by Rodney Arndt
Driver etiquette, my favorite subject. How you act, perform or behave amongst your fellow competitors whether it be chatting or driving on the track. Your persona. The role you assume or display in public. How do you come across to others? Are you the SAFEST, CLEANEST, PATIENT and MOST courteous DRIVER on the track? How is your discipline? Your sportsmanship? How do you conduct yourself both on and off the track? What do your fellow competitors think of you? Are you well respected both on and off the track? What type of driver are you?
Patience, Patience, Patience
The one problem characteristic of most race drivers, and virtually all newcomers to sim racing, is over-driving the entry to a corner. Most drivers believe, for whatever reason, that hard braking and a fast entry into the corners is the essence of speed on the racetrack. Gone are the days of barreling into a corner slamming on the brakes and cranking the wheel hard left. Finesse and patience are now one of the most important attributes in becoming a successful NASCAR sim racer.
I am by no means the fastest driver on the track. There are many more drivers that can leave me in the dust, so to speak. I will argue however with anyone that Iím one of the cleanest and safest drivers on the track. Am I perfect? No, not by any means, Iím human and make mistakes just like anyone else does. By being patient though, I limit my mistakes which keeps me out of trouble. Because of this I find myself towards the top of the point standings in the leagues I compete in. I rarely win, but winning isnít as important to me as racing cleanly and safely. Iím much happier finishing in the top 5 in one piece, than winning with a destroyed car that involved wrecking others to get there.
The subject of patience will be one of the most common words discussed amongst fellow league drivers. The word patience is the most over- looked, misunderstood and more importantly, toughest attribute for any sim racer or real racer to learn. Most everyone knows the meaning of patience, yet very few apply it on the track. Why? Because itís the toughest thing to do as a driver. Of all the issues discussed in this guide, this subject of patience is by far the number one goal all drivers should have in mind. If you manage to learn and drive patiently on the track, you will automatically double your success as a sim racer.
What does patience mean to you? Most every racer has one goal, and thatís to race as hard as possible and win. If this is your number 1 goal then chances are you are not as patient a driver as you could or should be. Patience, Patience, Patience. Youíll here me say that over and over quite a bit throughout this guide and to the drivers I compete with. Your main ob- jective in every race should be to finish. Itís not important where you finish but just to finish. You canít win the race on the first lap.
Patient drivers are clean, safe and willing to give and take under all kinds of conditions and in all kinds of situations. I approach every race with the same simple goals. My number one goal in every race I compete in is to finish. Where I finish isnít important as long as I see the checkered flag fall. My second goal is to finish in one piece undamaged. Thatís it. Itís that simple. I know if I can reach these two goals I will have a shot at a good finish and possibly even a win. I set my goals low because others set their goals too high. I know that others do not set their goals as low as mine. Therefore I know I already have half the competition beat without ever turning a lap. Drivers that feel they have to lead every lap or get to the front as soon as possible are impatient drivers. Most of these types of drivers end up wrecking and not finishing the race. Iíve already passed these guys without ever having to race them on the track. Theyíve defeated themselves.
Patience to me is not racing until there are 20 to 30 laps remaining in a race. Patience to me is staying in line and following the driver in front of you until he makes a mistake. Does it really matter with 63 laps to go if youíre sitting in third or tenth place? Patience to me is moving over when another competitor is riding my rear bumper. Patience to me is allowing extra room between myself and the car in front of me assuming the worse is going to occur like an unexpected warp. Patience to me is slowing down early to conserve tires to be faster at the end. Patience to me is not getting too high when things go right or too low when things go bad.
Now if everybody drove like me, racing would be pretty boring <g>. I know a few drivers that donít agree with my laid back approach and drive much harder than I drive an entire race. Is this being an impatient driver? Well, that depends. Youíre never considered being an over-aggressive or impatient driver as long as you donít get yourself or others into trouble. On the other hand if you drive over-aggressively five times a race and the first four go without incident, but the fifth time you rear end a car in front of you, then yes you are being an impatient driver.
Itís clear to me after running the game now for months that patience has a different meaning to different drivers. Patience and its meaning may change as you gain more valuable seat and track time. Remaining patient throughout a race is a very tough skill to master for all types of drivers both in the real and sim world. I myself find it tough at times to sit back and ride it out when you know youíre faster than a driver in front of you. Everyone wants to race so hard and get themselves into a position towards the front of the field as quickly as possible, and thatís when trouble occurs.
I see some drivers that understand patience real well. Sometimes too well, which can also cause problems when competing against drivers that arenít as patient. Some drivers may back out early at times in an effort to give room or ride it out for awhile. Seem like those drivers that are impatient donít truly understand why a driver is running so slow and feels itís an opportunity to take advantage of the situation on hand and make their way by as soon as possible. Chances are these types of drivers end up wrecking and taking those out that are clearly trying to remain patient.
The subject of patience, along with its meaning, can go on and on and be debated amongst drivers forever. How patient should I be? When should I be patient? When should I be more aggressive? When do I give and when do I take? All of these questions do have answers, but all the answers are not the same depending on the driver and his experience. Many of these questions do have common answers depending on various circumstances. I hope to explain these circum-stances and patience as I apply them throughout this guide.
Give and Take
Learning when to give and take is critical in becoming a better sim racer. Give and take goes hand in hand with patience. A lot depends on whom, where, what and why. Ask yourself who are you taking from or giving to? Where are you trying to give or take? What kind of condition is your car in? What is the track weather? Why should I give or take a position now? Even more depends on the situation youíre surrounded with. Am I in traffic? How many laps are left? Is this a league race? How many league races are left? Where am I in the points? Iíll discuss this further in the driving technique session under passing. If you cannot answer these questions, itís time to become passive and wait for another time to become aggressive. This is what I say to myself when this situation arises. When in doubt I back out.
Conduct and Sportsmanship
A sportsman is defined as one who is considered as befitting parti-cipants in racing, especially fair play, conduct, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing. It is important to play the game by the rules as Sierra, Papyrus, and the sanctioning leagues you compete in enforce them. To take out another car on purpose in order to win or improve position is not only unsportsmanlike, but also just plain stupid and totally unnecessary.
Weíre all human here. Were all bound to make mistakes, we all have that occasional brain fart. Learn to respect your fellow driver. Realize that sim racing is far from perfect and accidents do and will occur especially due to warping. (read getting connected) Do not get to upset if you end up in a wreck. Everyone will make a mistake from time to time. I donít believe anyone is out to purposely try and wreck anyone. Ask yourself, why would someone, especially in a league race, risk damaging his car just to take me out. If an accident occurs chalk it up as just that, (an accident) and leave it at that. I do not run pickup races. All the drivers I run with I trust and respect. If anyone takes me out I just say oh well thatís racing, that kind of stuff is gonna happen. I then repair as needed and move on.
Your conduct as a sim racer goes far more than how you perform on the track. Conduct and sportsmanship will also carry over into other leagues you compete in as well as email sent to league mailing lists or drivers themselves. Expressing your opinions and thoughts to a group may not always seem to be in the best interest of the league. How you come across can be viewed as insulting or down right rude to a fellow racer if not worded properly. At times itís tough to put your thoughts, opinions and or ideas down on paper. Itís very easy to lose respect amongst your fellow drivers by coming across in an inappropriate manner. Be careful how you word your text. Iíve seen email that was meant to be funny or a joke, taken seriously by fellow drivers that thought this driver was flaming another. If youíre not careful your conduct could be proven detrimental to the league. Inappropriate conduct generated towards your fellow racers is an easy way to lose respect amongst your peers.
Simply put, NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR IT! Not during the races or after the races. If youíve got a problem with a certain driver email him personally and try an work things out. The most annoying and distracting thing that can occur is to have two drivers chatting and bickering at each other during a race distracting others and more often than not causing another wreck because of there distracting comments to there fellow competitors. The only reason you should be chatting is to signal pitting or leaving or entering the track. And the only reason we do that is because we have no hand signals. Any FLAMING, name-calling or smart-ass comments are totally uncalled for and in many leagues are grounds for immediate dismissal. Donít be too quick to jump on some ones back for taking you out. Review the replay and ask yourself, could that have been my fault? If it is your fault apologize and move on. Online sim racing is all about having fun. Itís not fun to rip your fellow competitors to shreds for what couldíve been nothing more than a warp or disconnect or even worse you own fault. Youíll only lose respect from your fellow drivers and even possibly be thrown out of the league youíre running in. Think before you speak out. Realize that there are sim racers online from all different age groups and all have different racing experience and backgrounds. There may be drivers that bitch, moan and groan and swear you up and down for doing so much as whispering. Donít stoop to their level by retaliating on the track or during chatting sessions. You best bet is to ignore or muzzle these types of drivers, maybe after awhile theyíll get the point that youíre not the problem... they are.
Your anger with other drivers has got to be kept under control. It cannot be carried onto the racetrack, into the chat room, on news groups or even onto league mailing lists. It is a part of good sports-manship. If a driver cannot control his temper and his reactions on the track, he will not make a very good race car driver. The number one objective for most is to win the race, but not at all costs. If you have to take out three cars in front of you to win the race, then you really didnít win. Itís just poor sportsmanship. It just proves youíre a better crasher, and that isnít worth it. A driver has to think about his reputation, his integrity and his racing future before attempting something so stupid like that. You should never retaliate when another driver gets into you. I get back to warps, latency or connection problems that always exist. Just because what you seen heard or felt, doesnít necessarily mean the other driver seen heard or felt the same thing.
Proper driver etiquette will carry you a long way towards becoming a better sim racer. How you handle yourself both on and off the track will get you that hard earned respect from you fellow competitors. Respect will take you along way and can only improve your future driving skills when those around you trust you to run side by side.
Respect is defined as the state of being regarded with honor or esteem. Respect is the willingness to show consideration or appreciation towards your fellow drivers.
ARE YOU A WELL-RESPECTED SIM RACER?
Ask yourself the following
questions and answer each with a simple yes or no.
If you can honestly answer YES to all the above questions you should be the most well respected sim racer online. I know of very few drivers that can answer yes to all the above questions, myself included. The more questions you answer NO to, the less respected you will be amongst your peers.
No matter how well respected you are, or think you are, there is always room for improvement. Look yourselves in the mirror and ask yourselves the above questions. Good quality online racing begins with you not the other guy. The success of any on-line racing league is ALL-dependent on the quality and respect shown towards your fellow competitors, not the individuals that administrate it.