Track days should be fun, exciting and safe. For first timers, they can be intimidating as you worry that you will be the only newbie on track and therefore slower than other drivers. This may be the case initially, but there is no reason why this should spoil your day. Follow our top tips to maximise your enjoyment.
Choose a novice only day or track day that is sessioned for novices. There is some comfort in knowing you will be on track with people of a similar ability, and you will all be learning together.
- Make sure your car is in tip top condition- at least 2/3rds left on your brake pads or shoes, and the same amount of tread left on your tyres. Don’t forget to top up with oil, coolant and petrol. Petrol at circuits is more expensive than at retail petrol stations. Don’t completely brim your tank- if it is hot or the car is rolling, fuel may leak out, making the track slippery, which may mean you are black-flagged.
- Insure your car for track day use. Many specialist insurers will provide track day cover if you notify them in advance. If they don’t, then use a specialist track day insurer such as Lockton/MIS. Classic tracks customers may get a discount if you mention our name!
- Have some tuition. At Classic Tracks, novices get free initial tuition from Mark Hales, our Chief Instructor. Using an instructor (and make sure they are ARDS Grade A or above) is the quickest way to drive faster and safely. Many racing drivers would admit that despite the temptation to spend your hard-earned money on trick bits for your car, using an instructor will make you faster quicker.
- Wear narrow shoes with a thin sole, so that you can feel the pedals and control the car better. You don’t need to buy race boots, but if you want a specialised shoe or boot, karting footwear is cheaper than race gear.
- Arrive in clothes that are comfortable and cool- you will get hot driving hard! Make sure your arms and legs are covered even if it is a hot day.
- Take regular breaks for you and your car. Track driving is physically and mentally tiring, and accidents are more likely to happen when you are tired. 30 minutes at a time should be plenty, but stop before your concentration starts going, or if you feel tired. Breaks allow you to rehydrate and your car’s engine and brakes to cool down. Don’t leave your handbrake on after a track session- the heat soak will boil your brake fluid or damage the pads.
- You don’t need to spend money on kit for you or your car to get on track, but if you are going to, then these would be the first things to purchase before uprating your cars mechanical parts.
Tyres- good tyres don’t cost a fortune and will make your car handle and stop better. Choose a tyre that is performance orientated or for tack days with an e-marking stamp for road use, assuming you are going to drive to the track and back. It’s tempting to go for a hardcore tyre with little tread, but a tyre that performs well in the wet will make you a lot safer, if it does rain on the day.
Get a harness for your seat- a four- point harness will hold you securely in the car, if your seat allows it, buy a five or six-point harness. If you think you are going to do a lot of track days, purchase a proper race seat which holds you securely and is much safer and more comfortable than the road seats you have.
At any reputable track day, helmets will be available for hire. If you enjoy your day and are going to do more, then buy yourself a helmet that fits you well. You can buy track day helmets that are cheaper and not approved for motorsport use, but if you are prepared to spend more, then get an FIA approved helmet. Top tip- buy a helmet with HANS posts already attached- if you get the racing bug or just want to be extra safe, you can then wear the helmet with a HANS device.
- Enjoy the day and stop before you and your car are exhausted. Remember you and your mount need to be in a condition to drive home!