SUNCOAST PCA DRIVERS’ EDUCATION EVENT OPERATING GUIDELINES
Anyone entering the grounds of the track must sign the insurance waiver for the track and for Porsche Club of America (two separate waivers) – this includes drivers, observers and spectators. Depending on Sebring track schedule, registration may be available Friday evening – this would be announced in the final event e-mail. On Saturday and Sunday, the track opens at 7:00 am and registration is conducted from 7:00 am until 7:45 am. Please arrive on time so that we can adhere to our schedule. Registration will take place at the base of the Tower. All drivers will be given a wristband corresponding to the run group they are in, Instructors will also receive the orange instructor wristband. Students will receive a packet of materials including event schedule, track map and other information; Novice Students new to our Drivers Education (DE) program will also receive a Driver’s Logbook. All spectators and guests must also sign a waiver at registration and receive a checkered wristband. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who need to complete the minor waiver for the child to receive their own wristband.
After you have registered, find a place to park and prepare your car for tech inspection by removing all loose items from the trunk and passenger compartment. This includes floor mats and any other item that is not permanently affixed to the car. Remove tire valve stem caps. Proceed to the Tech Inspection area with your prepared car, helmet and fully completed Tech Inspection Form. The Tech Inspection form is to be completed by a Porsche Certified mechanic and is to be signed and stamped by the garage performing the inspection. We cannot allow a car on the track that has not had the Tech Inspection Form completed by a certified mechanic! We will check to see that your tires are inflated to at least 30psi (for street tires), that there is at least 3/32” tread depth remaining and that the tires are in good condition. Tires with cracks from heat or dry rot are not acceptable no matter how much tread is left on them. The lugnuts will be checked for proper torque of at least 92lbs. The front wheel bearings will be checked for proper adjustment.
We will check the steering wheel, pedals and shifter for excessive play and proper return. The brake pedal must not have excessive throw and the throttle return spring must be “snappy.” Seat belts and mirrors will be checked for proper operation.
We will check the engine compartment for loose components and fluid leaks. The battery must be securely fastened down with factory mounting straps or bolts. It is your responsibility to be sure all fluid levels (oil, water, brake, power steering) are correct. We will check your helmet to ensure that it is rated SNELL SA2010 (good only through the end of 2021), SNELL SA2015 or SNELL SA2020 rated helmet with straps, your helmet may be either full-face or open-face. The club does not have loaner helmets. Your car will be given a general “once over” looking for evidence of poor maintenance or questionable condition. Any possible safety hazard will be brought to your attention. After passing our track inspection, a sticker will be put on your windshield. Cars without stickers are not allowed on the track. These inspections are both for your own safety and for the safety of others around you on the track. Do not show up with an excuse instead of a properly prepared car or a completed Tech Inspection Form – you won’t run.
Mandatory Drivers’ Meeting
An Instructors’ and Solo Meeting will take place at 7:40 am, typical location is the Club Sebring, 2nd floor of the pit building. The Students Meeting will take place at 8:00 am by the central stairs at the base of the tower. These meetings are mandatory each day you drive. Location may change in the case of inclement weather – stay alert for announcements made over the PA system or by text message.
At these meeting the Chief Track Instructor (CTI) who will go over the operating procedures for the day and any special announcements. You will then be shown the flags used for communication between the track workers and drivers. Please review the flags and their meaning on our website or in your logbook prior to this time. The Registrar will then introduce you to your instructor for the day.
All Student drivers will have a classroom instruction session at a time and location announced on the schedule. The classroom sessions are mandatory whether you’ve driven with us before or not. Basic techniques of high speed driving will be presented and discussed.
Chief Track Instructor
At the Suncoast Region Drivers’ Education events, the Chief Track Instructor or CTI has total authority over the participants and the conduct of the event. The CTI decision is final – there is no appeal. Drivers’ Education will afford you the opportunity to develop your driving skill in the relatively safe environment of a race track. It is not a racing school. All drivers participating are expected to drive well within their capabilities. Drivers appearing to be pushing too hard or driving in an unsafe manner will be called in and, at the discretion of the Chief Track Instructor, may be disqualified from further participation.
Each driver will be assigned to a run group commensurate with his/her driving skill and experience. Promotions from Novice (Green) Student group to Advanced (Blue) Student group are based on Instructor evaluations. Promotions to Solo and Advanced Solo run groups follow a process approved by the CTI and require evaluations by Check-out Instructors. You will be assigned an instructor for the day that is familiar with the performance and driving of your type of car.
Event Steward & Flags
The Event Steward is located at pit out and will direct you onto the track when it is safe to do so. You must wait for his or her signal to go on the track or be prepared to sit out the rest of the run group session. At the conclusion of a session the checkered flag will be displayed. After receiving the checkered flag, take a cool down lap, enter pit lane and turn right into the paddock area at the end of pit lane. In addition to the Event Steward’s location, flag stations are located at each corner around the track. If something happens that affects the safety of operation, the Red flag will be displayed. This requires you to stop quickly and safely and pull completely off the track until directed to proceed. Always bear in mind that there are cars coming behind you and it is essential that you pull off the track. The penalty for ignoring any flag may be disqualification from running the remainder of the event. A description of all the flags and their meanings can be found on our website and in your logbook. Study these prior to arriving at the track.
Helmet & Clothing
All drivers are required to wear a helmet with a SNELL SA2010 (good only through the end of 2021), SNELL SA2015 or SNELL SA2020 rated helmet. Helmets must have a secure strap and can be either open face or full face. The club does not have loaner helmets. You will not be able to participate in this event without an approved helmet.
All drivers must wear long or short sleeve shirts and long pants made of cotton or linen material. Currently, the Suncoast region allows short sleeve shirts and short pants however this is subject to review at any event, so please bring both types of clothing with you to event. Synthetic fibers are not allowed. Comfortable, well fitted garments are recommended. Flat soled shoes of leather or natural fabric with rubber or leather soles must also be worn. Approved driver’s suit may also be worn.
Seat Belts and Head and Neck Restraint System Requirements
Factory stock seat belts (the standard 3-point safety belt system installed by the manufacturer) are acceptable for both driver and passenger. However, all vehicles that have a 5-way or 6-way harness for the driver must have equal safety belt restraints for the passenger. Additionally, a head and neck restraint system (commonly referred to as a HANS device or a Simpson Hybrid device) must be used with any multi-point harness (5 or 6 point). These belts must be used in conjunction with a race seat with the necessary belt openings and belts must be properly secured in car. Weak or frayed seat belts or those with poor attachment points must be replaced prior to the event.
All driver and passenger windows must be down when driving on the track. Sunroofs must be closed. Targa tops must be on. Driver and passenger appendages must remain within the car except for signaling purposes. If your car has window nets, the net must be down to point to passing cars.
You will be assigned a car number with your registration confirmation. The car number must be displayed on both sides of the car in a color contrasting with the color of your car. Blue painters tape can be used if you don’t have vinyl or magnet numbers (Suncoast PCA does not provide car numbers). Car numbers must be at least 8” high and 1” wide and on the car prior to tech inspection at the track. Placing of car numbers on car is responsibility of participant.
The Staging Grid is where cars line up prior to entering the track. The location of the staging grid will be announced at the Drivers’ Meeting. Be in the Staging Grid fifteen minutes before the run time for your group. Be belted in your car, helmet on, engine warm five minutes before run time.
Entering the Track
Pull your car up to the end of pit lane and wait for the signal from the Event Steward prior to entering the track. Use your mirrors carefully to see if you are being overtaken before attempting to enter Turn One.
Passing rules will be discussed in detail at the Drivers’ Meeting. In general, passing is permitted only on designated straightaways. The driver of the car being overtaken must signal with his hand by pointing to the side on which the faster car is to pass. There must be one distinct point-by for each passing car. The overtaking car shall not begin a passing maneuver until such signal is received! Do not tailgate! Do not block faster cars! Try not to group together with other cars. If you find yourself in such a situation, cool it for a lap and let them get away from you or pull through the pits and rejoin at a less crowded position on the track.
Failure to comply with passing rules will result in you being Black Flagged and possibly being disqualified from further participation.
Exiting the Track
When exiting the track into the pit lane, signal other cars of your intention by extending your left arm out the window and upward in a fist. Slow your car to safe speed not exceeding 10 mph in the pits.
Trouble on the Track
If you error in judgment and lose control of your car, the best general rule is “both feet in,” that is, depress the clutch and brake firmly until you are completely stopped. If you see that you are going to run off the track but still have control, DRIVE OFF STRAIGHT. Do not make a futile attempt to hold your car on the track. The chances of escaping unscathed are much better if you drive straight off under control rather than sliding off without control. Any car having an off-road excursion, spin or which is involved in any type of incident on the track must report to the Chief Track Instructor in pit lane immediately for a driver evaluation and to have the car checked. If you suspect mechanical problems while on the track, pull off slowly and await assistance. If you are able to continue, do so slowly and return to the pits. Get off line and use hand signals and flashers to indicate that you have a problem while returning to the pits.
Safety should be your number one priority for both your own good and that of your fellow drivers. This is a high speed driving school not a racing school. Any racing will not be tolerated! Anyone deemed conducting themselves or their vehicles in an unsafe manner on or off the track is subject to ejection from the event and possible refusal from participation in future events. If it begins to rain, slow down to a speed at which you know you can drive safely. The oil and rubber on the track mix with water and make things very slippery until the track gets washed off. Speed can be increased as the track surface is washed off and your feel for the new conditions is established. A wet track will show who is consistent and who is not. It’s a great teacher – respect it and learn from it. Pit and paddock speed is 10 mph. Speeding or unsafe driving in the pit or paddock will result in expulsion. All the roads within Sebring have a 15 mph speed limit. Parking in the hot pits is allowable for driver changes and gridding only. No passengers are allowed in a car unless they are instructors. Instructors’ cars will not be allowed on the track in other sessions unless specific approval is received from the Chief Track Instructor. No alcoholic beverages will be permitted during track hours, even for observers or spectators.
We run this event rain or shine. Let’s hope the weather is gorgeous, but it can be hot, cold or raining. Remember to bring an umbrella and plastic bags to put all the things you remove from your car into to keep them dry. Also remember to bring sunscreen, a hat and possibly extra clothes to change into.
All official evaluations are done electronically on-line in Clubregistration.net. Students should evaluate their instructor and instructors should evaluate each student they work with during the event. Instructors should also provide feedback verbally to the student and write in their logbook. Any questions about evaluations should be directed to the Registrar. Promotion forms are provided to the students in the packet they received at registration, blank forms are also available at the Registrar’s pit stall. Forms must be completed and turned in at the event for the student to receive a new wristband and to change groups during the weekend. Instructors should also note student promotions in the on-line evaluation. An e-mail after the event will include a link to complete the 0n-line Event survey. Evaluations are reviewed by the Chief Track Instructor and the Registrar and are taken seriously by the club to refine and improve the Drivers’ Education program.