Written by Robert Rouleau
The below is an email regarding signoffs and promotions sent in 2003 by Bob Rouleau, Rennsport region’s Chief Instructor. While I do not see premature signoffs and promotions as a problem at NER events, I suggest that all instructors — particularly our first-year instructors — read it. Bob’s comments continue to be good advice to all instructors. Steve Artick, Chief Instructor, NER/PCA [Note: Please also refer to NER's Run Group Advancement Policy.]
Looking at the signoffs and promotions, we observe that a lot of students are being signed off in record time. Looking at our records, the average time for a Greenie to get signed off was nine track days. In previous years that was an entire season. Now we are seeing a lot of novices being signed off in three days or in a few cases (not just one) one single day.
I'd like you to seriously consider whether you are signing them off too soon. From the statistics we are either getting rid of them (signoffs) as quick as we can or, we are getting a remarkable bunch of drivers attending our events.
Our role is to teach them how to drive correctly. Not just to drive safely around le Circuit Mont Tremblant. I expect a driver signed off in Rennsport to be able to drive any track competently. Can we cover all this in only a day two?
Another interesting thing is going on. Quite a few drivers seem to being seeking promotion to higher run groups as if it was like collecting Boy Scout Merit Badges. Again, I ask you to review the criteria and ask yourself whether a driver really belongs in a higher run group. I am inclined to question the motives of a driver who seeks promotion after spending only a few events in a particular run group.
Along with the criteria we must all consider the experience a driver has as part of the decision to promote to a higher run group. Promoting someone from Green to Blue in two events is possible — it has happened before, but it is the exception not the rule.
As drivers progress in run groups let's remember the only thing we cannot teach them — experience! In each run group the cars are going faster and passing situations are closer. A good driver in a powerful car may be running in front of the pack in White but this does not make him a candidate for a higher run group if he is distracted in traffic. One thing I hate about my job is having to demote a driver to a lower run group because he or she was promoted over their experience level.
Looking at Black, it is normal for a top driver to spend at least two years in lower run groups before going to Black. We need to tell our students that Black drivers are not always better drivers than people in Blue. There are some top drivers in Blue and at least one that I know of in White. The difference is "seat time. With experience we learn to do the right thing instinctively.
Another consideration is the individual's record of performance and etiquette. We do not promote drivers who get a lot of black flags or have "incidents." If a Blue driver spins frequently because he's over his head, why on earth would we promote him into White where he might be inclined to push harder to keep up with faster cars?
If you are approached by someone seeking promotion, ask them who their original instructor was and suggest that they go out with him or her. If the original instructor is not available, ask about their experience, how long they have been in their present run group — how many black flags and or spins they have had. Also ask them if they have been out with another instructor recently. If the answer is "yes," ask yourself why this person is talking to you! You should ask yourself why someone has suddenly come up asking you to ride with him. By the way, the word has already gone out that some of you are "easier" than others when it comes to promotions. This leads to what I call "Shopping for a Promotion."
Shopping means that the person seeking a promotion to a higher run group will ask an Instructor known to be a pushover. If that guy doesn't promote him, he asks another one. Yes, folks, this is really happening. Don't be the pushover. Please!