kind of scientific data we really need, we have drawn upon the best expert
opinion available to us in devising safety measures at Lime Rock. They include
a conventional paved escape road at the end of the homestretch [see map] and an
escape area outside Big Bend. A sand bank and a guard rail protect the timer's
stand at the approach to the esses. The esses have wide escape areas, and a
sand bank borders the zigzag to the climbing turn. Here a high bank on the
outside is essentially a deceleration barrier—one that has seen much use. Guard
rails, upended hay bales and escape areas are provided where needed along the
rest of the course.
11 years in racing, I have arrived at certain basic convictions about race
courses in general—some popularly held and some so obscure that they are hardly
discussed. First, spectator areas must be inviolate. Very substantial physical
barriers should always lie between the spectators and the competing cars, since
the cars might leave the road at any point on a circuit. No immovable obstacle,
such as a tree, should lie in the possible escape routes of the cars. Blind
curves are an invitation to accidents. They should never be a part of courses
meant to be used by weekend drivers of average ability. Also, the pits should
always be at points beyond the influence of curves.
elementary considerations. They should be reinforced as soon as possible by the
long-overdue data that can come only from the engineers.
will never be completely safe for the competitors, any more than such
potentially dangerous sports as football and skiing. There is not a shadow of a
doubt, however, that it can be appreciably safer than it is today. If the
lessons of the race course are given close and effective scientific study,
every motorist, as well as every racing driver, will greatly benefit."
ground in individual driver training as well as safety experimentation, Fitch
has recently begun a unique program of personal advanced instruction. It has
many merits, but uppermost is the fact that the student is forced to react to a
variety of emergency situations. Confronted with similar emergencies in highway
driving, he would be far better equipped to solve his difficulties and save the
situation—and his skin—than the average motorist.
The problems in
the way of realizing this kind of training on a mass basis are of course
considerable—like having first-rate golf pros available to all golfers for
concentrated lessons, and on a much larger scale. The cost alone would be a
considerable obstacle. At Lime Rock the fee for one two-hour session is $50 if
the student provides the car, $75 if Lime Rock provides it. But, as noted
above, the Lime Rock program is a beginning, and one worthy of study.
QUITE AN EYE
Students who have
taken the Fitch training course so far—81 to date, including many professional
and military men—have generally found it to be quite an eye opener. They have
gotten a big kick out of it, too, as did this writer when he ventured out on
the course with Fitch the other day in a perky Alfa Romeo Veloce sedan to take
The Alfa, a
110-mph sports touring car, is sure-footed and kind to those of small
technique—a category that includes the writer—yet worthy of a master driver's
touch. With helmets adjusted, seat belts fastened and Fitch calling signals
from the passenger's seat, we first went swooping around a triangular area at
the end of the homestretch, faster and faster on the sandy pavement until the
car would break traction and slide. The problem was to "lose" it, as
one might by misjudging the speed at which a slick highway curve could be
safely taken, and then to regain control in time to avert a crash.
In this way the
student quickly learns his car's habits in one of the most common emergencies,
and is prepared to cope with the situation.