Tips for Track Days
Updated: Jan 17
Taking your car to your local track is always something to look forward to.
Track days are a great way to get involved with performance driving in a more controlled environment. It’s important to know what to expect at a track day and how you can get the most out of the event, while being safe.
Preparing Your Car
Don't feel like you need a full blown performance car or a racecar to take part in a track day. Lots of track day organizations welcome a large variety of cars, do some research on where your car and experience level is the best fit. I would consider notice tailed organizations such as Chin Motorsports, JZilla, NASA, BMWCCA, PCA or TrackDAZE.
Preparing the car is very simple as well. The first thing to think about is safety, make sure the car is operational. Check your seat and belts, make sure they are attached properly. Look over your fluid levels and flush the brakes if needed and don't forget to torque your wheels. There is no need to spend lots of money on upgrades, don't buy a racing slick set of tires for your first track day. A summer tire with tread will work fine.
Spend Money on a Helmet & What You Need to Bring
If your car is a factory street car with no rollbar or race seat - a helmet with a Snell M2010 or M2015 will be okay. It's important to not be cheap with safety gear, if you are going to spend some money this is where you should do it.
I would bring some basic tools with you, along with a tire pressure gauge to check pressures between sessions. It's also important to bring water and food so you can stay fueled and hydrated throughout the day.
Flags and Passing Rules
The rules once you get on track are important to follow for the safety of yourself and everyone around you. Listen closely during the drivers meeting and ask questions ahead of time to make sure you know the requirements. Understand the basic flags and how they are used. Know the difference between local yellows and full course ones, along with which flag will be displayed to end the session. Another important piece of knowledge, is pit-in and pit-out. Know where each is and be familiar with blend lines, because every track is different. Lastly and most importantly, know the passing zones. Most track days will have passing zones on long straights with an adequate amount of space for a clean, simple pass. Only pass in those areas, don’t pass late in the brake zone, and try to always hold a consistent line, a clear point-by is often required as well.
Cars will be grouped into different sessions, knowing where your car falls in the order is an important question to ask at the sign in desk if you don't already know. You will be grouped with cars similar to your own. In some cases, tracks will group drivers as well, from novice to experienced. Seeing where you fall in both of these grouping is important to know before heading to a track day.
Advice From Instructors
After each session is finished, take time to talk with some local track-day instructors. They will be willing to help with any questions you may have. A lot of these instructors are local to the track, so they have a ton of experience at that particular circuit, so from a driving standpoint they will know the track like the back of their hand. There is no doubt they can help you lower your lap time, no matter the car. In some cases, instructors can hop in the passenger seat and really go in depth on how you can improve your driving.
Have Fun and be Safe
Track days are about having fun, so that should always be a main goal. The other goal is safety, the safer the session the more track time you’ll have. So be mindful of those around you and get out there and support your local track. You’ll be glad you did.