1 (edited by ranchracer 2016-12-05 05:56 PM)

Topic: Flagging at Sonoma

Well, just reflecting on our race weekend at Sonoma. First, as always thanks to the Lemons organizers. I know it's no easy task orchestrating the chaos we call races, but these guys do a great job.

I have a couple of issues with the Sonoma race though. First, 188 cars is WAY too many. I don't care what the track regs are. When you're actually STOPPING out on track multiple times per stint, something just ain't right.

The flagging was less than optimal. I'm not one to complain about our fantastic corner workers, but there were several big misses this race. First, on multiple occasions we'd see the double yellow come out at start/finish indicating a full course yellow, and yet we'd see other corner stations, namely the entrance to the chicane and the entrance to the Esses, with NO yellow flag out. Sometimes it would take up to 30 seconds or more for those stations to display yellow. Come on guys, that's what radios are for.

And the one that directly affected our team was the 3A station. This is a massively dangerous corner even with only 30 or 40 cars on track, let alone 188, and yet we had several incidents here due to a lack of warning. Our own race was ruined just seven laps in when I came over the blind crest with no yellow flag at the station and no flashing yellow light system (which is supposed to REDUCE accidents here) only to find a parking lot on exit. I had nowhere to go and rear-ended another driver resulting in a loss of more than 30 laps while we repaired the damage.

I'll be the first to raise my hand when I've been an idiot on track, but this one was totally avoidable. That yellow should have been out and the light system should have been working. Here's the vid...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwFQJri9fcA&t=2s

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

Wow... what the hell...  only thing that could've saved you was spotters and a radio. 

Having seen this other times, we won't race without spotting ahead. 

Flagging is hard, and that much traffic on a hilly course has got to be hard as hell as a flagger. 

But Seriously... that is just bad.

LemonAid - Changing kids lives one lap at a time.

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

There's very little if any grey area on this one. It's simply a flagging failure. Sorry you got fucked here.

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

I would love to see those lights used.  Were they used at all?

Our problem with flagging was a bit different.  On Saturday one of our drivers came upon one of those backups and passed a few cars on the side instead of rear-ending them.  It happened right under a flag station.  He went in and self reported his gaffe and they said go forth and sin no more.  He did and two laps later the flag station at the Carosel black flagged him.  So he went back in and the judges asked, "why are you back in here!?!"   and sent him back out.  I think the flaggers didn't get the message that we came in. 

On Sunday I spun in 4.  Many huge thanks to the several cars that made heroic maneuvers to avoid hitting he head on.  I backed into the grass as soon as I got it re-started. (I will post the clip with my apology to all involved in another thread)  So obviously I went straight to the penalty box.  They were expecting me and properly scolded me.  Since that was our first recorded penalty they sent me back out.   When I got out there the same flag station black flagged me.  Since most of that half lap was under yellow and I KNOW I had done nothing remotely wrong, and since we had a similar problem the day before, I actually chose to ignore the black flag.  I stayed out.  The next time around there was no black flag.  When these sort of communication mistakes discourage drivers from responding to black flags, that's a bad thing.

I wonder how the communication takes place between penalty and the flag stations.  If we had been in contention for our class that would have been super frustrating.  As it is we are a ~50th place car when we are doing well, and loosing a couple of laps doesn't make that much difference.

I think the flaggers do a great job under super difficult circumstances.  It seems like communication could improve.

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

TeamLemon-aid wrote:

Having seen this other times, we won't race without spotting ahead.

Yeah unfortunately that's where our thinking is at right now as well. In March we'll have someone camped out in the turn 3a grandstands with a radio both days to ensure this doesn't happen again. We worked our way back up from dead last in Class B to 21st by the end of the race, so without the flagging snaffu I think we were in it for a top 10, maybe even a top 5 or better. Despite the incident we still had fun and felt some pride of accomplishment for working our way back through the field. All being said, it still beats the politics of the SCCA! LOL!!!! Thanks all.

Eric

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

As far as penalties, we got called in three times, and 2 out of the 3 they asked us why we'd come in! Seems there are some communication problems to work out between the corners and the penalty box for sure. Can't be easy though with all of the issues and incidents that happen every single lap. I don't want to be too hard on the organizers for this. They're trying to keep everyone safe and sometimes it may result in bad/incorrect penalty calls.

Eric

7 (edited by Paulie Lugnuts 2016-12-07 08:50 AM)

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

There must have been a communication problem. I, #58 brown camero, got hit and spun off the track in the chicane. This brought out a local yellow. So I came directly into the penalty box and they asked why I was there. Wait, what? The car that hit me was never black flagged either. I'm sure with 180 cars, you're going to miss things, but this was an obvious one.

Panting Polar Bears, #58 Crown Vic, #78.5 Rambler, #76 Omega, #58 Camero

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

ukemike wrote:

I would love to see those lights used.  Were they used at all?

I saw them used in the first hour of Saturday.

The Old Fast Auto Racing Team & Sons (Old FARTS)
Like us on Facebook:
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Re: Flagging at Sonoma

kvermilion wrote:
ukemike wrote:

I would love to see those lights used.  Were they used at all?

I saw them used in the first hour of Saturday.

Yep. They started using them right after my accident, but they didn't use them consistently throughout the race.

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

kvermilion wrote:
ukemike wrote:

I would love to see those lights used.  Were they used at all?

I saw them used in the first hour of Saturday.

I'm wondering if they are all wired together so are only useful for full course yellows.  (i.e. can't be switched on/off in individual corners).  Sure would be nice if it was segmented. 

Whenever flagging posts like this show up after Sears Point races, generally Heather from the flagging crew comes on and posts.  In the past, they've pointed out that LeMons car counts bring on unique issues that they don't encounter in any other races and sometimes their existing protocols just don't work.  I've been caught out on the self report/later black flagged for the same deal too.  Again, it comes down to large car count logistics they are dealing with.  There's a lot of cars and a lot of corners for people to eff up in and the volume is large at times which slows down the communications.  I seem to recall the corner worker communications is only one at a time or something so if it's busy they sometimes have to wait to call in the BF.  Could it be improved?  Sure but without knowing the exact mechanics of what they do or the infrastructure they are given to work with, it's kind of hard to give specific suggestions.

1990 RX7 "Mazdarita" 
1994 Jaguar XJ12 (Winner C-Class 2013 Sears Pointless)
1964 Sunbeam Imp (IOE 2013 Sears Pointless)
1980 Rover SD1 (I Got Screwed 2014 Return of Lemonites) (Sold -> Houston.  Gone and forgotten)

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

cheseroo wrote:
kvermilion wrote:
ukemike wrote:

I would love to see those lights used.  Were they used at all?

I saw them used in the first hour of Saturday.

I'm wondering if they are all wired together so are only useful for full course yellows.  (i.e. can't be switched on/off in individual corners).  Sure would be nice if it was segmented.

I have only noticed them on the turn 4 flag station and the wall on the exit of turn 4. Don't recall seeing them anywhere else on the track... where else are they?

The Old Fast Auto Racing Team & Sons (Old FARTS)
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/FastAutoRaceTeam

12 (edited by Minispeedrcr 2016-12-06 07:38 PM)

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

You can just see and hear my car the MASH Porsche at the end of the video. I came over 3a with no flag and was head on at the spun Honda 600. I'm sure they were making brown stains. I flat spotted all 4 Tires as  I slid just to the right. It was a pucker moment for sure. Seems like with 2 flaggers in that stand one could watch down the hill and give a heads up.
Another weak place is coming into the esses at 8 as you come out of 7 the flagger likes to keep the flag low and it is impossible to see from 7.

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

Wow man that was a pretty good hit

No flags waving or anything to give ya warning

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

What really irked me was the flagger at turn 10 Sunday, the hole in the wall station. My entire stint he was laying the Yellow flag ON the K wall in front of him when not in use. The entire flag was layed out and visible everytime I came around, and I noticed it was throwing off everyone. I pointed multiple times at him and held my hand up questioningly, but there was no change. Eventually the pack I was running with started ignoring the fake yellow in 10, and for the rest of my stint I had to ignore what the station was telling me and look ahead to the next one in 11.
When you have a big pack of cars ignoring a station you are guaranteed to create an unsafe condition!!!

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

ranchracer wrote:

Well, just reflecting on our race weekend at Sonoma

The flagging was less than optimal. I'm not one to complain about our fantastic corner workers, but there were several big misses this race. First, on multiple occasions we'd see the double yellow come out at start/finish indicating a full course yellow, and yet we'd see other corner stations, namely the entrance to the chicane and the entrance to the Esses, with NO yellow flag out. Sometimes it would take up to 30 seconds or more for those stations to display yellow. Come on guys, that's what radios are for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwFQJri9fcA&t=2s

Hi guys, finally got to check the forums to see if there was anything on flagging, and there was. I'll answer a few things on here as time permits me to try and clear up a few things.

First off, the reason you noticed that some stations were slow to get out double yellows, esp the chicane, was in part because the landline was down at 3 stations on Saturday and 2 on Sunday (8a, 9a, and 10 Sat, 9a and 10 Sunday). The landline is our main comm system, so communications go out on there first. I was at 9A saturday, and we had to deal with a radio, which means we're on a different net. But there is only one person in race control handling both, so she has to give information first on one, then the other, which is the cause of some of the delay. Hopefully it was only these 3 stations that were that slow as we're the only ones with that excuse.

And because I was not on the main landline on Saturday, I'm not going to comment much on what happened at 3A and 4 in this specific incident because I don't know if they were calling for flags to go up or not, or if control had told them to cancel flags, or how long cars had been stopped like that. Sometimes we get such a big pack coming in with Lemons that what was a nice line becomes a huge pack like that in an instant, and unfortunately that's one of the corners that can't see enough ahead to be able to predict when it will happen to ask 3A to go yellow before it does...If none of those were the case then I'd agree that this was a miss on our side. Hopefully we can discuss it and improve things on our end.

Heather

A Mazda on its roof goes "wooz wooz"
"Racing makes heroin addiction seem like a vague longing for something salty"-Peter Egan

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

ukemike wrote:

I would love to see those lights used.  Were they used at all?

Our problem with flagging was a bit different.  On Saturday one of our drivers came upon one of those backups and passed a few cars on the side instead of rear-ending them.  It happened right under a flag station.  He went in and self reported his gaffe and they said go forth and sin no more.  He did and two laps later the flag station at the Carosel black flagged him.  So he went back in and the judges asked, "why are you back in here!?!"   and sent him back out.  I think the flaggers didn't get the message that we came in. 

On Sunday I spun in 4.   So obviously I went straight to the penalty box.  They were expecting me and properly scolded me.  Since that was our first recorded penalty they sent me back out.   When I got out there the same flag station black flagged me.  Since most of that half lap was under yellow and I KNOW I had done nothing remotely wrong, and since we had a similar problem the day before, I actually chose to ignore the black flag.  I stayed out.  The next time around there was no black flag.  When these sort of communication mistakes discourage drivers from responding to black flags, that's a bad thing.

I wonder how the communication takes place between penalty and the flag stations.  If we had been in contention for our class that would have been super frustrating.  As it is we are a ~50th place car when we are doing well, and loosing a couple of laps doesn't make that much difference.
.

So there is actually no direct communication between the penalty box and the turns. Jeff from Lemons is up in race control and is the go between, but we don't hear directly from him, he has to relay info from us to penalty box, and then from penalty box to our race control person. Thus there are a couple of ways this gets mixed up:
1) There may be a bigger incident being reported on the landline that takes precedence over other calls such as spins, body contacts where all continue, etc. So it may take longer for us to make the initial call than it does for you to make it to the pits. Now Turn 11, which calls pitstops of cars we're looking for so we know to stop flagging them, didn't know they needed to look for you and didn't call that you pitted (I was doing this on Sunday, and there were several times this happened). Most of the time the Starter catches that you come out of the pits and then we ask Jeff if the car already reported. But if they let you go back out right away there may not have been a long enough time-gap for the starter to look for you either, so we think you were on track the whole time and flag you.

2) As to your second case, sometimes we miss that a car pitted so we don't cross you off our list (certain stations have more problems hearing the landline because they're closer to the cars, etc). So they start to spot you and control or Turn 11 may not have enough time to jump in and say you already pitted before you reach the station with the BF. Again I know this happened a couple of times on Sunday and I'd try to jump in as quickly as I could to let BF know the car had been in. So while you may be surprised a flagger would recommend ignoring a flag, what you did was best smile. You went around again and neither Start/Finish nor turn 5 flagged you again, so by then the message had been relayed.

3) This weekend had a special case with 9A and 10 being on radios, where calls from those turns were delayed to control, as well as to the rest of us because they were on a different net due to the landline issue stated in my other post. So people who self-reported from incidents in those turns, especially if it was the same lap the incident occurred, were almost definitely beating the corner being able to report the incident. Sometimes stuff breaks. Believe me, we were just as frustrated as you....

A Mazda on its roof goes "wooz wooz"
"Racing makes heroin addiction seem like a vague longing for something salty"-Peter Egan

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

Thanks for the clarification, Heather.

It sounds like the alternative to the land line system needs work. When you guys use radios, do you also get headsets? I use one when monitoring our driver's comms and it helps a lot. Without a headset almost always I have to ask him to repeat the message.

As I posted in the other thread, flagging was good, I thought, except perhaps at start/finish where the black flag was waving so early and long that our driver, several times, thought the whole field was being called in. I know a waving flag is easier to see, but when it is meant for a single car and not the whole field I thought it was supposed to be a standing (non-waving) black flag. Also, when the flag was pointed at a specific car it looked to me, from the stands, like it was too done late for the driver to see it.

Also, people seemed to think a white flag was the same as a yellow flag. At first I stayed in line to stay out of trouble. Passing a slow conga line of cars at speed is not safe. Eventually I'd pull out and start passing them, cautiously. This is not a comment on the flagging, but on the drivers' understanding of the flags.

Another item, when under full course caution and when I didn't have a spotter I watched my mirrors for cars to resume racing. The green flag would come out at start/finish long before the double-yellows would be withdrawn around the track. It worked out well for me because I could pass a half dozen or more cars that way.

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

cheseroo wrote:
kvermilion wrote:
ukemike wrote:

I would love to see those lights used.  Were they used at all?

I saw them used in the first hour of Saturday.

I'm wondering if they are all wired together so are only useful for full course yellows.  (i.e. can't be switched on/off in individual corners).  Sure would be nice if it was segmented. 

Whenever flagging posts like this show up after Sears Point races, generally Heather from the flagging crew comes on and posts.  In the past, they've pointed out that LeMons car counts bring on unique issues that they don't encounter in any other races and sometimes their existing protocols just don't work.  I've been caught out on the self report/later black flagged for the same deal too.  Again, it comes down to large car count logistics they are dealing with.  There's a lot of cars and a lot of corners for people to eff up in and the volume is large at times which slows down the communications.  I seem to recall the corner worker communications is only one at a time or something so if it's busy they sometimes have to wait to call in the BF.  Could it be improved?  Sure but without knowing the exact mechanics of what they do or the infrastructure they are given to work with, it's kind of hard to give specific suggestions.

Whoever says below this the lights are only between 3A and 4 gets a cookie, as you're correct. 3A and 4 are the only turns that can control those lights, and they have separate switches. We are told only to use them for local incidents in between the two stations when something is on the track. So they won't be used for double yellow (or at least shouldn't be), and wouldn't be used for a car off in the dirt either.

There are probably different philosophies as to when they should be used for backed up traffic in that area in Lemons. Me personally, if I had been at 3A and seen that situation develop in the video in the first post, I would've turned them on to get the cars coming in slowed down (please note the key words "seeing that develop", sometimes we're by ourselves so we're facing the other way and wouldn't see that right away, and sometimes it happens so quickly we still wouldn't have them on right away. This just happens to be a useful example but don't apply it too much to that specific case since I still don't know what happened there). But if there was already a nice line coming into 3A, even if cars were stopped between I wouldn't turn them on because traffic is already controlled. So there is a bit of judgement on our part as to when to use them.

A Mazda on its roof goes "wooz wooz"
"Racing makes heroin addiction seem like a vague longing for something salty"-Peter Egan

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

m610 wrote:

Thanks for the clarification, Heather.

It sounds like the alternative to the land line system needs work. When you guys use radios, do you also get headsets? I use one when monitoring our driver's comms and it helps a lot. Without a headset almost always I have to ask him to repeat the message.

As I posted in the other thread, flagging was good, I thought, except perhaps at start/finish where the black flag was waving so early and long that our driver, several times, thought the whole field was being called in. I know a waving flag is easier to see, but when it is meant for a single car and not the whole field I thought it was supposed to be a standing (non-waving) black flag. Also, when the flag was pointed at a specific car it looked to me, from the stands, like it was too done late for the driver to see it.

Also, people seemed to think a white flag was the same as a yellow flag. At first I stayed in line to stay out of trouble. Passing a slow conga line of cars at speed is not safe. Eventually I'd pull out and start passing them, cautiously. This is not a comment on the flagging, but on the drivers' understanding of the flags.

Another item, when under full course caution and when I didn't have a spotter I watched my mirrors for cars to resume racing. The green flag would come out at start/finish long before the double-yellows would be withdrawn around the track. It worked out well for me because I could pass a half dozen or more cars that way.

Unfortunately we don't have headsets, which makes it all the harder. And our radios aren't very fancy, so if you key up with someone else you a) don't get a tone that tells you you've done it so you keep talking and b) you garble both messages so no one knows what anyone said. But headsets and nicer radios cost money.....

I agree with you on the BF at start finish, I noticed that from 11 on Sunday, and I wondered if any cars reported in thinking it was for them instead. At least you'd have Turn 1 (or 2 on Sat) with no black flag to confirm that it wasn't the whole field.

We noticed that about the white flags too, and it drives us nuts because it backs the cars up so badly sometimes....

Hopefully the Tinyvette isn't too bent after this race, I had to call you guys in twice after another car hit you and I was sad both times, but at least it didn't seem to actually affect it too bad. Not sure if there's anyone on that team that remembers me but I went to UC Davis and worked for Unitrans so I used to know a few of you smile

A Mazda on its roof goes "wooz wooz"
"Racing makes heroin addiction seem like a vague longing for something salty"-Peter Egan

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

hstreets wrote:

Unfortunately we don't have headsets, which makes it all the harder. And our radios aren't very fancy, so if you key up with someone else you a) don't get a tone that tells you you've done it so you keep talking and b) you garble both messages so no one knows what anyone said. But headsets and nicer radios cost money.....

How are you running radios, then? Hand-helds and the like are forbidden by Rule 5.3 and it's difficult to imagine that something like a dash-mounted microphone and speaker would be of much use through a helmet and visor.

1982 MG Metro 1300: IOE 2015 Pacific Northworst GP, Longest Distance 2010 Cd'L Box Wine Country Classic
1980 KV Mini 1: Worst of Show and Fright Pig Supremo 2009 Concours d'LeMons
1978 H Special: Second-Round Elimination 2010 LeMons Pinewood Derby at Sears Pointless
1967 SAAB 96: IOE 2012 Pacific Northworst GP

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

mharrell wrote:
hstreets wrote:

Unfortunately we don't have headsets, which makes it all the harder. And our radios aren't very fancy, so if you key up with someone else you a) don't get a tone that tells you you've done it so you keep talking and b) you garble both messages so no one knows what anyone said. But headsets and nicer radios cost money.....

How are you running radios, then? Hand-helds and the like are forbidden by Rule 5.3 and it's difficult to imagine that something like a dash-mounted microphone and speaker would be of much use through a helmet and visor.

???

Heather is a corner worker, not a driver.

bs

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

bshorey wrote:

Heather is a corner worker, not a driver.

Oops. My mistake.

1982 MG Metro 1300: IOE 2015 Pacific Northworst GP, Longest Distance 2010 Cd'L Box Wine Country Classic
1980 KV Mini 1: Worst of Show and Fright Pig Supremo 2009 Concours d'LeMons
1978 H Special: Second-Round Elimination 2010 LeMons Pinewood Derby at Sears Pointless
1967 SAAB 96: IOE 2012 Pacific Northworst GP

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

hstreets wrote:

Not sure if there's anyone on that team that remembers me but I went to UC Davis and worked for Unitrans so I used to know a few of you smile

I'm not sure who you are in real life. But it's interesting how many LeMons and related motorsports people there are in this self-proclaimed bike town. The Bernal Dad's car used to be in Davis, the FraidyCat team, too. Ian and his team are here. Tinyvette, of course. A member of the Faster Farms team is here. He lives about 5 blocks from me. There was a Z car of some kind here, too. Bright yellow/purple Japanese flag pattern on the hood. There is at least one SCCA team here, too. And of course Davis Motorsports Club, but they don't do anything interesting anymore.

Jeff Straw used to race with us. He ran Unitrans up until a couple of years ago when he left for SLO.

I'd think that if you guys are issued radios then headsets would/should be included.

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

m610 wrote:
hstreets wrote:

Not sure if there's anyone on that team that remembers me but I went to UC Davis and worked for Unitrans so I used to know a few of you smile

I'm not sure who you are in real life. But it's interesting how many LeMons and related motorsports people there are in this self-proclaimed bike town. The Bernal Dad's car used to be in Davis, the FraidyCat team, too. Ian and his team are here. Tinyvette, of course. A member of the Faster Farms team is here. He lives about 5 blocks from me. There was a Z car of some kind here, too. Bright yellow/purple Japanese flag pattern on the hood. There is at least one SCCA team here, too. And of course Davis Motorsports Club, but they don't do anything interesting anymore.

Jeff Straw used to race with us. He ran Unitrans up until a couple of years ago when he left for SLO.

I'd think that if you guys are issued radios then headsets would/should be included.

Yeah it was probably Jeff then. I'm always horrible with names from the track since sometimes you don't see them again for months. I used to know Craig too, he would've been one of your drivers at least a couple years ago.

When our new manager took over the crew he was looking into getting headsets for the radios, especially since some customers don't pay for the landline when the rent the track, which means everyone is on radio. The safety guys have the ear pieces at least so they're good, but I think he's had some problems getting the budget for headsets for the corners approved. It's probably not a high priority for the track overall considering all the other things they have to maintain...

A Mazda on its roof goes "wooz wooz"
"Racing makes heroin addiction seem like a vague longing for something salty"-Peter Egan

Re: Flagging at Sonoma

Saturday evening I heard a rumor that Heather the corner worker was hanging out at Spanks Place. I ran right over to meet you so I could introduce myself and thank you personally for what you do for us.
Different Heather.
But I finally did get to meet a corner worker and thank her.
Anyway, via forum, Thanks Heather.
Chuck Donley

#19 Thunderchicken Extra Crispy Racing. 1992 Thunderbird Super Coupe
Organizers Choice Award, 2015 Arse-Freeze-Apaloosa.
#4 R. Loewy Racing, 1963 Studebaker Avanti
IOE, Pacific Northworst GP 2016