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Crashing: What Causes Track Day Crashes?


Cobie Fair
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OK, I'll open this one up. What do you guys think is the LEADING cause of track day crashes? Lets keep this focused on track days, not races.

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I had my only trackday crash about a year and a half ago, it was a lowside in the wet at my favourite corner of my local track. At the time I could not figure out what I had done wrong, I put it down to riding my road bike with street tyres (Bridgestone BT014) and getting lured into a false sense of security by all the guys riding with full wet tyres on! Since then I have read the TOTW books, joined this forum and done my level 1 and I now believe that I chopped the throttle causing me to load the front end in slippery conditions and inevitably ending with a lowside crash! I cant remember whether I did chop the throttle or not but after studying the sections on throttle control I do know that in future I will remember not to chop it!

 

So I would say the leading cause of trackday crashes has to be SR no1 rolling off the gas! It can highside you when your sliding or lowside you mid turn!

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So I would say the leading cause of trackday crashes has to be SR no1 rolling off the gas! It can highside you when your sliding or lowside you mid turn!

I vote for insufficient attention to reference points

 

Kevin Kane

 

OK, one rolling off the throttle, 1 for insufficent reference points. On the 2nd, what exactly brought about the crash--in other words, how did lack of RP's create the crash?

 

If you all haven't seen this article lately, an article by Keith on crashing: http://forums.superbikeschool.com/index.php?showtopic=703

 

C

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I agree with acebobby, but I've seen a few crashes that even with really bad throttle control they would have made it through were it not for one big error...

 

A lack of understanding of countersteering leading to the rider holding pressure on the bars/manhandling it through the turn and sapping front end traction as a result.

 

I nealy lost it twice due to being too tight on the bars--in fact in both instances, I was ready to bail off the bike, and letting go of the bars saved the day.

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Well, I recently crash tat my local track (Calabogie Motorsport) and it was my fault. I would love to say I was going in too hot as I just passed someone. I would love to say the tires where cold or I missed a reference point. But I can not, I target fixated and by the time I realize it was to late as I was on the wrong line to recover and down i went.

 

I had a video camera mounted to my tank. It showed I was only 5kms faster then my last lap and that the bike could have made the corner. It does not show my target fixation.

When I went to Fast Racing School here in Canada, I asked my instructor, what was the hardest skill he had to work on? He stated it was his eyes and looking far enough ahead.

 

This is just my experience.

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Well, I recently crash tat my local track (Calabogie Motorsport) and it was my fault. I would love to say I was going in too hot as I just passed someone. I would love to say the tires where cold or I missed a reference point. But I can not, I target fixated and by the time I realize it was to late as I was on the wrong line to recover and down i went.

 

I had a video going on my bike. It showed I was only 5kms faster then my last lap and that the bike could have made the corner as I if I had not target fixated.

 

When I went to Fast Racing School here in Canada, I asked my instructor, what was the hardest skill he had to work on? He stated it was his eyes and looking far enough ahead.

 

This is just my experience.

 

A question: you ended up on the wrong line, but did you lean the bike too far, did you run off the track with the brake on, what made the bike loose traction?

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Funny you should post this question; I had my first track day crash yesterday! I don't think my case was a leading cause though. I was going down the long straight (at Putnam Park), got up to about 130 and then started slowing down for the right turn at the end, I started into the turn and looked and my engine wasn't running- 0prm on the tach. I'm thinking to myself "what the...". I was holding the clutch in and I thought I better not let that out, hit the start button, nothing. At this point I'm staring at the controls and not the track and I'm starting to run wide. I was slowed down pretty good at this point and I went to the outside and then into the grass. It was only the 2nd morning session and the grass was dewey and whoop down I went on my right side. I had that instant realization I've now joined the fraternity of people who have crashed on a track, sliding along in the wet grass. I wasn't hurt at all, got up, couldn't start the bike, steam coming out of somewhere. I put out the kickstand and finally got it started; it quit and I had to restart a few times. So I rode back to the paddock slowly. The only problem was I broke my right front turn signal, bent my rear brake lever in, and popped off the radiator cap which was why it was dripping green. After that I ran the rest of the day and everything was fine. I'm not sure why my engine stopped, I've never had anything like that happen before (Honda CBR- very reliable bike). I was trying to downshift and I thought maybe somehow I stalled it, but I think what I might have done is somehow hit the kill switch- that would explain why I restarting it while I was still coasting on the track did nothing. I can't remember if I had to move the switch to get it going again though- it's all a blur. The clearest memory of the whole event was sensation of sliding in the wet grass- I always liked playing the snow as a kid and it was a bit like a toboggan run.

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My first accident last weekend was at the end of the day when I wasn't even trying to go fast. I was working on body position and my lines, and went into a corner too hot. I started running wide and dipped the bike to try and push it through, and the peg started grinding. I had to pick it up because even with the peg scraping I was going toward the rumble strip. I ran off the track and made it through the rocks, but (and I was down to about 15-20 mph) there is no way to keep it up in 6 inches of sand, and I went down.

I guess you can chalk it up to being tired and hot. In the great city of Phoenix it's still getting over 100 degree's on a daily basis. I did a trackday in August in 112 degree's, and don't think I'm going to be doing that again. Ran through 4 gallons of water and 4 gatorades before 2:00.

I'd say most people who don't high or lowside just get their head up. It's easily noticeable in the beginner groups, but most of the time if a track newbie is going in hot or another rider passes them and their not ready for it, they pick the bike up and look in the direction the bike is going. Every level of rider does it, but it's lots easier to notice in the beginners.

 

All day I was getting stuck behind the same rider, and with his liter bike I couldn't take him on the straights. He was slow on the corners, but took his lines just well enough that it would have been dangerous to pass. He kept looking back at me and it was getting irritating. Oh, the things I was yelling in my helmet. I went up to him and asked him if he could just let up on the throttle for a second going into the straights and I would cruise right by. I consider him to be the first @$$hole I've ever met at the track due to his response. "You'll just have to get past me." So I did. He was quick to start braking after the straight, and I can late brake like nobodies business. The next time I went by that corner he was still on the side of the track just sitting on his bike.

 

My friend wrecked when he was following me and we had somewhat of an incident with another rider. We were going into a big 180 left behind another rider that goes directly into a pretty tight 180 right that leads into the pit entrance. There is a short straight (that comes out of the corner I would later wrecking in) and the rider pulled up in the straight and stuck his leg out. I tried to dip under him, and for some reason he decided to shoot the bike right in front of me. I pulled up and in the middle of the corner he stuck his leg out again. AGAIN I tried to pass, and he cut into the right hander. In the middle of the right he put his leg out and I just went wide to get around him without any more problems. When I came back around that corner there was Javier with his bike on the side of the track. Turns out he was trying to go wide with me and got into the glassy part of the track. If the track hasn't been ridden in a while here the sand fills in the cracks and it's just as bad as water. He lost the back end and went down pretty hard.

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Well, I recently crash tat my local track (Calabogie Motorsport) and it was my fault. I would love to say I was going in too hot as I just passed someone. I would love to say the tires where cold or I missed a reference point. But I can not, I target fixated and by the time I realize it was to late as I was on the wrong line to recover and down i went.

 

I had a video going on my bike. It showed I was only 5kms faster then my last lap and that the bike could have made the corner as I if I had not target fixated.

 

When I went to Fast Racing School here in Canada, I asked my instructor, what was the hardest skill he had to work on? He stated it was his eyes and looking far enough ahead.

 

This is just my experience.

 

A question: you ended up on the wrong line, but did you lean the bike too far, did you run off the track with the brake on, what made the bike loose traction?

 

I was near the edge of the track and the bike was leaned over as I did grind my left peg. Plus, I was on the brakes. I do not remember much else as I was out for about ten seconds afterwards. The corner that it was in is a decreasing radius that is better taken from the middle of the track and I was on the outside. The bottom line is fear stepped in and in my case it was the driver that cause the crash.

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I was near the edge of the track and the bike was leaned over as I did grind my left peg. Plus, I was on the brakes. I do not remember much else as I was out for about ten seconds afterwards. The corner that it was in is a decreasing radius that is better taken from the middle of the track and I was on the outside. The bottom line is fear stepped in and in my case it was the driver that cause the crash.

 

 

OK, so possibly rode it off the wheels if you leaned it over after touching the pegs, or lost it on the brakes while leaned over (possibly ran off with the brakes on leaned over).

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I was near the edge of the track and the bike was leaned over as I did grind my left peg. Plus, I was on the brakes. I do not remember much else as I was out for about ten seconds afterwards. The corner that it was in is a decreasing radius that is better taken from the middle of the track and I was on the outside. The bottom line is fear stepped in and in my case it was the driver that cause the crash.

 

OK, so possibly rode it off the wheels if you leaned it over after touching the pegs, or lost it on the brakes while leaned over (possibly ran off with the brakes on leaned over).

Cobie;

Sounds like poor or inadequate reference points to me... ; )

In ukilme's complete post, he wrote that he target fixed. Isn't that the ultimate RP mistake? By target fixing ukilme missed either his end of braking marker (read: turn entry speed) or his turn point RP. His situation all starts with RP's IMHO. Had he kept his focus on his RP's, he would have two-stepped (or three-stepped, depending upon when you took level I) the corner without a problem.

Kevin

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Hi Kevin,

I can understand what your saying about reference points, or lack of in this case, but what we must remember is that not all trackday riders actually use reference points. This in turn causes inconsistent lap times, here you say that target fixation is the ultimate RP mistake but really target fixation is SR number 4 and having good RPs is part of the cure also for SRs 3, 5 and 6, I belive then that lack of reference points could cause you to run off track or become overwhelmed mid-corner at which point either SR 1, 2 or 7 or any combination of the 3 may come into play! I certainly agree with you that RPs become a contributing factor in a crash, but its the last thing that you did that caused it, and I belive most common would be to roll off the throttle.

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Hi Kevin,

 

I had in mind what actually put the guy on the ground--for sure RP's, not enough, wrong ones, etc.- is an issue, I had just been thinking of what put the guy on the ground. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that cold tires has come up yet.

 

C

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Hi Kevin,

 

I had in mind what actually put the guy on the ground--for sure RP's, not enough, wrong ones, etc.- is an issue, I had just been thinking of what put the guy on the ground. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that cold tires has come up yet.

 

C

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Hi Kevin,

 

I had in mind what actually put the guy on the ground--for sure RP's, not enough, wrong ones, etc.- is an issue, I had just been thinking of what put the guy on the ground. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that cold tires has come up yet.

 

C

 

 

 

Of course, cold tyres lol so obvious I never even thought of it! especially when its 20 min sessions some people just want to go for it right away.

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My friends did check my tires when the bike got bakc to the pits and they were cold when the bike got off of the track. It was my 6th lap of a 5.5 kms curcuit. It was also the thrid session of the day. The tire pressure were fine but I should have checked them before hand.

 

I know the tires was one issue as are the RPs. Especially in this corner, as mentioned it is a decrease radius corner but it is also a down hill corner that has a hidden apex that is going uphill. And if you do not pickup your RPs it is hard to make has claimed several rides this summer.

 

Watching the video, you can see I made all the RFs point but the last one which is a cone that has small cones behind it to block off an acess road for vechiles.

 

 

Anyways, these were my first post on the board and I did not except to start up a decussion. However, it giving me insight. Thanks.

 

 

Andre

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It was my 6th lap of a 5.5 kms curcuit.

Andre, that's a long circuit so the tires should have been up to temperature by the end of your second lap at a minimum; I would rule out cold tires but how many track days were on them? I remember losing the rear tire on an exit. I was just at the apex and back on the gas and then found myself sliding across the track. It was the eighth track day on the tires and I didn't have the experieince then to "hear" what the tires were saying to me. Now I do know that many many riders can ride on tires with more TD's than that but it could have been a factor with your crash.

Watching the video, you can see I made all the RFs point but the last one which is a cone that has small cones behind it to block off an acess road for vechiles.

Can you post a link? If so, you will get a much more focused critique of what happened. Someone posted one a awhile ago and it was pretty clear that the rider just leaned it over and right off the wheel.

I did not except to start up a decussion. However, it giving me insight.

Andre - that's what this Forum is all about...we post our questions/observations to generate discussions and exchanges. We all benefit by the interaction so post as often as you have a question or an observation to share.

 

Kevin

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My friends did check my tires when the bike got bakc to the pits and they were cold when the bike got off of the track. It was my 6th lap of a 5.5 kms curcuit. It was also the thrid session of the day. The tire pressure were fine but I should have checked them before hand.

 

 

Andre

 

6th lap, 3rd session, doesn't sound like cold tires would have been the problem.

 

I did want to ask you (and the other board members) how a tire is warmed up? Some think that flicking the bike back and forth in the pit lane, or into the first few turns will warm the tire. A few years ago Dunlop ran some tests, and found that it wasn't doing anything.

 

So, how are tires warmed--and let's say you don't have a tire warmer, gotta do it the "old fashioned way."

 

Best,

Cobie

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So, how are tires warmed--and let's say you don't have a tire warmer, gotta do it the "old fashioned way."

Cobie;

Hard acceleration and hard braking is the fastest way to heat them short of tire warmers.

Kevin

 

I will post the video when I get a chance. The tire was on its fourth trackday and was a M3. This is my first summer with track days and cannot wait until next summer. I have plans to take more track school courses with the local race schools.

 

I also warm the tire with hard gas and breaking. There is a article in Sport Rider discribing how to warm up tires w/o warmers.

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I attended my first track session / school at Pocono Raceway a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I did not crash, but came very close to it. It was my third session of the day, but the first session that I was riding my own pace (instead of following the instructor). After a few laps, I started to get a little more confident and became more aware of the faster pace of the other riders on the track at the time.

 

So, I (stupidly - ha ha) decided to increase my speed where I could, which was really only the straight sections. I also started to enter the turns faster, which my ability probably wasn't equipped to handle just yet. After coming off a very slow and tight right hand turn, I accelerated hard on the straight away approaching a left hand turn. Because of my inexperience, lack of ability, etc (and the fact that I was going a lot faster than I had been, which caused me spend too much attention on my speed and not enough on everything else), I wound up missing my turn-in RP. I turned late and was not able to "flick" the bike into the turn either, so I wound up running very wide. I knew right away I was heading off the track, but fortunately still had enough track to get upright, slow the bike, and head safely into the grass. I kept the bike up and re-entered the track when it was safe. That definitely woke me up.

 

Funny, because the instructor said, prior to the third session, that if someone goes down today, THIS will be the session it happens in!

 

After reading ATOTW II, I came up with a LAUNDRY list of things I did wrong on that particular turn alone. My entry speed (for my ability) was too fast for that corner, I missed my turn-in RP, I wasn't able to turn (or flick) the bike quick enough, my body was not positioned properly prior to the turn, and I don't recall looking through the turn (probably because I screwed up everything else so badly, there was no point - ha ha!).

 

Dan

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