At Least One Track Day Group Lifts Ban On Cars With Crash Avoidance Tech

Photo credit: BMW
Photo credit: BMW

Yesterday we learned the BMW Car Club of America’s Genesee Valley Chapter banned newer cars with certain collision avoidance features from participating in their track events, sending the internet’s track day-going communities into a fiery debate. However, the group has now lifted that ban, saying that the issue merits further study.

The Genesee Valley Chapter released the following statement to its membership yesterday evening regarding its on-track high performance drivers’ education (HPDE) events:

Earlier this week, we inadvertently distributed a statement to participants of our HPDE events regarding the acceptance of BMW’s and vehicles of other manufacturers equipped with certain safety features. Unfortunately, this premature statement was made public before our discussions and research had been concluded.

While advancements in safety features are certainly issues to consider as HPDE schools continue to evolve with technological advancements, we’d like to emphasize that our post was in no way meant to reflect BMW CCA’s position or policy at a national or chapter level.

The BMW Car Club of America and the Genesee Valley Chapter have no HPDE event vehicle ban for BMW’s equipped with the drivers aids in question. BMW CCA continues to work with BMW NA to educate and develop a nationwide procedure for including BMWs with drivers aids in HPDE schools.

We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

The group’s initial statement banning certain safety features was posted to the BMW enthusiast website Bimmerfile and went viral from there.

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The safety features in question, such as lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking, are those that take control away from a driver in situations the car senses as dangerous in normal road use. Many are afraid these can take over at the wrong time on track, as a driver might drop a wheel onto a curb or follow cars more closely during on track. However, many systems—including BMW’s—can be completely disabled.

While one chapter may have rescinded their ban, other chapters of other organizations, such as the Niagara Region Porsche Club of America, still have a ban on cars with collision avoidance systems in place.

That group’s education chairman Bert Xavier confirmed that their ban remained in place last night to Jalopnik.

“We simply do not have enough information regarding how these systems will behave in a track environment,” he said. “In the interest of safety for all involved, this is our current stance.”

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Neither BMWCCA or PCA have taken a national stance on the issue. However, the fact that some groups are already wondering if it needs to be banned still leaves us worried that our next new cars won’t be allowed on track.

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.

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DISCUSSION

As much as the NHTSA loves to mandate things left right and center like backup cameras, and it makes me crazy. These electronic nannies are likely to be one of their next mandates. But, I wish part of the mandate for things like this was not only the ability to disable them, but the ability to do so permanently using the system settings menus (IE without a dealer interface computer). 

It’s really endemic of a overall problem in the industry. My mother was going to buy a new Volvo V60 Wagon until she test drove it. She hated the start stop tech with the fire a 1000 suns. Sure, you can disable it, but you have to do it every single time you start the freaking car. It can’t be done permanently and she wasn’t having any part of that and walked away. Things you turn off should just stay turned off until you turn them back on. I have a Fiat 500 Abarth and I have to push that damn “sport” button every time I start the car, why doesn’t that stay in whatever setting it was last left in? Same with disabling the ECS. Leave it off until I hit the button again, put the light on in the dash to remind me.