This is a totally subjective assessment — taken from my specific point of view. So it’s fair to ask, what is that point of view? Here it is:
I am a relatively experienced open lapper. I’ve been attending HPDEs and open lapping events in the northwest since spring of 2004. I do not race and have no intention of ever racing, although early on I attended the SCCA racing school given by ProFormance at Pacific Raceways. I highly recommend that for anyone taking a car to the track for the purposes of lapping.
After 50+ events at Portland and Pacific Raceways, I’ve gotten to know these two tracks fairly well and now have a preference for groups offering more passing (or let by) zones because (in my experience) that approach allows for smoother sessions, fewer traffic jams, and (in my view) safer events.
My old momentum car was a fully caged, supercharged, tracked prepped SVT Focus. I sold it in 2012. It was not a Porsche, BMW, Lotus, Alfa, Audi, Corvette, Z, Mustang, Ferrari, or any manner of high-performance exotic. As a result, I do not have a natural affinity for any specific marque car club. Because it was a momentum car, I emphasized optimizing performance in the turns, although I generally do not push the car to the very limit and normally am driving on “street” compound rubber. I probably will track a replacement car starting in 2014, but only VERY occasionally.
I think of myself as a safe, experienced recreational lapper.
What my scoring categories mean:
- Drivers — This is my subjective assessment of the dirivers in the “intermediate” groups. The advanced drivers of most groups are almost always at least safe, efficient drivers. They are typically fast and experienced. Intermediate group drivers are more of a mixed bag and in these groups you see variations in tendencies from group to group regarding let-by procedures, preparation of drivers prior to being allowed into intermediate groups, etc. Despite almost all groups allowing pretty much any kind of (safely prepared) car type at their events, some club/group members exhibit “attitudes” about non-marque cars and the drivers of those cars. It colors the way some of those folks drive and that shows up in the intermediate groups most. When I mark a club low for “drivers” it is based on intermediate driver collective on-track behavior.
- Track Setup — Groups get marked down for the things I hate: Too many cones and too few let-by zones; bonus consideration for open lapping combined with superior drivers.
- Overall Day — This subjective metric is a gauge of how the days are run. Are they efficient? Do the organizers address problem drivers? Is there sufficient safety staff? When I’m done, what’s my answer to this question: “Did I have fun?”
- Social — Again: Totally subjective. Are the event participants generally friendly? Did they mock my momentum car? I never really have any issues with organizers as far as my interactions, so any tension comes from participants in the paddock and on the track. Generally, the more homogenous and marque-centric a group or an event, the less friendly it/they is/are to “outsiders.” If you own a Porsche, BMW, Mini, or Mustang, then your “social” experience will no doubt improve considerably for the events that cater to your make and/or model. I don’t, so my social experience at events tailored to those marques is meh.