The entire point of developing the Touring Class system was to create an inclusive classing system so that the widest array of vehicles may compete in a controlled system by which relative performance advantages of different platforms are accounted for, and thus driver skill is the deciding factor in a Touring Class championship. This is not always the case in reality, but it is the aspiration, and I believe it to be both a worthy one, and an effective one for the club in drawing in a variety of new competitors each year. It has also yielded many close events and season championships across wildly different platforms with drivers generally acknowledging that, for the most part, it takes a solid driver to win in a Touring class. The key has always been, and still is to account for potential vehicle performance…but in terms of dashboards and passenger seats…
• Vehicle interiors do not affect vehicle performance.
• Dashboards and passenger seats don’t make cars safer (assuming racing harnesses are required if the dash is removed).
• No one is intimidated by a car because of its lack of dashboard or passenger seat. In 2018, I would suggest that Dan was more intimidating in his essentially showroom stock BRZ on street tires with a license plate and inspection sticker than any of the lemons crapcans or 4-cylinder SCCA “racecars” without a right seat.
• What is so special about a petty bar compared to other standard racing equipment? It was a huge PITA for me to put in a passenger seat, removing cool suit, fire safety, and electronics equipment to do so. Why is there an exception a very specific type of roll cage design but nothing else? The petty bar exemption is a historical carryover, but today it just feels absurd.
• We let drivers meet passenger seat rules, even if they don’t have legal belts, making the requirement cosmetic/check-the-box.
• This is a customer service challenge and hurts our ability to bring-in racers from other clubs, particularly given the rise in popularity of relatively cheap endurance race cars, many of them with just 1 seat and/or no dash.
• This is one of very few rules that anyone has ever complained about on social media, and it has happened multiple times.
Finally, the biggest stated reason that I’ve heard in favor of requiring a passenger seat is that “we are an educational club.” Considering that we already have procedures for matching up students and instructors, this notion is really relevant for licensed drivers. The idea is that time trial competitors, including licensed drivers, ought to keep a passenger seat in their car because of the inherent importance of right seat instruction and the context of driver education. The problem is that this is just not the case in 2018. Passenger seat time is simply not a requirement for a coach to help a driver improve. At worst it can be inefficient, dangerous, and counterproductive as a learning mode for advancing drivers. If anything, in-car instruction is becoming more of the secondary/back-up option. Between lead/follow, video review, mental recall/visualization, whiteboards, YouTube, SmartyCams, etc., there’s more than enough tools to guide an advancing driver.
Currently: Touring Class vehicles must retain
- Dashboard – must be of similar size, shape, and function as Factory Trim. LIMITED trimming or partial removal to allow installation of safety equipment is allowed.
- Front Passenger seat – must be an automotive seat, safely mounted, and suitable for an adult passenger; passenger seat may be removed when a “Petty Bar” is installed
Proposal 7: delete Interior requirements
A proposal to delete these rules has come up every single year. Vote “yes” in 2018 so we can stop talking about this in 2019.
Questions, comments, and discussions concerning COMSCC rules.
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