RE: Track days for beginners | PH Explains

RE: Track days for beginners | PH Explains

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C70R

8,368 posts

71 months

Tuesday 7th July 2020
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xjay1337 said:
tonyg58 said:
I always remember two points of advice i was given by an old hand at my first track day and pass them on when i can.

1) Before going on track, engage brain.

2) On your first track day, if at any time while on track you start feeling really confident, it's time to head in to the pits !!
Very good advice ^^^^^

I would also say

FIT PROPER SUITABLE PADS.
You'll go through 95% of OEM pads in about 1 hour at Circuit.

Lower tyre pressures to around 28psi cold as a starting point for most cars

Check pressures after a session, for road tyres aim for around 34-35psi up to temp.

Semi slicks are not required.

Don't scrub your tyres (IE push too much).

Always have an eye on your mirrors for faster cars. Stay out of the way where possible of faster cars.

Be assertive on track in braking zones. Take the racing line through the corner. This stops people doing silly things.

Always have an escape plan in a braking zone if someone dive bombs you.
Mostly top advice, but even the points on tyres and brakes seem a bit excessive, to be honest.

When I ran my previous (shared) 206 GTi, we checked tyre pressures were roughly in manufacturer's spec before we left home in the morning and ran for several trackdays on EuroCarParts OEM-spec pads.

We had a great time, and we didn't once die in a huge, flaming, explosive accident.

The important point is that people's cars are in decent working order. Anything else is icing on the cake.

Overcomplicating trackdays and artificially raising the barrier to entry just makes it seem less accessible than it actually is to the newbie.

NGRhodes

1,242 posts

39 months

Tuesday 7th July 2020
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xjay1337 said:
FIT PROPER SUITABLE PADS.
You'll go through 95% of OEM pads in about 1 hour at Circuit.
Really depends on the car, I used to go through tyres faster than pads.

Take some food and drink, been a number of times I have been to track and there has been silly long queues, run out of water or similar.
If you get chance, try and visit a track day or 2 beforehand and get some passenger rides to get a feel.

mike96

29 posts

49 months

Wednesday 8th July 2020
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I did my first trackday at Bedford in December. Very nice vibe, all drivers were there to enjoy themselves and bring their cars home in one piece. I was at Brands Indy last month, it has a great flow to it but I think it's not great for cars and drivers of different abilities. If you are slower you are unlikely to be able to find some space to put a whole lap together without having to let someone by.

Fonzey

1,578 posts

94 months

Wednesday 8th July 2020
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NGRhodes said:
xjay1337 said:
FIT PROPER SUITABLE PADS.
You'll go through 95% of OEM pads in about 1 hour at Circuit.
Really depends on the car, I used to go through tyres faster than pads.
My Lotus cars have been fine on OEM pads, not optimal performance but survive for a sensible session and get you home OK. On my Subaru the OEM grade pads lasted about 2 laps of Silverstone and barely got me home, wasted the day! I think the best advice for pads is just to do your research for your specific car, lighter cars can obviously get away with more.

Evoluzione

6,261 posts

210 months

Friday 10th July 2020
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Can we have this thread pinned at the top of this TD page?

Ben Lowden

3,282 posts

144 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Friday 10th July 2020
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Evoluzione said:
Can we have this thread pinned at the top of this TD page?
Done thumbup

wioifoiee

106 posts

148 months

Friday 10th July 2020
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thought i'd chip into this as this thread will be a really useful resource in the future if everyone can enhance some of the details. I've certainly learnt a lot after my first track day in my own car last year.

Bedford is massively underrated i think.
the 2.8 mile SW circuit layout has a plentiful mix of chicanes, low medium and high speed.
more interesting than Donington imo, even though it is flat.

i'd love to do silverstone but its £479. then again it is probably the best circuit in the UK.
i guess you do get what you pay for.
im' not touching nords until i have enough savings to pay for my car twice over

here's my checklist, having got the bug for trackdays last year. i'm sure most people have already mentioned all of this.

- unless you're pretty well off, learn to do the below work yourself. Its not hard. Really it isn't, + you get to know your own car properly and understand what happens if anything doesnt' feel right. Unless your a high flyer who is earning money in your sleep and time is precious, in which case drop it off at your mechanic! Youtube has practically all the information you need to build a car, let alone maintain one. Much easier following a video too.

- suitable pads for track. they are expensive but will last multiple track days, especially the pagid endurance ones. Find a motorsport dealer and make sure they know the correct pad shape for your car. Nothing worse than being assured they have the right pads only to be sent the wrong ones (yes it happened to me). I go with Pagid RSL29's. ALso very important to follow the bedding in process so that a transfer layer is created as the pad beds with disc. Otherwise you'll have brake shudder the whole day (again speaking from experience!). Bedding in process is on the pagid website.

- brake fluid change needed. As the article mentions, ATE TYP200 seems to be by far the best combination of value and performance. Last year i went with Motul600 but its just too expensive frankly. When changing the brake fluid i use a pressure bleeder kit. Last time i did it i struggled to see the colour change and wasted about a litre. Its probably worth finding out approximately how much brake fluid your car requires and then when its bleeding to the new fluid use a catcher bottle with measurement on it. As a result i have researched about dyeing the brake fluid to make it easy to see the change, and i think its possible and safe to do so, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMOUFVv4bo8 (skip to 3mins)

- tyres. I dontbother with track tyres, i want to have the car moving around so not after grip and a decent road tyre is fine. However, as i discovered last year, the issue is camber, or a lack of it. This means the outer shoulder of the tyre and sidewall edge gets worn and a bit shredded depending on how hard you're pushing.... which prompted me to look into a set of adjustable camber plates, around £500 and a fairly easy job. I haven't fitted them yet but the hope is this may save some money in the long run by preserving my tyres...

- have a good poke around your suspension, check for any play. I'm no expert on this yet, in terms of exactly what to look for here, i guess the obvious things are checking bushings and ball joints, but would be good to know from others how exactly you check suspension to confirm its ready for high speed track action. Youtube looks like it has tons of videos on this so i'll get watching!

- discs. Get a brake disc measuring tool and check that the discs are not only evenly warn at different diameters but that you're within the minimum thickness tolerance of the disc. If you do have to change discs before the track day then the bedding in process is probably a bit longer as you don't want to 'shock' the discs with high amounts of heat quickly, otherwise it induces cracking, apparently. ACcording to the little label which came with my new discs anyway! Again, if planning on making it a hobby, definitely worth getting a set of dedicated track discs, DBA seem to be a good compromise between performance and value, only £330 for a front pair (370mm on my car). Then you can just have traack pads on track discs and not have to worry about bedding in processes every time.

- i also bought: Fire extinguisher which is in the boot. £9.
- Tyre pressure pump - after doing a ton of pointless research on this, i went with just using my stack pump.....much easier and quicker than those 12v plugin electric compressor ones which look like they will break after 2 uses tbh. That's in the boot, along with a separate analogue pressure gauge for £10. This will allow me to adjust pressures at the track - which is important, because if i want to try and control the tyre wear and especially shoulder wear, increasing the pressure could help with this.

- Conversely if they're overheating, i could reduce it..........and i've got a black and decker thermal detector gun (which are cheap) which i'll be trying to see if i can read tyre temperatures with it (lol). Probably not useful but i'm interested to collect data next week when i go to Donington.

- Spanner to tighten bleed nipples, just incase you notice any leaking for whatever reason or your pedal feels mushy and you're not sure (shouldn't happen though).

- Torque wrenches.....i make sure i've tightened everything to the specified torque by the manufacturer, for wheel nuts (for my car its 140nM for example), caliper bolts, etc...which means you need a torque wrench.........and then means you need a 2nd torque wrench, to check that the first torque wrench is definitely correct.... i bought myself a torque wrench digital adaptor which converts any wrench and allows me to check my other torque wrench is calibrated....
this also then means ensuring each year or so (again not sure how often you have to check, something i need to check) that your torque wrenches/adapters are calibrated correctly. You also need a low range torque wrench as well as a high range one, for bolts which only require maybe 10-20nM.

thats everything off the top of my head, anything else worth adding to the list? i'm always curious to know more, every single little component of a car has decades of engineering and experience behind it, and i seem to discover something new (annoyingly) every week. Someone needs to make a giant indexed library with all the knowledge ever accumulated about track days all in 1 glossary.





Edited by wioifoiee on Friday 10th July 12:57

BFleming

2,959 posts

110 months

Friday 10th July 2020
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Bedford may be flat, but it's a decent length, allows decent pace, and it's as safe as it gets. I've never had a problem with marshalls there, but then again I've had no reason to have issues with them. As for noise, there are tracks which have sensitive noise limits imposed on them by local authorities, and the circuit (not you) are deemed liable for excessive noise. So the circuit polices you so they don't get prosecuted. It may seem unfair if you run a loud track day car but the noise limits are up there for you to see when you're booking.
I do find it ironic that Bedford and Goodwood are old airfields (as are a few other UK circuits) but they have current noise limits - the planes that used them in yesteryear were exponentially louder.

Ben Lowden

3,282 posts

144 months

PH Marketing Bloke

PH STAFF

Saturday 11th July 2020
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Lets keep this thread on topic please – track days for beginners.

Henz

149 posts

69 months

Saturday 11th July 2020
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Appreciate a bit of a "how long is a piece of string" question but any advice on how many trackdays before changing brake fluid?

I've done 2 and didn't notice any softening of the pedal by the end, but don't want to get to number 3 and struggle after 10 mins. I only stay out for 15/20 max at a time, though no idea how cooked the fluid is getting (dot 4 by Comma so fairly standard stuff).

Do you usually notice a slow degradation or does it suddenly drop off a cliff?

Edit - Oh and my tip which has probably already been mentioned - check your wheel bolts after each session! I did it religiously and they seemed to maintain correct torque so got complacent and didn't bother once. Resulted in me limping off track after 10 mins or with a bad wobble/noise to find the bolts on one wheel were almost finger tight only. Breathed a sigh of a relief was nothing more serious and slapped myself on the wrist for being lazy.

Edited by Henz on Saturday 11th July 21:52

sumpoil

426 posts

131 months

Sunday 12th July 2020
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Track day advice for beginners. Difficult to compress into a few lines, but for what it's worth here are my thoughts.

Two basic areas to think about; car and driver.

Driver: probably the biggest limiting factor on your first track day will be the driver. Driving on a track is a completely different experience to the road, both in terms of your own driving and in terms of the surrounding environment. Just because you think you're a bit handy (and illustrate it by bouncing it off the limiter in first when leaving McDonald's car park), doesn't mean that you actually are a bit handy .... mainly it just means you're a bell-end, so leave any attitude or ego at home. Fernando - and lots of other people - will be faster than you. Get over it.
The actual driving part is a tricky balance between being confident and over-confident. Start off well within yourself and build up - you've got all day. The objective of the day is to have fun and enjoy yourself so don't put pressure on yourself or let anyone else pressurize you. If you just want to blast around on the straight parts with maximum acceleration and not worry too much about the corners, that's fine. If you want to improve braking and cornering technique, then that's fine too. As they will tell you in the briefing, track days are non-competitive, so you don't have to be out there trying to be Lewis Hamilton if you're not comfortable with it. 'Drifting', however, is frowned upon so don't try it or you'll be asked to leave. Also, don't just pound around and around. Do 15 mins at a time and give yourself and the car time to cool off in between.
The environment also takes some adjusting to. The obvious thing is the speed differential between the fastest and slowest, especially if proper racing cars are on track with you. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Make it clear to faster cars that you're moving over by indicating, and wait for slower cars to wave you by. Most track days operate a policy of overtaking on the left, by consent - and only on the straights (or in other defined areas). However, despite this rule being repeated about 100 times in the briefing, you usually find that cars with numbers on are being driven by people who think they are proper racing drivers and hence the rules don't apply to them - so just be mindful of cars with numbers trying to overtake anywhere. The other type of bell-end to watch for is the one that drives in your boot, trying to pressurize you to get out of his (or her) way - even though you may be waiting for a slower car to let you by, as per the rules. So, just like on the motorway really, be aware that there will always be someone coming up behind you in an Audi or BMW or Porsche that is far more important than you biggrin.

Car: what you may or may not need to do depends on what you are driving, but let's assume we're basically talking about road cars being used on a track. If you're lucky enough to be driving a proper, modern supercar (488 or 720s or 911 turbo or whatever - some people do tip up to their first track day in these cars), then your first and only job will usually be to take the number plates off - wink. Other than re-fueling, you (or more likely your butler or footman) probably won't need to touch it after that; chances are your own limits will be so far below the limits of the car you won't really have to worry about anything other than driving. If, however, you're driving just a normal road car basically just keep an eye on tyre pressures and brakes. Cold tyre pressures tend to be set slightly lower than on the road. The other area you may need to pay some attention to is braking, but again it depends on the car you're using. Anything with carbon ceramic as standard you'll probably be OK to leave as they are. If you don't have carbon ceramic then it may be useful to make sure you have some up-rated front pads (not necessarily needed in the rear) and high boiling point brake fluid. Not essential on your first day, but either way you may need to make sure you keep the brake temps under control by doing 'cooling' laps in between faster laps.

Most importantly, don't let any of the above put you off. It's a brilliant way to spend a day doing something that really gives you a massive buzz. Go out and have fun.

Edited by sumpoil on Sunday 12th July 10:40


Edited by sumpoil on Sunday 12th July 11:18


Edited by sumpoil on Monday 13th July 00:23

C70R

8,368 posts

71 months

Sunday 12th July 2020
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Excellent post. Far too much emphasis on car upgrades when first trackdays are talked about, and not enough focus on preparing the driver with similar detail.

sumpoil

426 posts

131 months

Monday 13th July 2020
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In addition to all that stuff I said earlier, here are a few more practical pointers that have been popping into my head throughout the day;

1. arrive early to allow plenty of time to get your bearings.
2. remember to fill in registration form and have your driving licence with you.
3. make sure you know the timetable for signing on, briefings, sighting laps, lunch etc.
4. make sure you know where to sign on and where briefings will be held.
4a. there have been some changes to the usual routine due to current social distancing requirements. Some are good ideas and will hopefully remain when everything gets back to normal; e.g. signing on forms are completed on-line, as are the safety briefings (at least they are for MSV days). This saves a lot of time and messing about on the day and it would be great if it became the norm – maybe with a safety briefing at the circuit on the day, but only for people who want it or are first-timers.
5. take a reasonable selection of tools and supplies – e.g. a few nuts and bolts, a selection of cable ties, oil and other fluids, decent tyre pressure gauge and some sort of pump, maybe some cleaning rags etc.
6. if you have a garage remember the number and check you can see the number from the pit lane. If your memory is as bad as mine, it sometimes helps to hang something in the door that you can see as you come down the pit lane, like a brightly coloured coat or towel or something.
7. If you don’t have a garage and are working from the paddock, make sure you know how to access and egress the pit lane – there are usually different points for entering and leaving the pit lane, so make sure you know which is which.
8. Stay hydrated and fuelled – helps concentration.
9. If you’re doing the day on your own, do everything you can to make your life as easy as possible by being prepared, rather than constantly having to react to situations, e.g. if you're disorganised, like me, make a checklist of things to do (sign on, tyre pressures, check wheel nuts, check fuel etc). You’ll hopefully give yourself more time to concentrate on the driving. Alternatively, take a helper along … and also make a checklist.
10. When driving, avoid the bell-ends I mentioned earlier by backing off and making yourself some space, especially if you find yourself in a position you’re uncomfortable with.
11. Re-set car and brain to 'highway' mode when leaving the circuit at the end of the day.

200Plus Club

8,941 posts

245 months

Monday 13th July 2020
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If it's not been mentioned already Blyton park is excellent for novices, safe and friendly trackdays, and cost effective. Definitely look into some 1 to 1 tuition if possible in current times.

Jex

720 posts

95 months

Monday 13th July 2020
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sumpoil said:
11. Re-set car and brain to 'highway' mode when leaving the circuit at the end of the day.
This is a good point for two reasons - the obvious one is that you need to slow yourself down, but following one track day I did, I had two near misses going home (neither my fault) because the standard of driving on the roads can be lower than on track days where people follow the rules!

Another point about speed - I was on a cooling down lap before returning to the pits and as far as I was concerned I was just pootling along, but as approached a fairly sharp corner I noticed I was still doing 80. I had been doing 120 at that part of the circuit before, so it felt slowish but it wasn't. The message (to me) - don't relax on the track.

QBee

18,206 posts

111 months

Monday 5th October 2020
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The point about letting cars that catch you past is well made, as are all the other points made.

I have a reasonably quick TVR, and have had some cock in a brand new BMW M4 pull out of Snetterton's pit lane as I was approaching the first corner at 120 mph, pull straight across the track onto my line, causing heavy braking, some bad language and trouser browning on my part, and then proceed around the track for five laps without ever looking in his mirror or moving over once. I was easily quicker, as I know how to drive corners, but constantly thwarted from overtaking by his driving tactics.

The other way round, I have been caught in the slower bits at Cadwell Park by a race-prepared Hillman Imp. I let him past and spent five laps studying his lines through the corners. Yes, I could have blasted past him on the straights, but what would that have achieved? I learnt a lot from him.

98% of drivers are courteous and follow the rules, and car on car collisions are very rare in my experience. Car into barrier are more common.


One other point I may have missed, but didn't see mentioned - how much tyre and brake wear you suffer in a full track day can be directly correlated to the weight of your car, so comments about going through a set of both on a track day may well apply to someone in a Jaguar XF, whereas someone like me in 1080kg of car gets about 6 track days out of each.......or maybe I am not trying hard enough. Also tyre wear seems to be much more even front vs rear on rear wheel drive cars.

geeks

6,886 posts

106 months

Monday 5th October 2020
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If you happen to be behind someone who is refusing to relent and let people by do a slow drive through the pit lane and head back out, more often that not this will create a space and you won't find yourself getting angry because someone slower won't let you through.

A cool down in lap is also a good idea but don't forget your perception of speed will be altered after a few laps at speed and hairpins will still require slowing down for.

Don't be afraid to ask if you don't know where you should be or what you should be doing and when etc, TDOs would much rather explain things more than once than send you home for being a prat.

Many circuits/TDOs offer helmet hire if you don't want to buy one, I would recommend buying your own balaclava though, a cheap motorbike or karting one will do.

Buy some gloves, again cheap karting ones will do, sweaty hands ruins alcantara and slip on leather/shiny wheels right when you least need it!

Don't torque your wheel nuts when your wheels are hot!

On the sighting lap at the start of the day, ignore the pillock on slicks weaving around behind you.

Enjoy it, don't worry if you only go out for a couple of laps at a time and feel shattered by lunch.

C70R

8,368 posts

71 months

Monday 5th October 2020
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A big one from me, after taking my father out for his first trackday recently, that I hadn't really appreciated as being obvious.

There are two places your car should be at any point on the track:
1. On the fast/racing line, at pace
2. Off the fast/racing line, deliberately lifting/indicating

Anything other than this is confusing to faster cars, particularly a hybrid of the two. Or you've got it badly wrong and need to get back onto one of them.

2 GKC

1,183 posts

72 months

Monday 5th October 2020
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You can use your phone as a short term option. There’s an app

Turn7

20,175 posts

188 months

Monday 5th October 2020
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2 GKC said:
You can use your phone as a short term option. There’s an app
confused