Trackday Diaries: Eyes Up, Mr. Outlaw
You really can’t ask for a more pleasant, harmless example of schadenfreude than the recent, and well-publicized, decision by “outlaw” Porsche painter/sticker-applier/Vimeo-movie-star/used-clothing-retailer Magnus Walker to crash into his own car hauler. Nobody was hurt beyond his own sore back and no one besides Mr. Walker himself had any monetary loss from the incident. Heck, with the extra publicity it might be a net gain for the dreadlocked whiteboy from the United Kingdom.
Which leaves us, the viewers, absolutely free to laugh and/or gloat about the whole thing. But if we want to take a minute to be thoughtful about it, there’s a more important lesson to be learned, and it’s not “OMG THE 911 IS DANGEROUS EVEN FOR THE MOST TRAINED RACING SUPERSTAR”.
There’s nothing I love more than Monday-morning-quarterbacking crashes, whether they are mine or someone else’s. If you disagree, and you’d like to watch a video where I nearly get my check cashed to feel better about it, here you go. You’re welcome. Yes, I was in pain for weeks afterwards.
I’ve watched this urban-out-of-control video a few times now. In the aftermath of the incident, when there were just photographs and no video available, there were a few theories coming from the momma’s-basement crowd, all of which can be disproven now:
- SOME JERK PARKED A TRAILER WHERE IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN, THUS ENDANGERING THE URBAN OUTLAW! Well, no: he knew the trailer was there. It was his trailer, reportedly.
- HE WAS SWERVING TO AVOID SOME JERK IN A PAGODA SL! WHAT A HERO! Well, this is technically true, except for the minor detail of the Mercedes being in its own lane. In fact, had the Pagoda driver not had his eyes up, he would have been hit. It was his quick reaction to brake and move over that saved things from being worse than they were.
- THE TEMPERATURE SUDDENLY DROPPED MAKING HIS SLICK TIRES DEADLY! Doesn’t appear to be the case. He knew the weather, the road, and the conditions.
- THE 911 CAN KILL THE MOST EXPERIENCED DRIVERS! As we’ll discuss, this could have happened in a rental Mustang.
So that’s what didn’t happen. What did happen? Well, the video shows Magnus taking the most classic early-apex mistake approach possible to the corner. Were he a novice trackday student, this would be excusable. But he represents himself as being an experienced instructor and racer, albeit with the Porsche Owners Club which isn’t exactly real racing as actual racers understand it. So I’m thinking that he made a deliberate choice to enter the corner early. The only problem with this theory is that his entrance to the previous corner, which is also in the video, is total garbage and if one of my Green-group driving students did that we’d have a chat about it at lunch. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he knew what he was doing.
I believe that the reason he entered the corner early was so he could unbalance the car and slide it on exit. This is the usual technique favored by drifters and everyone who has ever been asked to “slide for the camera”. He probably touched the brakes a bit then applied throttle to slide out. And that’s what happened.
So far, all was going well and good. But there was traffic in the oncoming lane. How he didn’t know that would be the case utterly escapes me. Maybe he told a friend to hold traffic — but that’s not the kind of thing on which you can rely. Most importantly, he should have been able to see what was happening before he got around the corner. It was completely flat.
To me, it looks like he came off the throttle too early when he saw the Pagoda and promptly started an oscillation that, after he panicked and stepped on the brake, resulted in a neat half-gainer into his own car hauler, which thankfully wasn’t lowering the ramp at the level of his neck. This has very little to do with it being an OMG AIRCOOLED OUTLAW 911 ON SLICKS YO. I see novice students make the same mistake in everything from Miatas to Mustangs. If anything, the rear engine probably saved his bacon a bit by getting the car rotating a bit faster away from the lady in the passenger seat, whose legal claim for pain and suffering would then be even stronger than it is now had they struck on his side.
So, dear readers, how could we fix this, given a time machine? Any of the following would do it:
- Not driving like a total moron on public roads in the first place. This advice is easy to give but hard to take. If you love cars and you love driving fast, it’s hard to be too sanctimonious about this. Your humble author made a very similar mistake to Mr. Walker when he was sixteen, hitting a parked car with my “powersliding” 200SX.
- Controlling the scene better. You’re filming for television, so block the road with another car and be certain you have open space. Chris Harris, Matt Farah, and the other video superstars understand this.
- Plan your stunt. In order for Mr. Walker to be successful in doing his stunt for the camera, he’d have needed to be assured of a clear left lane ahead. I don’t know why he thought he would be able to slide the car and stop it in that space. No person with any experience would use that short of a run for a car-motion shot.
- Take a practice run, without the reporter. That would have shown him how foolish the idea was and he’d just be fixing his own equipment now instead of talking to his insurance company’s liability guy.
But this next one is the most important, and it’s something that we all need to do, all the time:
LOOK UP. At all times. In every situation. Keep your eyes up to infinity focus and look ahead on the road. If you do that, you will almost never be surprised. Even if there is a car in your lane that you did not expect, looking ahead will let you save your own bacon like Mr. Pagoda SL instead of running into the other car at full military power and going to the hospital.
Had Magnus been looking up like a race driver, instead of looking at the apex like a fashion-clothing expert, he would have seen that the oncoming lane was full. He could have gone full-stop on the brakes, skipped the turn, and probably done nothing other than rip off his custom outlaw airdam. And he would have had to make some sheepish explanations to everyone. But he’d have had the satisfaction of looking ahead, seeing the incident, and avoiding it.
Very few of us have fuck-you-Los-Angeles money and an endless supply of aircooled cars to wreck. So when we’re on the street, we need to be even more careful than Mr. Walker. And remember what Gil Scott-Heron said:
No matter how far wrong you’ve gone
You can always turn around.
Believe me, I know that lesson better than Mr. Walker, or almost anyone else, does.
More by Jack Baruth
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