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The tradition of 'raising your arm' and its demise


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#1 biercemountain

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 12:43

While watching some vintage footage from Indy last month I saw a number of incidents where a slower driver (or one who had crashed) raised his arm to alert the drivers behind him that he had a problem. I've also seen this in numerous sports car photos from yesteryear. This got me thinking that you never really see this done anymore. In single seaters I'd guess the cockpits have just gotten to too restrictive to allow the driver to do so. Don't know about sports cars.

How did this tradition come to be and when did it fall out of favor?

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#2 CoulthardD

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 13:01

A number of Championships now require drivers to wear arm restraints, which make the practice impossible.

DC

#3 alansart

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 13:05

I think it may be due to the advent of pits to car radio and the design of modern cars. Eff 1 pit crew seem to be able to tell it's driver virtually everything that's going on around him plus there's now so much bodywork around I doubt if a raised arm could be seen anymore.

I'm pleased to say that the tradition is still alive and well in current Club and Historic racing :)

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#4 Dave Ware

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 13:22

I've often wondered about this myself. I saw Denny Hulme raise his arm, to alert the drivers behind of an accident, at the '72 Mid-Ohio Can Am race. I don't recall seeing anyone else do this in my years as a spectator.
I'm not sure when radios became fully functional, or when pit crews had TV coverage of the race in the pits. I have a tape of the '86 CART race, and they were saying that the radios didn't work on the far part of the circuit. So while the existence of radios would remove the need for a driver to raise his arm, when were they fully functional, and did the tradition continue until then, or die away sooner for another reason?

#5 arttidesco

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 13:34

I didn't catch it on camera but the practice was still alive and well at Castle Combe last weekend.

#6 David Lawson

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 14:01

I see all sorts of hand signalling at club meetings through to grand prix meetings. You also see some hand signalling on in-car footage in F1 TV coverage even if it is doubtful the other drivers can see it.

Last weekend at Brands Hatch I saw these two examples.

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A very polite hand signal at the entry to the pit road.

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Driver not trusting his mirrors.

David

#7 garyfrogeye

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 14:10

Modern F1 drivers still seem to be able to gesture with their hands when stuck behind a slow backmarker

#8 alansart

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 14:36

....and there is also the "Finger"



#9 Sharman

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 15:12

Two things spring to mind. To pass a driving test at one time it was necessary to convince the examiner that the candidate knew the proper use of hand signals. There was even a section on the use of a whip when conducting a horse drawn vehicle.


The other thing which stands out was Levegh warning Fangio in 1955.

#10 Tim Murray

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 15:42

....and there is also the "Finger"

I was very disappointed at the time that Coulthard used the American 'finger' instead of the good old British V sign. :p

#11 Option1

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 15:59

Must admit that I've always thought the raised arm in the event of startline stall was as dangerous as the event it was being used to warn about. Imagine the shoulder damage that would result if you were rear-ended while your arm is stretched above your head. Of course, that view does tend to overlook that it was a warning to help avoid that very circumstance.

Neil

#12 E.B.

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 18:10

How did this tradition come to be and when did it fall out of favor?


I know when it fell out of favour at Indy with Bobby Grim - the day he raised his arm and managed to dislocate it because he was travelling too fast!


#13 f1steveuk

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 18:22

It sort of stopped at the time of Gilles accident as well, as there seemed to be some confusion over what side Mass was signaling for Gilles to pass him on.

When I moved from karts to cars, I was told "left arm up, twirl index finger" = "Ready to Start Engine", raised left had, " I'm in trouble and moving off line to the left", and right the opposite, of course, first time I had need to use it, another driver hit me claiming that raising my left hand meant "pass me on the left". Mind you, they're all difficult to do when your covering your eyes!

#14 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 18:44

Must admit that I've always thought the raised arm in the event of startline stall was as dangerous as the event it was being used to warn about. Imagine the shoulder damage that would result if you were rear-ended while your arm is stretched above your head. Of course, that view does tend to overlook that it was a warning to help avoid that very circumstance.

Neil


Damned right - ask Tony Merrick. He stalled the Ferrari Dino 246 on the startline at Imola, frantically signalled with both arms to those fast-starting behind, but he was rammed by an unsighted driver. The impact dislocated both his shoulders. Tony's pretty phlegmatic, and tough, but he was inable to prevent himself screaming in absolute agony. If you've ever put out one shoulder joint you will understand, never mind both...

DCN

#15 LittleChris

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 19:55

It sort of stopped at the time of Gilles accident as well, as there seemed to be some confusion over what side Mass was signaling for Gilles to pass him on.


I had always thought that Jochen moved to the right of the road to give the Ferrari the better line into Terlamenbocht assuming that Gilles would take it. This is the first time that I've heard that he actually signalled to Gilles prior to the accident :confused:

#16 ryan86

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 21:05

He may not have been the last, but Gerhard Berger is the last driver I can really remember doing it in F1. Maybe he just retired more often.

#17 RS2000

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 21:34

There was also the "tradition" to curse against other drivers, showing the fist.


Seemed to upset them when I used it on the M6.....

#18 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 01:49

I think it may be due to the advent of pits to car radio and the design of modern cars. Eff 1 pit crew seem to be able to tell it's driver virtually everything that's going on around him plus there's now so much bodywork around I doubt if a raised arm could be seen anymore.

I'm pleased to say that the tradition is still alive and well in current Club and Historic racing :)

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The FF driver is going through some contortion to do that!
I suspect a HANS device may also restrict that type of contortion also.
In tintops most categorys have to have window nets. In about 99 I was called to the stewards as to why I did not signal that my car had stalled on the grid!! The net was the biggest problem but getting my arm out the window with a high sided seat was near impossible anyway. Especially bearing in mind the seat was as close to the centre tunnel as i could get it! And ofcourse it was bloody dangerous anyway. And thank Christ no one hit me. And even then they could delay the start, I was on the front row signalling to the starter.

#19 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 02:00

It sort of stopped at the time of Gilles accident as well, as there seemed to be some confusion over what side Mass was signaling for Gilles to pass him on.

When I moved from karts to cars, I was told "left arm up, twirl index finger" = "Ready to Start Engine", raised left had, " I'm in trouble and moving off line to the left", and right the opposite, of course, first time I had need to use it, another driver hit me claiming that raising my left hand meant "pass me on the left". Mind you, they're all difficult to do when your covering your eyes!


In American racing I was always taught it meant I'm Slowing Down/I'm Pitting.

You see it in NASCAR still. Though how they can see much in the other cockpit...

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#20 GMACKIE

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 06:23

One thing learned from the my first 'plunge hand in the air at high speed'......think about how you do it. You can end up with a sore arm for a couple of days if not careful.

#21 ExFlagMan

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 07:26

There was also the "tradition" to curse against other drivers, showing the fist. Arturo Merzario was a leading example...

So true - I recall him during practice at the 1976 BGP. He got slightly impeded by another car coming through Surtees and gesticulated with both hands simultanously. All very routine for Art, but in this case for most of the gesture he was travelling along the grass - and there ain't much of that at that point!

#22 Stephen W

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 07:34

I suspect drivers who have signalled they have problems or are trying to assist faster cars get past have stopped doing it because the churls they are trying to help have not acknowledged their efforts or made rude gestures with either one or more fingers!

:wave:

#23 Mila

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 13:57

He may not have been the last, but Gerhard Berger is the last driver I can really remember doing it in F1. Maybe he just retired more often.


as I remember it, after his incident with Patrese at Estoril, Berger and other drivers gave hand signs some consideration.

#24 BullHead

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 23:51

We still get told to do it in karting, to mean slowing down

#25 tsrwright

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 08:45

Sidecar passenger at the TT last week. No restraint problems for him.

#26 doc knutsen

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 08:53

Two things spring to mind. To pass a driving test at one time it was necessary to convince the examiner that the candidate knew the proper use of hand signals. There was even a section on the use of a whip when conducting a horse drawn vehicle.


The other thing which stands out was Levegh warning Fangio in 1955.


Which may be another well-nurtured myth, albeit quoted in Fangio's book. Certainly, the film of the disaster shows no sign of any movement from Levegh.


#27 RonPohl

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 00:13

I agree that the arm restraints have pretty much put an end to arm signals. Also, decreasing cockpit area in more modern formula cars is probably a factor. I recall being told in Jim Russell back in 1967 to always signal.....it was an era when sportsmanship reigned. No blocking......signal a faster car to pass.....oh well.... Now its like bumper cars

#28 Graham Clayton

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 12:21

On a slightly different tangent, there was a tradition in Australian speedway of the drivers saluting the crowd with a raised right arm on the parade lap, as this speedcar photo from Liverpool Speedway in the late 1960's clearly shows:

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Source: Brian Darby's Vintage Speedway site:

http://www.vintagesp...mingphotos.html

After the salute, the cars would reform into two-abreast formation for the start.

With the high-sided bodywork of current speedcars and sprintcars, plus arm restraints and side safety nets, it would be virtually impossible to perform such a salute today.






#29 W154

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 12:50

There was a requirement in the CAMS Manual in the 70's which stated drivers were to raise their arm to indicate to flag marshals that they had seen them waving yellow, double yellow or red flags and reduce speed accordingly. The paragraph was pointed out to me by" Officialdom" one day at Winton before they relieved me of $20 for failing to do so!

#30 DogEarred

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 14:45

On a slightly different tangent, there was a tradition in Australian speedway of the drivers saluting the crowd with a raised right arm on the parade lap, as this speedcar photo from Liverpool Speedway in the late 1960's clearly shows:

--

After the salute, the cars would reform into two-abreast formation for the start.

With the high-sided bodywork of current speedcars and sprintcars, plus arm restraints and side safety nets, it would be virtually impossible to perform such a salute today.



The tradition still applies in many forms of oval racing in the USA. - Even the Indy 500.

Your point about high sided bodywork is well made though & sometimes makes it difficult these days.

#31 JacnGille

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 01:53

There was a requirement in the CAMS Manual in the 70's which stated drivers were to raise their arm to indicate to flag marshals that they had seen them waving yellow, double yellow or red flags and reduce speed accordingly. The paragraph was pointed out to me by" Officialdom" one day at Winton before they relieved me of $20 for failing to do so!

Did you acknowledge the marshals in a different manner afterwards???  ;)

#32 GMACKIE

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 02:37

Did you acknowledge the marshals in a different manner afterwards??? ;)

Such as "Just 2 laps to go, then?"


#33 E1pix

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 02:50

Such as "Just 2 laps to go, then?"

Or worse, indicating "1 lap to go?" ;)

#34 GMACKIE

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 05:10

Depends on which side of the Atlantic you hail from.

#35 W154

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 13:56

Or worse, indicating "1 lap to go?" ;)

Yes,"1 lap to go". Fortunately my crash helmet muffled the advice I gave them along the lines of "spin, spin, spin".
I think I might have been relieved of a lot more than $20 by the Stewards for that!

#36 chdphd

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 13:59

At Silverstone yesterday :wave:

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Careful now by chdphd, on Flickr