Prepare for your first car trackday
A general rule of thumb is that if your car is in good roadworthy condition that it will be suitable for track but there are some things that you may want to check and most of these checks can be carried out on your own driveway.
Fluid Levels: Make sure your oil, coolant and brake fluid are topped up and are at the appropriate levels. It’s also worth checking the oil a few times during the day as when you’re hitting that rev limiter in every gear your car might use oil. Bring a small bottle with you just in case. Personally I always change the oil and filter before I go on track but that’s purely personal preference.
Brakes: Make sure your brake discs and pads are in good condition and there is plenty of thickness on the discs and pads. Your brakes will get used harder than ever before so ensure they are good nick. People that go on trackdays on a regular basis will often upgrade and change their pads and discs to increase braking performance, which translates to better braking on the road too.
Tyres, tyres, tyres, tyres…
One of the most talked about things on trackdays and arguably one of the most important. Tyres need to be in very good condition and at the right pressure. There isn’t a single rule here but if you’re running a powerful car and cheaper tyres you may run out of grip, the same could be said for super expensive tyres that have no tread left on them. Without those lovely grooves, the tyre has no way to disperse water and let’s be honest it’s the UK after all. Weather can’t always be relied upon.
Suspension and steering: Make sure there is no knocking or play in the suspension or steering same as you would for day to day use on the road. Nobody wants anything to go wrong there as it is probably a day killer!
Bring some tape (duct tape or electrical tape is easiest we find) with you to tape up your lights to minimize glass or plastic shards on track. Some simple crosses across the lights are usually sufficient and in the unlikely event that you have a small bump with another car, it stops the broken parts falling out of the lights. If your car has loose items, make sure these are properly secured and things like wheel trims are either cable tied or removed as it won’t be helpful having these fly off while your driving round, you will have enough to occupy yourself with while you’re on track.
Interior: Pack up all the loose equipment in the boot, back seats, and glove boxes or little cubby holes. You can be surprised how easily the most innocuous can of (insert brand of soft drink here) can turn from refreshing beverage to glass shattering missile mas you negotiate a chicane.
Make sure you have plenty of fuel for the day, although people will help out, you do not want to run out while on track. If you run out on circuit you will simply be pushed to the side and have to wait to the end of the session to go and retrieve your vehicle.
Bring the appropriate attitude. These events are great fun and once you have the bug, you’re stuck with it. But it must be remembered this is a motorsport event and it can be dangerous so don’t take risks with your safety or other people. Let others pass and enjoy the day…the whole day. Everyone is there to enjoy themselves and causing an accident by being too big for your boots can ruin yours and others days out. Drive within your limits.
Noise rules: Unless you have a modified exhaust system it’s highly unlikely you will have an issue with the noise test. If you have a noisy or performance exhaust then make sure to check the dB limit on the day and check to make sure you comply. If you fail you will not be allowed to drive. It might be worth investing in an exhaust silencer which are available from many retailers.
Safety Equipment: Helmets are compulsory and must be worn on track at all times. If you don’t have your own you can often rent one on the day but if you want to get your own there are a lot of places you will find local to you to source one. We also recommend having a small, securely mounted, fire extinguisher in the car though it is not compulsory.
Accidents: In the unlikely event you have an accident it is your responsibility for the damage to your own vehicle. It is also becoming more unlikely that your road going policy will cover you for a track day event. Make sure to contact them and find out as many companies will allow you to add this and insure your car for the day. If your insurance company don’t offer this, there are specialist insurers who offer this at small cost including personal injury cover which we also recommend you consider.
Now, Enjoy your track day!