Skills and Knowledge
Signing up for your first Track Day or HPDE
Where do I begin?
If you don’t have a car, kart racing is a great place to begin, you can find nearby go kart tracks with a quick Google search. You can also rent track cars from certain organizations, which could make sense if you want to try out racing once or twice. However, renting will get very expensive if you do it often.
Once you have a car you can bring to the track, you’ll need to make sure it’s safe. Track driving is more demanding than regular driving, so proper preparations are necessary.
You can find more info here →
Finding a track and an event
You should first familiarize yourself with the tracks near you. Generally, they’re located in the outskirts of a city away from residential and commercial areas. A quick Google or Yelp search should do the trick.
As a beginner, lean towards tracks that have a decent amount of run-off, which is an area of dirt or gravel that surrounds the corners of the track. Run-off provides a safety net in case you drive off the track or spin out. For example,
The track's website usually has a calendar of events. Go through them to see if there are any beginner-level events (or whatever level you’re currently at). Once you find the right event, you'll likely have to go to the organizer’s website to sign up.
It’s very important to choose events that match your skill level. If you’re a beginner and you sign up for an advanced group, neither you nor the other drivers will have any fun.
Do your research on the track
If your track is on Track Manual, take a look at that track’s page, which has a detailed track map and other key info. If it's not on Track Manual, find a map of the track online and learn the general layout.
Some tracks have limited food options or don’t have food at all, so you should know where you can get lunch or pack a lunchbox in advance.
You should also figure out where the nearest gas station is. There’s a good chance you’ll need to refuel halfway through and fuel at the track is usually very pricey.
To get familiar with the actual course, we recommend you watch YouTube videos of other drivers running this course. This will give you a rough idea of the racing line and braking zones, which will speed up your learning process.
The night before and morning of
Sleep early and don’t drink the night before. Trust us, being tired or hungover is going to ruin your day and possibly endanger you. If your event is far from home, get a nearby hotel or airbnb so you don’t have to make a tiring long drive at the break of dawn.
Leave for the track with plenty of time to spare because there are some things you need to do when you get there:
- Fill up your tank at a gas station close to the track
- Find a good spot to camp out for the day, if you arrive earlier it’s easier to find a good spot
- Unpack your gear and remove loose objects from your car, you don’t want excess weight or anything flying around inside your car when you’re on the track
- Check in with the event organizers and instructor, and meet the other drivers
- Attend drivers meeting
The typical track event agenda
The agenda will differ depending on the event, but they’ll follow this example structure:
[7:00am] Track opens, arrival at track
[8:00] Driver meeting
[8:30] First session run group A
[8:50] First session run group B
[9:10] First session run group C
[9:30] Second session run group A
Repeat above until lunch
[1:00] Begin afternoon sessions
[5:00] Track cold, pack up and go home
At the end of sessions, you should cool down your brakes. If you don’t get at least half a lap to cool down, drive around the paddock for a bit after you exit the track.
At any given track event, there may be multiple run groups that share the track. Run groups may be separated by different experience levels or by different events altogether. Regardless, your track sessions will be staggered with those of other run groups, giving you time between each session to rest, check your car, and talk to instructors.
Instruction and classroom sessions
If your event is a HPDE, you may have classroom instruction between track sessions. But even for track days without classroom instruction, there will most likely be instructors present. Don’t be shy about asking them for advice and tips.
What to bring to the event
Helmet - You will definitely need a helmet if you want to get on the track. Many places will have helmets you can borrow or rent, but we advise bringing your own for better hygiene and comfort. Don't cheap out on the product. Buy a SA2020 certified one. If you can try on some helmets in person, that would be ideal.
Headcloth - You need this to wear a headcloth under your helmet.
Lots of water - Track days are very physically demanding, as your body is continuously resisting G-forces pulling in different directions. On a hot day, dehydration is a real risk. Bring enough water to rehydrate between every session.
Tire pressure gauge - You will see track day veterans checking their tire pressures between sessions and letting air out to fit their handling preference. As you do more laps and the day warms up, your tires will progressively heat up. This causes the air inside to expand, so you need to let air out to maintain target pressures.
Torque wrench - To ensure your wheels’ lug nuts are properly fastened before and after the event.
Tire pump - Your tires will be operating at a much lower PSI than its street recommendation, which means you will need to put air back in after the event. A portable tire pump can be a lifesaver, so you don’t need to rely on one being available.
Foldable chair - Having a lawn chair you can sit on in between sessions is a nice-to-have, especially on sweltering days.
Portable tent - Great for when the day is hot or rainy and the track doesn’t have much cover.
Jack - For changing your wheels or brake pads at the track.
Jack stands - If you need to do any adjustments under your car, a jack is not enough, you need jack stands.
Extra brake pads - It’s always a good idea to bring backup heavy-wear consumables like brake pads, especially for multi-day track events or if you need to swap to street ones to drive home.
Extra motor oil - You should never run out of oil.
More recommended equipment can be found at →
Track insurance is highly recommended
Accidents do happen on the track, which may result in damage to your car. Regular car insurance don't cover track events, so track insurance is well worth it to protect your car. You can buy track on a per-event basis, so you don't have to worry about recurring premiums.
Read more about track insurance here →