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From digest.v5.n61 Fri Aug 2 04:10:01 1996
From: Steven J Bernstein <>
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 1996 03:03:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: <MISC> Comments from an "intermediate" driver on NY Chapter Schools

I was not at the Bridge for the famous roll a couple weekends ago, so I won't comment on the causes of that particular incident. I am also *not* a seasoned veteran of driving schools like some who have commented. However, I have attended some schools, numerous ice time trials, and I feel the evidence of safe events is quite clear. Even the attitudes openly expressed by the people running the school can contribute to the overall sense of safety. Anyone who has ever observed Bjorn Zetterlund conduct a Drivers' Meeting knows what I'm talking about. [maybe it's that ultra-serious look he gives you that makes you feel like the slightest transgression will get you Banned for Life! 8^)]

Just as a datapoint, I do prefer NHIS and Lime Rock to the Bridge, since I believe I can concentrate on developing my driving skills on a slower track better (I'm running a 528e 5-spd). The PCA loves the Bridge - the 911s can really scream there. But that's just a personal opinion. Not everyone will enjoy every track.

What *deeply* bothers me is the following remarks of Steve Musolino and Walter Selva to the BMW list through their Psychic Advisor, Mr. Jeff Tarr.

First Steve's remarks:
> spectacular at the Bridge. So be very careful about appearances. Second,
> and most important, the modern cars permit a rank novice to achieve
> cornening speeds that advanced drivers could not in modified cars 10
> years ago. This with essentially no skills whatsoever. They show up
> in M3s, turbo Porshes, etc with track rubber and chips, and they have
> NEVER been on a track or a skid pad yet.

> The cars
> do the driving now and there is no incentive to actually develop
> skill.

> Another factor is these unskilled drivers get the car loose for the
> first time at very high speed and usually get into big trouble. Those

Steve, you are *absolutely* correct that the differential between the cars' capabilities and the average drivers' capabilities is greater every year. Knowing this, and knowing that you have these inexperienced Boy Racers signing up for your schools, why doesn't the NY chapter *require* a safety school before allowing people on the Bridge? It's funny - you are an excellent driver, very familiar with the hazards of the Bridge, competent at getting into and out of trouble while driving the Bridge, so you know what it's all about. I would HOPE you would be MORE vigilant about making sure these newbies have MORE training than most driving school newbies. You make it sound like this is totally out of your control! That's unbelievable!

> So if anybody out there thinks they can do better, please take over
> running the school for me and second guessing why cars crash in my
> schools.

I'm sorry you were taking criticisms personally, since it prevents one from hearing what people are saying. I think everyone who has commented here simply is concerned with making the schools safer. I agree with you wholeheartedly that people should recognize the risk involved. However, I am a bit nervous that the person *running* the school takes this attitude. If you really feel that there are people coming to your schools "with no incentive to actually develop skill", YOU SHOULDN'T ALLOW THEM INTO THE SCHOOL and possibly endanger the rest of the attendees. Or you should have MORE stringent prerequisites to prepare students before letting them on the track. If they don't like it, and don't DEVELOP the incentive, tough shit - they don't get to drive.

And then there were these outrageous remarks by Walter Selva:

> I often hear candy-asses in paddocks at different tracks in the Northeast say
> things like "Oh, I'll never drive the Bridge---I hear that's a real dangerous
> place." I say they should stick to things like conversing about their CD
> players and cupholders and leave their "performance driving" to the
> arrow-straight New Jersey Turnpike. Last year I exited the Bridge's Turn 1
> in an M5 at approximately 130 mph, drove down a grassy and sandy hill with
> the brake pedal pulsating wildly (ABS was on---if it was off I would have
> come to a stop instead IF I KEPT THE FRONT WHEELS STRAIGHT, that is) and
> re-entered Turns 3 and 4 at approximately 80 mph without a single bit of
> damage to my vehicle. I must tell you, I was quite impressed with my
> performance. A flagger at Station 1 later told me he had radioed "We're gonna
> need an ambulance" as soon as I OTE'd at Turn 1, and then the flagger at
> Station 4 called it off when he saw I re-entered.

Walter, you are one crazy dude!! 8^) Er, I don't know why you feel the need to brag about your personal driving skills. I would expect these types of remarks from a Boy Racer, but from the bloody CHIEF DRIVING INSTRUCTOR???? Your ability to handle YOUR car has nothing to do with the questions raised here. I am flabbergasted that this is your response. There are not 20 experienced Walter Selvas in each run group. This is precisely the reason why it would make sense to take MORE precautions. Perhaps a track walk for ALL Drivers prior to getting on the track should be mandatory, not just for the driver that f**ks up. It would seem that in a 2-day school, if safety is truly the first priority, time could be found for this exercise.

I have always disagreed with the paid flaggers concept used by the NY Chapter at the Bridge. I would understand if this decision was totally out of the hands of the Chapter. I don't believe this is the case. If it's not the case, it seems rather elitist to pay extra to avoid flagging duty. However, even if that IS the case (e.g. local regulation), then other precautions should be taken to educate the students - perhaps just assigning them to the flagging stations as observers, as a minimum, with their attendance determining whether they get to drive. I am happy to flag when I attend a driving school - it is all part of the experience.

I think the "danger" in Bridgehampton is not the track as much as the Boy Racers (rich kids?) that attend the schools combined with the few marginal instructors (most are excellent). Unfortunately, after reading these remarks, I have to wonder whether the general tone of the instruction at the NY schools adds to this perceived "danger". I have spectated, and I have heard first-hand recounts of both students and instructors at NY Chapter Bridge schools. I'm certainly not an expert. But these attitudes expressed by Steve and Walter seem to be equally dangerous. I'd like to simply assume they were having a REALLY bad day when they spoke to Psychic Tarr. I think CCA influence would be very beneficial in resolving these questions.

Best Wishes to all Chapters for a Safe and Fun Driving Season, .steve.
1983 528e, 265500 miles
1987 528e, 97200 miles
BMW CCA #83901
_at__at__at_---------------------Mobilitaet ist Leben-----------------------_at__at__at_

| Steven J. Bernstein                   E-mail: |
| P.O. Box 11242 WWW: | | Hauppauge, NY 11788 USA __________ VOICE: +1 718 740 7411 |

_at__at__at_-------------------------(oo OO oo)---------------------------_at__at__at_

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