Crash fest at Nurburgring shows mistakes all around

A recent crash fest at the Nurburgring. And there are lessons all around to take note of here, particularly for High Performance Driving Event (HPDE) school students.   

While this event was not an HPDE school, just an “open track” event,  apparently if there were any flaggers and corner workers at all that day, they didn’t have coverage in this area or else they had left for the day.

As an HPDE Instructor, one thing we always help our students understand is how long it takes to stop from the very high speed these people are shown doing. Look how many crashes occur here because the drivers couldn’t stop. Granted, it may have not been possible in this particular circumstance.. but were the drivers prepared for what could happen? We also talk to students about how you never know what is happening around blind curves. A driver has to weigh the laws of probability and decide how much of a chance you are willing to take – there could be a crash ahead, people on the track, an ambulance, a UFO landing – it’s all a matter of judgement and probabilities. Consider the rule of “VUCA“: volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous. How much risk do you want to take.. how much risk have you planned for? 

The driver made the right decision to pull off the track… but likely the wrong decision as to where he pulled off. While we weren’t there, given the location right after the last turn we would have instead considered slowly driving thru the crash area and then parking well on the other side of it (if indeed you needed to stop anyway). But we weren’t there, we don’t know if this was possible. Nonetheless, it was a bad spot – so next he decided to get out of his car. 

The rule at HPDE is to never get out of the car: you depend on the flaggers and corner workers to tell you if you need to get out of your car and then when. But here at the ‘ring (without corner workers), it’s up to you. Now for the next lesson: he shouldn’t have taken the safety belts off until he was ready to run for it – note that his own car gets hit later (again, where he parked it). He could have been hit without his belts on if another car went off the track while he was unbelted – and then he would have been very seriously hurt.

But don’t miss going to the Ring just because of this… while things can very quickly go too far, it’s still a rare occurrence.