As more new cars come with collision avoidance features that momentarily take control away from the driver, track day groups have been confused as to how to handle them. A few even banned them entirely. Here’s how one group is making sure the driver stays in control all the time during a track day session.
The Genesee Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America initially banned cars equipped with these devices, which include lane-keeping assists and automatic emergency braking systems that you don’t want to accidentally come on when, for example, you place two wheels on a track’s curb.
However, they recently reversed that ban, but they’re now requiring the cars with such systems to be marked for an additional check before they’re let out on to the track. A letter from the chapter’s chief instructor that was forwarded to Jalopnik explains:
Because [crash avoidance systems] become active automatically at vehicle startup, it will be incumbent upon drivers to ensure they manually shut down their systems before proceeding onto the track. Instructors and pit-out marshals will verify that the systems are indeed shut down before allowing your car on track. Cars will be required to display a special sticker on the windshield if these systems are installed, so that pit marshals can easily identify them and verify that the systems have been shut down prior to release into pit lane.
This sounds like an extremely sensible policy. Drivers of newer cars can still participate in the chapter’s track days, and this gives track day officials an easy way to ensure that those systems are off and won’t interfere with anyone’s day.
Once you’re let out of the pits, chances are, you won’t need to restart your car unless you have a significant oops and stall your car. In that case, most track day groups will want you to come right back into the pits so they can double-check that everything is okay before letting you back on track.
This isn’t the official stance of the national BMWCCA, but rather, the workaround the chapter came up for their own events. However, as BMW insists that their crash avoidance systems can be completely disabled, it’s not surprising to see a chapter now mandate that they be turned off entirely before going out on track.
Of course, this still means that cars where you can’t disable these kinds of safety features will still be banned, but I can’t think of many that don’t allow you to turn them off, especially as far as performance-oriented cars go.