My Dad and godfather are avid Holden supporters who flagged for many years ago at Lakeside in Brisbane so each year in October, I always settle in for another great day of skill, excitement and hopefully a full Podium win for Holden.
And it's often a day filled with heartache and pure joy.
This was absolutely true in 2016 because I got the Holden podium finish I wanted but my favourite driver, Craig Lowndes, exited far too early with mechanical difficulties.
This meant his day turned from chasing his dream of winning the Peter Brock trophy, his mentor and friend on the 10th anniversary of his death; to simply driving each lap to finish in the best position possible for championship points.
I also saw Rick Kelly, a driver often cursed at Bathurst, lose his radio communication after lap 1 so he couldn't talk to the crew. This meant finding alternative ways to signal what was happening as he drove alongside Pit Straight including flashing his lights and turning on his indicators.This got me thinking: there's so many simple systems happening throughout the race, what would happen if there weren't any?
One answer continued to spring to mind: Crashes and injuries because SAFETY is paramount.
But it's more than that and as I delved further, I've realised there's 7 reasons why rules and systems govern Bathurst.7 Reasons Why Rules and Systems Govern Bathurst
1. Risk Management
The governing body and teams establish rules to ensure driver and crew safety including speed limits in Pit Lane, fire suits worn by Pit Crew, redressing correctly on the track and not-negotiable situations which bring out an automatic Safety Car.
Any breaches result in driver infringements which can cost you the race, and many drivers have paid the ultimate price.
All drivers, crew and management need clear understanding about what needs to be done, how, when and by whom.
Even though drivers know what to do when they get in the car, they are so focused on getting quickly back onto the track that you'll hear instructions on the radio: Do up your belt, put in your radio, pump the brakes, watch your speed to ensure compliance with safety procedures and team systems.
Under excessive stress and tension, systems and an external perspective from the Team Manger on the radio bring clarity and calmness to any situation eg 'Only fuel to go then you're away, yellow flag at turn 2- can't overtake'.
Anything can and does happen at Bathurst so documentation and systems provide not only the facts about what's happening eg who's pitting now, how many laps has the co-driver done etc; but helps determine what each team does in the uncontrollable situation of a safety car.
Deciding whether to pit now or later can make or break the race result.
It's a highly stressful environment especially if a driver loses time due to a slow pit, as demonstrated by Rick Kelly who communicated to his crew boss that he had worked his guts out to get track time only to lose it in the pits.
But Bathurst success is not because of the driver – if the crew, owners and drivers don't all work together, no matter how good a driver you are, you won't win the Great Race.
There needs to be clear and concise communication between drivers and crew so when they pit, everyone knows exactly what to do.
If a driver uses an unknown term to describe what's happening in the car, this will only ensure a longer pitstop as they struggle to find the cause and solution.
7. What If
Bathurst success is often determined by how quickly and accurately you adapt to a crash or unexpected mechanical challenges so before the race even begins, crews have documented procedures around the numerous 'what if' scenarios so they can be as prepared as possible for whatever comes their way on the day.
If it wasn't for the multiple 'old school' backup plans when they lost the radio including chalk signs and a handheld radio in the car to at least hear from the crew about track conditions, Rick Kelly and Russell Ingall would've been out of the race after about lap 10.
So what's this got to do with your RTO business?
Everything! Documenting how your RTO operates (what's in your and your team's heads), knowing your numbers and thinking ahead of your clients/students and competition are critical to success.