26 March 2020
Still new to track racing and not sure how to prepare for a track day? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you all you need to know about track day so you know what to do before, between, and after your track day sessions so that you can fully enjoy the track day experience.
To be prepared for a track day, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the timetable beforehand. You can check with your track day location and ask for their specific timetable. Usually, the sequence of events at a track day looks somewhat like this:
- Arrival and sign-in
- Safety briefing and safety check
- Sighting laps
- Circuit open for lapping
- Lunch break
- Circuit open for lapping
- Chequered flag: End of day
Driving on a racetrack puts additional strain on your car, so you want to make sure your car is in good condition to guarantee safety and maximum performance on the track. When it comes to getting your car racetrack-ready, there are certain things you want on your track day checklist. If you’re a car pro, you can self-inspect your car; otherwise, we recommend you get advice from a mechanic you trust.
Generally, the older the car, the more thoroughly it needs to be checked — especially critical components of the car that guarantee safety. Make sure all the bolts and clips are tight and secure, and check the tightness of your engine mounts, gearbox mounts, subframe mountings, exhaust, steering rack and suspension fixings. If any control lights are on, you should get them checked out.
After that, the car’s tyres and wheels, brakes, fluids, engine and battery need a thorough check.
Tyres and Wheels
Your tyres and wheels will undergo intense driving conditions on the racetrack, so it’s extremely important that they’re in good condition and that you check them properly before going on the track.
First, you want to make sure your wheels are well balanced. Vibrations you feel on a regular road will feel more extreme when racing on the track.
Then you want to check the tyres’ tread depth. Tread depth is important for your car to function in all weather conditions and ensures your tyres have sufficient ground contact even during heavy rain. Driving on the track with high speeds and driving through tight corners will have stronger wear on your tyres, so the tread depth and the condition of the sidewalls need to be checked regularly and before every track day. You can check your manufacturer’s manual for the optimal tread depth and instructions on how often the tyres need to be replaced.
Another important checkpoint is tyre pressure. Tyre pressure is critical for your car’s performance, so it’s a must to check before your track day experience. You can start with the manufacturer’s recommendations and make small adjustments throughout the day to increase traction.
The brakes are a crucial part of your car. On the racetrack, you reach faster speeds and do extreme cornering, so you need to make sure that your brakes are properly functioning to avoid any accidents.
Also, with more horsepower, your car needs stronger brakes and higher quality brake pads. Generally, your brakes should be in good condition, with no leaks as well as undamaged brake pads and rotors. Since brake pads experience stronger wear on the track, you want to make sure they have enough material left on them before a track day. In case of extreme wear, it’s a good idea to have a spare set of brake pads on hand. And while you’re checking the brake pads, don’t forget to check your brake fluid.
When it comes to fluids – oil, water, etc. – you want to make sure to have them all topped up before your track day as the usage of fluids will be higher. If your oil is old, dark and opaque, consider getting it flushed and changed.
The engine is the heart of your car, so you should check that your engine and transmission are in good condition, along with the engine oil and coolant to top it off or change it if necessary.
You won’t be allowed on the track if you have any leaks, so you should check for any potential leaks that could create dangerous conditions on the track.
For your car’s battery, make sure it’s secured with bolts for all the track racing action. Don’t forget to check that the positive battery terminals are covered to prevent a potential fire.
Last but not least, remember to check the noise level of your car since there’s a noise limit at the track. If your car exceeds the noise limit, you won’t be allowed on the track, so it’s best to check and adjust beforehand to make sure your track day experience doesn’t get ruined by your car simply being too loud.
2Clean your car
This might seem obvious, but it’s a very important part of your track day checklist to clean your car inside and out. This prevents loose objects from flying around. The inspection team at the track will also require you to remove everything from your car, so save precious track time and clean out the clutter beforehand.
Loose objects in your car are not only harmful, but they also weigh your car down, which lowers its performance. You want to remove any unnecessary weight, like that spare wheel or anything else you’re storing in your car.
3Fill up your tank
This step on your track day checklist might seem obvious, but your car consumes a lot more petrol than during a normal drive so you want to make sure your tank is filled up. You might be able to get petrol at the track, but it will probably be sold for a higher price.
4What to pack for your track day
When it comes to what you’ll need to bring to the track, here’s a checklist to give you an idea.
Most track day locations require you to wear a helmet. You might be able to rent one at the track, but if you plan to drive on the track frequently, you probably want to get your own. If you bring your helmet, make sure it has any required certifications.
While gloves are often not required, they can be essential. When driving on the track, your hands can get sweaty due to the heat and adrenaline. Gloves can help increase your grip on the steering wheel, so you can go through corners like a pro. And gloves can protect your hands in the case of an accident or fire.
You never know what you might need on the track, so it’s a good idea to bring your toolbox to be prepared for any situation. Tools you need in your toolbox are a jack and jack stands, screwdrivers, foot pump, duct tape, cable ties, spanners and jubilee clips. Other useful items include:
- Torque wrench and wheel nut socket to make sure your wheels are properly torqued
- Tyre pressure gauge to check your tyre pressure
- Spare brake pads and sockets in case you need to replace your brake pads
Be sure to bring extra oil and fluids. As mentioned previously, fluid consumption will be a lot higher than usual and your car will experience intense conditions, so you might need to top off the oil and fluids or flush the brakes with extra brake fluid. And not only fluids for your car — you should also bring enough drinking water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Any additional weight can slow down your car, so if you can, remove unnecessary things for the track day such as unnecessary seats, spare wheels, floor mats etc. Besides reducing the weight of your car, consider investing in a pair of tyres made for the track. With a spare set of tyres for the track, you not only enhance your track day experience with sensational grip, you also won’t damage your regular tyres that you need for the daily commute.
Check fluid levels throughout the day due to higher fluid consumption. You can take some extra oil with you to top off if necessary. Be sure to check your tyre pressure regularly to prolong the longevity of your tyres, and you can slightly lower the tyre pressure between sessions to increase traction — but don’t lower it too much.
After your track day session, it’s recommended to do a cool-down lap to get some air into your brakes, engine and transmission as well as to let the car cool down. Without a cool-down lap, you might risk damaging your brake pads due to the heat. For that same reason, you also shouldn’t use the handbrake right after the session.
Once you’ve finished your cool-down lap, and once your tyres have cooled down, you should check the tyre pressure and tread depth to ensure that your tyres are in good condition for the ride home.
After a track day, it’s a good idea to make a list of adjustments or additional tools you would like to bring for future track days. Every track day will give you more insight into how you can improve your car’s performance to be even faster the next time you hit the racetrack.
Summary of track day checkpoints
There’s a lot of information here, so let’s quickly summarize.
Before track day, get your car checked out to ensure your car is ready for the track. Of course, you want to make sure that no control lights are on, that your tyres and wheels and brakes are in good condition, all fluids are topped off and your engine is in good shape. After that, you want to check that your car doesn’t exceed the noise limit, you’ve cleaned the car of any loose objects and your tank is full the day of the event.
It’s also important to be prepared for any situation, so bring essential tools from your toolbox, as well as a helmet, gloves, extra fluids and drinking water.
During track day, make sure to continue checking the fluid consumption levels as well as your tyre pressure and tread depth and to do a cool-down lap to let the car cool down and avoid any heat damage.
You’re ready for track day
Now that you know all about what to prepare for track day, there’s nothing that can stop you from enjoying your racing experience at full speed. As you visit the track more and more, you’ll find out what you can do to improve your car’s performance by making adjustments or exchanging car parts for high-performance parts.
But whether you have the newest performance car or an older regular car model, the most important part of track day is to you enjoy yourself.
If you’re interested in participating in one of Hyundai N’s track days, check out your local Hyundai Driving Academy.