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TRACKDAY TIPS PAGE 2

The Vehicle

Trackdays are generally a harsh environment for the vehicle, at any day there will undoubtedly be a couple of retirements (minimum!) where peoples cars just give up due to the strains placed upon them. There are a few things which can be done to avoid any problems on the day which include the following (this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but the most important points!):

  • Check all fluid levels in the car, particularly coolant and oil.
  • Always arrive with a full tank of petrol, its surprising when driving hard how much fuel gets used!
  • Start with the tyre pressures at the recommended settings. These can be adjusted during the day.
  • Check that the brake pads in the car are up to the abuse they will get. On track the brakes do a lot more work than they do on the road, and the temperatures are much higher. In most cases regular road pads will not cope with these stresses. On a similar note, its worth making sure that your brake fluid is in good condition. It should be less than a year old, and ideally should be changed for good quality stuff. Nothing worse than having a brake failure on your first trackday!

Normally in the briefing they will give you some tips to help your cars get through the day unscathed. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Always take a couple of laps minimum to warm up both yourself and the car. Nothing more embarrassing than spinning on a first lap because you are not focussed and you have cold tyres!
  • As mentioned previously, never get involved with racing someone else. You never know how ‘tuned’ their vehicle is or how good a driver they are. This invariably leads to accidents.
  • When finishing a session, whether it be due to personal preference, vehicle failure or the chequered flag, always take the final lap as a cool down lap. Use the brakes as little as possible (if at all) and avoid accelerating hard to help the engine cool down gently. When parking up, do not use the handbrake. Instead leave the car in gear if on a slope. If you leave the handbrake on, it will seize on due to the parts contracting as they cool. On hot days it may also be worth opening your bonnet to allow under bonnet temperatures to reduce more rapidly.

 

Equipment

You will require your own helmet for taking part in a trackday. This does not have to be fireproof, but it is recommended. Other than that, no other equipment is officially required on most days. Some organisers insist that drivers and passengers have long sleeves and trousers on. Driving gloves are recommended, as sweaty palms can lead to a loss of grip on the steering wheel, and if many trackdays are going to be done, it may be worth considering buying a fireproof suit, however this is far from essential.

In terms of tools etc, its worth taking some basic bits, however unless you have another vehicle with you it may be difficult to find somewhere to store them whilst on track, unless you have somebody with you who can keep an eye on them whilst you are driving, or you entrust them to someone else there on the day.
Generally the advice would be to take bare essential tools, a list of what is recommended is below, though again this is far from exhaustive:

  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Electric tyre pump
  • Decent socket set with a good range of size
  • Decent set of spanners
  • Trolley jack
  • Gaffer tape for headlights, number plates etc
  • Other basic tools, hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, Allen keys etc.
  • WD40
  • Locking wheelnut key if applicable
  • Cable ties
  • Spare fluids (engine oil, coolant, brake fluid…petrol in a jerry can possibly?)

And that’s about it. May seem a lot, however if the unforeseen should happen its best to be prepared. Along with these bits, you may consider bringing other things such as a camera, chairs, food and some cash…this can always bail you out in an emergency!

In general people are very accommodating on trackdays and if there’s something you don’t have, there is almost definitely going to be someone there who does have it!

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