Racing round a race track might seem like a pretty simple thing to do especially if you are used to driving. But is it as straightforward as you think?
There are a couple of differences between driving on normal roads and driving on a racetrack, but the bottom line is that you will be putting your car through extreme racing conditions on a racetrack and this requires preparations for both you and your car.
With this in mind, we have developed a detailed beginner’s guide to track racing which will make it easier for you to transition from being normal road driver to a track racing driver.
Before you decide to go racing, the first thing you should do is select a race track. Most UK tracks have track days every week so there is plenty to choose from. It is recommended to choose a track that is close to your home because not only is this convenient, but it is also safe. Track days are both physically and mentally tiring so after such an event, it might be risky driving a long distance back home.
You should also select a race track depending on the racing format it offers.
There are three major types of track days:
Open pit lane
This is the most popular among many race tracks and means that the pit lane is open all day to anyone so you can race around the track at any time and for as long as you want. The problem with this is that if there are many vehicles on the track, you may have to wait in line to get on the track. However, organisers ensure that they limit the number of participants on such a day to make the track accommodate almost everyone.
In this format, drivers are divided into groups based on their driving ability or type of cars and these groups allocated different time slots throughout the day where they can race around the track.
Semi-open pit lane
This combines the open pit lane and sessions format. A limited number of vehicles are allowed on the track at any given time. There is no grouping just like in open pit lane because when enough vehicles enter the track, it is closed off. The closing and opening of the track also creates “sessions” just like in the sessions’ format.
With this, you can view and book you preferred track day in advance. Remember to go for the one closest to you.
Because you are expected to make your car perform at extreme speeds, you need to make sure that its fluids are topped up, its tyres are at the right pressure and it has good braking performance. Most importantly, you need to make sure the car is not too loud for the track. Local councils usually enforce noise restrictions on race tracks so before booking, check the noise limit to see if your car will be accepted into the track. Lastly, you will need a helmet which can be hired from the track.
On track day, it is important to fill up your tank and take note of the nearest petrol station so that you do not get stranded and lose track time when refilling during the day. You might want to pay for some tuition before going on the track where you will be taught the various rules and regulations that vary from track to track.
Time to enter the circuit. Don’t be that quick at first, understand the track. Feel its corners and straights and slowly build up your speed as it gets more familiar. Always be on the lookout for waving flags. There are various racing flags, each meaning something different.
When you want to take a break, go round the circuit for a cool down lap to protect your engine, brakes and transmission.
Oh, and remember to bring along your driving license.
After the event, inspect the car to make sure it is road worthy. It is highly unlikely that you will have damaged your car or burned up your tyres but a simple check won’t be a big bother before driving home.
Once the day is over, it’s time to think about the next track day because you can never get enough of the adrenaline racing action.