5 things to do before your first trackday
The essentials you need to get driving
1. The Car.
Give consideration to your car. It may be new, it may be old; it may be fast or slow. Whatever it is, taking it onto a track will subject it to forces far beyond those experienced on even an enthusiastic drive on the public road. Therefore, it stands to reason that it needs to be in good condition, and not due a service with fault lights illuminated, the clonk of bits about to fall off or the graunch of a failing component. Track use won’t just tip any obvious faults over the edge; you’ll then have the added misery of wasting your time and money spent observing the day from the pit lane.
2. Looking after you
For a trackday a carbon fibre lid, triple layer fireproof suit and multi-coloured booties is not only over doing it, it may draw unfortunate accusations of having the right gear and no idea. Nevertheless, the helmet you choose is the only thing protecting that most sensitive and complicated computer resting atop your shoulders, something to remember when shopping. Most importantly, make sure any helmet is a comfortable fit, so try before you buy. Gloves aren’t necessary with modern, squishy sports steering wheels, but may be advantageous for older cars, while lightweight trainers are ideal for the feet.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your regular policy covered you on a track day: just turn up and drive. Sadly, it’s unlikely to, and if you don’t sort this situation in advance you could be in for a very nasty surprise if the worst does happen. Track day insurance can be bought either on an event-by-event basis or for the season: best to shop around for the best deals, and make sure you read the inevitable fine print to understand exactly what is and isn’t covered, where and when.
Tyres, tyres, tyres: as ever, the one thing between your track day steed and the road – or in this case, track – surface beneath you. Naturally, tyre wear increases dramatically on a track day. If you’re buying a car specifically for track days, it’s something to consider: there’ll be a big difference in wear rates between something like an Evo and a Lotus Elise. A set of stickier rubber may well slash your lap times, but semi-slicks will place greatly increased loads on your car’s suspension (see point 1), so will inevitably be best as part of a wider reaching tuning/renovation plan.
The easiest and quickest way to improve your driving, increase your enjoyment, and to decrease your lap times, isn’t those multi-way adjustable dampers or a hybrid turbocharger, it’s a lesson in how and when to steer, brake and accelerate. You can either contact an instructor in advance to make your own arrangements, or many track days will have instructors present on the day, where for an extra sum a session can be booked at some point in the proceedings. If you’re new to track driving, this will be well worth the money – you won’t believe how much of a difference this will make.
You can join evo on track at our 2015 Track Evenings. Details here.