One chapter of the BMW Car Club of America recently issued a statement prohibiting certain new cars from its track days, but was forced to retract the ban after a Road & Track article drew attention to it.
The Genesee Valley chapter announced it would no longer allow owners of certain new vehicles fitted with driver aids, such as emergency braking and lane keep assist, from participating in its high-performance driving experiences, according to Road & Track. While it admitted such features improve safety in normal driving situations, the New York affiliate of the BMWCCA claimed that might not be the case on a race track.
On public roads, emergency braking can help account for the unpredictable nature of many motorists, but on a track, the behavior of other drivers is more predictable; you know everything from where cars ahead will brake, to where faster cars will try to pass. However, the vehicle’s computers don’t know any of that, as driver assist systems are designed to function a certain way anytime they are engaged.
The simple solution would be to turn off these systems, but the Genesee Valley group noted only a trained technician can confidently ensure they won’t reengage during spirited driving. Despite the chapter’s seemingly logical arguments, BMCCA claimed its statement didn’t reflect the national organization’s views, prompting the local affiliate to issue a retraction.
Considering the amount of thought involved in formulating the original statement, it likely wasn’t actually done “inadvertently,” especially considering BMWCCA told Road & Track that the chapter “created and published an unauthorized policy.”
Regardless, the sequence of events raised an interesting issue.
As semi-autonomous driving systems become more prevalent in cars, manufacturers are going to have no choice but to work with car clubs to develop procedures to ensure they don’t cut in during track days. After all, if a vehicle system causes a serious accident, it might not be the organization who hosted the driving event that’s held responsible.
Thumbnail photo via BMW