Track Day Tips
When you are registering for your track day with me, I’ll send you a compact Track Day Tips guide with tips & tricks to quickly improve on your performance. When reading the contents you’ll recognize that it covers all main areas, where you can easily improve. It would be pretty arrogant to expect, that you’ll find many new tips & tricks inside, but … we all know that speed depends on so many details. If I could only help you to find one piece of the puzzle, that would already be great !
The Legendary Circuits´ appeal to drivers and spectators is easy to understand. The fast, hilly and twisty nature of the tracks and Spa – Francorchamps with one of the most famous and dangerous sections of any racing track in the world, the Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex, make them a unique proposition. These are circuits that teach you respect and hold a mirror in front of your face. Are you really the one, you think you are?
After 30 years of racing at Spa – Francochamps, I now know that I’ve always done better on my return, which in itself is very disappointing, but on the other hand, it motivates me to keep on pushing and really try to get the best out of me.
The Legendary Circuits throughout Europe are the circuits with character and the places where my fascination for driving techniques really started. Luckily enough they are very accessible, whether you are coming from the UK or surrounding countries. Easy to understand that all of these Legendary Circuits are annually returning events on the calendar.
Track Day Tips – Safe track day
Of course there is no such thing as a safe track day. we all know that motor ‘racing’ can be extremely dangerous, but you can eliminate a lot of danger. First limit your track choice to Grand Prix circuits, which are built to the highest safety standards in the industry. These tracks are generally safer than the average highway. Second make sure that your track day organizer runs the event with marshals, recovery vehicles and medical cover. Third stay within the limits of both your car ánd yourself. After about 15-20 minutes your car will be getting hot. Do a cool down lap at a limited speed. This cool down lap will reduce your cars temperatures more efficiently than coming in from full speed and park your car in the pit lane. More importantly, your cool down lap will give you a moment to relax and decrease your likelihood of mistakes. Fouth, if you´re new, book tuition.
Track Day Tips – Insurance
Many specialists include a number of track days as part of their road going insurance cover, but you must inform them of the day in advance or you won‘t be covered. If you don‘t have track day cover included as part of your regular insurance, then search for a company on the internet that can provide cover for a single day. It is important to remember however that track insurance has no 3rd party element, and usually carries a much higher excess.
Track Day Tips – Driver preparation
Familiarise yourself with the circuit as much as you can at home. Watch YouTubes of the circuit, so you know upon arrival which way the corners are turning. But don’t let them fool you, as the more demanding circuits will be playing tricks on you. Presenting you with the wrong corner camber angles perhaps? Such corner presents the perfect opportunity to leave the circuit in a less elegant way! It is very important to take enough water to the circuit. The loss of 1 litre body fluid is enough to lose 20% of your concentration capacity. And make sure you get enough sleep, the night before. Best to arrive on the day before and book a hotel near the circuit.
Track Day Tips – What to wear
You will definitely need a crash helmet and wear clothing that is both comfortable and will cover your arms and legs. Unlike racing, where you must wera fire-proof overalls, all you need when it comes to track days are a long sleeved T-shirt and a jeans. Wear a pair of thin-soled shoes, race boots or your running shoes with worn-down soles. The thicker the soles, the less feel and control you will have.
Track Day Tips – Car preparation
Take a roll of duct tape or electrical tape (insulation tape). You will need to tape your lights up when you get to the circuit, and duct tape can be a great aid if you need to do some quick fixing. A tyre pressure gauge and a footpump will come in handy. With most road cars this is about the only adjustment you have to make, adding some extra 3-5 psi of tyre pressure to your road tyres. Torque your wheelnuts to make sure, your wheels don’t leave your company. Check your engine oil level, best overfill a bit and don’t forget to check regularly during the day. Replace your brake fluid, with a high-end fluid, that has a higher boiling-point (e.g. DOT 5). It’s also posible to replace the standard pads with high-performance items. The braking will be improved and longer-lasting, but brakes might get noisy and discs might wear quicker. And … remove everything unnecessary from the car!
Track Day Tips – Tyres
Tyres are the connection between your car and the road, so they might be important [!]. Adding some extra 3-5 psi of tyre pressure to your road tyres, can greatly improve the handling of your car. Be prepared to adjust the tyre pressures front to rear, as tyre pressure has a big impact on the balance of the car. Depending on that, your car might become either under- or over-steering. So fiddle around with your tyre pressure and find out, what works best for you.
Track Day Tips – Flag signals
Red Flag – Perhaps the most important flag is the “red flag”. All drivers must slow down immediately and be prepared to stop their car at any point of the circuit. If possible return to the pit lane immediately and do NOT overtake any car, during red.
Black Flag – The driver, who is shown the black flag, must return to the pit lane immediately.
Yellow Flag – Reduce your speed immediately and NO overtaking under yellow.
Green Flag – All clear and you can resume your way on “racing” speed.
Yellow Flag w. Red Stripes – Signalling the presence of water, oil or sand on track. Be prepared to negotiate a slippery surface.
Blue Flag – Check your miror and do not obstruct any overtaking move from upcoming traffic.
Track Day Tips – Familiarizing
Always take it easy for the first two laps! The engine, tyres, brakes must reach their working temperatures first, before you can ask for any performance. Taking it slowly will also enable you to concentrate on the ideal “racing” line and dial in your computer [read: brains] correctly. If you’re not concentrating from the first metres on track, you are much more likely to repeat your mistakes later on that day, so pay attention. As you will be gradually speeding up, after the two introduction laps, pay careful attention to any unfamiliar noises, smells and behaviour of the car, as they could serve as an early warning that something is about to happen. Under circumstances back off and return to the pit lane for a quick check.
Day Tips – Braking
Always brake in a straight line and release the brakes just before turning in. Because the nose of your car will dive under braking, a lot of extra load will be added to your front wheels, which will increase their turning in capabilities. And always brake the hardest you can, without locking up. This will decrease the time you’re losing out in braking, and will increase the time that you’re travelling the straight on full throttle.
Track Day Tips – Trail braking
Before reading this, do realize you´re now entering expert territory, which will need a lot of practice, as it requires a lot of feel and balance to be carried out correctly. The big advantage however is, that you’ll be able to maximize the grip levels of your tyres under braking and acceleration. You must realize that the total grip level of a tyre can only be used for either braking ór cornering. Trail braking knits these two phases seamlessly together. When you brake as stated above, you will now gradually release the brakes instead, which will allow you to turn in, while still braking. As you will travel to your apex or clipping point, you are still releasing the brakes and will finally reach your apex, probably with fully released brakes. While releasing the brakes, you are more and more using the grip level of your tyre for its cornering capebilities, until you reach your apex and are fully committed to cornering your car.
Track Day Tips – Apex
Carrying the highest average speed round corners will not be your quickest way around a circuit. Each corner will lead you onto the next straight and the sooner you can start accelerating out of that corner, the higher your speed will be at the end of that next straight. It is therefore better to take a late apex, straighten the car and get the power on early. The result being that you´ll generally carry a slightly lower entry speed, but will end up with a much faster exit speed, easily entering your next straight some 10-20mph quicker than the next guy. The next advantage being that at on any given point of the straight, you’ll still be carrying a lot more speed than your opponent, easily chipping off seconds from your lap time.
Track Day Tips – Picking up speed
The best way of learning your cars limits is under braking. Keep a conservative braking point, and brake harder every next lap, until your tyres start loosing grip under braking. Back off a little bit and push your braking point somewhat further, nearer to the corner. If you will do this continuously, there will be a time, that you start missing your clipping point. Now revert to your former braking point, which corresponded with your best corner performance. Remember to take it slow[-er] in and quick[-er] out of the corners. Slow in will give the body the chance to settle itself and corner in a steady state. Once you reach your clipping point, focus on your acceleration and try not to disturb the balance of your car. Only floor it, once your car is positioned in a [near] straight line. Not only is the quickest way to corner a car, but it will guard you from a visit to the gravel trap or even worse, slamming into the barriers!
Track Day Tips – Stick to your line
Don’t play the perfect gentleman on the track! Never change your line, in order to give way, when you see any upcoming traffic in your rear mirror. Keeping your line, will be a clear signal to the overtaker, that he will need to find a way around you. Keep to the side you were travelling, which will invite the overtaker to go for the other side and start a safe overtaking manouevre. By doing so, you will never find yourself in the way of a quicker car, and both drivers can drive at a speed they and their car feel comfortable with.
Track Day Tips – Spinning off and then what
Many people seem to think, that when they’re spinning off, they have no further control over the car. WRONG ! If you’re spinning off, always look ahead in the direction you’re sliding. Once you find yourself sliding in a direction, which is safe i.e. you don’t find any obstacles on your sliding path, then hit the brakes for the full 100% and lock them! You will notice, that your car will stop spinning and will start to move along the line you had in mind. So spinning? > looking > locking brakes !
Track Day Tips – Nordschleife
– If you need to stop on the ‘ring, here’s a quick bullet-pointed list to consider:
– Do you really NEED to stop? Trained marshalls are minutes away at worst, seconds at best.
– If you do need to stop, then is there somewhere safe to do so?
– It’s better to park ‘past’ the accident, then walk back BEHIND the barriers while showing a yellow flag and phoning the emergency number
– It’s generally better to stop on the right-hand-side, as people can overtake you on the left as you come to a rest.
– Braking on grass is more difficult than braking on tarmac! Don’t crash trying to help somebody else.
– ORANGE paint on a barrier shows a gap, ‘refuge’ or parking place you can park safely behind.
– NEVER ever drive the wrong way on the Nordschleife.
– NEVER stand on the track!
– Inexperienced ‘first-time’ visitors can probably help best by giving their phone to a passenger and phoning the emergency number: +49 800 0302 112
Track Day Tips – Note
Remember that Motorsport can be dangerous and it is explicitely your responsibility to drive within your limits
Note: Don’t hesitate to give me any feed back on the contents of this guide or send me any questions, you might have. I’m there to help you and I’ll gladly give you the advice I can, based on the experience I’ve built in the past 20+ years of motor racing, on all the Legendary Circuits in Western Europe, that still remain.
Thanks for trackdaying with me,
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