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Old 3 Jun 2003, 13:26 (Ref:619155)   #1
Hobson
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Hobson should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridHobson should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
General Trackday Guide (Please add to this!)

This is a general guide to trackdays, please feel free to add your own points to the guide!

Your first track day
Track days are pretty informal affairs, but thereís still a process to get through before youíre allowed out on the circuit.

Where track days really beat racing hands down is with the general lack of hassle and hanging around. No trailering, no scrutineering, and no waiting for nine other practice sessions to finish before you get to have your blast on the big black track.

Thatís not to say itís just a matter of driving to the circuit then slotting left onto the track for instant action though. Nothingís quite that simple after all, and all track days operate to rules and regulations of some sort. These tend to differ depending on the organiser and some will be stricter than others Ė often with the highly worthy intention of maximising the track time for all involved. This affects the price and quality of the day.

At the track.
First job is to sign on, showing your driving licence and handing in your pre-signed indemnity form Ė sent through the post with instructions and directions the week before. Once youíve signed the sheet youíre given a handful of stickers and a voucher. One of the stickers will be your number which is stuck to the rear screen Ė so you can be pulled off the track if youíre especially naughty Ė while another will indicate the sessions you will go out in.

The groups you go onto track in are loosely based upon the experience and ability of the driver and the performance of the car, so that the quicker guys will not continually trip over the slower, and the slower runners do not feel they are getting in the way of the hotshots. Different companies operate different systems. Wheeltorque, for instance, has an open pit lane, which means you can go out when you like. Each has its advantages, and itís really a matter of deciding what suits you best.
Once the stickers are fixed on you need to tape up your headlights Ė this really brings out the track-beast in the car Ė and then run through some safety checks, sometimes from a checklist provided.

Itís mostly common sense: tyre pressures checked, mirrors adjusted, wheel nuts tightened, loose odds and ends taken out of the car, is there enough fuel, that sort of thing.
By now itís about time for your briefing, which again is largely informal Ė though compulsory Ė and dwells upon the safety aspects of the day. Track procedure is explained Ė such as driving on the right where the line allows and overtaking on the left and not in the corners Ė and the flag signals in use are also made clear.
Something else to listen out for is the way the corners are marked. Most operators use a system of cones to mark the line as closely as possible - turn in, apex and exit of the corner. Braking points are not marked, after all, when thereís anything from a Mini to a Supersports racer on track that sort of thing is pretty subjective.
The local knowledge of the instructors helps too, after all these guys are the experts, and at Silverstone they warned of the amount of rubber laid by the F1 boys just a week or so earlier Ė apparently that gets pretty slick should it rain.

There are other warnings, mostly along the lines of donít beach it in the gravel bed as it ends the session and your day, donít overtake in the braking area, and always use your mirrors. Also, the point that this is strictly non-competitive is hammered home Ė any sort of timing equipment is banned from track days, which is why theyíre allowed in the first place so please abide by the rule.

Come on then, what are you waitng for?
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Old 3 Jun 2003, 13:34 (Ref:619165)   #2
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Questions and answers:

Q."Why do trackdays exist?"

Trackdays started out as little more than a few mates hiring a race circuit and having a days fun, but pretty soon people cottoned on to the fact that with the perils of speed cameras, traffic and fear of a blue light flashing in your rear view mirror that the days of fast road driving were in decline. So much so that the trackday movement is now a fully-fledged phenomenon with over 550 trackday events in Britain alone in 2001. Weíve compiled a set of questions and answers that will help you if youíre new to trackdays or may be of interest even if youíre not.

Q "So what happens at a track-day then"?

Trackdays are a way of enjoying yourself and your car in a safe controlled environment away from the public highway. There are many operators, and prices can range from 60 quid to £400 for a days fun depending on the company and the circuit booked.

Q "Whatís the benefit of airfield days"?

These airfield days are great for the beginner, due to the wide-open spaces, and are ideal places for the novices to cut their teeth and as a bonus they are usually cheaper than conventional race-circuits such as Silverstone or Brands Hatch.

Q "Do I need a race-licence"?

Not if you are just doing straightforward track-days, but you must take your ordinary driving licence and of course it must be valid. One point worth noting is that if you are going to a day where you will be driving either the circuits or the organisers own cars, they might get a bit sniffy if you have been banned or currently have six or more points on your licence.

Q "Iím not that fast, will I look foolish"?

No not at all, all the companies we deal with have full driver briefings and instruction available for novices so donít worry, however, donít get carried away, take your time and learn your limits, operators see too many people turn up thinking they are Jason Plato only to go into the cat litter on their first lap. Be warned marshals can spot a silly f***er a mile away and any on-track shenanigans will result in a ticking off or even you being sent home and possibly blacklisted. Follow instructions and youíll have a great time.

Q "Will I need a crash helmet"?

Yes, you most certainly will and donít take any chances and under no circumstances should you contemplate digging out that old chipped, visorless thing that you last used on your moped in 1979 or wear that old one that used to belong to your granddad. If thereís any doubt over your helmetsí integrity, get a new one. This is your life weíre talking about donít forget and lid can save your life. Always buy the best one you can afford, a good one will cost from £80 upwards, and make sure it fits you properly and feels comfortable, as thereís nothing worse than being stuck inside a crash helmet that is not right. Too tight and itíll feel intolerable and too big it can be very dangerous. All good suppliers like Grand Prix Racewear, Demon Tweeks & Europa have measuring services. Some trackday operators have helmets you can hire for the day, but our advice is Ďdonít go thereí as it wonít be the most hygienic of appliances.

Q "I havenít got any overalls, does that matter"?

The emphasis is on comfort, especially for a rookie and it will be a long and tiring day remember, and no-one will be expected to turn up looking like Jensen Button, but, if you can afford to buy a decent set of overalls all well and good. One point to remember, is that if you turn up at an event looking like a Michael Schumacher replica people will automatically expect you to drive like Michael Schumacher, so if you donít want to attract attention it is probably best to leave the triple layer Nomex at home. Remember that safety and comfort are paramount and although a race circuit by its very nature will bring an element of competitiveness, there are no prizes to be won so a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt will be fine. Arms must be covered at all times if you are in an open top car. We recommend a couple of pieces of Ďproperí equipment which are race boots and driving gloves, as they do make driving easier.

Q "Does my car have to be roadworthy"?

In most cases Yes definitely, you will need a current MOT and road-tax, however do check with your organiser before you arrive to avoid disappointment.

Q "Does my car have to be prepared"?

Well certainly itís a good idea to check all the fluid levels are correct and add an extra 10% to your tyre pressures Make sure youíve got enough fuel, as youíll use more than you imagine. Also clear out any old Coca- cans and rubbish, as you donít want to be distracted or even get something stuck under the pedals. It you are planning to do lots of trackdays it is a good idea to look at brake upgrades because youíll be surprised at how much of a pounding pads and discs will receive. As with anything the skys the limit and any modifications are entirely up to you. Noise will be a factor, as each circuit has a different decibel limit but if your car is road-legal then you should pass the noise test without a hitch.

Q "You mentioned brake upgrades what about tyres"?

As long as you donít go bananas your road tyres will be okay for a days activities but longer term its worth investing in some good rubber for the purpose. We recommend Avon ACB10ís or Yokohama AO32ís or even a set of Pirelli P-Zero-C tyres (not the same as ordinary P Zeros) which are basically road-legal track tyres and have amazing levels of adhesion and grip, which isnít surprising when you look at the tread patternÖor lack of it! Make sure they are the same size as your road tyres so that you wonít have to buy new rims. You donít need to spend a fortune on your car to enjoy track days.

Q "What about all the flags, do I have to learn them"?

Donít panic as the marshals have ways of making themselves understood!. You will quickly pick up the meanings of the flags. The most frequent one you will come across is the YELLOW flag, which means that thereís danger ahead of you so take extra care. If the yellow is being waved then something has gone badly pear-shaped in the vicinity so be prepared to stop.

A RED flag means thereís been a serious incident and the session has been stopped, so slow down to a crawl and make your way back to the pits or as directed.

A YELLOW and RED chequered flag means thereís oil on the circuit so obviously take care.

A BLUE flag means that another car wants to overtake you and if itís being waved he wants to overtake you rather urgently.

One flag you donít want to see, especially if itís being aimed at you is the BLACK flag, which means you have, in the organisers opinion been a Ďvery naughty personí and you will have to go straight to the pits and get an almighty telling off!

Q "Which side of the road do I overtake on"?

At the drivers briefing in the morning you will get exact and precise instructions on procedures to follow. At nearly all events you will usually overtake on the left and if someone wants to go by, let them if you can. Of course if youíre not sure then hold station, it is always the overtakers responsibility to find the safest way past a slower car. By the same token if a driver has clearly been courteous and moved over for you then give them a cheery wave!

Q "Will my standard insurance cover me for track-days"?

Probably not, unless you are very lucky, meaning that if you biff your pride and joy you are on your own, and although the organisers will have insurance it will only be for Public Liability. Best thing to do is speak to a specialist insurer such as Competition Car Insurance (0115 941 5255 who can quote you on bespoke track day cover if you wish, which works out very cost effective.

For any questions not touched upon here your trackday organiser will always be please to hear from you.
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Old 12 Jun 2003, 13:44 (Ref:629451)   #3
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Refering to:- Q "Does my car have to be roadworthy"? - You will need a current MOT and road-tax.

The car I'm planning to use would only be used for track / airfield days and trailered to/from. I was planning not to bother with road tax or insurance, but would have an MOT. Will this severely limit the number of events I can participate in?
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Old 13 Jun 2003, 09:17 (Ref:630339)   #4
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No trackday company would let and uninsured driver/car near the track - too risky.

I don't think tax is a major issue, but obviously an MOT is essential.
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Old 16 Jun 2003, 22:58 (Ref:633624)   #5
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>No trackday company would let and uninsured driver/car near the track - too risky.

Not many cars are insured for trackdays, I've never seen an orgniser ask to see an insurance certificate and never heard of it being a requirement for doing a trackday.

An MOT isn't always essential either - a car designed for trackdays and trailered in doesn't need an MOT it just needs to be in a sound condition and fully capable of running at high speed without causing concern. If the car looks unroadworthy and doesn't have current tax then it might be assumed that it's failed an MOT and the organiser would be reluctant to let you on circuit but if it is a well looked after trackday car then I can't see anyone having a problem with that.

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Old 17 Jun 2003, 10:20 (Ref:633968)   #6
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Hobson should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridHobson should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
I personally would have both insurance and tax, anlong with an MOT, so incase anything were to happen, then you would have all your bases covered.
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Old 18 Jun 2003, 17:54 (Ref:635747)   #7
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suitable car

I intend to buy a used Formula Ford or similar to use for trackdays.Would this be permitted?
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Old 18 Jun 2003, 18:28 (Ref:635791)   #8
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I think that alot of trackdays are run for road going vehicles only, so you may have difficulty being able to run. there are the test days aimed at competition cars where you maybe out of your depth and probably be more expensive.
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Old 22 Jun 2003, 09:28 (Ref:639019)   #9
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Hobson should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridHobson should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
With any type of open wheeler (single seater), circuits usually don't allow them on. As Spanner says, if you had one of these, you would need to do a testday rather than a trackday. Expensive though.
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Old 22 Jun 2003, 09:49 (Ref:639032)   #10
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And you will need a racing licence for a test day.

BTW this is great stuff Hobson.
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Old 22 Jun 2003, 11:44 (Ref:639096)   #11
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Just happy to help!
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Old 22 Jun 2003, 16:45 (Ref:639246)   #12
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I am looking at getting a helmet to use for trackdays, as the hired ones get a bit sweaty, and it adds up for the whole day. But are bike helmets the same? Had a look through demon tweeks and they are quite expensive, but i'm sure you can pick up bike ones for under a hundred. Do you need MSA/FIA approval?
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Old 23 Jun 2003, 08:35 (Ref:639838)   #13
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Yes, I think its different rules for bike and car helmets.

Personally, I am going to get an open faced one, so if it gets a bit hot in the car, I have more cooling than a full faced one.
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Old 23 Jun 2003, 16:45 (Ref:640396)   #14
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You might want to mention that you should never buy a used helmet

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Old 25 Jun 2003, 16:27 (Ref:642807)   #15
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I am a trackday coordinator for Heritage Trackdays.
We don't request to see any documents i.e MOT insurance tax
All we do is a visual safety check of the car.
Under no circumstances will open wheeled vehicles be allowed out on a trackday.
You can use bike or car helmet - as long as there safe ! no cracks etc - its for your own safety to have a decent bash hat !
>No trackday company would let and uninsured driver/car near the track - too risky.
= The risk is all yours.
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