Code 35 "not since Sliced Bread"
This just might be the greatest safety update for HPDEs, ever. Kerrigan Smith, GM of VIR has installed a new flag with a very simple meaning: 35mph. All cars must slow to 35 mph. It freezes the field during a race. If you have raced your way to a large advantage, you keep it! Club racing.....very cool. The professional racers don't get a say.... the promoters want the fans on their feet cheering the restarts! How do the fans feel....mixed. Code 35 could replace Black Flag All and lowers the use of Full Coarse Yellow (FCY). As an old F&C Corner Worker....it was always a little scary when the pace car was out. Back markers could drive at race speeds [sometimes past ] to the back of the pack. Working an incident on a hot or live track was a heads up experience. More than once we had to respond to a second incident .... a back marker over- driving into a barrier that would negatively upgrade the incident, adding yet another incident location and vehicle. An example: A few years ago, an E 30 drove into the back of a tow truck on the way to a hot pull at a BMWCCA club race (FCY, white flag displayed as well).... they had 2 incidents and one less tow truck. See the rub. So why is this so cool for HPDE?......
With all traffic at 35mph.... Control can roll equipment faster. Ask around and you will discover that we have had a few fires since the corner stations were locked ( that is when the worker or EV can't leave their station until 100% of the traffic is at rest, "no vehicle movement on the track".) If your car is on fire.... 3 plus minutes to clear the track to roll help is forever!
With code 35, track "control" can release a worker to take a fire bottle to your need much sooner ..... minutes sooner. My two cents..... so simple....so effective.
How does HPDE implement it? When the checker is displayed for the green group, display code 35 flags to pit in on the cool-down lap. Like making a child wear a helmet while learning how to ride a bike, make it part of the culture. Other groups could be shown the code 35 flag at random during the event weekend, install and practice flag/corner communication safety procedures, like the red flag? Changes in HPDE safety, like learning how to obey a new flag, should be just part of the track experience. The code 35 mph flag must be enforced.... that is what will make it so valuable to drivers in need, and track employees trying to respond to that need.
What a great way to lower incident response times! Might save you a car one day, or even more! If you concur and are a HPDE organizer, Chief Instructor or Club Official, suggest its implementation at your next event. If you're an Instructor, make a suggestion to those in charge and talk it up amongst yourselves.
BRR PCA Safety Chair.