implemented a perfect solution to securing the safety of the last few cars. (These cars tend to get spread out and by the rules sweep waits 30 minutes for even the last car on the road -- which compromises safety. This issue can be reduced in severity with good net communications and smart use of sequence numbers, but response will be delayed.)

FYI - solutions technically exist for the safety of the last cars and all the cars. A combination of GPS tracking, emergency response devices (modified Marine type - EPIRB) and common radio communications in all cars could significantly reduce the unknowns. Add a helicopter and there would be almost no situation that could not be verified and acted upon in less than 10 minutes. NO I don't expect this, it is possible.

Back to tracker cars: I trust the intentions are sound, I am not sure the implementation is sound.

To be honest any extra vehicle on stage, any official, any press, any last minute worker movement, and any extra sweep vehicle is a liability. There will be situations at almost all events that require extra vehicles on stage, to solve problems quiclkly. We have enough specific and important tasks without adding to the train of vehicles that are running the stages.

I hope that the STPR committee will review the planned use of tracker cars, the need, and the implementation.

See ya all in the woods.
Mike
 

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Mike,

I think your definition of Medical Sweep is the same as Tracker for STPR. Their task is to check up on any of the last competing cars that are on stage. They do travel faster than sweep, but at a reasonable pace. Tracker cars are not new for STPR. They stop at all disabled cars and assess whether there are any medical issues and then procede if there are none. They are in radio contact with Net Control throughout. IF they pass a disabled car, they proceed with the understanding of the likelyhood of that car returning and will let that car pass safely if that occurs (a flat tire would be an example.)

I think we are all talking about the same general idea between Medical Sweep and Tracker. Just different names for the same apple.

Alan Smith
 

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straight at T
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>Mike,
>
>I think your definition of Medical Sweep is the same as
>Tracker for STPR. Their task is to check up on any of the
>last competing cars that are on stage. They do travel
>faster than sweep, but at a reasonable pace. Tracker cars
>are not new for STPR. They stop at all disabled cars and
>assess whether there are any medical issues and then procede
>if there are none. They are in radio contact with Net
>Control throughout.

When they can actually reach net control. Unless things have changed since I last did opening at STPR, there are sections of stage where a radio-equipped car can't reach net control.

>IF they pass a disabled car, they
>proceed with the understanding of the likelyhood of that car
>returning and will let that car pass safely if that occurs
>(a flat tire would be an example.)

So, you would let a non-caged car pass a competition car on stage, knowing that the comptition car will be behind them trying to make up time, possibly in their dust? If it is dusty, how is the tracker car going to see the competition car behind them? I assume all these tracker cars are driven by SCCA members (like an opening car per the RFOs).

>I think we are all talking about the same general idea
>between Medical Sweep and Tracker. Just different names for
>the same apple.

Only if the tracker cars are carrying an EMT. If not, they aren't medical sweep.

BTW. I voiced these same concerns last year (when I was a competitor), and was not totally satisfied with the response I received.

Adrian
 

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This entire concept of "tracker" cars seems to be pretty silly. There is no way they should be permitted to pass a temporarily disabled competitor on a stage, or even on a transit for that matter.
 

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don't cut
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>This entire concept of "tracker" cars seems to be pretty
>silly. There is no way they should be permitted to pass a
>temporarily disabled competitor on a stage, or even on a
>transit for that matter.

I like the idea of a tracker able to pass up disabled cars. It gives the last couple competitors the same peace of mind that the competitors in the front have. Basically, if you go off and get hurt, help is only a minute behind. This issue was brough up to me as a competitor at SnoDrift a couple years ago when we accumaluted 29 minutes of lateness and were 10 minutes behind the last car. The organizers let me continue, but did point out that the previous car could be laying upside down in a ditch out there, and it would be 10+ minutes before help came. Not a good situation, and I think this is STPR's method of dealing with it.

Dennis Martin
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920-432-4845
 

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Tracker car sounds like....

Fast Sweep!

:) The way I've always seen it done in the rallies I've competed or worked, if Sweep can get you out of wherever you happen to have stuck it, you're in. You're good to go. You're still competing.

If Sweep is in front of you, you are NOT COMPETING and they make damn sure you know it. I don't know of anyone that had a flat, changed it, let sweep go by, then got back on the road. Our sweep guy Kevin would probably eat that competitor for lunch. And since we always respect our sweep guy (especially me, I'm in a Geo at the end of the pack - we have a deal with Kevin to give me a bit of a head start), I don't know of anyone who's had this situation.

The idea that a "fast sweep" sort of vehicle could possibly be ahead of you on the stage while you're still competing is about the worst idea in a long history of bad ideas that I've heard. I'll add this one to my list.

Geez, guys and gals of STPR, what are you thinking??? I understand that you want things to be safer for your rally, which will probably have gobs of observers checking all aspects of safety, but this idea... bad one.

Why not have all your road marshalls equipped with HAMs, and have them report each car as it goes by? Why not have a few mid-point HAMs report each car as it goes by? Why not have a Sweep vehicle that, if it encounters someone changing a tire, STOP. Wait. They'll either figure it out and get going, or you tell them that they're out. ENFORCE IT WITH EVERYONE IF YOU DECIDE TO PULL TIMECARDS.

I'd be scared if I was the "Tracker" car and knew there were competition cars behind me. Yeah, the Geo seems like it would be slow, but it's not THAT slow. And if the "Tracker" is stopping at all disabled cars to assess and/or render assistance, the liklihood that a competitor will catch them is very high.

Geez. Glad I'm not competing!!!!!

KT
 

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Dennis would you really want to pass a civilian vehicle in the dust at STPR or at any event?

Pass Disabled Cars Yes,

Cars still eligable to compete, no.

At most events, if you are far behind, and the net is on top of things they'll account for all the cars and wait for you. If there is a questionable car or a car missing, the smart thing to do is close the stage (to you) and send in med sweep.

With sequence numbers there is little need to track cars via the radio, however it is very helpful for every radio location to track cars. With the radio positions tracking cars, net can acertain the car number that is off, and ask radio positions to check if that car has past. Car numbers are often difficult to track at night, but a car count is still valuable information to narrowing the location of a missing vehicle.

Also -- anytime I work a control with a car running late, I am happy to give them the correct in time (I invite them into the control early) and let them proceed down the stage when they are belted and have their helmets strapped on.

Having been late on a stage or two, I take the risk that the ATC will appreciate me driving up to the control, explaining that I am late and asking for my correct minute. If I am late to the point of holding up the rally and I get a penalty, it ain't going to make a difference.

Mike
 

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>Dennis would you really want to pass a civilian vehicle in
>the dust at STPR or at any event?
>
>Mike

Depends who's driving. I'd rather pass an experienced competitor in a civilian vehicle, such as yourself for example, than a newbie seed 8 guy who has never been on a stage before in his rally beater. Dust, fog, etc.. are irrelevent because I'd have to deal with that no matter who I'm passing. Believe me, if I've lost enuf minutes to be passed by a tracker but still be in the rally, I'm so far out of competition that taking an extra 15 seconds to safely pass a tracker car isn't gonna hurt.

I just like the idea of an experienced person looking out for the back of the pack, an where theoretically most of your accidents should happen. Lord knows I needed it when I started. :)

STPR has run a tracker for at least a couple years, have they not? I haven't heard of any problems with this until now.

Dennis Martin
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920-432-4845
 

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Yes they have -- and I remember having a few concenred converstaions about them:

Things I remember hearing clarified:

"no they won't be at speed" after having an official say they they were "fast" sweep

The conversation about passing has been delt with in the past, the reality is that you can't get good "one-minute" coverage for the last x number of cars. Every you car you add in the mix to protect a car you comprimise another car.

How many "still competeing" cars is it safe for the tracker to pass?

And then how much time is in between the cars passed and still competing and the sweep team.

I am not arguing that there is not a better solution, I am arguing that this is not a "sound" solution.

Dennis I agree with your point, but I think it really only works in a rational situation, with drivers not trying to make up time. We have all witnessed cars trying to make up impossible time go off into the woods for a second and third time.

Lastly -- If these were caged, helmeted, seed 4 or better drivers with medical experience and equipment and there was a secondary medical sweep following the (them or) last car the "system" would have potential advantages. Might be worth the risks.

This idea could be a great idea and not well understood or possible not well implememnted.

Mike
 

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Mike, I've been the control captain for STPR finish controls for almost 20 years. Tracker cars have been used for maybe four years or so. In all that time I don't recall a tracker car actually passing a active competitor car. The cars generally arrive several minutes behind the last competitor, so they are not driving competitive speeds. (on the other hand, on some rallies I have seen regular 4WD sweep vehicles literally on the bumper of the last competitor!) I think the way the tracker cars are actually implemented (as opposed to the description of the operation) should alleviate your concerns.

Paul Jaeger
PRIMO Stage Crews
For a Good Time, Call PRIMO!
 

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Paul: Agreed, but what is written on paper is the only fact to go by...


And you raise another issue --- if the tracker cars are arriving after the last car by more than a minute then the purpose is also defeated. (There are three tracker cars scheduled this year.)

In the our current state of safety concerns we need to have all the details buttoned up.

There is no room for ambiguity or mis-interpretation. Each events supps are a little different and are critical to the event. They need to be concise, easily understood and well thought out.

Sorry to have such a bug up my but about this.

STPR is a well run event and I have been glad to contribute as a worker, and been lucky to compete on the roads.

I am just concerned with safety practices and clarity of process.

AND -- we collectively have not solved the safety concerns over the last few cars, so if this conversation elevates the STPR plan as better plan than current practice, or a new good idea, we will have made a difference in the sport.

Thanks,Paul
See ya next weekend,
Mike
 
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