Preparing Your Car for a Day at the Track

Regardless of whether it’s your first time at the track or you’re a seasoned pro, getting both yourself and your car ready for the day is essential. You’re about to embark on a mission of putting your body, mind, and car through extreme challenges that you both may not be accustomed to. You need to make sure your car is ready for everything the track has to throw at it because the last thing you need to worry about is your brakes failing as you pass marker two on the brake zone before turn one.

This simple checklist includes everything you need to bring your car to its first track day:

Preparing Yourself

1. Protective Clothing

Even if it isn’t specified for the event you’re attending, it’s a very good idea to wear a helmet and fire retardant clothing such as a racing suit.

2. Shoe Choice

A specific racing shoe is the best bet, which have very thin soles with no overhang. Second choice would be a thin soled trainer.

3. Mentality

Ease into it – find the racing lines and braking points, and gradually build up speed.

4. Walk the Track

The best way to familiarize yourself with the corners and the racing line is to walk the track first and picture where your braking, apex and turn in points could be.

Preparing Your Car

1. Maintenance

  • Brake fluid should be relatively new.
  • Make sure oil, water and other fluid levels are topped off.
  • Take a look at the wear levels of brake pads and discs.
  • Check the tire tread depth.
  • Check to make sure all the nuts and bolts are tightened.

2. Fuel

Many drivers use a higher octane fuel when competing or attending track days – these fuels give more bang for your buck and can aid performance but tend to be more expensive. Don’t brim your car when fueling – leave just the right amount to see you through the day. Excess fuel is heavy and can be detrimental to lap times – it can also slosh around if you don’t have a baffled tank, causing unnecessary weight transfers which unsettle the car.

3. Tire Pressures

At the very least, match the manufacturers guidelines, and as a rule of thumb, increasing by 5-10% should provide a better turn in and be generally more suited to track conditions. Experiment here, and take notes – eventually you’ll find pressures which will give you a good compromise between grip, predictability at the limit and turn in. Pressure increases with temperature, so bear this in mind if you’ll be doing a large number of laps – if you’re doing short runs, you can probably get away with slightly higher pressures.

4. Empty the Cockpit

This should really go without saying but take out everything including the spare wheel, jack, luggage, coins, rubbish, children, seats etc. This reduction in weight can make the difference between winning and losing. In addition, you don’t want things rattling around while you’re trying to concentrate, and in an accident anything that’s left in the car is likely to hit you on the back of the head.

5. Clean Radiator

If you’re doing sustained laps, you’ll need all of your car’s cooling ability. If you have a turbo-charged engine, you’ll probably have several radiators and intercoolers, all of which need a steady supply of air. Some cars have number plates which partially obstruct the radiator’s precious air flow, so remember take these off to give a bit of extra cooling.

6. Driving Position

When getting ready for the track you should adjust your seat to a much more upright position than you may use when driving on the road. You should be able to rest your wrists comfortably on the top of the steering wheel while keeping a slight bend in your arms. This may mean moving closer to the wheel than you normally would which can feel strange at first, but will give you maximum control.

7. Warm Up Car

It makes sense to get your car up to operating temperature before you start driving it hard – this will thin out the oil and let the engine expand and free up, which will make it more efficient and place less strain on the moving parts. Keep an eye on the water and oil temperatures to make sure the extra load isn’t causing it to overheat.

If you want to learn more about driving techniques and tips for driving on the track, head over to drivingfast.net for more information.


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