Let's Review: What Is Blocking?

By Tom Martin

July 31, 2018

If you watch a lot of racing, you see some action on the track that looks a lot like what the average person would call "blocking". But it isn't often penalized, even in pro racing where they have enough officials to be watching. Of course in club racing, you'll probably never be called because the corner workers have their hands full with blue and yellow flags. So, a driver's first somewhat cynical view of blocking might be that it doesn't matter what it is or what the rules are. It is like jumping the start if you're on the fifth row -- you'll probably never be penalized.

But being a pinhead isn't the greatest way to live life -- you know you're a cheater and your competitors eventually figure it out. You become "that guy". And, in the case of blocking, it may also lead you to eat the occasional wall, which isn't exactly the definition of consequence-free rebellion.

So, when it comes to blocking, assuming you think of racing as a sport with a code of honor, you might want to know what the rules are.

SCCA: "The overtaken driver is responsible to be aware that he is being passed and not to impede or block the overtaking car. Abrupt changes in direction that impede or affect the path of another car attempting to overtake or pass may be interpreted as an effort to deprive a fellow competitor of the right to racing room."

NASA: "The overtaken driver should be aware that he/she is being passed and must not impede the pass by blocking. A driver who does not watch his/her mirrors or who appears to be blocking another car seeking a pass may be penalized."

Pirelli World Challenge: "Any maneuvers liable to hinder other drivers are not permitted and may be penalized. Examples include:

          ‘Blocking’ - A reactive move in response to a following car’s movement attempting to pass."

 

So, pretty clearly, choosing a line and then moving (suddenly and reactively) to a different line to keep another driver from passing is not allowed. In most series, there is no "one block is allowed" rule. Knowing that a driver is setting you up, you could probably move over early or gradually to be off the racing line (e.g. inside on corner entry) if you do so before he or she moves to that line. But when a following driver pops out from behind you, you can't then move over. And, really, you can't move to the inside on corner entry and then move back when you see that your move has kept a competitor on the outside.

You probably know this. The question is whether you abide by the rules, given that they are mostly self-policed.