By on October 24, 2007

car-wreckei4i.jpgAt a Ferrari Owners Club (FOC) track day at the California Speedway, Lamborghini owner Corey Rudl is sidelined by his car's cooling problems. When Rudl admires Ben Keaton's Porsche Carrera GT (CGT), Keaton offers to show Rudl what the German supercar can do. As the Porsche speeds around the track, a flagman waves a Ferrari onto the front straight. The driver hesitates. The flagman tries to stop the Ferrari. Keaton CGT swerves to avoid the slow-going Italian exotic. The CGT hits a concrete barrier at approximately 145mph. Both men are killed. Rudl's widow files a lawsuit against various parties. Sports Car Market reveals the $4.5m settlement, as follows. Ben Keaton's estate (49 percent): "Keaton was warned about the handling problems with the CGT, ignored his mechanic’s advice, and invited Rudl for a ride without mentioning the problems. California Speedway and the track organizers (41 percent): "The pit-out design… brought the drivers onto the track in the middle of the straightaway and the pit-out driver’s view of the straightaway was completely blocked by a guardrail." The FOC "allowed [Keaton] to sign his own tech inspection form stating that the car was fine." Porsche (eight percent): "…one engineer testified that Porsche did not think that its PSM system would work on the CGT because the car’s frame structure and suspension mountings would create strong vibrations that would interfere with its operation. The other engineer testified that PSM was not offered because the customers didn’t want it." The Ferrari driver (two percent): "the Ferrari entered the track too slowly, forcing Keaton to evade him."

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44 Comments on “Porsche Pays $360k to Settle Carrera GT Lawsuit...”


  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Hooray for law suit happy society. I hope that Ferrari owner appeals as fas as he can, and keeps this shit tied up in court forever. Hopefully the continuning court costs will drive the widow broke.

  • avatar

    Before condemning our society as overly-litigious, I strongly suggest you read the whole article.

    Track days are some serious shit. Just because motorsports are inherently dangerous does NOT excuse their organizers and participants from their responsibility to act responsibly to minimize that danger.

  • avatar
    jaje

    If you choose to drive on a track at high speeds or agree to go as a passenger – you will always put your life at risk. In a supercar you can reach speeds normally unobtainable and if something happens then the possibility of injury / death are much higher. I however had a problem with the tracks design as you should never have a 90 degree wall at the end of a straight without out proper absorbtion barriers. I see the track being highly liable in this case – and noteably the changes that made it dangerous were made for a Nascar event (gives you an idea of safety – funny thing is anytime there’s rain they park the cars and hide).

  • avatar

    Thanks for the update. I always wondered what happened with this case. I expected Porsche to give up a little something in the settlement to make the case go away, but I’m shocked that they got money out of the Ferrari driver. McClellan’s an awesome trial lawyer to have accomplished that.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    RF, I condemed our society to being over litigous a LONG time ago. This is just more sprinkles on the donut, or, to follow my feelings, more hot coffee in the cup or fat in the burgers.

    I’m well aware how dangerous legal and illegal motorsports are. But whatever happened to personal responsibility? This guy took the car to the track, he personally knew the issues, and he was the one that took it up to 145 on the straight. The other guy got into the car knowing that they were going to hit certain high speeds. They knew the risks, they took them.

    As far as I can see, the only person who could be sued here is the track. Interesting that the widow only thought her husband was worth $4.5mil. Even I tend to value human life a bit more than that. I’d say at least an even $6mil. I wonder what she plans on doing with that cash.

  • avatar

    I’ll also add that Robert is right on with the message that track owners, race organizers, and participants in motorsport are all responsible for the safety of everyone around them, not just themselves.

    If nothing else you should read this article to understand warning signs you should look for you when you go out on a track day yourself. Think about the layout of the track and the way the event is being organized. Are cars safely joining the track? Are there proper energy absorbing track barriers? Do you feel safe and comfortable with what’s going on? If not, not only should you not participate, but you should speak up before something like this happens.

  • avatar
    DrBrian

    what handling problems does the CGT have? I always thought the CGT was one of the best supercars that money can buy.

  • avatar
    phil

    personal responsibility disappeared years ago. as soon as someone suffers the consequences of their own decisions/actions they or their survivors look around for deep pockets to sue. if you choose to drive at very high speeds on a rack track it’s up to you to check out the course and decide if you wish to take the associated risks.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I’m a little confused as to how it is the court decided Porsche was at fault for not putting in stability control. It looks like they found a way to spin a poor driver and blame the manufacturer for it. I don’t remember it being required that all cars sold have stability control, let alone purpose built track cars.

  • avatar
    stuki

    There simply is no reason beyond runaway greed and self righteousness amongst the politico legal establishment for even allowing suits like this.

    Unless the widow could provide a document where Porsche explicitly agrees to assume liability for passengers riding shotgun in CGT’s at least up to 145mph on any given racetrack, Porsche has not done anything wrong.

    As far as I could tell from the article, nobody associated with the track suddenly moved the barrier into a dangerous position without letting drivers know in advance, so the track did nothing wrong. It’s not like studying the track layout prior to flooring it was impossible.

    And last, it doesn’t sound like Keaton in any way forced Rudl to ride with him. You know we’ve reached a sorry state when you get dragged into court by a bunch of scumbags for offering someone a ride in your cool car.

    Whether the Ferrari driver or the flagman did anything wrong I don’t know, but until they are prosecuted and found guilty of criminal negligence, sleazy lawyers, power mad judges and publicity whoring politicos’ ought to stay the heck out of their lives.

    Driving a car can be dangerous. Especially at 145. Doing so past blind intersections is borderline reckless. A portion of the people that engage in such activities will die as a result. While that might be sad, it’s still nobody’s business but their own.

  • avatar
    casper00

    Something that could have been avoided, if you’re cocky, for sure something bad would happen. In this case Ben Keaton would still be living if he hadn’t show off his car….I’ve drove over 160mph on a toyota supra on a straight away and it was scarey, but to go 145mph on a track, you’re just asking for trouble. If you’re not a professional please don’t do it….like they say “speed kills”

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I have minor issues with the case mainly due to the invalidation of the signed waivers. But law is funny sometimes, especially in Judge-Ito Land.

    Of course, the track did have flaws…

    Regarding Porsche, is there any electronic nanny that can keep things safe at 130mph? And what if there’s an ‘off’ switch for driver choice? Or shouldn’t performance drivers have a choice?

  • avatar
    wannabewannabe

    I feel like I have to defend the legal system here.

    Are there frivolous law suits? Sure. Is this one? I doubt it. Just because someone accepts responsibility for their own actions does not immunize others from liability. Everyone acts like courts don’t take into account the responsibility that one assumes when acting dangerously. They do. It’s called contributory negligence, but just because you were negligent doesn’t mean that someone else’s negligence wasn’t a primary factor in your harm.

    The thing to remember is that there are myriad checks in the legal system to keep genuinely frivolous law suits from being tried. Even in the event that a case makes it to trial, a jury composed of ordinary, generally rational people (you and me, in fact) must still be convinced that a particular person’s negligence caused a harm and that that harm is worth X amount of dollars. While it appears this was a settlement, and thus the jury aspect doesn’t apply, you have to remember that if this case was wholly without merit, it would have most likely been thrown out long ago.

    Remember that law suits are meant only to attempt to return the person harmed to the position they were before being harmed. In this case, you can’t bring back the dead, so how much money is that worth? Apparently, here, everyone has agreed that the parties shared liability to varying degrees, and the total is to equal $4.5 million. I bet the widow would rather still have her husband.

  • avatar
    tony-e30

    Without dropping my quite amateur opinion about this tragic scenario and subsequent court case, it sounds like a lot of the comments left before mine resulted from posters who have never participated in a track day. I’ll leave it at that.

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    I would think that the track and/or the flagman would have more liability. The track layout was flawed; a safer configuration would have prevented the accident.

    One question: Does the CGT have PSM or PASM? That was not clear from the article or comments.

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    Ok, so I read the original article from SCM and now I definitely think that the track should have had more liability. They compromised safety to make room for a play structure? Like I would ever let my kids on a play structure next to a racetrack???

    This happened right after I bought my first Porsche and at the time I thought that the CGT was a deathtrap. Any car approaching F1 power without F1 safety features is inherently dangerous.

  • avatar
    gakoenig

    I think that this was a pretty interesting and perfectly valid lawsuit, though I think the mix of responsibilities seems off.

    First, I think Porsche is more liable then 8%. Even before this incident, the CGT had a reputation of being a somewhat frisky vehicle compared to it’s contemporaries (the MB/McLaren SLR and Enzo). My guess is that Porsche got the thing developed and found out about the high speed oversteer issues during testing. Instead of going the expensive route of solving the problem by changing the suspension geometry, they tuned as much of it out with spring/shock/alignment settings and called it good.

    Of course, Porsche (like a few other boutique companies) sells these cars with the image that they are “roadgoing race cars” which is a nice marketing line, but everyone knows that the reality is that the vend diagram of people who can afford such toys and people who have the talent and skills to drive them at the limit has very little overlap. I may be labeled badly for saying this, but I think companies like Porsche, Ferrari, Koenigsegg etc. have a responsibility to deliver these cars with as neutral and predictable a set of handling characteristics as they possibly can.

    Second, I think going after the Ferrari driver was a major mistake and sets a dangerous precedent. I regularly go to track days and have done some instruction and I try to encourage as many high performance car owners I meet to get into local driving schools. We work very hard to create a safe environment where we encourage people to learn how their vehicle works, but we constantly try to balance that with discouraging irresponsible driving (i.e. The Red Mist).

    From what the article said, the Ferrari driver was not acting irresponsibly. In fact, it sounds like he was attempting to be cautious. The track was designed in such a way that the safe thing to do in his position was to hammer the gas, which is unintuitive (especially to someone who may very well have had limited on-track driving experience).

    Suing reckless track day drivers is perfectly fine in my book, but going after a track day driver who was obviously trying to be safe strikes me as irresponsible and counterproductive.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    gakoenig: “I may be labeled badly for saying this, but I think companies like Porsche, Ferrari, Koenigsegg etc. have a responsibility to deliver these cars with as neutral and predictable a set of handling characteristics as they possibly can.”

    I disagree–if you buy a car, it’s your responsibility to control it. If the car itself fails: control arm breaks, engine explodes, steering wheel comes off in your hands at 100mph, etc. then the automaker is responsible for making junk. If the vehicle performs as designed (as in designed without stability control and you bought it anyway) and you crash anyway–it’s your fault. sorryboutyourluck.

  • avatar
    madcynic

    First off, I have no experience in track days. But labeling the Ferrari driver a driver who is cautious as he didn’t do what the track required him – get his foot down on the gas – seems awfully wrong to me. There is a reason you accelerate out of the pit, and that is, among other things, that you need to have a certain base speed so that the time between you being seen and being hit by an oncoming vehicle is lengthened – and thus the latter vehicle’s driver’s reaction time increased.
    In that sense, the Ferrari driver is at fault, because he failed to behave like it is expected in the situation. Have you ever been behind someone who fails to accelerate when entering a freeway? Same thing, only on a track, consequences are more drastic.
    I also fail to see where Porsche is at fault here. I kinda have to agree with ihatetrees here – anything above a certain speed is simply not safe enough unless you have experience (and mabye talent) to compensate. This is not some Audi 5000 accelerating spontaneously – it is a supercar that happens to have limits to its maneuverability. And I doubt that these limits are a surprise to anyone who has had experience with sports (and supersports) cars.

    To answer the question – the CGT does not have dynamic stability control.

  • avatar
    SAAB95JD

    I have to agree with NICKNICK on this… the owner of the CGT should have been fully versed in the vehicle that HE BOUGHT. That is the resonsibility of the driver.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I can understand why others may be at fault, but not Porsche. I agree with NICKNICK on this one.

  • avatar
    gakoenig

    Thinking about it a bit more, I see the validity in NICKNICK’s position.

    Having said that, the CGT is well known for having a snap oversteer problem. I am not a race car driver, for all I know, most race cars have a snap oversteer problem. For fun, go YouTube the TopGear review of the CGT – not only did Clarkson note that it was a vehicle that was frisky on the edge, but even The Stig repeatedly spun the thing trying to get a fast lap.

    Does that make Porsche liable for something like this? I don’t know. On some level, Porsche must recognize that, beyond the marketing hyperbole, 99% of the people who buy these cars don’t have the skill set to drive evenly a perfectly sorted vehicle of this caliber, much less one that handles on a knife edge. Ironically, Porsche is well aware of this fact; please to note that the 911 (in all forms) has a reputation for being the “Supercar for people who don’t want to die.”

    As to the lawsuit’s allegation that PSM would have fixed the problem; I see that as a red herring. Explaining complex vehicle dynamics to a jury is difficult. Making the case that 600hp sports cars are dangerous and stability management systems act as an effective safety net makes pinning liability on Porsche a much easier pitch.

    Anyhow, I guess the market recognized the inherent oversteer flaw of the CGT on it’s own. Where as it’s competition (the Enzo and SLR) are sold out, I know that a few CGTs are still sitting on Porsche showroom floors unsold.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    At least it wasn’t a TVR. I like what Clarkson said about them.

    “They started getting angry letters from customers that said they (the customers) were dead.”

    Back when I had my Bimmer, I hit a deer at about 75-80mph. All the stability and traction control in the world didn’t keep my car from going flat sideways and spining out (I hit the deer at an angle).

    It wouldn’t matter how many electronic driving aides (key word there-aides) the CGT had, if you crank the wheel over, and I’m sure it wasn’t a slight lane change nudge but a nice jerk over, at a buck fifty, shit is going to happen. Unless of course your Herr Stiggy.

  • avatar
    Kman

    This is so absurd.

    Making Porsche responsible in this scenario is like suing Buick because the supercharged Lucerne has suspension that is too soft and steering that is too light, causing a racing driver to lose control and crash. Buick should have given the car handling and steering to match the extra horsepower.

    What about all the release forms we sign when we race? What happened with those?

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Porsche is in the business of selling cars for a profit. Whenever one decides to sell something inherently dangerous to the public they are going to rightfully face liability when one of their customers decides to screw up and kill someone with said product.

    From what I know Porsche is willing to sell a CGT to anyone with the money. Considering that the CGT is far from an ordinary car Porsche should expect to at some point to be sued because some fool with no business driving a 600hp racecar loses control and kills someone.

    Honestly a 600hp car belongs only in the hands of a professional driver. The average driver CAN NOT handle this type of power. Porsche knows this yet they are willing to indiscriminately sell this “land rocket” to anyone with enough cash.

    Now I’m not saying Porsche should not build such cars. I just saying that a lawsuit here and there is the price to be paid for putting a “supercar” into the hands of folks with more money than commonsense and driving skills.

  • avatar

    There is an issue of responsibility here, and I don’t think that it belongs to Porsche. Anyone with any sense who has ridden a modern liter bike realizes very quickly that the capabilities of the motorcycle are simply beyond perhaps 98% of the purchasers. And while I agree that it is the owner’s responsibility to understand when he is piloting a machine which has capabilities far beyond his abilities, we might as a culture begin to recognize this and require training for those who can buy these machines.

    I attended a recent BMWCCA track event and one of the instructors told me that they will not allow novices on the track in the new 500 hp M5 and M6 models simply because the car can go so much faster than the average person’s ability to control it. And speaking as someone who has done a lot of track time in both cars and motorcycles, it was apparent to me that my 335i was far faster than I am, and that I needed a judicious meter on my right foot if I was going to enjoy my day on the track.

    Still I agree with the idea that if I willingly get into a friend’s supercar, without knowing if he is good enough to handle it, it is my responsibility to do so and certainly not Porsche’s fault for manufacturing the tool of my demise.

  • avatar
    Vega

    whatdoiknow1: Oh man. Do you guys even realize how twisted your idea of personal responsibility is looking viewed from the outside world? (Almost) every bonehead is allowed to buy a gun in the US, yet somehow people think if someone is running out of talent in his supercar Porsche is liable because they “sell something inherently dangerous to the public”? Where do you draw the line? Sure a 600hp car can be dangerous but so can a 50hp car. Should Stihl be forced to thoroughly check their customers, so only people strong enough buy their big chainsaws?

    I normally disagree when fellow Europeans blindly bash the US, but right now, I’m really glad to be in a country where I can drive to the Eifel mountains at 130mph+ (if conditions permit), pay 20 bucks and have endless fun on the ‘ring. Fully aware of the fact that if I get to eager and meet my maker at Fuchsröhre, I have nobody to blame but myself.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    edgett:

    That was part of the reason I never reuped my membership with the BMWCCA. Part of it was 99% of the local members were all 7er owners who never tracked their cars, period. Maybe different where you are, mine also never held “novice” events.

    I mean, I totally understand where they are comming from, not wanting someone with no expierence what so ever to take a 500pony M car out onto the track with others. But its a fatal circle. So, we don’t let them hone their skills in track days because they may hurt someone else. But where are they gonna learn the skills needed to control the cars if we don’t let them into track days? I know BMW offers special classes for the cars out at Spartanburg, but they should still let them come out to the local days to get a taste, and maybe have an instructer ride with them a few times to make sure the “M” button stays un touched.

    That attitude was prevalent locally. The “he can’t control his M3/5/6/Coupe/Roadster, so we won’t let him onto the track to practice with us, who know what we are doing.” That in turn just lead to more problems. I don’t know how many cars we had come in (when I worked at a BMW dealership) for work because someone blew something up on the street, or worse, how many came in for massive amounts of body work after running their M5 against a Supra on the highway, and became close friends with the ass end of an 18 wheeler. Of course, track snobs are an entirely different story all together.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Vega,

    You point of view is fine until your high speed accident involves the death of someone else, including a passanger in your car. How many hundreds of drivers kill wives, girlfirends, brothers, children, and even best friends because they decide to play Aryton Senna in a car that they really should not be driving because they lack skill and or more importantly common sense.
    I am sure most people could careless if drivers in these situations only managed to kill themselves. The problem is when folk take high powered cars and fuck up they usually manage to hurt and/or kill other innocent people and do damage to property that they do not own.

    Notice I did not say that Porsche should not build such cars. But yes if Porsche is willing to put these street racecars into the hands to folks that can’t handle them they should be willing to pay up when their product is involved in the death of someone OTHER than their customer.
    That is fair! It gives everyone a bit of necessary perspective.

    Honestly Gun and “High Performance” Cars are very different from chainsaws. That is a very bad comparison. Gun and Supercars are designed to allow the owner/ purchaser to generally do things that the existing laws usually forbid. A chainsaw is designed for a totally legitimate prupose, to cut wood. And yes the chainsaw can be used for purposes that it was not designed but its design as a household or industrial tool is completely valid.
    On the other hand Guns are designed to kill ( I am not anti gun). You can design guns to drastically increase the killing power to the point were the gun in question is of limited or no value to the general public. That is why semi-automatic guns are legal yet machine guns are not.
    High performance cars by design are meant to achive excessive speed and they are marketed and sold to the public with the “wink of an eye”, sure it is illegal to use this car for what it is designed for but……..hey let all keep dreaming and a little illict fun is well, fun. To do business in that fashion but wish to turn your back when something does go wrong is just plain shitty!

    In the USA, companies have a great deal of freedom to bring to market any number of products with questionable safety, or a very limited envelope in which these products can be operated safely. See freedom works both ways here, while you can sell damn near anything in the USA you can also be sued for big $$$ if you are found liable of negligence by a jury.
    The question for Porsche or any other automaker is, when is enough? Is Porsche willing to sell the public a 1500hp supercar that will do the 1/4 mile 5 sec if they can make a profit? Does such a car have any real value to the rest of society outside of its owner? Since it would be quite easy for the driver to lose control, is not such a car inherently dangerous to all those sharing the road with it?
    It is reasonable to expect that the designers of a supercar are well aware of that fact that if it is misused the death of other outside parties can be the result. Yet the company is willing to make and SELL it. They should be ready to open up the wallet when something does go wrong.

    That is the price we all pay for freedom they we so love to enjoy!

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Does anyone remember when Jay Leno spun a CGT at over 175 mph at Talladega Speedway ? That was scary close to being a disaster. And that’s the problem with track days. It’s all fun and games until one day it isn’t.

  • avatar

    Having driven the Carrera GT (CGT) and a wide range of supercars on both road and track, I have to say that the Porsche had some real “issues” that differentiate it from other such cars, and earn the machine and its maker a rightful place in these legal crosshairs. First, as my review mentioned, the CGT’s ceramic clutch’s initial take up (from rest) was/is completely unacceptable. Obviously, once you get going, it’s not a problem. While the clutch doesn’t merit the same kind of attention that high speed handling issues deserve, it’s entirely possible to stall the vehicle in the middle of an intersection. If a CGT driver was taken out by a Semi– a not inconceivable scenario– would not Porsche share some responsibility for this accident? I mean, I have NEVER driven a street legal car with a more difficult clutch. As for the CGT’s high speed handling, I had the rear end come out on me at 40mph. I was cornering on a dry road, going slightly downhill. I TAPPED the brakes. I was shocked. The incident occurred on part my usual test drive loop. I never had any oversteer issues on this segment at any speed. Cold tires? Small patch of grease? Nope. Just a completely unexpected tail slide. Without endangering life or limb, I soon discovered that the CGT’s back end would snap out of line without much warning. And there was nothing I, an amateur though experienced pilot, could do to “catch it.” In this, the CGT reminded me of my F355. In that case, better drivers than I (e.g. Jeremy Clarkson) claimed that a “whiff of opposite lock” would bring the [equally] mid-engined Ferrari’s ass back in line. But I never managed it. In fact, I spun the 355 twice. On public roads. And that brings us to my main point. I sincerely believe there are “death cars.” I’m speaking here of automobiles that seduce you into high speeds and then hang you out to dry through inherent handling defects. Yes defects. When I reviewed the 500-horse GT500 Mustang, I pointed out that its real world (i.e. not on a mirror-smooth race track) on-the-limit handling was abominable. Any mid-corner bump throws the solid rear axle machine seriously sideways. I view this tendency as a fundamentally dangerous and completely unacceptable design flaw. The fact that a journalist recently lost control of a GT500 and killed a pedestrian underscores my convictions. Now you could say it’s the driver’s responsibility to acknowledge any given car’s “limitations” and act accordingly. Unfortunately, these limitations only make themselves known in highly dangerous situations. You can’t simply tell a car buyer “this sucker’s a handful at the limit” and expect them to be able to compensate. I believe a sports car maker has a responsibility to create a car with safe handling. Whether that is or should be a legal imperative is an issue worthy of debate. But I firmly believe sports car makers have a moral obligation to do so. I, for one, could not build a car with dangerous on or over-the-limit handling and sell it to a “civilian” in good conscience. So yes, Porsche dropped the ball with the CGT. Again, legal issues aside, I find it hard to understand how the manufacturer of the world’s safest supercar– the Porsche 911 Turbo– could build and sell such a “tricky” handling supercar. As for creating a legal requirement for handling Nannies, I’m all for it. Sure, the Ford GT is a Nanny-less supercar that an average punter can drive balls-out without (necessarily) dying, but I see nothing wrong with compelling sports car makers to add an extra layer of safety to all cars. Society requires crash test ratings, seat belts and airbags. Why not handling aids? And if you can switch them off (at your own risk), what’s the downside? I am a free market kind of guy. But when it comes to life and death issues in my favorite field of endeavor (save writing), I believe automakers must be held accountable for the products’ safety– especially in foreseeable circumstances. Not eight percent. One hundred percent.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    So because YOU can’t drive it, THEY should get in trouble? How much sense does that make?

  • avatar

    Virtual Insanity:

    I think that’s a slight oversimplification of my argument, served with a side order of mis-characterization.

    But if we take your point (such as it is), if most people can’t operate a given panini-making machine without giving themselves second degree burns, and the sandwich maker’s maker knew about the problem, doesn’t the manufacturer deserve some of the blame for the injuries caused?

    According to their testimony in this case, Porsche knew the CGT was a bit of a bastard. Why didn’t they correct it?

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      Robert, are you trying to put a nail in the coffin of performance vehicles?

      I covet edged Tools/Weapons, I don’t have read a warning label too know that they will cut me right out of the box. I also don’t want it shipped to me blunted and dull. Like wise I don’t want mandated nanny controls on my performance vehicles. All the dynamic vehicle controls won’t deny physics at the extreme limits and only encourage driving beyond the limits, because of the supposed safety net.

      Porsche’s only responsibility, is to build a car that won’t have critical parts breaking at its performance limits. And, I don’t have to buy them, one reason I have never owned a 911, is because of its inherent characteristics in certain situations, and because I have no confidence I can catch it when it instantly lets go. Its the same reason I don’t own a twin engine light plane, sudden asymmetrical power on take off kills, because you can’t practice it safely.

      But, I sure do agree with you on the performance of the Mustang live straight axle in a less then smooth corner. But, I don’t agree that Ford should be required to build it with IRS for what little safety might be enabled.

      Regards … Tre

      Oop’s! Didn’t realize this is an ancient article from 2007. But I stand by the comment.

  • avatar
    Ryan Knuckles

    RF – Your argument points out why the Dodge Tomahawk was never sold (or even test driven) by the public.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    From Jay Leno, re CGT at Talladega:

    “I was on the straightest part of the track, and I had just passed the time traps. As I went through, I lifted my foot maybe a quarter of an inch, to slow down. And just as I lifted, the back of the car whipped around. Uh-oh”

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    No.

    Your (the collective your) inability and lack of skill in operating or using a product should not be passed on in the form of punishment to the manufacturer of the product.

  • avatar

    While I don’t agree with your absolutism, I respect it.

  • avatar
    jaje

    @ tony-e30: I’ve not had the honor of driving the CGT – I’m poor compared to those who can afford that car. I however have an SCCA regional racing license and have been to many different tracks over the years (mainly in the midwest and east coast) and have been driving various cars at track events over the past 5 years. I’m also legally trained but not practicing law anymore. I just know enough to be dangerous to myself and others around me.

    There are some tracks that I dislike racing at b/c of poor layout – Gateway International is one where there’s some walls at some slightly bad angles and if you have a car failure (such as a blowout) or get bumped by another car you can end up hitting them head on to bare concrete (there’s no give whatsoever with the wall). If the track moved the walls and it increased the potential for a fatal accident by those changes they should be liable.

    You can only assume the risk to a point where their negligence overrides that assumption. If that is the case here (again I have not reviewed the evidence) then I can see the track being liable – and if Porsche has this inherently dangerous handling problem then they should be liable. It’s just like the early S2000s that had a more tail happy nature (great for experienced drivers and racers) however the majority of buyers were highly inexperienced and wrecked many of them driving beyond their limits…I’ve even been at the track where some were wrecked b/c of such.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    RF:

    And while I disagree as well, I respect yours. This is what makes America great. We can disagree without killing each other. Well…except for certain parts of Oak Cliff.

    jaje:

    Went to Gateway once with a buddy. Did not like it one bit. The one race track I’d like to get on but would most likely kill myself at is Laguna…

    I can see it now…

    It was so much easier to take the Cork Screw in Forza!

  • avatar
    jaje

    Virtual Insanity: Gateway is kinda dangerous – however if you have no fear you can go fast there – and the fastest line is almost hitting the wall in certain turns. Watkins Glen has several walls but they are angled so that if you do happen to hit them you are vectored along the wall rather than head on. Physics just work that way for some reason. However there are always those who should not be behind the wheel of a car going at speed – the Darwin Awardees – as you can’t protect them from themselves.

    Before I leave this planet I will drive Laguna Seca, the Nordschliefe (several times), for some strange reason I want to drive at Suzuka and Spa (the mountainous winding tracks).

  • avatar
    factotum

    I was the editor of the second edition Corey Rudl’s book “Car Secrets Revealed” and remember him as a very cool guy. He was driven and fearless and later went on to become one of the first e-mail spam kings. He was from Canada, BTW.

  • avatar

    virtual insanity –

    The four BMWCCA track events I have attended included excellent instruction and the emphasis was on spending a weekend honing driving skills without bending yours, or anyone else’s machinery. The 335 is no supercar today (although it would blow away virtually anything built 30 years ago), but I was glad that it was not the first car I had tracked. And it is still a pleasure to get out with a bunch of people who are willing to learn to handle a car under more extreme conditions than pushing the pedal to the floor on an open stretch of freeway. The argument I was making was that once you get out of the basic fwd low power econobox “standard”, all cars have individual handling characteristics that need learning. I learned to drive on a rear-engined, rwd Renault with in it’s best state of tune put 50 hp out of 950 cc’s, and learned the evils of 40-60 weight bias and swing axles at a young age. I got into a “vintage” ’67 GTO several years ago and was shocked at the lack of directional stability and rotten brakes; not state-of-the-art in 1967, but even scarier today. I’m not sure how you educate people that it is worth their lives to learn how to deal with the differences in handling between dad’s Buick sedan and mom’s Explorer, but the number of roll-overs says that we’re not doing a very good job. If we had a terrorist event every year that took out 44,000 people, I’m guessing that reducing those deaths by even 10% would be a priority, but driving – hell anyone can drive!

    Robert –

    I hear what you’re saying about the CGT; no doubt you recall the 911’s of the mid-’70s to early ’80s, cars that would get you into the same jam as my 50 hp Renault but could easily be well into triple digits when you found yourself going backwards. The CGT is an extreme car, and it is entirely possible that Porsche should have made the handling more benign; they did not and I’m not sure it is their job to tell the owner that he damned well better learn how to deal with the car before he goes really fast in it. As I noted about modern liter bikes, they are unbelievably competent machines, but far too many riders are killed going off the road when they are riding far beyond their capabilities simply because the 160 hp, 370 pound machine makes it so easy to do so. I will say that it would help a great deal if the buff books were more forthcoming when they discover poisonous handling characteristics in a car, whether it is a Porsche or a Jeep on the other end. If you really want to scare yourself sometime, go rent a 34 foot motorhome and remember as you’re sawing on the wheel just to keep the damn thing in its lane that many of the drivers are probably only marginally competent in a 4 cyl Accord. Then again, that’s another TTAC editorial…

  • avatar
    SwiftDB4

    This kind of lawsuit should be troubling to all of us that drive in track days. Have any of you considered that as individuals it is unlikely that you have any liability insurance coverage for these kind of suits? Neither your umbrella liability policy, your auto insurance,or the organizer’s policy will cover you for track days. In other words we are all NAKED concerning lawsuits and attorney’s fees.
    As a former Trans Am, IMSA, and Formula Atlantic racer I can’t believe this. The next step will be lawsuits among participants at full racing sanctioned events. Signing legal waivers for racing should be binding PERIOD! We are all adults, no one forces you to race, and it is inheritantly DANGEROUS. You can argue back and forth about driver errors, track negligence, and auto manufacturer defects. Opening the door with these kind of lawsuits will eventually kill track days. Why is the U.S. the only country with this insanity??


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