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My First (car) Trackday
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My First (car) Trackday - November 6, 2012, 02:55 PM

Recently I learned that certain convertible models were allowed on track without needing a rollbar. So I jumped on the chance to learn where the limits of my car were (at least with me in it).

The HPDE1group in the NASA event at Summit Point consisted of two classroom sessions and three 30 minute on track sessions each on Sat & Sun. It’s a really great group of people and well run event. The wide variety of cars was cool to see too.

National Auto Sport Association - nasaproracing.com

You have an instructor riding in the car and it sure is easier communicating than with a bike instructor My guy didn’t give a whole lot of detailed feedback throughout, just a few key pointers here and there. He did focus some on having me throttle steer into turn 7 by lifting slightly to bring the rear end around. In one of the classroom sessions they mentioned throttle steering and that it was a little advanced, “for later”. Had to allow myself a moment of inner smugness.

Passing in HPDE1is only allowed on the straight, between turns 2 & 3, and turns 9 & 10, and only with a “point by” from the driver ahead. There was a fair bit of traffic and trains would build up sometimes ten cars long. But I did get some relatively clean laps in the first day and was happy enough.

In Sunday morning class they explained how trains build up because you don’t want to point the guy behind you by because you’re trying to get by the guy in front of you. So I tried pointing some people by in the first session, along with cruising in sections to create gaps for myself. But the gaps never lasted very long at all so it didn’t really work out. I was a bit hung over anyway so going easy was cool enough.

For the second Sunday session my instructor explained how he had more fun when there was a rabbit to chase. Not only that, but the instructor in the BMW lined up in front of us was a racing buddy. Apparently some smack had been talked because I had given them a point by in the last session. “So my job is to pass the BMW?” *Instructor grins in his open face helmet* I rode his ass hard and you could see him making mistakes. “You’re making him nervous, see look”. “You’re gonna get the point by” And I did.

I got signed off to run solo for the last session but declined, figuring why pass up free instruction. This time I was lined up behind a black Cayman, which I followed through traffic. Instruction was minimal except for one casual phrase halfway through the session. “You’re never gonna catch that Cayman now.” Oh yes I will and yes I did! Really pushed for it and got the point by with one lap left.

I instruct for Cornerspeed, and even though there are major differences between getting a car and a bike around the track quickly, the overall approach to getting faster is the same. I purposely didn’t follow any disciplined approach though, just adopted the attitude of burn some gas and have some fun. I want to avoid getting hooked on trackdays/racing with four wheels. No regrets falling down that rabbit hole with bikes, but the cost implication$ of doing it with a car hurt my head.

The strategy of “just have fun” worked perfectly because I did have fun but didn’t get “hooked” (yet). I’ll do at least one more event next year, at VIR.

It goes to eleven


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November 6, 2012, 03:03 PM

Dayum that looks fun. How hard is it on your rotors and pads though? That ish becomes expensive quick with cars.


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November 6, 2012, 03:23 PM

You have a car?


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November 6, 2012, 04:19 PM

Glad you got out there and had a good time, Jim. My roommate was supposed to be there this weekend, but ended up selling his spot since he didn't have time to prep his car for the event.


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November 6, 2012, 04:24 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by turkishexpress View Post
Dayum that looks fun. How hard is it on your rotors and pads though? That ish becomes expensive quick with cars.
New pads all around and rotors in the front + fluid flush, and new rear tires before the event. OUCH that hurt!!! I wasn't nearly as hard as I could have been on the brakes, but still, after a few more of these events they'd be toast. The cost of the event is in line with bike events. It's the cost of "expendables" that really get you. Also burned a whole tank of gas each day.

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You have a car?
Yeah I just got it this spring but it has to sit outside because the garage is full...


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November 6, 2012, 04:26 PM

Nice write up. I would love to try that! Really thought about getting an old Miata just for that purpose. But I could see falling down the hole also, knowing it would be hard to keep the thrill going with 100Hp.


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TNT
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November 6, 2012, 04:29 PM

This is something I could be getting some interest in - got a guy at work that does the junk car races (not sure what these are actually called) and another guy who used to run trackdays in his VR4. Now he has a BMW Z4 convertible and I'm wondering if that is in the allowed list. Of course, he'd probably be more than willing to put a roll-bar on it and if I can eventually get in as a passenger with him, I'd be all for it.

Any complications in signing up and getting ready to go? Similar restrictions to bikes? I'm sure most is on the site, but I'm always looking for a bit of info from those who've done something to point out those tidbits that aren't in written instruction.
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November 6, 2012, 04:32 PM

Hey Gaal! I did a track day in a spec renault (think clown car) For about the price of bike racing entries. 3X20 minute sessions. Dinner. Arrive and drive. 4 speed, crappy transmission, low top end. But daaaayum did it brake and corner. I could have gotten instruction, but my buddy looked at the owner and said I had raced at Summit for 10+ years. Thumbs up and away I went.

Fun stuff. But yeah, I can see getting hooked and spending a lot of $.

On the upside, I would learn how to fix my car quickly.


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November 6, 2012, 07:43 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by LooseTooth View Post
Nice write up. I would love to try that! Really thought about getting an old Miata just for that purpose. But I could see falling down the hole also, knowing it would be hard to keep the thrill going with 100Hp.
I'd guess that a beater Miata wouldn't cost a whole lot more to run than a bike. The thrill factor may be lacking but if it's mainly the competition that gets you off then the spec Miata series seems perfect.

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Originally Posted by TNT View Post
This is something I could be getting some interest in - got a guy at work that does the junk car races (not sure what these are actually called) and another guy who used to run trackdays in his VR4. Now he has a BMW Z4 convertible and I'm wondering if that is in the allowed list. Of course, he'd probably be more than willing to put a roll-bar on it and if I can eventually get in as a passenger with him, I'd be all for it.

Any complications in signing up and getting ready to go? Similar restrictions to bikes? I'm sure most is on the site, but I'm always looking for a bit of info from those who've done something to point out those tidbits that aren't in written instruction.
Sign up via the website was pretty painless and worked perfectly. The two beginner groups (HPDE1 & 2) tend to always sell out, but I signed up with only two weeks to go and even got my preferred number (11 = easiest to make with tape)

You fill out a pre-tech form prior to the event, can be done by you or a mechanic. Beginner groups don't have to worry about registration or tech lines. Registration is done in the classroom (you get a wristband). Tech is done by your instructor right on the grid. There was nothing about that on the website, so I think it depends on the individual event. Once registered you get an email before the event with all pertinent details. Very well run program IMO. All classroom sessions are mandatory. They hand out cards that you need to get on grid each time (in addition to the wrist band).

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Originally Posted by MudDawg View Post
Hey Gaal! I did a track day in a spec renault (think clown car) For about the price of bike racing entries. 3X20 minute sessions. Dinner. Arrive and drive. 4 speed, crappy transmission, low top end. But daaaayum did it brake and corner. I could have gotten instruction, but my buddy looked at the owner and said I had raced at Summit for 10+ years. Thumbs up and away I went.

Fun stuff. But yeah, I can see getting hooked and spending a lot of $.

On the upside, I would learn how to fix my car quickly.
I've heard credible stories of people bringing rental cars


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November 6, 2012, 08:22 PM

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Originally Posted by turkishexpress View Post
Dayum that looks fun. How hard is it on your rotors and pads though? That ish becomes expensive quick with cars.
911 rotors and pads can be found all around and for surprisingly less than one would imagine (so long as he isn't running the PCCBs).

The wonderful thing about P is that 911 model is probably the most well supported model in the world in so much as aftermarket and factory parts.

Stay clear of the dealership and generally speaking a P is no worse to own than a Corvette or Mustang.

Tires on the other hand - esssh! When you order them up, the odd sizing in the rear is almost exclusive to Porsche and the retailers charge for the pleasure of your pain. $450 per for the Michelin Pilots the last time I checked.



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November 6, 2012, 08:37 PM

Where's the vids bro???

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November 6, 2012, 08:47 PM

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Stay clear of the dealership and generally speaking a P is no worse to own than a Corvette or Mustang.
I'm holding a P timing chain in my hand and two cam gears.......

My credit card disagrees with you

glad you had fun out there Jim


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November 6, 2012, 09:17 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heist View Post
911 rotors and pads can be found all around and for surprisingly less than one would imagine (so long as he isn't running the PCCBs).

The wonderful thing about P is that 911 model is probably the most well supported model in the world in so much as aftermarket and factory parts.

Stay clear of the dealership and generally speaking a P is no worse to own than a Corvette or Mustang.

Tires on the other hand - esssh! When you order them up, the odd sizing in the rear is almost exclusive to Porsche and the retailers charge for the pleasure of your pain. $450 per for the Michelin Pilots the last time I checked.
I plan on leaving it stock. The car makes me happy as is, so it makes little sense to throw money at upgrades.

I got Pirelli P Zero rears to match the fronts which didn't need replacement. $355 each and told I got smokin deal. I'll prolly try the Pilots next.

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Where's the vids bro???

Nice ride.
I brought the GoPro but never did mount it...fail


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November 6, 2012, 09:39 PM

Time on the track is always fun. Bike or Car I've taken my Vette out a few time, rotors and brake pads are inexpensive relative to the TIRES! Had to replace the clutch this year, that was a lot of fun.
The Miata's and 944's are fun classes, not the power, but teach you to carry the speed through the corners.

Like taking a 600 vs 1000 cc bike.


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November 6, 2012, 09:50 PM

Awesome.

Did you have any other 4 wheel experience beforehand such as AutoX? I've been saying I'll do a car TD for a year or so now.


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