Let’s face it; if you drive a car, you’ve probably dreamt of letting loose, moving freely along the road, and seeing how fast you can go with the adrenaline rushing in your veins. Well, such is the life of a typical racecar driver.
Car racing may not be for everyone, but that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to live out your dream. Thanks to track days, you can experience that dream, test your skills, and practice pulling off sick drifts in a safe and controlled environment.
Then again, track days that let you become a racecar driver for a moment don’t mean forgetting a few house rules that ensure the safety and enjoyment of other drivers. But before we get into track day etiquette dos and don’ts, let’s first go over the basics.
What is a track day?
Put simply, a track day is when drivers drive their car or a designated car on a race track. It’s a fun way to test your driving skills, explore the limits of your vehicle, and potentially meet other car enthusiasts.
Track days happen on race tracks (duh) and usually group participants by car models or manufacturers. Although they vary in length, there are two common formats for track days:
Open pitlane track days
During these track days, vehicles can access the pitlane all day, so you can visit the circuit whenever you like. However, the drawback is that it’s also open to all, meaning different vehicles of various paces can surround you, increasing the likelihood of overtaking or being overtaken.
Sessioned track days
Sessioned track days divide cars and drivers into groups based on speed or experience level, and they lap the circuit individually. Instructors determine your group based on your driving experience, so be honest when describing your capabilities.
Sessioned track days usually comprise three groups of participating cars. A session lasts 20 minutes, giving you and other drivers from each group approximately 20 minutes of driving freedom.
Both track day formats have advantages and disadvantages, so figure out what you want to get from the experience: a whole day’s worth of driving with other cars or 20 minutes of having the track all to yourself.
What to Expect During Track Day
Getting behind the wheel on a track lets you:
Test the limits of your car in a controlled environment
Push your vehicle’s boundaries during track days. While training programs mimic actual driving environments, track days allow you to focus on your vehicle without the usual obstacles, speed restrictions, or other cars on the road.
Learn new techniques
Track days introduce you to various scenarios that you can learn from and apply to real-world situations on the road. Suppose you want to concentrate on defensive driving. Track days enable you to be more familiar with your vehicle until you feel confident to practice that particular driving style.
Meet other car enthusiasts in the community
Track days are an excellent chance to meet fellow motorists and foster a sense of community.
Ride with more control and fewer distractions
Distractions from other vehicles are fewer when you go to track events. This kind of environment lets you practice and maneuver around the track, improving your driving control and skill level.
Receive feedback from professionals
Track days allow you to receive coaching and hands-on training from seasoned drivers. Track instructors watching you while you drive can provide feedback there and then, enabling you to make adjustments to your driving style.
Besides learning, the primary purpose of a track day is to enjoy yourself! However, fun doesn’t mean irresponsible. While dealing with other drivers, remember to emphasize safety behind the wheel, whether driving on the street or the track.
Track Day Etiquette: 4 Dos and Don’ts for Beginners
Whether or not you’ve heard of the viral video of a Corolla Altis that crashed during a track meet in R33 Drift Track, it is a cautionary tale that can remind professional and non-professional drivers to exercise utmost care. Fortunately, no one suffered injuries from the incident.
So to prepare for the big day, here are some dos and don’ts of track day etiquette for beginners.
1. Do show up on time and fully rested
Make sure you get plenty of rest. It’s your first track event, so you’d want to be extra vigilant and sharp on that day. If you live far from the track, consider booking a place where you can spend the night. It would be best to avoid alcohol on the days before the event. Instead, hydrate a lot. Grab a drink and snack to bring to the track to stay energized.
2. Do ensure your car is in good shape
While preparing yourself for the event, prep your vehicle, too. Tick off items on your to-do list by ensuring your car works excellently. Before the track day, check the oil, water, engine, brakes, tires, and tire pressure. You can get quality tires suitable for track days from Triangle Tires.
3. Do be humble
Stay humble, even if it means taking a beating because you are not happy about your pace or can’t keep up with other experienced drivers in your group. Don’t feel upset, nor should you take it personally.
4. Do relax and have fun
Enjoy the track regardless of how fast or slow you are. Have fun, relish the freedom of track driving, and drive smarter with the lessons you’ll learn that day.
Gear Up for Track Day
A track day is a fun way to get to know your car, but more importantly, it’s a day to get to know yourself and the kind of driver you are. So ensure that you prepare for the day ahead and address any concerns you or your vehicle might have.
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