Prepare to drive!
So you think you've had enough practice on the Xbox, and you're ready to take your car to the track, but you don't know where to start in making preparations for track day? There's no reason to stress: track days are more accessible than ever, and with thousands who join every season, there's a ton of support systems and knowledge out there to get you going. But before you start checking the tire pressure of the car and changing brake pads, it is essential to know the basics of getting into the sport, and how to properly prepare yourself for a day out on the track. There's more to it than you might think, but done correctly, you're almost guaranteed to have a good time. Unless your car decides to die, of course. From prepping under the hood to event types, and what safety gear to bring along, we're here to guide you on preparing for a track day.
The world of motorsport is massively diverse, and the US enjoys one of the most eclectic scenes in the world. From driving a lawnmower at 60 mph on a dirt track to pulling heavy stuff with a supercharged tractor, there's something for everyone. Still, there are a few main categories that we'll be covering, including classics such as drag racing and circuit racing.
Sure, it's easy to buy a brand new performance machine such as a BMW M3 or VW Golf GTI and head for the track, but most beginners will be using much less desirable metal such as a used Mazda MX-5 to navigate the twists and turns. No matter the car you end up choosing, there will always be room for improvement, and the following categories should always be looked at if you're serious about optimizing your car for track days.
Having peace of mind and having fun are the two things you're aiming for when heading to the track. Both of these goals are attainable if you do proper prep work before the event and while you're on track. Knowing how to prepare for a track day might not sound like a lot of fun, but it will minimize the chances of something going wrong, so let's look at some essential preparation categories and track day tips.
Arriving at the track with only a GoPro and a bag of beef jerky sounds like a good time, but you're going to need more than that to prep your car for a fun day out, so let's take a look at what you need to bring, other than your car, to the track.
A track car is any road-worthy passenger vehicle. A bus or large SUV won't cut it, but other than that, anything goes. From the Mazda MX-5 through to a Bugatti Chiron, if it has a steering wheel and makes you smile, you can probably race it.
There are tons of good options available, but let's take a look at an entry-level and high-end car in each of the drivetrain classes. In terms of RWD cars, the Mazda MX-5 is one of the best entry-level track day cars you can get your hands on. Move up in the price range, and something like a C8 Corvette will make a tasty track day treat. FWD cars are a dime a dozen, and one of the most popular has to be the Honda Civic: whether it be an EG hatchback or the brand new Civic Type R, you can't go wrong with a Civic. The AWD class is also littered with legends such as the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but many German performance cars like the BMW M4 are also offering power to all four wheels.
While most track and drag racing events do not require you to have a racing license, some of the more serious, official events will need one. The SCCA is the place to go if you're interested in obtaining a race license in 2021, which might require you to attend an advanced driving training school.
Most important is that both you and your car need to be in a good state, so before you bring your car to the track, check that all components are working properly and that you are healthy, alert, and focused. Remember to check the list of what to bring to a track day, and remember that the best way to track a car is to make sure you are responsible about following the rules.