Wet track + stupid journo = bent Lexus

In case you missed it the original report from Los Jalops, an auto journalist ran out of talent while driving the Lexus IS-F you see above at Monticello Motor Club last week. Perhaps “ran out of talent” is not a fitting comment, as the Armco was impacted half a lap into this guy’s first (and last) lap of the day.

The incident happened during the track day portion of the International Motor Press Association’s annual Test Days event. Historically held at Pocono Raceway, IMPA moved the event to Monticello due to its proximity to The Big Apple, where many members reside.

In addition to Matt Hardigree’s rant in Jalopnik, Jack Baruth has added his comments over at The Truth About Cars. I agree wholeheartedly with both of them that the journo involved is a dink with no regard for his fellow scribes, nor for the carnage he left in his wake. The guy is a douche.

Baruth begins his story:
“If you have any track experience, or even if you don’t, the above video can be painful to watch. It’s the long-legged Monticello Motor Club racetrack as experienced by the IMPA journalists on their test day: coned off, watered-down, speed-limited. Had I made the 584-mile drive to Monticello and found conditions like this, I’d have been furious.”

Society has many rules, because humans are for the most part rather stupid. People do stupid things and The Man has to create rules to protect people from themselves. Put a steering wheel in front of a great many auto journalists and they lose their grip on reality as they attempt to prove how great a driver they are. Not too many years ago, there were 4 or 5 journos who died around the globe, all of them during press events. Interestingly, The Google does not seem to want to give up any details so perhaps the stories have been buried along with the crazy drivers.

My point here is the the organizers of a press driving event must walk a fine line between running a track day and protecting stupid journos from themselves. To that end, IMPA’s Test Days have never been portrayed as a lapping day, rather as an opportunity to do a bit of high performance driving in a controlled setting. There is no instruction available and the really deadly whips usually come equipped with a professional riding shotgun to ensure that nobody kills themselves in the latest big horsepower monster.

That said, on the mild banking at Pocono I have seen the high side of 160 mph on several occasions and topped 175 in a certain V-10 powered coupe. Pocono is a great facility for this type of event, with nothing to hit in the infield and those with the talent and cajones can explore the upper end of the straight line speeds of some cool machinery.

Take a look at the video in Baruth’s post. Monticello is an awesome track for good drivers. It is a nightmare waiting to happen for the inexperienced. The bright side of the Lexus incident is that the guy hadn’t attained enough velocity to kill himself like some of those other guys. Without ensuring driver backgrounds and training, the IMPA folks have no choice but to put out a liberal collection of cones to direct the Jimmie Johnson wannabes.

If there is any suggestion I have for IMPA, it would be to move the event back to Pocono or some other “safe” venue and leave the real race tracks to the real drivers.


  1. Tom Williams says

    Since I was at the event, I'd like to add a couple details. As always, there was a driver's meeting before the track opened. IMPA was perfectly clear about how to compose ourselves. In addition, before we could hit the track, we were required to ride shotgun with someone from Monticello to learn the course. Throughout the course were track attendents with walkie talkies ready to red flag anyone being stupid. __As Gary suggests, ego takes over the sensibilites of some of the drivers. Which makes the wrecked ISF that more senseless. We're sent out one at a time in 30 second intervals-NONE of your auto journo peers can see how fast/slow you're taking it. __But in this particular case, someone hopped into a 414hp V-8 Lexus, took it out on a wet track he was unfamiliar with, and there's the result. This was one unfortunate moment, and should not define IMPA, its members, or Test Days.

  2. rich scotti says

    i have not been to a track day where there were no casualties, there is always someone that overcooks things. they are not douches or necessarily ego trippers.
    instructors belong in the passenger seat, and stay in the car depending on the progress. scca has great programs-safe and fun. lets just call it a pdx occurance

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