Skills and Knowledge
Preparing your car: Inspection, Brake Pads, Fluids, and Tires
Racing demands much more from your car than street driving. Therefore, a bit of prep work is highly recommended to ensure your car can handle the higher load. You can find essential equipment linked at
If it's your first time on the track, you don't need to do much to your stock car. Just make sure you have relatively fresh consumables:
- Your brake pads should have at least 50% life left.
- Your brake fluid should have been flushed within the last half year. We highly recommend using performance brake fluid to prevent brake issues on track.
- Your oil should have been changed within the last year and have at least 1000 miles before your next scheduled oil change.
- Your tires should be in good shape, be no more than 5 years old, and have tread above the wear bars.
Chances are you won't be driving your car hard enough your first time to need aftermarket consumables. However, after 2 or 3 track days, you should start thinking about getting track-focused brake pads, brake fluid, and tires.
Before your first track day, we highly recommend you find a local race shop or mechanic that can do a track inspection on your car. They will run through a checklist to make sure your car is fully ready for the track. Your car will face tougher conditions than it typically experiences on a spirited drive on the road.
A full inspection can cost anywhere from $100-200, but it’s well worth it.
Brakes stop your car, which is pretty important while driving. On the track, you will be using your brakes a lot harder than usual, which generates more friction and heat. This can cause your brakes to become ineffective if you have weak brake pads.
When you step on the brakes, you push your brake pads against the wheel rotors, which slows you down. To last a track day, you definitely want to make sure your brake pads are not too thin (at least 50% life). You can usually see your brake pads between the spokes of your wheel and measure how much is left.
You don't need race-focused brake pads for your first 1-2 track days. However, if your brake pads are almost gone after 1 day or you’re experiencing brake fade (ineffectiveness brakes due to excessive heat), you should consider upgrading to performance brake pads. They operate much better at the higher temperatures, but downsides are that they may not be as performant or squeal a bit when you brake during regular driving.
Brake fluid transfers and amplifies the force from pressing on the brake pedal to push the brake pads against the rotors.
The elevated heat generated by track driving can cause your brake fluid to boil, making your brake pedal feel spongy and ineffective. You should flush your brake fluids within 6 months of your track event because old fluids are less heat resistant and more prone to fade.
As you track your car more, you should consider replacing your stock brake fluid with track-oriented fluids (). Unlike race brake pads which can squeal on the street, track-oriented fluids don't impact your street driving experience.
Aside from driver skill, tires are arguably the most important factor in your car's performance. Tires not only are helpful for keeping your car glued to the pavement, but also provide important info for your driving like wear patterns or sound while cornering. Before going to the track, you need to make sure your tires have tread wear above the wear bars and are not older than 5 years.
When you have a few track days under your belt and are ready to improve your car, tires are one of the first things you should upgrade. You'll probably need to at that point - street tires won't last more than a couple of track days. If your tread is below the wear bars or if you're seeing any chunking or cording, it's time to replace your tires.
If your track car doubles as your daily driver, you may want to pick up a set of track-focused street tires, like the
If your car is a full-time track car or if you're willing to run a separate tires for track days, you can opt for a set of track wheels and tires. This will let you run wider wheels and r-compound tires.
Tire pressure is important to monitor throughout your track day. Your tires will get hot on track due to performance driving, which results in higher tire pressures that will affect your grip. You may need to release air after sessions if the tire pressure increases above its optimal point. Typically, ideal tire pressures are below the recommended value for a car driven on the street. As you become a better driver, you will develop your own preferences for tire pressure to suit your driving style. We recommend getting a tire pressure gauge with release valve to easily measure and adjust tire pressure.
Many tracks have sound towers to make sure your car is not too loud. If you fail the sound check once or twice, your day will be cut short. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about this unless you have a very loud car, like a Ford GT350R, Porsche 911 GT3, or a loud exhaust mod like straight pipes.
Sound limits are different for each track and may also depend on the specific event you’re attending, so make sure to do your due diligence.
Some folks with loud cars do pretty creative things to get around sound regulations. For example, they may install an exhaust attachment that points away from the the sound tower, allowing them to squeeze below the decibel limit.