Miata Hits S2000 on Track: Whose at Fault?
S2000 driver feels slighted after pass goes wrong on race track.
This story has blown up in the Southern California racing scene, prompting a massive debate on track etiquette. This S2000 driver attempted to pass a Miata on track at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. However, it seems that the Miata driver lacked awareness and ended up hitting the S2000 driver as he passed. Who is at fault, and what does this mean for the track day community?
Full disclosure, Zent Rose is a friend of mine. He is a very competent track day driver, and if you check out his other videos, you can see he has handled some powerful, capable cars very skillfully. That said, and Zent knows my opinion on the matter, our S2000 driving friend was at fault for this. It is the responsibility of the passing car to safely execute the pass. Of course, it is good manners, and common practice, for slower cars to help facilitate the pass. Basically, don’t be a dick, on both sides of the transaction.
Both drivers lacked a bit of situational awareness in this collision. The Miata driver was clearly not paying attention to his surroundings whatsoever. Between blowing through several laps’ worth of black flags to awareness of other cars around him, the guy clearly has a loose screw behind the wheel. However, Zent should have known better than to aggressively attempt to pass a driver who clearly wasn’t all there.
Also, I am a bit curious about a comment made about passing zones. Having run Buttonwillow Raceway Park quite a few times myself, I would like to believe I have a good handle on how to navigate it. That said, I would never attempt to pass in the corner that the accident occurred, unless the vehicle being passed was clearly off the racing line and going very slowly.
Analyzing Buttonwillow Raceway Park, and Bus Stop corner.
Below is the track map of Buttonwillow in the same 13CW configuration as seen in the video. Running the track clockwise like this has cars leaving “Grapvine” at full throttle, usually in 3rd or 4th gear, through Buttonwillow’s infamous Bus Stop corner. The accident occurred during the left-hand sweeper, right in the middle of the circled area.
On the limit this area is a delicate operation, as cars are usually entering at 90+MPH. I say delicate because the surface is devoid of any camber to aid grip, and drivers must delicately track out to steady the car for the short brake zone just before left-hand kink of Bus Stop’s exit. Many cars have crashed here. Since the outside right tires are fully loaded up, it is all too easy to lift off the throttle or brake too early, causing a spin, or worse. If a car tracks out too wide here, they’ll hit the grass and then head straight for the front straight and the grid wall. If our Miata-driving friend lacked the faculties to navigate the corner correctly, or have good situational awareness, this could have gotten ugly.
Of course, this video, since its inception, has been wildly derisive. This is an excellent showcase of the different mindsets at your average track event. Something to keep in mind the next time you feel ballsy and want to pass an idiot on track.
Fortunately, Zent has released a follow-up video, and the damage to his car was minimal. Let’s all do ourselves a favor, however, and keep this scenario in mind at our next track event. This could have gone sideways, fast.