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#1 ian senior

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 11:49

Not having competed myself, I've never had any "business" dealings with scrutineers, but I've seen them in action, listened to some of their grumblings about cars and drivers, and have also heard whinges from drivers about their alleged inadequacies. So I thought that others may have some tales to tell.

One incident that always sticks in my mind was when I was helping a disgruntled driver push his scruffy Mallock back to the paddock. He said, "do you know, that bloody scrutineer just told me to f*** off". I asked him what had happened. "It's probably because he failed my car and I told him to f*** off, but he didn't need to take that attitude".

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#2 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 12:13

I saw with all the horror a scrutineer, so remorse that he had failed to see that a throttle linkage when at full throttle had passed the point of ever being able to return to a closed position.
Many years ago but the driver and two spectators died. Please respect what these guys do.

#3 lanciaman

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 12:22

The first time I submitted my newly purchased MGA racecar to tech inspection was a disaster. The car had been raced for several years by its previous owner and I brought it unchanged to tech.

I fully acknowledge my state of Complete & Total Ignorance, a condition that was suffered for a couple years.

The scrutineer failed to pass the car and I was outraged, even as he pointed out the two most egregious errors:

1. My rollbar was made of conduit,
2. And it was simply bolted in back to the body skin rather than through to the frame.

None of this made an difference in assuaging my anger at being sent home for major fixes.

#4 ian senior

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 12:25

Originally posted by Patrick Fletcher
I saw with all the horror a scrutineer, so remorse that he had failed to see that a throttle linkage when at full throttle had passed the point of ever being able to return to a closed position.
Many years ago but the driver and two spectators died. Please respect what these guys do.


Agreed, Patrick. I have a HUGE respect for what scrutineers do, as I'm sure the rest of us do too. Frankly, their job is a responsibility I wouldn't want to take. Having said that, I'm sure there are lots of humourous stories, from both sides, that could be told.

#5 Peter Morley

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 12:43

Years ago we were at a meeting where someone who was racing a Ferrari 250 GT was told by the scrutineer that he needed an electrical master cut-off switch.

Overnight a switch was fitted, however when they took it back to the scrutineer and he tried the switch, the engine did not stop, but it did run a lot worse, at this point the scrutineer said "it sounds like it is running on 6 cylinders".

Sheepishly the mechanic went and connected the switch to the 2nd distributor!

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 13:08

Paul Hamilton, when competing in non-Historic racing in his Elfin 600, arrived at Oran Park with the new Vanguard tie-rod end that was required to replace the one that was totally knackered as it lived atop a front upright on the car.

His helpers had got the car to the scrutineering bay, however, before he arrived. So Paul walked up there with the joint in hand to explain when they found the dreaded wobble in the suspension that they couldn't miss.

"The young guy grabbed the top of the wheel," I recall Paul telling me, "and he moved it... and it moved! He got such a surprise... and he looked at it, and looked around as if he hoped nobody else would notice. Nothing was said, the car was passed."

The joint was fitted before they commenced practice, of course...

#7 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 13:09

For some reason the headlights on my car would come on during a race either when I was miles behind or so far in front it did not matter. The chief scrutineer came over to me one day and showed me how to isolate the lamps.
Having a few drinks with the lads after the meeting I remembered that I better get the lights working again - this gorgeous girl walked up as I was joining up the yellow to yellow etc and as it was a cold night I could see she was ............thankyou Sir Scrutineer

#8 BRG

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 13:24

Scrutineers are a greatly maligned breed. Of course there are some pedantic buggers amongst them who can give the rest a bad name, but generally they will try very hard to help rather than hinder – as long as they think that the competitor is playing the game and not trying to take the p**s.

As a competitor, I have had several bad experiences. But I have also seen the other side of the coin. On one of our club’s stage rallies, I got roped in as scrutineer’s assistant – marshalling the cars and getting them ready (bonnet and boot open, helmets, overalls and logbook ready for inspection etc). The boss asked us to check the mandatory external engine cut-outs when the cars drove into the scrutineering bay. These are usually a T-handle that pulled up, connected to the main cut-out switch by a cable.

It was shocking - barely half worked properly, many were seized solid (on at least two cars the handle broke in my hand as I pulled it!) and on more than one car they were simply not connected anyway. This is a simple safety measure and many competitors, who would spend a fortune on new tyres or better engines, couldn’t be bothered to put a drop of oil on it.

Years ago, I was queuing in a Bury St Edmunds side street for scrutineering for the Suffolk Stages rally. It was a long queue. The word came filtering down the line that the scrutineer was testing fireproof bulkheads with a piece of welding wire and a torch. Any light ,or a hole big enough to get the wire through, and you were out. All down the line crews were feverishly attacking their fireproofing. I asked my driver if our Escort Mexico was OK. “Well” he said “we didn’t bother to fireproof behind the fuel tank.” Cue total panic, bits of aluminium, tape and old rags all stuffed in the holes. It worked (or at least by the time we reached the scrutineering bay, they had got fed up with that game and we never got tested). Before the next rally, the tank was taken out and a full aluminium fireproof bulkhead sheet fitted. Mission accomplished by that scrutineering team.

One of our members built a Talbot Sunbeam rally car – starting with a bare shell. He is proper engineer and a meticulous fellow. When he first presented the car for inspection, the scrutineer looked over it and then summoned al the competitors anc rews within earshot. Our man was terrified – was he to be humiliated publicly? No, instead the scrutineer pointed to his car and said “There you are, you lot – that’s how to prepare a rally car properly. This is the best presented car that I have ever seen”. And therein lies the answer – turn up in a clean, tidy, visibly well-maintained vehicle and you will have no problem. Even if something is found, the scrutineer will probably tell you to fix it by next event rather than stop you competing – well, if it is a minor thing anyway. But turn up in a heap and expect to have it examined very suspiciously.

Of course there are still some funny ideas around, like one guy who demanded NO play in wheel bearings at all, despite the fact that the bearing would quickly fail that way and the car maybe shed a wheel. But don’t argue – just tighten them up and loosen them off afterwards. The worse abuse that I recall was an over-zealous scrutineering team that actually confiscated any crash helmets that did not comply with the latest regulation of the time. Quite why they thought they had any right to do that, I never discovered.

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 13:36

I always found, actually, that by leaving off the blue triangle that identifies where the isolating switch is located, I could count on them not noticing that the rubbers in the stupid Triumph steering connection were no good.

Easier to carry a roll of cheap blue insulation tape than to fix those damned rubbers!

#10 ggnagy

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 13:55

Originally posted by lanciaman
The first time I submitted my newly purchased MGA racecar to tech inspection was a disaster. The car had been raced for several years by its previous owner and I brought it unchanged to tech.

I fully acknowledge my state of Complete & Total Ignorance, a condition that was suffered for a couple years.

The scrutineer failed to pass the car and I was outraged, even as he pointed out the two most egregious errors:

1. My rollbar was made of conduit,
2. And it was simply bolted in back to the body skin rather than through to the frame.

None of this made an difference in assuaging my anger at being sent home for major fixes.


The car I bought to go to drivers school in was a ratty but legal appearing 82 Mazda. At some time during the cars previous race history, a rule change was made requiring that the "harness bar" (the horizontal about half way up the main roll hoop) had to be the full width of the car, and not just terminate at the diagonal. I happily noted that the previous owner had fitted the roll cage manufacturers fix, and went off to get my annual tech at the drivers school the evening before. Everything looked fine to teh scrutineers, except one thought the bar in question looked a little "odd". They drilled another inspection hole, and determined that it was not roll cage tubing, but steel water pipe. I got off with a note in the log book, and an admonishment to not roll the car, which I went and did 2 days later. :(


On adifferent note, there was a story a year or two ago out of the SCCA Showroom Stock people. In order to police possible ECU tampering, the scrutineers were going from car to car on the grid with OBD-II scan tools. The story goes that the offical plugs into his first Neon and goes. "Aha! Code 55!" and gets all excited until he is informed that code 55 is the "end of codes" signal, and not a real issue. On a more serious note around the same issue. At that time the Dodge Vipers had been required to run a inlet restrictor in the Touring 1 class. The same OBD test was applied to those classes and guess what. The addition of the air restrictor caused the ECU to report problems with the mass airflow sensor. Vipers pretty much disappeared from the class overnight.

#11 Andrew Fellowes

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 22:09

Zolder, 197ish.

didn't get beyond the usual "Good Morning' when the scrutineer, with the biggest smile you have seen, let out a "Magnifique" and we that we were on our way!

How times have changed.

-for the better, I always welcome a second pair of eyes.

#12 mp4

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 23:45

I have you for you, but it involves motorcycles. The intent is the same, however...
I was all excited about my first proper track day...
I'd removed a bunch of fuses, replaced the coolant with water, taped up any plastic that could cut a tire, checked my brakes and made sure my leathers and helmet were up to the job.
The thing they got me on was my kick stand! They wanted it to wired out. Go figure...
They do an excellent job and my hat is off to them.
As of now, my kick stand has been removed and they are happy to let me play.

#13 Frank S

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 02:39

For the first SCCA ARRC runoffs at Riverside I was one of those able to spend weekdays furthering the sport. When I showed up on Wednesday, Registration hadn't opened yet. I helped open it and register the first 20 or so competitors. Then I went to help Tech Inspection (Scrutineering). As the lines grew longer, I started a separate line for "problem" cars, vehicles that did not present well for quick inspection, or that had specific shortcomings that required executive decisions.

One such car was a nice little Mini Cooper. From outside everything seemed to be in place. The parking brake mechanism had been removed from the handle to a connection just outside the rear wheels, and a short cable was hanging down on each side. I suggested the driver remove the cables or wire them out of sight, since they could be seen by turn workers and might be cause for some kind of subsequent examination at a less propitious time.

I leaned in through the driver's door and something caught my eye: it looked as if there was a run in the paint on the rollover cage. I looked closer and saw it was a seam. The cage was made of black iron pipe, and some of the junctions were threaded pipe joints. I moved the car into "Problem" status, keeping an eye on it so I could follow up.

A few minutes later a couple of Tech-ers and the driver were meeting, and I drifted over to hear what was being said. Scrutineer to Chief: "It's black iron pipe." Chief to Scrutineer: "Give him a sticker. He ran that thing all year to get here, and came all the way from Canada to race."


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#14 Lotus23

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 03:33

Lotsa stories come to mind. One of the earlier ones involved LeMans 40+ years ago, where the French scrutineers tended to eyeball French entries with a much more relaxed interpretation of the rules than they did for "outsiders".

One of the requirements was that the car had to have a certain amount of ground clearance (around 3 or 4", IIRC); they measured this by rolling the vehicle over a low wooden box. I was working on Briggs Cunningham's team of E-type Jags in '63, and there were lots of spring rubbers hastily pounded into place, and tires inflated to just below the bursting point, in order to meet this rule. (Another ploy was to get 6 or 8 of us to lift up the chassis of the car 'til the springs were unloaded, then very gently ease it back down just before we got to "the box".)



I can't recall the details, but weren't the Lotus cars disallowed around that time for having 4 wheel lugs rather than 5? I remember Chunky was not amused!

#15 Tweddell

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 14:06

some years ago I went to scruteneering with a 63 Marcos Fastback. After checking the main details of the car and the FIA-papers, the two good men wanted to see the chassis-number. I pointed to the chassis plate, screwed in the wooden radiator box. But they wanted to see the number in the metal frame. When I told them , that there is no metal frame at all in this car (so where to beat it in?), they didn´t believed it, and I was amused to see them checking the whole chassis by "knocking on wood" . So i got the add in my papers: no chassis number in frame.

#16 xflow7

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 14:17

Originally posted by Lotus23

I can't recall the details, but weren't the Lotus cars disallowed around that time for having 4 wheel lugs rather than 5? I remember Chunky was not amused!


I don't remember the details of the story, but I think I recall hearing that it was something really ridiculous where some part, like a rear hub or something, had broken so they replaced the axle with a beefier version which happened to have been 5 bolt, where the previous had been 4, and they were disallowed because now the F/R bolt patters were different, even though both were legal had they been at all 4 corners. Something like that.

As I say, though, I could have it all mixed up. Surely someone will be along to correct me.

#17 dolomite

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 14:24

I may be wrong, but I believe it was due to the fact that having different wheel bolt patterns at front and rear meant that the spare wheel would only fit one of them and not the other.

#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 22:33

Yes, that's it... but not 5-bolt...

Remember that a lot of Lotuses had 6-bolt pattern? That was on the rear, 4-bolt on the front... the car was a little Lotus 23 that was odds on to bolt with the Index of Thermal Efficiency that had usually been the domain of the French.

So they took it away and fitted 4-stud rears. "Mai non, M'sieur! Eef it needed seex bolts yesterday, eet must have seex bolts today!"

#19 xflow7

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 22:39

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Yes, that's it... but not 5-bolt...

Remember that a lot of Lotuses had 6-bolt pattern? That was on the rear, 4-bolt on the front... the car was a little Lotus 23 that was odds on to bolt with the Index of Thermal Efficiency that had usually been the domain of the French.

So they took it away and fitted 4-stud rears. "Mai non, M'sieur! Eef it needed seex bolts yesterday, eet must have seex bolts today!"


Ah, yes, that's what it was! He turned up with different patters front to rear, so they made him change the rears so the spare would fit all 'round, and then they promptly told him he couldn't compete because if it had been designed with 6, it couldn't possibly be strong enough with only 4.

Thanks, Ray & dolomite :up:

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#20 D-Type

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 23:09

I think it was being in the running for the Index of Performance that led to the 'heavy' scrutineering. The Index of Thermal Efficiency had already got away from the French when the Lotus Elites won it.

Then in 1966 the Mini Coopers were excluded after the Monte Carlo Rally when their lights were found to be non-compliant although they had been accepted at pre-event scrutineering; and the regulations had already put the SAABs out of contention by introducing a handicap for two strokes; so Citroen and Panhard cleaned up.

But getting back on thread, in general, scrutineers do have to strike a delicate balance between being over-zealous and letting unsafe or non-compliant cars race.

#21 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 23:16

Does anyone remember what the scrutineers required to prove this car was safe first time out?

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#22 JtP

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 02:03

Originally posted by Frank S

One such car was a nice little Mini Cooper. From outside everything seemed to be in place. The parking brake mechanism had been removed from the handle to a connection just outside the rear wheels, and a short cable was hanging down on each side. I suggested the driver remove the cables or wire them out of sight, since they could be seen by turn workers and might be cause for some kind of subsequent examination at a less propitious time.

I leaned in through the driver's door and something caught my eye: it looked as if there was a run in the paint on the rollover cage. I looked closer and saw it was a seam. The cage was made of black iron pipe, and some of the junctions were threaded pipe joints. I moved the car into "Problem" status, keeping an eye on it so I could follow up.

A few minutes later a couple of Tech-ers and the driver were meeting, and I drifted over to hear what was being said. Scrutineer to Chief: "It's black iron pipe." Chief to Scrutineer: "Give him a sticker. He ran that thing all year to get here, and came all the way from Canada to race."


--
Frank S


The point about minis and I have pointed out to scrutineers is that a mini doesn't really need a cage as the shell is quite strong enough for most accidents. Scrutineers, especially now do not always hold this view as RAC requirements are now for full cages to be fitted.

The real problem is not senior scrutineers, but junior scrutineers just starting out. I was passing the time of day one day with the senior scrutineer while one of his juniors attacked the car with all his might. He grabbed the fuel tank brackets and tried to pull the tank out the car. At that point, the senior scrutineer looked round and commented "you'll never pull that out". The junior then let the tank brackets go to find the paint applied the day before hadn't dried fully, want light battleship gray hands?

As for the mini you scrutineered, the owner obviously had similar discussion skills to Colin "Mad Dan" Grewer. When mechanicing at a rallycross, we had fitted a bag tank as required for International events at great expense, at least not mine. While waiting in the queue, we noticed Colin and his Volvo and wondered how he had dealt with the bag tank/ international cage regulations. Colin was not a man noted for squandering his money on his car. His bag tank turned out to be a plastic canister pushed into a plastic bucket and held in place by bungees. After the scrutineer recovered and refused to pass it, Colin then demanded to know the BS spec required for the tank. When the scrut couldn't produce this, Colin then asked how he knew the tank didn't comply. So the scrut then sets about the cage requirements and asks where the cage is. "Its a Volvo and the cage comes built in, did you not know that?" and so Colin competes in the event.

#23 BRG

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 10:48

Originally posted by Andrew Fellowes
Zolder, 197ish.

didn't get beyond the usual "Good Morning' when the scrutineer, with the biggest smile you have seen, let out a "Magnifique" and we that we were on our way! .

Ah, the Belgians have their own way of carrying out technical inspections. I watched them at work on the 24 Hours of Ypres rally in the early 1980s. It appeared to consist of driving up onto the start ramp, handing the officials your papers and turning on all your spotlights. Those with a particularly slpendid array of spotlights got a round of applause. That seemed to be it.

Post-rally however, could be a different matter. The Group 1 winner that year was DQ'd after the scrutineers found his rear brake lining were 1mm too small....

#24 Cirrus

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 18:04

Things do vary enormously. At Monaco Historique this year, our FJ was given the most rigorous of safety and eligibility examinations, and our driver was required to present his socks for inspection!.
At the Nuerburgring last month, the scrute didn't lay a hand on the car. He looked at the photo on the FIA papers, and signed the ticket.

There's probably a happy medium somewhere in between.........

#25 JacnGille

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 18:50

After being an SCCA Tech Inspector for over ten years, an SCCA competitor for two, as well as crewing for friends in both SCCA and IMSA I have stories from both sides of the fence. All I can say is that you haven't lived til you've had a large click-type torque wrench waved at you by an irate Showroom Stock driver, stayed up til all hours of the night measuring Saab cylinder heads or been accused of doctoring someone's fuel in order to have him DQd.

#26 lanciaman

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 19:48

Whilst working tech I was asked to check regs on a Lola CanAm car owned by a local privateer.
I noticed the rollbar inspection hole, on one of the main uprights, had a small bolt screwed in it, so I picked up an adjustable wrench to give things a look.

One of the crew sidled up to me and said "Don't do that unless you want Sunoco 260 all over the paddock." The car's roll structure was being used for fuel containment.