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golfduke Dork
5/17/24 11:40 a.m.

ouch.  Yeah, some tough luck and what looks like a bit of 'failure to launch' when deciding to miss the obstacle left or right... 


But I agree with some of the other sentiment-  concrete barriers and/or lightposts really should not be incorporated into autocross courses as 'turning/pivot points', IMHO.  I'd have been really sketched out at that if I showed up not knowing...


Tk8398 HalfDork
5/17/24 11:58 a.m.

I could definitely see where that crash was going to happen even in the clean run video.  I wish people had a better attitude about autocross safety, I have seen a car go off course and hit a spectator (and nearly hit a row of parked cars), and they didn't do anything other than tell people to be more careful (like keep people from staying there or tell people to move their cars) even after it nearly happened again. 


The other thing I have noticed is when they set up a course to run one direction Saturday and the other direction Sunday, there are often turns that point cars in a dangerous direction (like right at the grid) when running the course backwards.  I have seen a couple near misses from that but not an actual crash.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
5/17/24 12:07 p.m.

Trying to design an autocross course that meets SCCA clearance requirements can be pretty challenging. Our local lot looks big, but has light posts and is much longer than it is wide. Turns out that it's quite a challenge to come up with a design that works there. I usually started with a satellite photo where I'd mark out "no fly" zones around every lamppost and edges of the track, the course had to tiptoe through them. We never had an incident but we only ran there a half dozen times.

adam525i SuperDork
5/17/24 1:08 p.m.

So I'll jump in with a few comments as the guy that laid out the course. Our lot is rough, really rough and falling apart. Every event we loose a bit more to deterioration so that means we are forced to use what is usable, this course like all of our others threads that needle avoiding the worst of it. I typically don't layout the courses but do help with that process and I can say for good or bad that top corner of the lot has been used in every event I have participated in there. Obviously with the post it's just a question of which way we are going to go around it, the cones were placed on either side so that we were not using an immovable object as the apex. Obviously we need to review this though and decide what to do in the future. We'd love to run these events somewhere else but options are very limited in the GTA.

As far as the tall cones go that was a compromise to run the event. There is a sea container on site that the site manages access to where all of our equipment is stored, we just contact whoever the groundskeeper is that day and they unlock it for us in the morning. Apparently someone changed the lock at some point over the winter and the key could not be located. So we used the tall traffic pylons, they were very easy to see as mentioned  and I did clip one with a mirror which turned out to be fine. With the large flat rubber bases a few others were close enough to wiggle them. We offered all participants at the start a full refund either before or after their first run if they weren't comfortable using them as there was a higher chance of damage to the car, one person decided to do that which was fine.

Tk8398 HalfDork
5/18/24 12:33 a.m.

It seems like that's the problem with a lot of sites, there are so few left that you have to do the best you can with the ones still available, and the risk vs reward seems a lot different before the event vs leaving with your car in a tow truck.

Apexcarver MegaDork
5/18/24 11:26 a.m.

In reply to adam525i :

Speaking from both personal and professional experience, one of the biggest safety traps a group can fall into is "it's ok because we have always done it that way" glad to hear that you are cognisant of that.

Hope you guys can find a safe way to keep the fun going. I can relate on the challenges of a small deteriorating lot. 

docwyte UltimaDork
5/18/24 12:59 p.m.

It sucks that's the only lot you guys can use.  Will there be a point where however reluctantly, you simply don't use it because of the safety concerns of setting up a course there?

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
5/18/24 4:59 p.m.
Jerry said:

I will also never forget the driver at a rallycross that manged to slide into a tree 75' off course.  The only tree in the entire field.  That involved a tow truck too.

Ah yes, that happened right in front of me.  That was 100% driver error and not a course fault... he was understeering so his response was to apply all the power, so he went waaaaaaay off course, yet never lifted.

Well, he did learn an important lesson in car control at least.  The front tires do nothing if you simultaneously unload and overpower them.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/18/24 11:58 p.m.

I think I discovered another reason I'd become too comfortable driving around posts. Here are some screenshots from almost all the other lots I've ever autocrossed on in Canada. These plus the one seen in the crash video and a WW2-era airfield would be the complete set. See if you can spot a pattern.

The following pic was the crown jewel of all autocross lots in the GTA BTW. No longer available, oh and it bordered directly onto sidewalks and streets on 3 sides, and it's a few feet above those sidewalks and streets in some places:

Apexcarver MegaDork
5/19/24 5:06 a.m.

I'm not saying we don't have lots without lamp posts, we just give them a much wider berth. (From my personal collection)


1st video, a lot that is very marginal for usability. We referred to it as a "postage stamp". We made the distances work, but we also stopped doing grid the way seen in the video as a safety improvement after a close call. (Started using a sidewalk from another parking lot that was used as paddock) Also, I don't think anyone has raced there since the pandemic. 



The next one is the lot local SCCA uses that has much more generous proportions.


Again, we give them a pretty wide berth. 


I do want to say, the best description for incidents like yours I have heard is what's called the "swiss cheese model" where you stack up slices of swiss cheese and if the holes all line up...  The post distance and course direction is one factor. It's hard to say with the audio cut how long you stayed in the throttle drifting it trying to save it, but it's another factor (and a common one that got me before too). There are probably more slices to stack.

Feedyurhed UltraDork
5/19/24 7:57 a.m.

I have not read this whole thread so this may have already been mentioned but I have a friend who works in the insurance industry. His job is to deal with claims that don't quite fit the norms, not just home and car but health care/malpractice etc. The first thing he does is do a search on social media. It's amazing how much he can turn up on people as they always want to tell others and get opinions on what they should do. Not saying anything, but what happened to you just flat out stinks. Don't make it worse, stay clean. This thread is a complete history of everything that has happened and easily located. 

As I side note, I really hate the autocross courses with light posts in them. Over the years I have seen two cars smack them, many cars hit curbs and damage the suspensions due to poor course lay out and one roll over.

jfryjfry UltraDork
5/19/24 7:03 p.m.

So sorry this happened - such a bummer!   And I must commend you on posting both a clean and crash video - I know my ego would have fought me on that one!

I'll just point out that in your assessment of what happened, you gave a few options but I think you had more than just those two.  The biggest thing is that you only countersteered [less than] half of a turn.  I can't tell how much throttle was being applied at any time, but I would have coached to get off the gas and counter steer up to full right lock.  

if you have the opportunity, once your car is back together, go to a drift school, drift event, or find/rent a big lot to practice drifting.  It's quite fun and you'll likely start to get more comfortable when the back steps out. 

I have some friends in Vancouver and possibly Quebec who might be able to help coach if you're close enough to make it feasible  

Sounds like you're making progress getting the parts you'll need and I look forward to seeing you and the car back in action!

GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/19/24 11:54 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry :

I came off the gas just before I started countersteering for the slide that eventually ended in hitting the post. Yeah I suppose lifting off the gas and adding countersteer was an option, I'd just have to be ready to take the countersteer out quickly to avoid transitioning into a slide in the other direction. Somewhat similar to the option of more countersteer + handbrake. Oddly during the slide I was much more aware and avoidant of the continuous wall of bad stuff relatively far to the right of the turnaround point than I was about the one relatively small point of extremely bad stuff right in the middle of it.

I was actually planning to try some skidpad drift events once I could get at least one high-power-rated aftermarket axle shaft, put it on the driver's side (which breaks most of the time), and keep the stock one as a spare. It seems that drifters tend to break stock Toyobaru axles after 4-6 events.

Sadly I don't know when I'll finish digging myself out of this pit to the point where I can get back to saving up for one of those axles...if the exhaust or components on the front of the engine are damaged it could turn out to be a lot deeper than I'm guessing.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/22/24 12:53 p.m.

Update on parts, I've got the color-matched hood plus the crash bar and hood latch from the car at Cathcart Auto all for less than than a dealership unpainted hood would cost.

I've ordered the all-metal radiator and coolant elbow, should be here in early June.

I've ordered a replacement radiator support assembly and hood rod from the dealership, should be here in about a week.

The end result is enough parts that if the exhaust and the bits on the front of the engine are undamaged, and if I can fix up the mangled intake, I should have a car-shaped object with an engine that can run until it reaches full operating temp (I haven't ordered a radiator assembly yet).

That's $1500 just in parts already though. The guy in Montreal who was scrapping an 86 is asking very new-dealership-part-like prices for everything, reacted to me pointing that out by saying that his prices were firm, and seems hesitant to split up any front-end bodywork. His offers might be worth considering if he was as close by as a dealership and had color-matched parts, but for non-matching parts 4+ hours away, he can keep them. So I'm still looking for a complete front bumper, piecing one together with new components from the dealership and reusing all that I can will be around $900.

Toyman! MegaDork
5/22/24 1:14 p.m.

Good luck on finding the bumper. There is a place in Michigan that sells prepainted bumper covers and parts that were pretty reasonably priced when my daughter was looking for one for her Sonic. You might give them a shout. 


GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/22/24 3:06 p.m.

Update: Actually forget about the bumper for the next couple years, this is a different project now. Things are so much worse.

After my last post I found 2 messages on my phone: One from the dealership saying my order was ready (early), and one from the shop asking me to stop by. So I put all the parts I'd collected so far except the hood in the van, went to the dealership to get the radiator support and hood rod, and headed to the shop.

There I got about the worst possible news, a remote but terrible possibility I'd feared: the engine was damaged by the impact.

The crank pulley had been punched free of the crank and when they pulled the radiator stack off the front, the crank bolt was found sitting loose in its hole, held into the engine only by gravity. So a wrecked crank is the most optimistic possibility here. They're recommending a replacement engine as the safest and possibly cheapest option due to the labor costs of fixing the engine internals and the possibility of further damage that could be hard to find.

This was a pretty fresh engine I'd done everything to conserve. I never would've considered replacing it until it was worn enough to need a rebuild. This isn't something that I would've considered being a possibility on the budget until at least 2027. So now the plan is to let the shop get the new panels on and then mothball the car indefinitely. FML.



Toyman! MegaDork
5/22/24 3:12 p.m.


I'd be tempted to tighten that bolt and fire it up to see what happens. If they are talking engine replacement, taking the chance isn't much of a chance. 

You never know, it might run another 100k. 


GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/22/24 3:18 p.m.

In reply to Toyman! :

I'd have to inspect the crank bolt hole first to consider trying that. An O-ring has also been pushed out. From the sounds of it the end of the crank that the pulley bolts into is likely cracked or deformed.

Toyman! MegaDork
5/22/24 3:23 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

That would bite. Hopefully you find some good news when you get into it. 


Jerry PowerDork
5/22/24 3:24 p.m.

I want to watch the videos when I get a chance, but we typically AX at Kil-Kare Raceway inside the oval.  So there's a giant wall that borders the entire oval and we use the infield X and part of the outside oval.  That wall looms large at speed and we warn people it doesn't move. 

Being a Safety Steward I try to pay attention to course layout, we use Chicago Boxes to try to keep the speed down around the oval, and usually don't have a turn/transition that upsets the chassis and points you at a bad spot ie wall.  Luckily our course designer people have been designing around the wall for years and know what they're doing, and the X offers options even if it means a crossover and one car at a time.  Beats me filling out paperwork on a Sunday.

And the advice about insurance is spot on.  This thread is easy to find.  Every time I try to Google information about the Toyota Celebrity/Pro GrandPrix my thread here shows up in the first page of results.

(And since my start in 2011 I believe the only incident we've had with the wall has been one guy spun to a stop, then let off the brake and rolled backwards into it.)

Tom1200 PowerDork
5/22/24 4:03 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

I finally got a chance to compare the non crash to the crash video. So to answer your question you posed right after the crash "how did this happen?"

In the non crash video on the right hander prior the left gate before the pole you are about six inches tighter on that barrel than in the crash video (see the relationship of the window sticker to the barrel), this opened up the left hander.

In the crash video you are wide of the right barrel which put you tight on the left hander and so you had to pinch the corner..............and that unloaded the back end. Once that happened you were pretty much screwed.

The reality is as you pointed out there really wasn't enough time to do anything.  

GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/22/24 4:18 p.m.

I definitely helped unload the back end by staying flat on the gas going through the last gate when it was already loosened up. With less or no gas going through there the back end would've regained grip and none of this would've happened. Feeling pretty sick right now, all those years of work undone by giving it a bit too much gas and then not seeing the big picture all within a 2 second window.

Tom1200 PowerDork
5/22/24 5:52 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

I flung more than one motorcycle down the rode by ignoring the big picture.......so I feel your pain.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
5/22/24 5:55 p.m.

Sorry to hear about this, it sucks. :(

My 2 cents on the "what could I have done" question:

At this point in the video the back tires are sliding and the fronts are gripping.  The direction of motion is towards the tree with rocks (?) in front of it that's hidden behind the A-pillar.  this thing:

If you had gone "two feet in" at that point, the car would have kept travelling in that direction and missed the lamp post, although possibly hitting the curb and/or those rocks or whatever they are if it had slid that far.

Less than a second later we have this:

Now the tires have switched roles, the rears are gripping, the fronts are sliding, and the car is understeering straight forward towards the post.  "two feet in" isn't going to help here.  *maybe* coming off the brake would have giving you some steering input back, but it's really a bit late to do much with it.  It's also really hard to think about that when all you can see is the obstacle coming right at you -- BTDT, I put my car into a tire wall at Sonoma a few years ago.


Apexcarver MegaDork
5/22/24 6:48 p.m.

You stayed in it too long trying to save the run. 

"Rear ends out, I can apply throttle and save it"


It is probably the single most common epitaph for autocross incidents. You are far from alone. My first incident circa 2005 was one of them.  Woulda couda and shouda will haunt you and make you doubt yourself. The biggest things you can do for yourself are probably already done, reexamining your "two feet in" threshold and more attention to surrounding hazards. When you should just put a fork in the run and where you either shouldn't push or not race at all. 


Very sorry the motor got punched. If it isn't obviously failed, put a dial indicator on the crank nose and turn it over. That's how they check airplanes after a prop strike. 


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