The 50’ Pit Rule

summerinmaine

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I’m not a racer, but have worked various pits in the Baja races (2-3/year) over the past six years, and never at fixed locations like the big groups (Honda, BFG, Baja Pits/Locos Mocos, and the like) so I have some experience in pit selection/location that may be relevant to the issue of the SCORE rule GPT8, which states: “All pits must be at least fifty feet (50’) off the edge of the race course.”

I know RG got hammered by SCORE for violation of this rule, and in my view SCORE’s hands were tied in terms of enforcement for many reasons and RG was blatantly attempting (unsuccessfully) to game a perceived loophole in the rules, but I agree that the rule as stated is routinely violated, and as a practical matter strict enforcement would likely be impossible, or would limit stationary pits to a minuscule portion of the typical Baja race course and a very limited set of standard locations. Ask yourselves as racers how many places you know that would permit a 50’ separation from the course, coupled with adequately safe/practical pit ingress/egress.

In the last two 500s, we were at Punta Cabras and able to secure a location that fully complied with the rule. Here’s a couple of pics:



The track you see in front of us is the westernmost of three threads off the course, which is the far left hand track in this pic (beyond the apparent track and over the berm), and was about 30 meters from our pit:



But at the last 1000, we were in an extremely safe location:



but probably not 50’ off the course as you can see from this pic:



And in numerous earlier races, there was no location within 10 miles either way that would have permitted 50’ separation (and a 20 mile variation on pit location would have been a nightmare for the bikes we also routinely pit), yet we were still able to find relatively safe locations:



And how many of the pits that routinely set up at Rancho El Coyote are 50' off the course?





So while I believe that SCORE must have rules that govern this issue, and numerous others, I believe that the existing rule is flawed and unworkable.

Can we make this a constructive thread, where suggestions are offered for a revision to the rule? Then perhaps the info/suggestions could be forwarded to SCORE to give them constructive input on this issue?
 

PLS

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I think it should be obvious what the issue was. Pitting safely off the course, even if it lis less then 50', is a lot different then pitting in the middle of the highway/course. I'm not anti-Robby, but something this blatant should be enforced against whoever it is.
 

Chase 2

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Most of the time I'm mainly a chaser and there are many times when part of chasing includes a splash. Most of the times there simply isn't a full 50' back from the race course to stop a race vehicle within 5 miles of where you need to splash. When it isn't possible to be 50', I always search for a spot that not only is the vehicle off the trail, but anyone servicing the vehicle is not going to step out get hit. I believe that the intent of the rule is for safety, not to make it impossible to pit except in certain places.

I think that the ruling against the highway stop was as much to do with how the stop was conducted, not only on the highway, but also within 100' of a turn, and 100' of coming onto the highway. It was done with a total disregard for everyone and everything except for the driver and his getting fuel and with an arrogance that put it in everyone's face.
 

nohandslance

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Thanks for the post, I like the pics of the pit locations better than all the redundant race photos. When are we not pitting >50' off the course. Except at main pit areas in Primm and Barstow I say never. 25' Stanley tape measure at full length at the least.
 

summerinmaine

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I think it should be obvious what the issue was. Pitting safely off the course, even if it lis less then 50', is a lot different then pitting in the middle of the highway/course. I'm not anti-Robby, but something this blatant should be enforced against whoever it is.
I think that the ruling against the highway stop was as much to do with how the stop was conducted, not only on the highway, but also within 100' of a turn, and 100' of coming onto the highway. It was done with a total disregard for everyone and everything except for the driver and his getting fuel and with an arrogance that put it in everyone's face.
I agree that RG got his wrist slapped for the blatant nature of his violation, but IMHO if there is going to be a rule, then it should be a workable rule, and then ALL violations can be chargeable, not just the most infamous violations.
 

summerinmaine

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Thanks for the post, I like the pics of the pit locations better than all the redundant race photos. When are we not pitting >50' off the course. Except at main pit areas in Primm and Barstow I say never. 25' Stanley tape measure at full length at the least.
Thanks.
 

Bajajt12

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Can any one show me what the penty for voliation of rule GPT 8 is ?

Everyting I on the 91 I know the rise and what it is going to cost me, can any one honestly say that in Score?
 

loufish

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Most of the time I'm mainly a chaser and there are many times when part of chasing includes a splash. Most of the times there simply isn't a full 50' back from the race course to stop a race vehicle within 5 miles of where you need to splash. When it isn't possible to be 50', I always search for a spot that not only is the vehicle off the trail, but anyone servicing the vehicle is not going to step out get hit. I believe that the intent of the rule is for safety, not to make it impossible to pit except in certain places.
That's been my experience many times, can't get 50 ft away, but do everything possible to make it safe for riders & crew...
 

Allan

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I've you set your pit up 50' off the track the night before, chances are somebody will be pitted in front of you in the morning.
 

Baja Fool

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I too have assisted in setting up pits in Baja and I can think of one that without a doubt complied. In this year's 500 part of the pit stradegy was to have us pit between rm300 & rm310. 10 miles right? You'd think it would no problem finding a pit that would comply with the rules in that space. We found only one place to pit the truck and we were probably not in compliance. Also we use the fuel tower as our "ground zero" for pit measurement, alignment, etc.

I believe the premise here is to pit safe and off the race course.

Thanks for the fotos, they were excellent.

Good thread.
 

Vtr_Racing

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The rule also states you cant be within a certain amount of feet before or after a turn.
If anybody was at the 07 1000 and remembers the "charlie foxtrot" at check point 3 (before Catavinia), I have NO idea how they would have enforced that rule! It was wall to wall cars/pit crews only a few feet off the course. There was no way anybody could have complied with the 50 foot rule. You couldnt enforece it. That place was so tight/cramped. We pitted right after the left turn across from the Collins pit who was inside of the turn. We collaborated with a bike team who was nice enough to share their spot with us. An FMX team that was racing. Ill post a few pics. I guess some common sense will have to apply when enforcing these rules as well.
 

Weatherman

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The 50' rule is a necessary safety rule that any promoter could be held accountable for. Should a crisis occur that could be turned into a lawsuit, Less than 50' could be construed as unsafe. Probably less than 50' is actually unsafe. The Robby situation wasn't about 50', it was about pitting on the north bound lane of Highway 1, within less than 100' of the course entering the Highway. The rule book says this is a DQ, however SCORE ultimately has the power to decide the penelty, so Robby still leads the points and Toyo Tires did finish first, so karma is restored. LIFE IS TERIFFIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

GlamisGurlie

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I've you set your pit up 50' off the track the night before, chances are somebody will be pitted in front of you in the morning.
Not with Pitler on duty ;) LOL
 

rickf

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Why in the world would you put your (volunteer) pit crews in harm's way like that?
Two or three guys at the BACK of the truck with fuel.
Exactly the place another racer is going to hit you if they don't see you.
(Yeah, yeah I know people are going to say nobody was there, blah, blah, blah, don't care)
Racers are not the best judge of safety during the 'red mist' of a race, you have to make those decisions before the race and stick to them.
The safety rules (minimal as they are) exist for a reason.
You guys that know me, know how fussy I am about pit safety but I also know, as a ex-racer, that in the heat of battle racers will take chances they shouldn't.

The 50' pit rule:
I think a more workable rule might be something like "No part of a pit, including active crew, shall be less than 15' from the edge of the course at any time in a 'hot pit' and no fuel, fuel containers or fueling rigs shall be less than 25' from the edge of the course."
I think that's truly workable and should have a zero-tolerance enforcement.
Some clever verbiage should be added for disabled vehicles on the race course, though.
 

TecateRay

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Go put your copy of Dust to Glory in the DVD....Done, OK...How many pit's do you see that are at least 50' off the track??? None.
Wrong - The Baja Fools pit for Riviera and the BC cars (lots of footage of the ladies team) was 50+ feet off the course.:)
 

summerinmaine

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The 50' pit rule:
I think a more workable rule might be something like "No part of a pit, including active crew, shall be less than 15' from the edge of the course at any time in a 'hot pit' and no fuel, fuel containers or fueling rigs shall be less than 25' from the edge of the course."
I think that's truly workable and should have a zero-tolerance enforcement.
Some clever verbiage should be added for disabled vehicles on the race course, though.
This is what I was hoping for! Concrete suggestions. Thanks Rick.
 

JPBart

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I would like to hear what BJ would have thought if he came upon that pit while chasing RG. I bet there aren't very many people racing baja who haven't done what RG did. No radio, leading the race, BJ close behind. What would you do as a crew member knowing you couldn't talk your guy in and he didn't know exactly where you were? (That spot required a tight turn to get into and once on the highway almost impossible to get into clean.) Get on the course with a can or ask him to wait while you reposition your pit to a better location? How many times have you gotten to your assigned area only to find it taken, flooded or for some other reason not useable? Then you hear chatter your guy is running a lot faster than you expected so you have to scramble for a spot to wedge into? It's a lot easier to stay in front of a 1600 car than a TT. They can catch you unprepared if you aren't way ahead of the schedule.

To me, this penalty is over the top. I see it as a mistake by the crew, but have been in the exact same spot and had the exact same problem. Baja is Baja. Adapt and over come or stay home. A 90 minute penalty for dumping a can on the highway (which had a flagman holding traffic) wasn't unsafe. A rules vioaltion? probably a technical violation but have any of you ever heard of even a warning about ANY pit rule violation?

Bottom line is Robby's pit was technically a violation but Sal didn't have anything else to hang on him. How much would you all have screamed about him playing favorites if he penalized everyone except Robby? Would you have called shenanigans? Sal found a way to save face, ding Robby and keep the guaranteed drama to a roar instead of a riot. Sal should be a politician because he played this one great.

Are we going to take away the ability to drop a quick can unless the car/bike/truck is all the way off the course? Make every team video all their stops to prove they didn't cheat? Maybe just setup mandatory pit areas and run it like a BITD race? No more starting with a light fuel load if thats your strategy. You are going to have to have a set range of fuel like Dakar. You can't make it that far? Sucks to be you because you can't pit outside the approved work areas.

I am not saying that Robbys pit was what we should all strive for and it isn't a normal pit for anyone. We can't have everyone pitting on the highway but a little judgement and discretion is called for here. How much time did he save? 1 minute? 2 or 3? Under normal circumstances the penalty would be related to the time saved. So double or triple the time saved. 5 or 10 minute penalty. That seems fair. Oh, wait, we just penalized 80% of the field. It's going to look like we are playing favorites. Throw the book at him!

Viva Baja and Viva Score
 

Huntington Beach

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I think your a little off base with your assumption that SCORE had to pin something on Robby or that they felt obligated to punish anyone.

We all love Baja and don't want it to change but sometimes you just have to get with the times. The government in Baja is facing pressure just like here in the states to keep racing in check and safe for all bodys invovled. The excuse that baja is the wild west and anything goes may have been true in the past but not today. Safety should be paramount to all teams and especially the racing body. If that means stiff penaltys to get the point across then so be it.

When dealing with large egos and wealth your aren't going to get the attention of anyone with a warning or a 5min penalty.
 
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