things you should know about track days

A track day is the best place to go out to learn how to drive quickly and explore the limits of handling. Instead of the trees, cliffs, cyclists, police, and oncoming traffic found on your local canyon run, race tracks have wide open runoff space, no speed limits, and friendly driving instructors. If you are interested in driving fast and haven’t been to a track event, get your dumbass off public roads and sign up. Occasionally, accidents happen, but the race track is about as safe of an environment as you can find to drive fast. That said, it doesn’t mean you should show up completely unprepared.

Like I said, track days are safe, and they require little extra equipment. About all that is required is to wear a helmet, closed toed shoes, and long pants. So get a helmet, or borrow one. Actually, many events even have loaners, but having your own that fits well and doesn’t smell like feet is pretty nice.

The other things you’ll want to do are make sure your car is in good shape, take out all the extra junk, and bring a few things.

On the car standpoint, you obviously don’t want to show up with a big oil leak, low coolant, and worn out brakes. The brakes and tires are going to take some abuse, so make sure they are in good shape. Do a fresh brake bleed and pick up some good performance pads. you probably don’t need a full race pad the first time out but it won’t hurt. Bring spare or old pads along too in case you wear yours out. A secure battery tie-down and a cover over the positive terminal are required and they will check that in the safety inspection. It’s also sometimes required to have a tow hook installed. Many cars come with one that threads into the bumper after a cover has been removed, and then usually the tie downs under the bumper can be used.

Then clean everything out of the interior- foor mats, cd cases, shoes, all that crap in the center console, door pockets, glove box, etc. You don’t want the floor mats slipping under the pedals and you don’t want any of the other stuff flying around the interior when you’re out there. Plus it reduces weight. Bring your spare tire and stuff, but take it out when you get to the track and leave it in your pit area.

For your pit area you’ll want a few supplies. A cooler with lots of water, snacks, and maybe a sports drink. Sunscreen and a hat. I usually wear a dorky full brim hat for maximum sun protection and so do other people who are out there on a regular basis

A piece of carpet or a towel, a change of clothes, work gloves, and some rags would also be good things to bring, especially if you wind up working on something under the car. Some tracks even have showers. A chair or two will definitely be nice to have, and maybe an ez-up, as long as it’s not windy. They tend to become projectiles when the wind picks up and you don’t want yours landing on some guy’s Porsche cup car.

In addition to those basic items a few tools and the ability to use them are also a good idea. Being able to change a tire, bleed the brakes, or tighten a loose clamp or bolt comes in handy more often than not.

Now that you and your car are prepared to get on track, the only thing left to do is sign up. Get there early, don’t miss the driver’s meeting, and listen to your instructor. And start out slow- it’s not a race and you don’t want to wind up in the tire wall or upside-down the first time out.

For our next post we’ll be talking about safety equipment, but starting out a helmet is all you need.


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