The sole purpose of Group52 is to give very good experienced drivers a place to drive and practice their skills, without having to worry about or deal with: student, mediocre, unaware or inexperienced drivers. As an invitation only event, we have already solved many of the problems associated with many other driver education programs. By accepting the invitation to join Group52, you have agreed to abide by what few rules will be in effect at this and any other Group52 event. Most of what follows aren’t so much rules as common sense.
Track vehicles must have a Group52 tech sticker on the left headlight or left windshield area, before going to the track. Only registered cars will be given tech stickers. Each driver’s helmet will also get a Group52 sticker for the left side. Only the primary driver and secondary drivers will be issued these helmet stickers and only these people can be on the track as a driver or passenger. All secondary drivers must be pre-approved and registered for any Group52 event. No other passengers will be allowed at the event. No pets allowed in the Main Paddock area or Garage. All tech stickers are issued when the Driver/Vehicle Preparation guidelines have been met.
- All vehicles must have legible, contrasting numbers. The right and left side numbers must be at least 10 inches high. There must be also legible, 6-inch number on the back of the vehicle.
- To have a passenger on the track their seat must have the same safety restraints as the drivers’.
- Long pants and long sleeves are mandatory while on the track or in the pits. However, Nomex driver’s suits, gloves, socks, shoes and underwear are strongly recommended. If you have facial hair, a balaclava is also recommended. Snell 2010 or newer helmets are mandatory.
- Roll bars, roll cages, seat back supports and on board fire extinguishers are highly recommended, but not mandatory.
- Horse collars or head restraints are highly recommended, but not mandatory.
- THE 8:00 AM DRIVERS MEETING IS MANDATORY. Registration is BEFORE the Driver’s meeting
- Drivers who miss this mandatory meeting will not be allowed on the track until:
- Their car has been teched.
- They have talked to the Chief steward about what took place at the meeting.
- Their helmet has been teched and stickered.
All garages have been pre-assigned. These assignments have been decided more by what your vehicle is, than who the driver is. Wherever possible, like vehicles have been grouped together.
- No vehicles (support or road) can be parked along the outside of the garage. Only gas jugs should be there.
- No fuel or fueling of vehicles inside the garage.
- Trailers and support vehicles should be parked on the other side of the drive lane, across from your garage door. What doesn’t fit across from your door must go in the secondary paddock, which is the one located behind the concession stand. (This concession stand will be closed) Another new; smaller concession stand; outside the north end of he garage, by the paddock fence, should be open.
- All traffic around the garage will be “counter-clockwise”. When you come off the track, you will go through the right gate only, to the garage. When you go from the garage to the pits, you will go through the right gate only, to the pits. This is Watkins Glen standard protocol now.
- Fire lanes in the paddock have been clearly marked by the track. If you park in them, the Glen will stop all on track activity until the vehicle is moved, or they tow it away.
- If you are going out in a group, do all your staging in the pits, not the paddock lanes. We want to keep the paddock as uncongested as possible.
- To make lunch more enjoyable, no engines can be run in the garage from 12:00PM to 1:00PM. If you have to run your vehicle, be considerate to others and do it in the secondary paddock.
On the Track Etiquette
For Group52 to be a success, there are a few rules that everyone must abide by, at all times. If you feel there is a problem with these rules, or don’t understand the reason for them, the morning driver’s meeting is the time to talk about them. Once the track goes green, all rules are in effect and ignorance of them will be no excuse.
General Rules, in effect any time on the track
- When leaving the pit exit onto the track, stay to the right of the solid yellow blend line and stay on the inside of turn 2 (the beginning of the esses). There is a tremendous speed differential; going into the esses; between vehicles exiting turn 1 and those leaving the pits.
- Unless otherwise indicated, the track is always green and considered “hot”. This includes the first lap. There are no warm-up or cool-down laps on track, so no one should be driving around on the track at 50 or 60 MPH; in green flag conditions. Get up to speed as quickly as you can.
- Look and see where the Flag Stations are for each session. They’re times when no one is at the Start/Finish tower and not all stations are used. This means you have to be Super Sensitive about looking for flags.
- No flashers or signal lights should be used on track, ever.
- Local yellows are just that. Once past a yellow flag or flags, the track is green.
- A red flag anywhere on the track means that all on track activities have ceased. There is probably a major problem and there are emergency vehicles on the track. Slow down safely and come to a complete stop; off the racing line; in visual sight of a corner worker and wait for their instructions. If a red flag is thrown, don’t come in and stay in the pits, go to the garage. Red flags are always more than a few minutes long.
- A black flag means come into the pits and have a conversation with the pit steward. You either have a mechanical problem or you’ve done something we don’t like. The steward notifies Mark and Gary of the infraction and you are not allowed back on the track till you talk to one of them. Then they will either release you back to the Pit Steward or send you home. Their decision is final.
- A checkered flag means that the session is over, till the next green flag. Green flags are announced in the garage and Paddock area. A flag for track status is also shown at Paddock Out.
Think of this event as a 14 hour, 2 day enduro… not a series of balls-out sprint races… that way we’ll all go home happy.
Day 1 / Session 1 / 1 Hour Duration
Use of Pass Signs Mandatory
Everyone at Group52 was invited because we thought they were very good drivers. But this may be the first time so many good drivers have been on the track at the same time and not actually been racing. Because of the wide variety of vehicles at this event there are bound to be speed differentials between the fastest and slowest. It will also probably be the only time that all 52 cars will be on the track at the same time. So, session 1 will be the “Let’s get acquainted with each other” session. This will be the time to make sure your car is running right, set the tire pressures, and check the fluids. It will also be the time to figure out who you’ll have to watch for in your mirrors or what cars you’ll come up on really fast.
The rules for this session are simple:
1A. Slower vehicles “ALWAYS” stay on line and must give overtaking vehicles pass signs in a “Timely” manner. “Timely” means “not impeding the flow of traffic”. If the overtaking vehicle doesn’t get the pass sign in a timely manner, he should come in the pits and give the offending vehicle number and violation to the pit steward. If more than 1 person comes in and complains about the same vehicle, that vehicle will be black flagged and brought in for consultation. If you have too many consultations with the pit steward, then you may be asked to pack up and go home.
1B. Faster vehicles that can’t wait for pass signs will also be called in. The slower vehicle will get the number of the offending vehicle and come into the pits and talk to the pit steward. If more than 1 person complains, the same thing will happen as above in 1A.
Session 2 / 9:30 & for the rest of the day
Open Track / Open Passing
- From now on, a pass sign is just an acknowledgement to the overtaking driver to let him know you see him coming.
- Pass signs are NOT necessary now and it’s up to the overtaking driver to get by.
- Slower cars ALWAYS stay on line.
- Faster cars go off line to make the pass.
- It is the overtaking driver’s responsibility to make a safe and clean pass.
- There are “No Passing Zones” in the esses (2 & 3) and the bus stop (5).
- Multiple vehicles running in a group must be aware of both slower and faster vehicles. Faster vehicles in a group should not expect to get by a slower vehicle all at the same time. Also, a faster vehicle should not expect to get by a group of slower vehicles all at once.
- Watkins Glen has several straights where the driving line crosses over from one side of the track to the other. The overtaking vehicle always has the responsibility of being at fault if a problem arises from a pass in these cross-over zones.
- Corners (basically single file)
- When two vehicles are side by side, coming to the corner, (dead even; no one’s sure who’s ahead); and start braking for the corner; the inside vehicle has the corner.
- If one vehicle is ahead at the turn-in for the corner (half a car; 1 car length; etc.) he has the corner, no matter where he is on the track. The other car backs off and gives him the line.
- If you’re coming up on a slower car towards a braking zone, and you think it’s going to be close, and you haven’t seen an acknowledgement from the slower car, IT”S NOT YOUR CORNER. Do not force the issue here. Back off and give them the corner and pass them coming out of the corner.
- Usually, there is no passing in the corners. But, sometimes there are situations where it happens. (someone, off line, giving a point by) Remember that Corner Workers have been given instructions to Black Flag any one passing in corners. Sometimes, they see what happens and understand why it happened. Sometimes they don’t and you get Black Flagged. If you pass in a corner, you better be damn sure the slower car knows what’s going on and he gave you a pass sign that the Corner Worker saw, because if you get Black Flagged for this, it could end up being a reason for us to send you home.
Lunch 12:00 to 1:00
Don’t run engines in the garage during this time period. A lot of people stay in the garage and eat during lunch. Also, because of so much track time, most people take their time getting back to the track. Again, there’s no rush, with so much time.
Session 3 / 1:00 to 4:30
Open Track / Open passing
Because of so much track time, we start getting tired and try things we normally wouldn’t do on the track. All of our “Close Calls” usually come during this time period. Corner workers are instructed to be less forgiving with flags in the afternoon, so be warned. We want everyone in 1 piece at the end of the day.
The Second Day
The first hour of “passing with a point” can be waived with a majority vote of the drivers at the morning driver’s meeting. It is heavily influenced by the number of, or lack of incidents we had the day before. The rest of the day is open track, with the same scheduled lunch break.