When to get out of a stranded car


A couple weeks ago Mid-S and SE raced at Barber. Veteran racer Chuck Taylor became stranded in a vulnerable location. Barber did not call FCY so left him there for the duration of the race. It was a bad location, he could have easily got t-boned if someone over-cooked the corner prior.

<Chuck, pls chime in if I don’t get this exactly right>

Chuck said that he was looking to the flagger for an indication that it was ok to exit his car and move behind the wall. No such indication came.

When I broke my wrist at VIR last Sep I also thought I was supposed to stay in the car. However, I got out of the car anyways because I figured if something happened such that I needed to get out in a hurry I wouldn’t be able to. So figuring I was headed for an ass-chewing, I worked for a while to extricate myself one-handed and got over the wall.

Both Chuck and I were wrong in our understanding of the rules. The CCR says (25.10) that the driver decides if he/she should exit a stranded car.


The RF was more-or-less the corner facing oncoming, but I was basically in the middle of the corkscrew and couldn’t see oncoming cars until they made the first right-hand turn, so in essence only a few seconds. This made it impossible for me to “time my exit” when there was a gap in traffic, and without a signal from the corner, I didn’t like being on foot with oncoming cars much better than being belted in.

I’d always been taught if it’s it not burning, stay in the car, and as a former organizer, I’ve seen a number of times that Control called a panic “red flag” because some dolt decided to exit his car in a time/place/manner that was unsafe. So, I also was conflicted by not wanting to be “That guy”.

So, I sat there for 15 minutes and watched traffic very intently. Truthfully, it sucked.

If I had it to do over, I’m still not sure what I’d do. If I tried exiting, I could see seriously confusing any approaching driver who was disoriented by seeing a driver on foot, close to the track, in a hot situation. Not good either.


But Scott, here is 25.10 in it’s entirety:

25.10 Crashes
If a driver is involved in a major crash or roll-over, the driver may exit the vehicle if it is safe to do so. The driver
is responsible for determining if and when he/she should exit the vehicle. Once clear of the vehicle the driver
will wait in a safe area away from the track surface and impact zones until the Emergency Response Team
arrives. A driver that has exited the car may walk back to the paddock by a safe route away from the racing
surface and impact areas. Also see CCR section #25.7.

I was not involved in a crash, I was merely punted and my car was stuck in the soft dirt. Maybe the question is less about 25.10 and more about common sense.


I was also taught to stay in the car unless it’s burning. I was surprised when I found that the CCR said that getting out of the car was the driver’s call.


I don’t have a crew, nor a radio, but this would have been a good time to be able to speak with someone who could establish connection with the corner worker to give me some signals.


To me, if the driver is in a dangerous location, the track should have at the very least put a yellow flag up for that corner. Once everyone has gone thru that section once, the drivers will know what and where the issue is located.

If you were to get out and scurry away from the car to safety, I cant see any RD faulting you for that. Its the dolts that get out of the car and want to assess the damage or open the hood and have a look that put themselves in more danger.

Even still, you are probably safer inside the car, belts on, surrounded by a cage, than outside the car in the event that some schmo blows the corner and takes you out via rag doll. I think in this situation, you should have just stayed in the car, however I cant really fault you if you got out and quickly got over a wall to a safer area. I wasn’t in the car, I dont know the track or the part of the track you were in, only you could assess the situation and make the decision that you did. Every situation is different.


They did have a yellow, as I recall it was waving, even though I was off the track surface, so from that perspective everyone was advised.


Very good info and insight. Thanks for posting.


It was waving for the first couple laps and then was a standing yellow the rest of the race. I am not sure all the drivers realized it was a standing yellow though as I believe I was passed under yellow there.


It was waving for the first couple laps and then was a standing yellow the rest of the race. I am not sure all the drivers realized it was a standing yellow though as I believe I was passed under yellow there.[/quote]And, that’s a big part of the issue. Once people resume to balls-out racing, particularly if it includes illegal passing attempts, the danger to the stationary car goes way up.

Was anyone DQd for doing that?


I was in Race Control for that race. Barber has a multitude of video cameras that cover the entire track. So we could clearly see the situation. Because of where Chuck wound up there would be no safe way to do a “hot pull”. And we could see that the racers were, after one pass through the waving yellow, were aware of the potential danger and were behaving as they should.

The choice (and it was a close call) came down to a Red flag and EV dispatch or continuing with the car covered by a yellow. Since it looked like folks were doing the right thing the decision was made to continue. But we did keep one camera on Chuck’s car and were willing to go Red if necessary.

There were two occasions during the weekend where drivers left there cars that were very scary from our viewpoint. Those drivers were “counseled” afterwards. Chuck did the right thing.


Even with a yellow by the time you see someone mis behaving it could be too late. At Mid-Ohio a while back a racer was killed when he slammed into a car parked at the end of the back straight at the end of the wall off the racing surface. There was oil on the track and the debris flag was flown for a few laps. The racer came down the track the same as before and the car whipped sideways and slid into the parked car. The parked car was previously vacated and the driver was safe behind the wall.

There was another instance a few years ago when someone hit the EV doing a hot pull even with the waving yellow after a few laps.


I’m inclined to say that both of those are cases where the driver “failed to properly honor” the yellow. When you see a yellow it doesn’t mean “racing as usual with no passing” it means that something bad has happened and until you know what, where, and how you slow down and be ready to take evasive action, The entire track could be blocked and the only way to avoid a collision is to drive in the grass.


Just to be clear I am not second guessing control’s decision. Just giving some other perspective.

In both the cases I referenced the cars involved had been by the yellow at least once if not twice before loosing control. The gentleman who was killed had been across the oil spot I think twice before and the third time doing the same thing a different response occurred. The oil was from the blown engine of the car he it at the end of the straight.


In the case of the oil spot, it seems to me that the racer should have noticed the loss of traction in one of the previous passes and adopted a different line. Oil on track doesn’t usually get worse with traffic, it usually gets better. So it seems to me that some other factor is involved. Perhaps the driver was lulled into a false sense of confidence and came in a bit hotter? Or maybe he took a slightly different line and got into heavier oil?

Without good evidence of the event, which pretty much has to come from track cameras, it is really difficult to second guess what actually happened.