The first time attending a trackday can be scary: going out of your comfort zone and driving fast on a track you have never seen or driven before. However, with a little preparation, you can arrive very well prepared and won’t be taken by surprise by something you didn’t consider in advance.
Trackdays are very addictive as you will soon learn but it is important to enjoy them in the safest way possible so read our dos and don’ts so you will be very comfortable at your very first trackday event!
Choose the right track
Track choice is very important. Some tracks are very challenging of the driver or very demanding of the car. It’s important to pick a track that doesn’t have crazy topspeed sections and which doesn’t have walls 1 inch next to the track so in case something goes wrong, you can safely use the run-off to slow down the car and get back on track safely. In our event calender, we will always include a difficulty indicator which will clearly state if we deem a track suitable as a first-ever trackday!
Choose the right event
Events come as open pitlane or with timing schedules. An open pitlane event might be less stressful as you can get into the pits whenever you feel tired or uncomfortable to recharge your mental batteries! With timed sessions, you usually get between 20 minutes to an hour per timing slot so as soon as the slot ends, your driving time is over. These timing slots may force you to spend more time in a single session on track to maximize your tracktime per euro/dollar spent. Try to avoid driving if feel like you need a break. We’re all driving for fun, there is no need to add unnecessairy risks!
Most tracks also have specified noise limits. If you have a louder car, make sure you don’t exceed those specific noise limits or the trackday will end immediately for you. These noise limits are very strict and will be enforced by the circuit and not the track organizer. We will have no say in a ruling made by the circuit crew.
Don’t be proud, hire an instructor
Driving coaches are skilled people with a lot of track knowledge. If you have the possibility of hiring one for a couple of laps or even an entire day, it’s worth doing so. Even the best racing drivers have people coaching them all the time to improve certain sectors in any given circuit so you can count on it, it will help you! You would be surprised the improvement that can be made by minor driving line optimizations in safety and general speed.
They will also learn you how to brake properly, reduce wear on the car such as tires and brakes and will give you the much needed confidence needed for your first trackday!
BEFORE: Car preparation
There are a few important things to check before you attend your first trackday. We provide a small checklist to help you out:
– Check the fluids: this includes oil, brake fluid and coolant
– Tire pressure: make sure tire pressures are at the manufacturers recommended level
– Tire wear: make sure the tires have enough thread on them
– Brake pads: make sure you don’t have worn out brake pads
– Loose items: remove loose items from the car as they will fly around in the cockpit on track
DURING: Warm-up & Cooldown lap
A warm-up lap will help all the car components get up to optimal temperature aswel as the tires. Cold tires have less grip so it is highly recommended to take it slow the first and even second laps to get some temperature into the tires.
A cooldown lap is the extra lap you drive after you completed a stint. In this lap, you will minimize braking pressure and allow the brake discs and car components to cool down a bit. It is not recommended to pit directly after a stint and turn the car off. There is still a lot of heat in the engine bay and the cooling system and fans will help bleed excessive heat out of the engine bay. Also the brake discs usually get very hot. When parking right after a stint and engaging the handbrake, the heat will soften the discs a bit and it would allow the handbrake to deform the brake discs. This can easily be avoided by a cooldown lap. During the cooldown lap. Pay good attention to other faster traffic!
A trackday is very intense. It’s a full day of adrenaline and excitement so it is important to sleep well the day before. During the day, it is also important to drink lots of water and keep yourself hydrated. You will sweat a lot in the car. Always bring a big bottle of water or buy enough drinks at the bar if provided.
Another important thing is your mindset: remember why you are there. You are at a trackday to enjoy your car on a racetrack, not to drive an actual race. Don’t engage in racing with other cars or trying to set a new world record lap just because you want to be the fastest on the leaderboard. Trackdays are all about having fun, not about being the fastest.
Things to bring on a trackday
Not much is needed although you will always need a closed or open helmet. If you don’t have a helmet yet, on most events it is possible to rent a helmet. Driver gloves are recommended as your hands will be sweating and they provide maximum steering wheel grip. Also make sure to check specific needs for events. Some trackdays require clothing that covers all body parts and will only allow long-sleeved shirts or sweaters.
When it comes to tools, most of the time you will be able to use them on-site from fellow drivers but some of the things we recommend:
– Wheel nut wrench
– Small tool kit (a small screwdriver set with different types of heads usually does the trick)
– Additional fluids like oil & coolant