TRACKDAY TIPS - PAGE 1
The following section gives some advice about trackdays. Feel free to follow the advice at your own discretion; it may help you avoid some common issues experienced. This applies to car days as well as motorcycle days.
A trackday can be an intimidating place for a first timer. Driving into the paddock and seeing a variety of cars, some of which you may not recognise, and the equipment, full race cars, people fettling with their vehicles, others walking round in full fireproof suits, and some of the equipment on show can be enough to put some people off! The reality is the majority of trackdays contain many novices, and the majority of people present (whether experienced or not) are extremely friendly and helpful. Its not an uncommon thing for a few people to plug together to help a fellow participant whom they have never met before solve a problem! Just turning up to a trackday and having a wander round and brief chat with people about the day, the track or their cars will reinforce this, and also give you a good idea of what its all about.
The days procedure is generally as follows at many tracks:
Some tracks offer pit garages on a ‘first come first serve’ basis, which is worthwhile if it looks like the weather is going to turn sour. There is nothing worse than sitting in a car for a session in damp clothes, very distracting!
Signing on involves exactly that, most people (and some organisers insist that people do) pre-book, and signing on says you are here and agree with all the legal and health and safety bits and bobs. Normally you receive a coloured wristband to say you have signed on. (Sometimes this is after the briefing to show you have attended)
After signing on, depending on what time you arrive you may have some time to wander round, get a feel for the atmosphere or look at some of the other machinery present. The briefing will be soon after signing on, and this is where the organisers give a safety talk and make any announcements relevant for the day, as well as going through the days rules. This is a compulsory briefing for everyone, whether they be a novice or World Champion!
Some trackdays are what is referred to as ‘open pitlane’ where there is a maximum number of cars allowed on the track, but apart from this you are free to come and go as you please. Other days have fixed sessions, typically three 20 minute sessions per hour, often divided into novice, intermediate and advanced groups. Clearly beginners, unless in a particularly high performance or race car, should normally go in the novice group, sounds obvious but you would be surprised!
Gaps in between sessions are useful to both let yourself and the car cool off, grab some food, rehydrate (important!) and to have a good chinwag with other drivers and exchange views, normally picking up some good tips in the process, especially if there are drivers with similar cars there.
Its also worth bearing in mind that during the day the drivers concentrate and focus a huge amount more than in general road driving. It is not uncommon for drivers to start to fatigue after 15 or so minutes, when mistakes start creeping in. (And these can get expensive!) If you notice this happening, or you start to suffer from ‘road rage’ because the guy in front wont pull out of your way, take a cool down lap, and pull safely into the pits and have a rest for a few minutes, get some fresh air and a drink. Works wonders for your temperament and concentration!
One last thing to remember is to never get involved with ‘racing’ another driver. This inevitably leads to one driver going beyond their or the cars limits, which can easily end up in disaster. Always drive 5% within yourself (and the car!) to avoid expensive accidents! This is especially true on bike days, where an ‘off’ can easily lead to damage to not only the vehicle but yourself too.
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