There is a misconception that owning a sports car or having a souped up ride is a prerequisite to attending a high performance driving event (HPDE). If you have never been to a track day before you might be surprised to see such a large mix of vehicles. The most popular cars at the track are those you see everyday on the streets such as the BMW 3-Series, Nissan Sentra and Subaru WRX. It doesn’t matter if you drive a Corvette or Camry, your first HPDE or track day can be a blast.
The key to having a successful and fun track day is not having to worry about your car. Below are the primary parts of your car that you’ll want to check. Make sure these all of these parts are in good working condition and then check our 2014 HPDE/Track Day schedule to find an event near you!
Be sure the tread depth on your tires passes inspection. There should be no dry rot either. Dry rot appears as cracking and is common along the sidewall of the tire where the tread blocks meet. A dry rotted tire is at higher risk of failure and should be replaced immediately, even if you are only driving on the street at slow speeds.
You won’t be doing smokey burnouts on track so chances are that even after a full weekend of track time there won’t be any measurable loss of tread depth on your tires.
2. Brake Pads
Be sure your brake pads have plenty of life remaining. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to grab an extra set of pads just in case the original pads wear out while at the track. Lots of guys (and gals) keep a separate set of pads to use on track.
I recommend a brake pad that you can swap on to your car the evening before you head to the track. Choose a pad designed to handle higher temperatures and still provide the the friction to be safe on the street. From personal experience I’d recommend the Ferodo DS2500 or Cobalt Friction XR3.
3. Brake Fluid
If you can’t remember the last time your brake fluid was flushed then it needs to be done again. There are many brake fluid options but for track use you’ll want something with a high boiling point. Think ATE Type 200 Amber or Motul brake fluids. If the brake fluid boils while on track you may loose the ability to stop. Not cool.
4. Cooling System
If the cooling system in your car isn’t up to the job, you may not make it but a few laps before overheating. If your car has over heated in traffic there is no way it’ll survive a track day. Check the cooling fan blades are all intact and that your radiator has no leaks or damage. Also check that the radiator hoses are not dry rotted or showing signs of deformation such as formed bulges or nipples. These are signs that they are on their way out. Leaking coolant additives, especially anti-freeze, can cause slick spots making it dangerous for other drivers if your cooling system lets go.
5. Engine Oil
Bring additional oil just in case. The engine will spend a lot of time in the upper RPM range. Your engine may not burn much oil, if any at all, on the street but this is a different environment. Trust us on this one. Purchasing oil at the track is more expensive than your local convenience store.
Don’t worry if you don’t have your own helmet. Most organizations will be able to provide loaners. If you have time to purchase a head sock I highly recommend you do. A head sock is pretty much as it sounds. It’s essentially a thin ski mask that goes on your head before placing on the helmet.
Online stores like OG Racing are one-stop-shops for not only the head sock but brake pads and brake fluid too. If you choose OG Racing be sure to tell them Josh from RightFootDown.com sent you!