Q: “When watching racing on TV I hear commentators talk about blocking and defending a pass. I think I know the difference, but can you clarify? What’s the difference between blocking and defending? Where’s the line drawn for proper, fair, safe racing?”
A: In racing, the difference is that defending is okay, and blocking is not! In most series, blocking is defined as making more than one move to “discourage” another driver from passing. In other words, if you move to the inside to take that line away from a driver trying to pass, and then move back to the outside if that driver moves there, then that is blocking because there were two moves. And that’s wrong. In most series it goes against the rules, but it’s also dangerous, and unfair.
However, if you move to the inside to take that line away from a driver that is attempting to pass, that’s okay – that’s one move. So, the simple line is no more than one move.
I could get all preachy here and say that if it takes more than one move to keep another driver behind you, then you’re not fast enough and maybe following that other driver for some laps might teach you something that’ll make you fast enough to pass them back. Where this gets super-tricky is when it gets down to the last lap or two of a race, and you’re wanting to do everything you can to maintain your position. But even then, two moves is likely going to get you penalized by the officials – and that might cost you even more than the one position you might lose if you only make one move.
Blocking and defending fit into the bigger topic of racecraft, which is something I talk about in two videos on my YouTube channel. Check out:
If you don’t participate in wheel-to-wheel competitive racing, but do in track days and HPDE events, there is still something to learn about passing and being passed. The difference here is that it’s non-competitive, so I call this skill “passcraft.” I’ve created a video about this, too. Watch Passcraft: How to Pass & Be Passed in HPDE & Track Day Events at https://youtu.be/QNTH_ufciOk.