An Intro to Track Day (7 min read)
Perhaps you're tired of crushing it on Forza and you're ready to attempt the real thing...So where does one go? Pardon my French, but fuck the streets, fuck street racing, and for fuck’s sake, please don’t wind up being another asshole in a failed burnout video. (Edit: Mustangs, you’re welcome to continue as you were; thank you for the entertainment) For the rest of us, take your car to the track and turn some laps! There are plenty of local tracks offering weekend events, where you can hone your driving skills in a safe environment. So here’s a quick guide on how to do it right. You don’t have to be quite, but just shut up for a minute as I explain..
First off, don’t think so much. Too many people I meet are so nerd-focused on “preparing”, that they never actually make it to a track event. Please do not say, “The thing is, I need to get my suspension settings dialed in first.” Proper planning is essential, but don’t forget the main purpose: make it to the track. Also, don’t worry if you think your car is “acceptable” or not. It’s not a car show. I’ve seen stock Civics, Fits, rental BMW’s, and even an El Camino. I’m not going to get into too much detail on the mechanical side, but it's in good fashion to do your due diligence and make sure you're car is mechanically-sound. Word of advice: get a proper set of track brake pads.
What to bring
No matter how much you plan and pack, you’re still going to forget something. That’s okay, you’re not alone, and there’ll be plenty of people around to ask for help. If you manage to borrow something, please be respectful, and return borrowed items promptly. Or, that will certainly bee the last time you borrow something.
Here are a few items to consider bringing:
· Basic tool kit
· Spare tire
· Lots of bottled water (for you and your car)
· Extra oil
· Tire gauge
· Lug wrench
· Zip ties (you never know)
· Race tape (you never know)
As you progress, you’ll add more items to your kit, but this is certainly a good starting place.
Your safety needs
I know it sounds cheesy, but do not skimp on safety equipment. I’ve seen too many people invest ridiculous amounts of money on their car, but buy the cheapest, most-shittiest helmet possible. DO NOT DO THIS! See article on helmet safety for more info, please. There’s no such thing as being too safe. Do not become an unfortunate person who decided to spend more money on RPF1’s than a good helmet. Lastly, do not buy a motorcycle helmet. They are made for motorcycles, not cars. Again, refer to the article on helmet safety. Everyone has a budget, and that’s totally cool, just make sure to be a smart shopper and get the RIGHT gear.
Gloves – good grip, lessens fatigue, and allows a safety barrier in the event you need to extricate yourself out of a vehicle in situations of extreme heat and broken glass.
Shoes – invest in a good pair of driving shoes. I.e. not Vans or Converse.
Buy a duffle bag, and make this is your dedicated track bag. Keep your tools, fluids, and driving gear separate. Take care of your stuff, and it will last you a long time.
AND that’s really it…Honestly, you can add lap timers, data loggers, and GoPro’s later. For now, just show up! Cover the basics, and just go! You’ll learn as you progress. No one is an instant expert, and it takes time, repetition, and experience. Remember, just have fun! Oh, and invest in a AAA membership..
Want to know where to track your car, or what events are going on? Check out motorsportreg.com