I suppose it is just human nature for some people to cheat. When you get to the point in your racing career where your next goal is to start winning races, cheating can become tempting for some people. I have heard many ways people attempt to rationalize cheating, such as, “Everyone else is, so why shouldn’t I?” When I personally say cheating in this context, I am not referring to a missing washer bottle, horn or other silly item. What I am talking about are “illegal” (against club rules) modifications that the racer has done to the car that will improve its performance. This is also different from pushing the rules and how they can be interpreted. If you honestly feel that the way the rules are written will legally allow you to perform a modification, then do it.
At one point, I was speaking with another seasoned racer about cheating in club racing. During the conversation I mentioned that it could not be very gratifying for me to win if I knew my car was blatantly illegal. His response was, “Then obviously you have never won.” At that point he was correct, I had never won. After winning my first race, I thought back to that statement, and I confidently knew how wrong he was. Yes, it would have mattered. If I had not won through my own skill as a driver, the victory surely won’t have been so sweet.
While some people may get away with cheating for a while, it often catches up to them. One gentleman was thought to have been cheating for many races. At one of the races a formal protest was filed against him, and his car was found to be illegal. He was disqualified from the race, and he had points put on his license. For this racer, the “what goes around” came around. I could not help but chuckle while watching his car’s engine blow-up in the next two subsequent events. Was it worth it for him to cheat?
At the same point, it’s important to be clear that just because a person is fast does not mean they are cheating.
One day I was inside of a track store and a guy came over to help me. We began talking about the Improved Touring B (ITB) class and how one of his friends runs in it. He went on to say how all of the front runners in the class are cheating. Of course I found this quite amusing as I race in ITB and typically run at the front. I asked him a few questions about what he’s done to the car, and how much effort he’s put into making himself a better driver. I even went as far as to offer to help his friend out and do a HPDE where I could sit in the passenger side of his car. His general response was “nah, he won’t accept any help.” Gee, I wonder what the problem there was. Sometimes it’s hard not to jump to conclusions and I know I’ve done it myself. Last year at Watkins Glen a driver did a fantastic lap time below the existing lap record during qualifying which caused a few eye brows to be raised. A part of me even wondered how in the world he did that. During the race, I felt great in the car and had a SSM Miata that I drafted with. After the race, I learned that I broke the track record. Funny how things appear when it’s someone else.
As a whole, people who race at the front of the pack are talented drivers who worked hard to get there and have well prepared racecars. However, if you do believe that someone is cheating – protest them using whatever process the Club you’re racing with has in place.