First time on track. What should I be aware of?

Hi everybody,

I am thinking to attend at Blyton Park track day on 28 of March, a reason to celebrate my 28th birthday and enjoy my car​:grin::grin:

I am a bit worried about what do I have to be careful with my car.
The condition of the car is really good with low mileage on the engine, serviced end of September.
Tyres are also in good condition, Uniroyas RS 3 with 9.000 miles 16 month old, although I don’t really know how much thread they have got.

My brakes sometimes they don’t have the best feeling, however I am going to change the brake fluid by then, which hopefully will solve the problem.

I am thinking to get the half day pass, and I don’t think I am going to push my self and the car very hard, just to have some fun.

From your experience, what else should I have bear in mind before I will go there? Is it mandatory to have roll cage etc.

I hope I didn’t confuse you.

Thank in advance

Bill

Hi Bill,

I am sure others with more experience can add more info .

The basics that I check are.

  1. oil level ( would not hurt to put fresh oil in).
  2. All other fluids.
  3. 50% brake pad material.
  4. Reasonable tyre tread.

When at the track day,

  1. Remove all loose items and floor mats .
  2. Regularly check oil level during day.
  3. Warm the car up.
  4. Keep sessions to about 20 mins not to over heat the car ( mine has a turbo so gets hot)
  5. Nice cool down lap, minimal brakes.
  6. When you come off the track do not apply handbrake until cool as can mess up your pads , wait until cool. I also leave my engine running for 5 mins to allow the rest to cool down safely.
  7. Eat the food that you have brought with you… I am not a fan of what is available at most tracks.
  8. A full day it pretty exhausting especially if it’s your first time so stop if your tired, it’s better than having an incident.

Have fun, if you can persuade friends to go it always makes it better.

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Just make sure everything is working and not “worn out”
Sensible to bring some oil but not essential.
Smiles are quite welcome.
Other than that, we will look after you.

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Check your wheel nut tightness (torque setting). But don’t simply do them up as tight as you can, get it done with a proper torque wrench.

We tend to check regularly during the day, but rarely if ever do they change unless the wheels have recently been off the car and once back on have “settled in” and might need a tiny bit more.

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Would, in addition to all above, recommend an oil & filter change after the session for peace of mind & mechanical sympathy. At least you’ll know any sustained hi-rev swarfs & stuff will be gone.
Even if…you did before or the current stuff looks fresh and up the the dipstick.
Belt and braces.
But that’s just me. I worry too much… :wink:

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Most important thing is to remember despite the inevitable adrenaline rush before you set off it’s not actually a race (!) and there will be some very fast drivers out there who WILL go past you at one hell of a lick. There will also be some slower drivers - give them space. It’s more about taking it steady and building up your pace. I’ve seen quite a few accidents at car events where drivers over-estimated their ability and/or that of their car. If you don’t go hell for leather at first you will have a much more enjoyable day finding your own limits safely and coming back with a car in one piece!

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Stop worrying too much Bill.
Initial trepidation is part of the “fun”. :wink:
There will be pre-session talks, bags of grown-up hints & tips, and frankly if I can do it in my old mk1 Automatic anyone can. You will find out more about you & your car then ever before. And, you don’t come across initially as a dafty so enjoy.

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The first time you take a car to a track, you’ll discover problems with it working at extremes not normally reached on the road. Most important is overheating it. Watch the coolant temp gauge. If it begins to rise take it easy for the rest of the lap and come in to let the engine cool down.

If you get really into it, your brakes may start to get very hot and possibly start to fade. Drive a lap or two without using the brakes to get some air through them to help them cool down. Fade is caused by the brake fluid “boiling” the water it may hold. If it’s not been done before, bleeding your brakes with fresh fluid before the trackday is a good idea.

If you really, really get into it, you could end up wearing out your tyres and/or brake pads.

But, a standard well-maintained MX5 is a very very good track day car. It’s only when you start modifying them (turbos, etc) that things regularly go wrong on the track.

While you’re there, don’t forget to talk to the other drivers. They’ll give you bags of tips, and possibly a ride in their car.

Stephen

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My only advice would be-

  • do take a bottle of a water - it can be very thirsty work
    -most people unused to a race track often don’t use all the road and also tend to turn in to corners far too early
  • don’t worry yourself into thinking that the amount of well meant advice you receive means your track debut is rocket science . It’s really not , it’s just driving - but a lot better than it is on the road .

I did lots of track stuff in my Caterhams and a surprising facet of track driving is that while it is intense it can also feel almost calming , as it is free of the many stresses we associate with fast driving …

So- there is no traffic coming the other way , no tractors , you know where the road goes, no speed limit , not much to hit, most people behave sensibly , overtaking should be consensual and folk are friendly. . You might encounter some idiot prancing around in his new race suit, talking a little too loud and laughing a bit too often - don’t worry - they usually can’t drive a shovel into a pile of **** …

Enjoy it - and don’t fret. I was petrified on my debut in 97 - and all the angst disappeared before I was in 4th gear on the first lap .

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Thank you all for your amazing responses! All of them are really important and it was exactly what I was looking for! I will try to follow every single one of them, probably starting with the food that I will bring with me​:sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

Earlier today I just booked the ticket and I can’t wait for the next month!

Something that I wanted to ask is about the helmet. Will there be available helmet to rent or should I buy one?
Also, with regards to the roof, is it mandatory to have a hardtop or the soft top would be ok. To be fair I think I will put the hardtop, just in case.

Thank you again!

Bill

Yes, you can rent a helmet, no you don’t need a hardtop on.

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Empty the boot, including the spare.
Check the battery is secure.
Add a bit more air into the tyres; how much depends on the tyre and wheel size. on a 60 section, I used to add another 10 PSI if it was a bit of a softwalled tyre.
If you can get a demo lap with someone , grab it.
Turn the radio off. Don’t want to look like Corky Romano
If cones are used as a chicane, remember, they’re there to make you slow down a bit, not to make you look like a racing god, as you slip through there. Clipping a cone will cause some damage, though hopefully of the sort that will polish out.
As stated, and it can’t be said enough, its not a race. The worst trackdays are when some muppet turns up in his dripping Cosworth Sierra for private testing. Stay clear of that sort.
Keep your windows up, wear long sleeves.

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Adding pressure to the tyres may have worked for you, but as a general rule that’s not the way to go when driving on track!

By all means start off with them at regular road use pressures, but check them after you’ve been out and normally you’d be wanting to adjust them back to the where they were when that session started (ie let air out).

However, I do accept that in some instances running “normal” pressures on a car used on track can lead to excessive front outer shoulder wear, but this is because the geometry is most likely wrong (typically, not enough neg camber, wrong toe setting etc), or because you driving far too aggressively, or maybe down to using rubbish tyres.

On my NC that’s driven very hard indeed on track (although not by me) we generally end up with hot pressures no more than 30-32psi, and get nice even tyre wear. In actual fact, because we know the pressures will rise quite quickly we’ll probably start them out at around 25psi, but it depends on track conditions and temps. The safest way to go for relative track novices is start off higher and adjust down as required.

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it has mostly been said already.

Don’t worry about how fast or slow you are
if someone appears in your mirrors they are faster , let them past at a convenient opportunity
get free tuition if there is any
mainly though have fun

my first track day was great though i spent most of the time letting other people past.

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If the weather’s good take the top down 'cos you don’t need a roll cage. Some companies require a full-face helmet in a ragtop car so check if you’re in doubt (but you can always hire on the day).Check all the obvious things like oil, water, wheel nuts etc, especially fuel because most trackday organisers take a dim view of running out on track! Check the tyre pressures regularly early in the day because, as you start to drive/corner faster they will heat up and the pressure will increase which will compromise handling. I find that keeping them, at 29psi is a pretty good compromise but don’t forget to re-inflate them before the drive home. Take all loose articles out of the car and boot as everything will crash around once you go faster. As others have said, drink a lot of water as it’s hot work and dehydration reduces concentration. Also take snacks like bananas etc to maintain energy levels and perhaps a light lunch too. Trackday canteens tend be ‘lasagna and chips’ heavy and I find having a full stomach is bad in the afternoon. Is the trackday sessioned or open-pit lane (where all abilities are out at the same time)? If there’s a novice session you’ll be fine but one of the hardest things I found at first was not to be intimidated by other faster cars. Yes, you’ll be slower than most and yes, Porsche and BMW drivers will tailgate you but try not to get flustered - you’ve paid just the same as they have. The briefing will tell you that passing is by consent on these days so all you have to do is hold your line through a corner and move over to be passed on the straights. If there’s instruction available, take it. It may be a few extra quid but it’s amazing how much you can learn about technique/lines etc from these pros. But finally, enjoy it! I’ve been doing them for many years in Lotuses, Caterhams and now my trusty NC3 and it’s still great. And remember: slow in, fast out…

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The only thing I’d add to all of the excellent above advice is that - in my experience - it took a while for me to abandon the ‘smooth’ road driving skills of progressively, gently on and off the brakes. Once warmed up, try to build up to using the brakes as late as possible, and then very hard indeed, although obviously not locking up. More of an ‘on/off’ switch rather than a gradual deceleration as you would (should) on the road. Also on brakes - when you return to the pit area to cool off, I’ve been told not to use the handbrake as the extra heat in the rear brakes could warp the discs. Stick it in gear instead.

Oh - and use your mirrors. All the time.

Most of all - have fun. You will.

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hi all
how do I find out about spaces at Blyton park ?
thanks Cliff

Sorry to hijack this thread - some of the replies here are really useful as I am in the same position as OP.

To add another question - my tyres are pretty worn and old. Should I bother paying for fitting new ones of get a decent brand part worns ? I am just wondering if it’s worth the expense if they are going to get trashed anyway on a track day anyway

It is a bit of a fallacy to say your tyres will get trashed. Yes you can destroy a set it you try hard enough but it is unlikely if you are not silly.
First up, old and worn tyres would seem like a sensible idea but they will be a limiting factor and particularly if it rains you will likely find them a great liability.
Even if you drive pretty much all day, as a novice I would expect the very most wear to be 2mm and quite unlikely to be that much. There is a benefit and also a negative to new tyres, but the negative can be managed. New tyres will give you better grip than older tyres (there are exceptions) and decent tread depth will greatly benefit you in wet conditions. Don’t be afraid of the wet, you learn far more and at slower speeds than you would in the dry. The down side of new tyres or more to the point full tread hight tyres is the tread blocks move about more and so heat up more meaning the tyre can wear quicker. However this can be managed by keeping session lengths shorter and allowing them to cool more.
I am not a part worn fan as you never know the providence of them, and I have seen some shockers, but there are always exceptions.
Just remember you have to drive home on them, so anything that is ropy before the day is likely to be far more so by the end and possibly illegal but more so just plain dangerous.