By Dev Clough
The first thing to remember, is that HPDE is not a race. The goal
in HPDE is to improve and develop driving skills. Since passing
is the most likely time to have contact, and since the consequences
of having contact are severe, the first rule is, If in doubt,
It is your responsibility to know the rules pertinent to passing
in your group. They will be covered in the drivers meeting. They
are not complicated, but you must understand them. If you are on
the track, contemplating a pass, but arent sure if it complies
with the rules, remember If in doubt, back out. After
the session, clarify the situation with your instructor, or at the
The following statements are only a guideline. The actual rules
will be spelled out at your drivers meeting. What is said at that
meeting supercedes anything stated here.
Group 1 and 2 passing rules allow passing only on specified straights.
All passes must start after the car has clearly left the corner
leading onto the passing straight, and must be complete before the
braking zone of the following corner. Sometimes there are specific
reference points on the track, such as the pass must be complete
by the end of the pit wall.
If you are being passed, a point by is strongly encouraged.
This tells the passing driver you are aware they are coming by,
and tells them where you expect them to pass. The point by
is accomplished by pointing to the side you want to be passed on.
As the driver being passed, part of your responsibility is to make
the pass easy for the overtaking car. This means be predictable.
Do not do anything erratic.
Heres the scenario:
For the last few turns a car has been following you, so, as you
enter the passing zone, you give the following driver a point
by. Do not jerk the car off line, but smoothly give him a
clean lane to make the pass. Do not hit your brakes to help him
get by. If your car has more or equal horsepower, do not use full
throttle. Dont leave the passing car hung out into the braking
zone. The safest passes are complete long before you get near the
braking zone. Being smooth and predictable are the keys to safe
passing. Also, just because you point by on the left doesnt
mean the overtaking car wont go by on the right, and it doesnt
mean the other driver has to make the pass. The point by is a recommendation
If you are making the pass, keep this rule in mind. It is the
same rule as applies in racing. It is the responsibility of the
overtaking driver to complete a safe pass. Do not pressure someone
in non-passing areas in order to encourage them to let you by. Keep
a reasonable distance between you and the car you want to pass,
until you enter the passing zone. You should be close enough to
let them know you want by, without being intimidating.
Heres the scenario:
For the last few turns you have been following a car. As you enter
the passing straight, move up closer to the car you wish to pass,
and off to the side you would like to use to pass. This should put
you squarely in their side mirror. Look for a point by from the
driver. Pass on the side they point to, if at all possible. If you
dont get a point by, look for some recognition that they are
aware of your presence, eye to eye contact in their mirror as an
example. If you get neither, a pass can still be made, but is at
your risk, the driver may not know you are there. Always be aware
of cars that may be behind you, before you pull out for the pass.
If you pull out to make the pass, but the car you are passing has
equal or greater acceleration, remember you must complete the pass
as described earlier. If you are not sure you can complete the pass
properly, remember, if in doubt, back out. Because you
receive a point by does not mean you are obligated to pass, it is
simply a courtesy from the other driver.
Group 1 & 2 sessions are not intended to teach passing skills.
These sessions are intended to teach the basic skills involving
driving the line and some beginning car control techniques. Passing
skills begin in group 3 and are really developed in group 4. Passing
in group 1 & 2 is necessary because of the differences in the
capabilities of the cars and drivers.
Passing etiquette in group 1 & 2 includes letting faster cars
go by easily. If you drive a powerful car, it is quite easy to keep
less powerful cars behind you, since they are only allowed to pass
in the straights. If you blast away down the straight, but that
little rice rocket is all over you again 2 turns later, let them
go in the next passing zone. You might learn something by observing
why the guy is so much faster than you through the corners. You
will also be much less likely to receive a black flag, followed
by a lecture from an official.
If you do get held up by someone who wont let you by, or
if you are ready to go a little quicker, but there is a big knot
of traffic in front of you, you can pull onto pit road, and wait
for an open space on the track. The official feeding traffic onto
the track will signal you when there is a big gap. You can also
use pit road this way if you notice several cars stacking up behind
The blue flag (with yellow diagonal stripe) is the passing flag. It is given to let
a slower car know a faster car is catching them. If you are given
this flag, you should already be aware that a faster car is approaching.
You should let the car (or cars!) by in the next passing zone.
Although passing is not taught in group 1 and 2, the basic skills
necessary to allow safe passing begin here. First is the awareness
of other cars on the track. Second is conditioning your reactions
to allow or make a pass safely, by not doing anything erratic, and
by being predictable. Although it is the overtaking drivers responsibility
to make a safe pass, the driver being passed must be aware of cars
around them, leave a clear passing lane, and not force the pass
to be made late in the passing zone.