Drivers at a Sonoma Raceway DE event organized by SpeedSF earlier this month allege several Rearden Racing drivers monopolized and endangered other drivers.
Update: Rearden Racing posted a statement which I’ve provided below.
When you mix professional drivers and near amateurs on the same racetrack, you’re bound to have a couple of on-track tussles and that’s exactly what happened. According to two video clips uploaded earlier this week, Rearden Racing’s 370Z and Audi R8 World Challenge Cars were both involved in incidents at the May 24 and 25 open track DE sessions at Sonoma Raceway that saw Rearden Racing’s 370Z fly off the track at one point and their Audi R8 damaging and effectively wrecking a DE driver’s Scion FRS in another.
A little background, DE events A.K.A. drivers education events, are track events where literal amateurs up to Advanced level drivers go out in their respective sessions to learn the limits of themselves and their cars. There are four groups and you can read up on each level here.
DE events are definitely not race events and I’m assuming should be treated as such. Although passing is allowed, no one is passing for a position in order to win points or podium as I stated, it’s not a race.
The videos and information I have were gathered from various Facebook groups and from the Youtube video itself with the DE racers sharing the videos so, as you can imagine, both incidents are rather one-sided.
As per first party sources and witnesses at the track event, Rearden Racing opted to run their racecars in Advanced Open Passing and Mixed Open Passing groups instead of a private run group. Rearden Racing was warned that their racecars would be wheel to wheel with much slower cars like Mazda Miatas and Scion FRSs.
Nissan 370Z Off-track incident
A video titled “Near disaster at Sonoma Raceway” hit the internet earlier this weekend and shows a Porsche GT3 RS being piloted by an instructor with Rearden Racing’s 370Z driving behind them.
The original YouTube video is no longer available but a mirror is floating around which I’ve posted below.
The original video description read,
Near disaster averted, thankfully. My coach took my friend for a ride in my RS while I followed behind in my friend’s GT3 and I saw this near disaster unfold right in front of me. ‘Team Reardon’ was a thorn in everyone’s side that day. A ‘race team’ that decided to practice at a DE, but ignored that they were at a DE event. They would line up at the front (even though some of them had no business being up at front) at the start of the session and then block anyone from passing them during the outlap as they weaved back and forth warming up their tires even though they were asked to start at the back if they were going to do that. After this incident, one of them proceed to crash into an instructors car and destroyed it, only to shrug their shoulders. No class at all. A DE is not a race. Any competent driver should know the difference between the two.
According to the driver of Rearden Racing’s 370Z in the now deleted YouTube comments,
I was driving the TC Nissan. I had driven behind this green car in this section of the track many times over the course of the last 1.5 days. Never before had I seen the driver over slow that corner so dramatically as the Porsche did in this clip. If you view the video from the white Porsche following you will see that upon applying brake I start to turn in, (Which is the correct way to drive this corner) I immediately realized the Green car had dramatically over slowed the corner and was not turning in to make the corner either. I tried to clamp down on my brakes and park my car but as soon as I did the brakes immediately went into ice mode. I chose to put my car off road, over the curb and through the woods to avoid contact with the green Porsche. Had I done differently it would’ve resulted in a very bad collision. I later found out that the driver of the Green car was not the owner and it was his first time in that car for the event. I spent most of the time there learning the other drivers and their habits, This one caught me off guard. Thankfully no one was hurt and neither car sustained any damage. For the record that is a air vent hose routed around the drivers side mirror to flow air into the driver. The slower TC cars suffer from high temps in the cockpit while we are driving around so slow.
If you make the jump to the video, there’s quite a lively discussion going on in the comments section replying to the above comment.
Just from the comments above, you can tell just how different these two cars, the 370Z and the Porsche GT3 RS, are. One’s a bonafide racecar with race-spec equipment and the others a racecar that you can still drive on the street. Both cars are on extremely different levels. The same can be said of the drivers.
Rearden Racing Audi R8 severely damages Scion FRS
This next video comes from Instagram from an HPDE Enthusiast who copied a video originally uploaded on Vimeo that is now password protected.
As per a first party source, the collision between the FRS and Audi R8 happened after Turn 2 setting up for Turn 3.
Both the FRS and Audi R8 were running in the Mixed Open Passing group.
In the driver’s seat was her partner and another party so the FRS owner was not riding shotgun.
Drivers familiar with the track describe the ideal racing line as a gradual straight line shift to the right side of the track, almost onto the painted burm, and from there you make the left into turn 3.
Before entering Turn 3, the FRS driver takes a cue that it’s safe to proceed from his passenger, confirming that Rearden’s Audi R8 was not directly behind them. Unbeknownst to both, Rearden’s Audi was approaching at a speed differential that made it almost impossible for even an advanced driver to see in time.
My first party source contends that whoever was driving the Audi assumed they had been seen and turned in resulting in a collision.
A meeting between Rearden Racing and the driver of the Scion FRS followed shortly after the incident with event organizers as mediator. Supposedly, Rearden Racing demanded upwards of $2,000 from the driver but no agreement was reached.
When footage was asked from Rearden Racing, from their Audi R8 which allegedly has four in-car cameras, Rearden claims their memory cards were full.
As mentioned, the damage was extensive. The FRS suffered significant body damage and mechanical damage to the cooling system rendering the car untrackable.
The frame has yet to be inspected.
Rearden Racing’s Response and moving forward
Rearden Racing has yet to apologize or offer any compensation to at least the Scion FRS contingent.
My first party source does want to emphasize that there are no ill feelings towards the Audi R8 driver with the understanding that mistakes happen.
Although cliche, cars can be repaired, not people. No one was seriously hurt in this incident, perhaps only egos.
Statement from Rearden Racing
Several days later, Rearden Racing posted up their own statement on Facebook.
Those are the only two videos of incidents from that weekend and there’s a good chance that there are several more floating around.
The fact is that Rearden Racing should not have been allowed to monopolize a DE Session the way they did. You simply can’t mix drivers of different levels like that and expect a clean outcome.
It seems like Rearden Racing wanted to do a bit of testing and tuning on a budget and perhaps they accomplished what they set out to do. But, it looks like they’ve angered several open track drivers who just want to learn in the process.
Rearden Racing is returning to Sonoma next month to race.
At the very least, I believe Rearden Racing should apologize for their actions and take whatever responsibility they see fit. Their statement suggests this probably won’t happen.
What’s your .02? Let me know in the comments below!