Before you go and sign up for a track day, it’s best to make sure that you’re prepared to push your car and driving skills to the limit. Here are some tips for making sure your ready to hit the track and return home smoothly (and in one piece).
First off, make sure your calendar is open for the event dates. It’s no fun getting excited for a track day, only to realize that you bought tickets 4 months ago for a concert that same weekend. I speak from personal experience…
Second, make sure that your car will be in shape for the extreme running conditions on track. Again, from personal experience, it’s not fun losing brake pressure while diving into a hairpin turn.
- Print off the tech sheet before you arrive. Having this prepped beforehand will let you make sure your car is set by the time you arrive, and you’ll fly through the check-in line.
- A fresh oil change and filter will ensure your car is well lubricated on track. Check that coolant is at appropriate level and condition.
- DOT 4 or higher brake fluid is highly recommended. After just 30 minutes of hard braking, standard DOT 3 brake fluid can surpass its boiling point and result in no power brakes. After coming down the back straight at 120mph, you’re going to want power brakes.
- Brake pads should have at least 50% material left. The stress on the brake systems is extreme, and confidence while breaking is vital to enjoying a track day and improving your skills.
- Ensure your air filter is clean to improve air flow and intake temps.
- Check tire pressures before you get to the track. I’ve found a leaking tire before and was glad I caught it prior to the track day.
- Tires should have decent tread left on them, as they will take plenty of abuse throughout the day. Normal street tires can be used, but may not hold up as well as a performance tire. There are many Summer High Performance tires that are affordable, have good mileage ratings, and provide improved grip while on track.
For the most part, your car doesn’t need anything special to be driven aggressively. Just make sure that it is in a healthy condition to take the abuse of the track.
As for what else you should bring, here are some tips:
- Bring a helmet, check the helmet requirements for the track day host / track that you are with. Often times, the helmet can’t be more than 15 years old. I.E. Snell rating M2005+ is what’s currently required for Track Night in America events.
- Gloves help tremendously with having a good grip on your steering wheel and protect your hands in case of an emergency. RaceQuip has a $40 pair on saferacer.com.
- Tire pressure gauge, jack/jack stands, and a basic tool kit are also great to have. You or another driver may need them to perform a quick fix!
- Bring a tote or bag to store loose items in your car. The rule is you can’t have anything loose in the car while you’re on track, but it also makes sense to shed all the weight you can. Empty out the glove box, center console, back seats, etc. into the tote to keep your things together.
- Pack water, and lots of it. Chips, sandwiches, and snacks are great to keep with you as well. Track food is expensive, and you’ve already spent enough participating in the track day!
- Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a chair, and a hat. Between sessions, it’s nice to be able to relax and watch some on track excitement. What’s not fun is getting a sunburnt face that you’ll have to shove into a helmet… ouch.
- Most organizations require long pants and sleeves. Bring them along if you’re unsure of the necessary on-track attire.
Last but not least, “Have Fun!” It’s cheesy, but it’s true. Leave the ego at home and just drive as well as you can. The point of HPDE is to enjoy driving and improve your skills. Have any other tips to share? Leave them below in the comments!