Track Days – Another Ultimate Guide?
Track days are increasingly popular with our customers, and with good reason. They are fun days out with others who share your passion. They are also the only legal way to experience the true limits of your car, and often yourself.
Track days aren’t without risk, but if you pick your day carefully, follow a few rules, and drive sensibly, the risks can be significantly reduced. You’ll have a great day – and be booking your next event very soon.
We believe that preparation is the key to getting the most from your day. You’ll get more from the day if your car is in top condition, and if you have done your research, you’ll know what to expect.
There are plenty of track day guides on the internet. There’s no point in repeating excellent advice, so we’ve linked to a good one at the end of this article.
We’ve put together some additional “top tips” that we think will help novices find their way.
Picking a Day
Not all organisers are equal. Do your research to see whether others have found them to run well organised and disciplined track days. If you belong to a car club for your marque, they often host track days that are exceptionally well run. If not, there are many alternatives. We’ve listed some under “resources” below.
If possible, avoid track days that run as sessions. Open pit-lane days are less restrictive and remove time pressure – you get to set your own session length and it’s up to you when you want to be on track.
If you are a novice, don’t pick a day that is advertised for experts. You’ll want to build up your confidence slowly and without pressure. A day without race cars that have remarkable closing speeds and braking ability makes for a more enjoyable experience. Pick your day carefully.
Until you have built up your skills and confidence, you’ll want to pick tracks with a decent amount of run-off. The UK has some fantastic circuits that are genuinely world-class, so there are many to choose from – Silverstone is ideal.
An alternative is an airfield day, but these always seem less of an event and the facilities will be of a lower standard. Airfield days are generally much cheaper but the level of organisation, the types of cars running, and the standard of driving, may be less than ideal.
Try and book directly with the organiser rather than through a third-party website. Third-party sites are useful for finding days, but they often won’t tell you who the organiser is. If you search for the venue and date in Google, you’ll probably find the organiser’s website, so book through that if you can.
Read the organiser’s FAQ’s and terms and conditions carefully. If you want to add an extra driver or take passengers, the costs and any restrictions will be explained.
Check the noise limit. If you have a noisy car and turn up on a quiet day, you won’t be allowed on track. Take care here because most track days have relatively low noise limits. There are two types of noise limit imposed, static and drive-by. Fail either and your day will be over.
Book a Garage
If you can, book or share a garage. This will cost a few pounds extra, but it gives you better access to the track and protects you from the weather. It’s well worth it.
Preparing Your Car
The cars you’ll find on most track days are built for the road, not the track. Even some high-end sports cars have manufacturer’s warranty restrictions put on them before they take to a circuit. If this concerns you, you should check with your manufacturer.
If your car is well maintained, then having an expert look over some key areas is advisable. If your vehicle is rarely used or has long service intervals, then a pre track day inspection is essential if you want to have a safe and fun day. We provide pre and post-event inspections of various levels, depending on your requirements. More information can be found on our Track Day Inspection page.
The types of cars we supply at Dorset Sports Cars are generally suitable for track use without modification. As your skill level and confidence grows, you may wish to lightly modify your car to improve performance. Alternatively, buying a car solely for track use and modifying that is increasingly popular. We are happy to advise on suitable machinery and modifications. All work can be carried out in our workshops by expert technicians.
Your road insurance won’t cover you for track days unless you have special arrangements with your insurance company. Driving on track is at your own risk, so don’t think about trying to blame someone for an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault. We’ve listed some insurers who’ll cover the risk in “resources” below.
On the Day
Arrive at the track with a full tank of fuel. You’ll use more than you think. Watch your fuel gauge and consider refuelling at lunchtime if needed. If a track has fuel available it will be costly, so plan ahead and make sure you know where the nearest filling station is.
Pay attention in the driver’s briefing. Some are more entertaining than others, but they always hold essential information. You’ll be told how to pass others, what the different coloured flags mean, and what to do in the event of an accident or breakdown.
If you have never been on track before, even if you believe yourself to be a good driver, you will have a lot to learn, and you will make mistakes. That doesn’t matter – it’s a fun day out, you’re not a racing driver.
You will get more from your day if you have some tuition from an expert. Most organisers provide this at moderate cost with qualified instructors. Alternatively, you can take an experienced friend as a passenger who’ll point out lines and braking points. Either way, tuition will help you get the most from your day.
It’s important to build up speed and confidence gradually. This is kinder to yourself and kinder to your car. We’ve seen too many people wreck expensive cars on the first couple of laps of a day because their ambition outshone their ability.
It’s also a good idea to keep your sessions short to allow yourself and your car to cool down. Until you get used to it, you may find driving on the track is both mentally and physically demanding.
Your car will be pushed harder than it ever is on the road, particularly when braking. Brakes are likely to lose performance after multiple high-speed stops during a session, so they need time to recover.
Be aware of what’s happening around you. An experienced passenger can help a great deal here as they can act as a spare pair of eyes while you concentrate on driving. However, remember your responsibilities.
You’ll need to adjust your hot tyre pressures and check wheel nut torque throughout the day. A tyre pressure gauge, a small portable compressor, and a torque wrench are useful. Remember your wheels will be hot when you come off the track – mechanics gloves are recommended if you don’t have asbestos fingers.
If you haven’t got these tools, Halfords quality is adequate, and a compressor that runs off your car accessory socket is suitable. Many options are available, try Demon Tweeks or Amazon if you can’t find something locally.
Don’t be bullied, you have much right to be on track as the next driver. If you are following the rules outlined in the briefing, it will be up to faster drivers to overtake you responsibly. However, it is much less stressful for all concerned if you let a driver pass that is obviously faster than you, even if you have a quicker car. A short lift on a straight will typically get the job done. Remember – you’re not racing, you’re there for a good day out.
Driving like an idiot will, at best, get you removed from the event. Don’t drive like an idiot.
Before You Drive Home
Don’t forget to…
- Let your car cool down
- Check the condition of your tyres to ensure they still have legal tread depth and no cuts or bulges
- adjust your tyre pressures back to the manufacturer’s specification
The following resources are provided for your information. We don’t endorse, and we are not affiliated with, any company that we have listed below. Please do your own research before using a service or taking advice from any company listed here.
Track Day Organisers
- Gold Track https://www.goldtrack.co.uk/
- Javelin https://www.javelintrackdays.co.uk/trackdays/
- Open Track https://www.opentrack.co.uk/
- RMA https://www.rmatrackdays.com/
- MSVR https://msvtrackdays.com/
- Circuit Days https://circuit-days.co.uk/track-days-schedule-uk
- MotorsportEvents https://www.motorsport-events.com/collections/track-days
Third-Party Track Day Websites
- TrackDays https://www.trackdays.co.uk/calendar/cars/
- MotorsportDays https://www.motorsportdays.com/
- UKTrackdays http://www.uktrackdays.co.uk/
Tracks that Run Their Own Days
- Silverstone https://www.silverstone.co.uk/track-days/car-track-days/
- Goodwood https://www.goodwood.com/experiences/driving/goodwood-track-days/
- Castle Coombe https://castlecombecircuit.co.uk/car-track-days
- See MSVR for:
- Donington Park
- Brands Hatch
- Oulton Park
- Cadwell Park
- Bedford Autodrome
Remember, you are looking for a Track Day, not an experience or a Test Day – they are something completely different.
Some Car Clubs that Run Track Day Events (Membership required)
- Porsche Club of Great Britain https://www.porscheclubgb.com/
- Aston Martin Owners Club https://www.amoc.org/
- Jaguar Drivers Club https://www.jaguardriver.co.uk/
- Jaguar Enthusiasts Club https://jec.org.uk/
The following website holds a wealth of information about track driving, created by a professional driving coach. The link is to his track day guide.
For those that prefer print to the internet…
Two books that help with driving technique etc. They were published some time ago, but the principles remain valid.
- Drive To Win – Carroll Smith
- Going Faster – The Skip Barber Racing School
Tools, Helmets, etc.
Useful for buying in advance, and some are based on or near racetracks if you’ve forgotten something essential.
- Demon Tweaks https://www.demon-tweeks.com/uk/
- GPR https://www.grandprixracewear.com/ (Silverstone)
- Competition Supplies https://www.competitionsupplies.com/ (Silverstone)
- Merlin https://www.merlinmotorsport.co.uk/ (Castle Coombe)
- Advantage Autosport https://www.advantage-motorsport.co.uk/ (Oulton Park)
Track Day Insurance
- Adrian Flux https://www.adrianflux.co.uk/trackday/
- Grove & Dean https://grove-dean-motorsport.com/
- REIS https://reis.co.uk/our-products/track-day-insurance/
- Towergate https://www.towergateinsurance.co.uk/track-day-car-insurance
Posted by Dorset Sports Cars
on September 8, 2020