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Overly aggressive driver?


I see this term used left and right in sim-racing. It is not exclusive to Race2Play events as I have heard it for years, well prior to Race2Play ever existing. "Over aggressive driver" or "impatient driver" and even "disrespectful attitude", they are all basically the same thing; An unmeasurable trait that each individual defines themselves.

I have seen many leagues over the past decade try to regulate this personality trait to varying degrees of unsuccessfulness. Set aside that this is an unmeasurable item, it is ludicrous to believe anyone can regulate a personality trait, especially in a competitive sport.

There is no black and white defining line of aggression, respect, or patience. We all have our own meaning and measurements of each. For some reason we expect everyone else to have the exact same meaning and measurements which we have. To some, any form of out-braking is too aggressive. Others feel that any passing on the first lap shows impatience. And others feel that not saying "sorry" shows disrespect to others. But, is it REALLY overly aggressive, impatient, disrespectful?

I see these terms used every day, and in most cases I see them as an excuse to alleviate ourselves from our own portion of responsibility in the situation at hand. As a Steward that watches over nearly every event at Race2Play, I see this time and time again. Someone is 'taken out' by a so-called over-aggressive or impatient driver and quickly casts all the blame without ever looking at the whole picture.

As an example;
Todd is busy fighting off Tim from a pass mid way through a race. Tim has been pressuring Todd for a couple corners and has been trying everything from out-braking to out-accelerating. Todd has been doing everything he can to prevent Tim from passing, from threshold braking and holding the inside line on the straights to keep Tim at bay.
Eventually, Tim gets a run and attempts to out-brake Todd. Todd holds Tim to a tight inside line in hopes of keeping the position. They make contact and Todd spins off into the gravel. Tim continues on with his race... Todd quickly labels Tim as being impatient and disrespectful (because he did not wait for a better passing opportunity), and too aggressive (because he tried a "dive-bomb" pass). How many times do we all see or feel this?

Looking at the overall picture, both driver could have prevented the situation, not just Tim. Todd could have given a little more room to Tim once a passing attempt was started, right? Todd could have used more patience and let Tim pass and attempted to attack Tim after the corner, right? I do not see why the label of over-aggressive driving is always put on the driver in the rear view mirror. I have seen just as many cases of over-aggressive-defense which resulted in contact because the following driver is now fighting an unpredictable, weaving, chicane. What else can you expect? If you leave no room for error, your chances of being punted or wrecked increase dramatically. If you *do* leave room for error, you are likely going to lose the position. What is the better decision to make? Personally, I'd rather lose the spot and hope to regain it later.

Of course, there are the guys that truely are impaitent; We all know them as the guys who MUST pass you at the next opprotunity, no matter if it is a safe place to pass or not. Is it wrong? No, not really, but it is not a strategy that I prefer to use as it more often then not scores you a big fat DNF. I do wonder though, if that driver were to take a few precious moments out of his busy schedule to ride behind the car for a few corners before attempting the pass... what would happen then? He would likely find a passiing zone that requires less effort, less risk, and even less time lost then the high-risk maneuvers. Funny enough, these "impaient" drivers are very commonly the same "over-aggressive-defensive" drivers who cast blame on the others whenever they get taken out of a race.

Now, this is not to say there are some out there that take more risk then others. Sometimes those risks end up in one of more damaged cars of course. What I find amazing is the general sim-racing attitude of "got to pass now!" I see so many people attempting passes in places that are simply... well, dumb. Not only due to the risk factor, but also the fact that even if you do pull off the pass, you would have to slow down to such a degree that you will fall further behind the next guy in line. Wouldnt it be smarter to wait for a location that allows the easiest, less time consuming, less risk pass? I just do not see this from enough sim-racers... and that is because we are not professionals and dont think much futher ahead than the corner we are at right now. If we all went through real world performance driving schools, we would be taught early on that you need to be thinking well ahead of your current position on track. You need to plan and strategize against your opponent. Sometimes the simple act of following another driver around for a half lap is all that is needed to get an easy pass because they cant take the pressure... no risk involved! Other times it requiers a little more thought and planning to find your opponenets weakness and make the passing attempt there.

I'd love to see everyone complete all of our races with no contact between cars. Reality is though, it does not work that way. We are not playing footbal where a quarterback can error by as much as a foot or two in his pass placement and cause little damage to the play. Here, as in professional motorsports, an error of only a hundreth of a second can cause your race to end as well as the others around you. Millimeteres is equal to life and death in auto racing. Errors that happen faster then the blink of your eye, end as multi-car pile-ups. But again, the general attitude of sim-racers is that no contact between cars should ever happen. We simply do not accept the fact that we are not professional race car drivers... and even then, they have accidents in every race nearly too.

To those that use the terms "overly aggressive", "impaitent", or "disrespectful" more often then you use "great race!" or "congratulations", you may want to take a look at yourself and what YOU could have done to prevent the accident. I dont mean this as a bash on anyone... but I must say; I race on the same tracks with the same people that are labeled as "overly aggressive", "impaitent", or "disrespectful" and yet I dont get rammed off by them all the time. I promise you they are not treating me any differently then you... it is ME who treats them differently by leaving a little room for error.

Lets not forget that sim-racing is a hobby and should be fun. Don't take it so seriously that you find yourself over-aggressively defending a position. I swear, it is so much more exciting to get passed and make some passes then it is to stay in a high speed formation lap.

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