Advice for starting track days in these times...

Advice for starting track days in these times...

Author
Discussion

narbles

Original Poster:

70 posts

33 months

Tuesday 13th October
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About to book my first track day for November at Mallory Park and will be doing this solo, so after a bit of advice.

Is it actually worth booking something at the moment? My area is going to be in "tier 2" from tomorrow. Now nothing I've read suggests track days will be affected but if I have to start rearranging things it will be a pain.

My second question is around insurance. The car I'm tracking is my only car, it's a BMW 130i with the hard (impossible) to find BMWP intake and BMWP exhaust. It's not worth loads, they seem to go for around £5-6k tops with the mileage it's on which is around 84k. Is it worth insuring it based on what could happen to it? Potentially looking at paying either about £80-100 for a single day or around £200 for a policy covering 4 days. The insurers talk about paying "up to market value" which - let's be honest - is not going to get me another 130i with the same mileage and additions (intake/exhaust as mentioned), not to mention a lot of cars up for sale are dogs anyway. Would I be better off not paying for insurance and just keeping the money to fix things myself (replacement panels for a 1 series are not particularly expensive).

Boggo

45 posts

14 months

Tuesday 13th October
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Id book away, or even look for something sooner. Going alone won't be an issue, especially if you drive to and from the circuit. Take plenty of warm clothes as if the weather is crap you have nowhere to hide other than in the car. And take an egg timer to have in the car, set it to 20mins and be strict on yourself to just do 20min sessions and take a good break (harder to do when you're on your own as it's boring in the pits). Much more than 20mins and the car is likely to over heat, tyres go off, brakes etc etc etc.

Insurance is a funny one, depends how you plan to drive. 90% of track day drivers tend to only push to 80%, however you still have idiots on circuit who can be very unpredictable and can cause car-car accidents. If you go to a big circuit where its mostly gravel traps rather than walls/tyres then you're less likely to cause damage if you do spin. But Mallory has quite a few walls, and from memory only one gravel trap! Personally for the price I'd get insured, it will cost less than the fuel you put in the car for the day! Beware that some track day insurance will class as a claim on your road insurance, so read the small print, and also look at the excess (usually much higher). But it would save you if some pillock hit you because you spin and they were driving too close to you (remember everyone pays for their own damage on track, regardless of fault!)

Good luck and enjoy!

narbles

Original Poster:

70 posts

33 months

Tuesday 13th October
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Thanks for the advice. Can't really book anything sooner as most things booked up. Don't want to drive too far away for the first track day and Mallory is reasonable distance hence why mid November.

Car + car + wall does not sound like a great combination, not sure why I doubted the insurance. Even if it doesn't pay out the full whack it's still better than nothing!

Nampahc Niloc

538 posts

38 months

Tuesday 13th October
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Worth looking at your breakdown cover. Many won’t pick you up from a track day so you may need a back up plan for getting home. I don’t want to put you off. Damage at a track day is the exception not the rule, but you’re only as safe as the person next to you on the track. I trailer my track car, so can’t really advise, but there are many on here who drive to and from the circuit.

brillomaster

487 posts

130 months

Wednesday 14th October
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Can you get to Bedford autodrome? personally i find Mallory park one of the worst circuits in the country, whereas Bedford is a nice long track, good mix of corners and very safe for beginners as its long, flat, wide with minimal things to hit.

Personally, in 6 years of doing trackdays, i never bothered with insurance - though most of my cars were cheap. Perhaps if it was your only car i'd get insurance for the first few days, but then once you have a feel for it, i'd save your money. Car to car contact is very very rare at all circuits. Car to barrier contact varies depending on the circuit - far more likely at narrow twisty circuits like cadwell and oulton than at wide open circuits like donington, snetterton and bedford.

and as for general advice, make sure your car is well serviced before starting - you will get through brake pads if you arent mechanically minded, and you'll get through tyres if you slide around a lot. Therefore decent brake pads and fluid, and then tyres are normally most peoples first port of call for upgrades.

narbles

Original Poster:

70 posts

33 months

Wednesday 14th October
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Thanks again for the replies, always good to get input especially as I haven't really got car mates to bounce ideas off.

I went ahead and booked Mallory Park + the insurance, while my car is a cheap as far as cars go, it's still money I'd rather be without. Insurance was a 4 day policy, working out at around £50 a day. So I'll do Mallory Park first, then hopefully Donington and possibly Bedford then decide on one more.

Brake pads I've already sorted, I got some Pagid RS14 (I think) pads for the front and Brembo High Performance for the back plus Motul RBF600 fluid.

Tyres, I'm just going to use what's on there. Rear tyres are getting low but I think the first track day will finish them off then buy some new ones.

As for Mallory Park, I just fancied it as it's not too far, it's on a Saturday. I've heard that while Bedford has plenty of run off etc. it's not so good for beginners as it's not a proper track? Will go at some point I'm sure though.

Doing track days is something I've wanted to get on with for a while, meant to start earlier in the year but COVID put paid to that. I plan to do the first 4, see how I get on then tempted to get something cheaper than the 130i and maybe look at sprinting/hill climb as well as track days and not bother with insurance etc. as I've then got the luxury of my main car being the 130.

brillomaster

487 posts

130 months

Thursday 15th October
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Hmmm bedford not being good for beginners is not something i buy into... i think bedford is perfect for beginners, for three main reasons...

1) it doesnt punish mistakes. it is a wide circuit, and has so much run off that if you do miss a braking point, run wide or spin out, you are unlikely to hit anything. Therefore you can learn the limits by safely exceeding them occasionally. the counter argument is that this builds complacency and liberties not afforded by 'real' tracks, where if you make a mistake you will be punished by either gravel traps, or a wall.

2) it is not a 'hard' track. bedford allows you do practise the basics of braking points and racing lines on a simple to learn circuit, without having to worry about blind crests, undulations, camber changes, variable radius corners and other more advanced features. conversely, because it lacks the more advanced features seen on other tracks, it could be considered boring.

3) it satisfies beginner trackday drivers. it has nice long straights where you can reach high speeds, and fast but relatively simple corners where you can feel great about carrying good speed through the corners. it is also large enough that it is easy to let faster cars through so you dont have to constantly watch your mirrors, and cars can space out so traffic is sparse anyway. there are also no race cars testing, as the circuit holds no races.

Personally i think Bedford is always a consistently brilliant day out. other tracks like cadwell, donington or oulton park can offer more excitement on a good day, when you know the track and can flow some good laps together, but conversely if theres lots of pushy race car traffic around or there are constant red flags from people getting stuck in the gravel, they can get very frustrating. the worst that happens is you get a bit of rain, you run a bit wide onto some wet grass, and then you're straight in the barrier - day over, and car written off.

Xcore

737 posts

50 months

Thursday 15th October
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I did Bedford as my first ever track day on Monday, had a cracking day with no real fear of pushing the car and ending up in a wall.

Highly recommend the place as it’s also quite large so your not constantly bombarded with faster cars.

narbles

Original Poster:

70 posts

33 months

Thursday 15th October
quotequote all
I'll definitely look at Bedford for one of the next track days. I've got my 4 day insurance policy so I'll be using them up. I really want to do Donington at some point, have been on it on plenty of racing sims smile

RSbandit

1,290 posts

92 months

Thursday 15th October
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Another advocate of Bedford here especially for beginners, track itself is fairly flat and featureless but it is fast and v hard to get urself into too much trouble. I've pushed a little too hard there a couple of times and just ran over the grass other tracks much less forgiving!

C70R

7,141 posts

64 months

Monday 19th October
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brillomaster said:
Hmmm bedford not being good for beginners is not something i buy into... i think bedford is perfect for beginners, for three main reasons...

1) it doesnt punish mistakes. it is a wide circuit, and has so much run off that if you do miss a braking point, run wide or spin out, you are unlikely to hit anything. Therefore you can learn the limits by safely exceeding them occasionally. the counter argument is that this builds complacency and liberties not afforded by 'real' tracks, where if you make a mistake you will be punished by either gravel traps, or a wall.

2) it is not a 'hard' track. bedford allows you do practise the basics of braking points and racing lines on a simple to learn circuit, without having to worry about blind crests, undulations, camber changes, variable radius corners and other more advanced features. conversely, because it lacks the more advanced features seen on other tracks, it could be considered boring.

3) it satisfies beginner trackday drivers. it has nice long straights where you can reach high speeds, and fast but relatively simple corners where you can feel great about carrying good speed through the corners. it is also large enough that it is easy to let faster cars through so you dont have to constantly watch your mirrors, and cars can space out so traffic is sparse anyway. there are also no race cars testing, as the circuit holds no races.

Personally i think Bedford is always a consistently brilliant day out. other tracks like cadwell, donington or oulton park can offer more excitement on a good day, when you know the track and can flow some good laps together, but conversely if theres lots of pushy race car traffic around or there are constant red flags from people getting stuck in the gravel, they can get very frustrating. the worst that happens is you get a bit of rain, you run a bit wide onto some wet grass, and then you're straight in the barrier - day over, and car written off.
Agreed. Bedford was my first trackday, and although I had a spin on the right before the pits due to cooking my rear tyres (should have put semi-slicks on the back too!), it was a great place to learn how to drive on track in safety.

Roverload

819 posts

96 months

Monday 19th October
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I learned at Castle Coombe. The drivers briefing did a really good job of ensuring I was suitably terrified beforehand so I went on track with maximum respect for it. Such a rewarding circuit though, I'm positive by the end if the day I couldn't possibly get any more out of the car. I'm not sure if every track day offers it but coombe offered a local professional driver to come out in the passenger seat with you and talk you through it as you go free of charge. Deffinitely take this if it's offered. I learned so much off an expert and it deffinitely stopped me from making some silly mistakes. Have fun!

Boggo

45 posts

14 months

Monday 19th October
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C70R said:
Agreed. Bedford was my first trackday, and although I had a spin on the right before the pits due to cooking my rear tyres (should have put semi-slicks on the back too!), it was a great place to learn how to drive on track in safety.
I see they taught you the racing driver excuses also! Very good

Mark83

634 posts

161 months

Monday 19th October
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No racing series races at Bedford and with their strict noise limits, chances of race cars showing up for unofficial testing is reduced compared to other circuits.

C70R

7,141 posts

64 months

Tuesday 20th October
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Boggo said:
C70R said:
Agreed. Bedford was my first trackday, and although I had a spin on the right before the pits due to cooking my rear tyres (should have put semi-slicks on the back too!), it was a great place to learn how to drive on track in safety.
I see they taught you the racing driver excuses also! Very good
Haha. Something like that, yes.

The truth was that a set of new Nankang road tyres on the back were no match for the used (ex-Elise Cup) R1Rs on the front after dozens of laps of French FWD slides. I've learned a lot about tyres and tyre care since (I didn't check the pressures on those once during that day!), and it was my ignorance of the performance difference that caused the spin for the most-part.

Either way, the consequences of that spin could have been much more severe (for me and others) at a circuit with close barriers. As it was I put a tiny dent in the wing by clipping a cone, and was back out lapping 15min later after an obligatory chat with the medics.