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PostPosted: December 9, 2007, 5:41 am 
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I figured out that the question is well worth of it's own thread, so here we go 8) !

The quoted post was taken from this thread -
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2906
Locost_Johnh wrote:
Just out of curiosity, what are the requirements for a car for this kind of event and how much money are you talking about? I have absolutely no knowledge of any kind of track event. I've never even been to a car race as a spectator. And my car reflects that - home built "book" style gas tank, no roll bar, etc. On the other hand, driving fast without having to watch for the CHP sounds like fun. Do they let guys like me on a track?

John

Hey John -

As Kurt mentioned in the original thread, you have to have a roll bar.
If your car doesn't have one at all, you can either weld one in or have one that is a bolt-on type that you can remove when you're not at the track.

The guide line with those is to have a roll bar that is SCCA solo 1 (time trial) legal.
This will point you to the kind of tubing that you need to use, thickness, diameter, structure, etc...
Follow this and you'll be good to run in 99% of the track days out here.

This is also a good time to define for you what a track day is exactly, it isn't 100% from your post if you are familiar with the concept or not.

A track day isn't a race, it is a High Peformance Driving Event or in short HPDE.
There are noramlly between 3 to 5 run groups that are divided according to the driver's level of experience in track driving.
This has nothing to do with how many years one has a driver's license or what kind of car they have, and in fact it isn't rare at all to see 55 year old guys driving in the same group as some 20 year old guys.
Same goes to cars, you can find a Lambo Gallardo and a beater civic going around the track at the same time and even turning the same lap times - especially if both drivers are in the beginners group.

Some drivers of fast cars find it a bit frustrating at their first time, as it may be that someone in a beater econobox will pass them, but it really all comes down to the amount of seat time that you have so no worries - speed comes with experiece.

Most local groups will offer you an instructor for the day to ride with you either for free or for a small fee like $20-30.
You definitely want to have an instructor in your car on your first day.
Of course each instructor takes a different approach but in general the instructor will be there to show you the driving line at the race track, give you basic pointers about your braking points and your turning points, slow you down a bit if you're a little too hot and bring you up to speed if you need to.

Normally when you do your registration at the track before the mandatory morning drivers meeting, you'll be able to talk to the organizers and at that point I advice you to ask for an instructor that drives a car that is at least a RWD car.
It isn't critical if you don't get it, but I find that having an instructor that understands your car's dynamics better gives the beginner sometimes an added bonus to the tune of extra pointers with driving technique from someone that understands a low power light RWD, maybe better than someone that normally drives an AWD mega HP monster.
But, if it can't happen don't sweat it, all instructors will have more to teach you than you can learn over a weekend anyway :) ...

The last note about instructors will bring us back to the car - the instructor (and later, the passenger) should have the same level of safety equipment that the driver has.
This means that if you have a racing seat - the instructor needs to have one too, if you have a harness - the instructor should have one too, etc...
An instructor may decline a ride in your car if he/she doesn't have the same level of safety that you have.
I know I would.

So, what do you need to do with your car?
Well, first, as we said - you have to have a good roll bar.
As I mentioned, the SCCA solo 1 rulebook is a good place to get the specs.
You'll probably run into what's called "the broomstick test" which calls for clearance of at least 2" between the driver's helmet to a line drawn between the top of the roll bar and the nose of your car, likely the top of the frame in the front.
I attached a diagram to show you the point of the test.

For HPDE you'll need a helmet with SA rating.
This means that motorcycle helmets are out of the question as they are M rated.
SA rated helmets are built for car racing and are made to absorb the types of impacts that are normal for this enviorment.
They also have fire retardent lining that is obviously something that a motorcycle helmet doesn't need.
Those helmets are sometimes available for rental from the organizers but you should defiitely find out ahead of time about it and don't show up at the track without one hoping that you'll find one there.
If you did your first day on a loaner helmet and plan on doing more of them later (don't worry, you will :wink: ) prepare yourself to buy a good helmet before the next time.

Those helmets aren't cheap, but you only have one head.
Get yourself the best helmet that you can afford.
Last word about helmets - a helmet should NEVER be dropped as it is made to sustain one crash only.
Dropping a helmet may result in damages that the naked eye connot see.

Beyond that, you don't have to have anything to enjoy a track day though I assure you that the more hooked you'll get on it the more track oriented equipment you'll find yourself purchasing :lol: ...

As for prep of the car before a track day, you'll want to be sure that everything is tightened down well and that there are no leaks.
You'll be surprised what kind of stuff rattles itself loose at the track :shock: .

I'd go for a fresh oil change as you'll be putting the pedal to the metal quite a bit.
I will also make sure that the brakes are properly bled (as well as clutch hydraulics, if you have any) and that they have plenty of life left on them.
Make sure you adjust tire pressures (on cold tires of course) before you go on the track.
It is not a bad idea to set them a couple PSIs higher than your normal pressure all around, as a general guideline.
Last but not least, check your alignment - a misaligned car can throw some nasty surprises at you, combined with high speeds things can get hairy in a hurry.
Top off your gas tank before you get to the track as most tracks don't have a gas station around them for a few miles.
Some tracks offer race gas for sale but expect a very high cost (I've seen $7.50 a gallon before..) and the usage of it may not work well with whatever motor you have.

Pricing, as it was said in the original thread, runs between the low-mid $100s to north of $300, depending on the track, the day and the organizer.
Some local organizers like Speedventures, include lunch and water in the price which pretty nice.

Almost all organizers include the option of transponder rental and while I personally think that it is totally useless on the first, second and maybe even third track day, it is the best tool to gauge your improvement after that.

I might have missed something, it's getting a little late here..
I'll more later if I remember.

Ah, and don't forget the most important thing in track driving -
HAVE FUN!!! :D

Moti


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PostPosted: December 9, 2007, 12:11 pm 
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Moni,

Lots of great info. Great post. A few additional thoughts for those new to track days:

Instructors: These guys are putting their life in your hands, usually for very little money. Do what they say or they will park you.

Passing: HPDE days (at least in the NW) do not allow passing in corners. This is the distinguishing characteristic that allows the organizer to get much cheaper insurance than a race day/open track day/test & tune day. Around here HPDE days are mostly $150-$200 while the open track days are $300+. HPDE days don’t require a racing license, open track days do. Open tack days have no passing restrictions. HPDE days limit passing to the front and back stretch with a point by so you have guaranteed driver to driver communication with each pass.

Brakes: It’s not uncommon to see guys done for the day at lunch or shortly thereafter. A lightweight locost7 should be fine, but for anyone considering taking a street car -- upgrade your pads or bring spares and be prepared to change them.

Race gas: High octane race gas gives you negligible additional power. Racer’s run it to prevent detonation because either their timing is set to the extreme, or they have a high compression motor, or both. If your car doesn’t need race gas on the street, it doesn’t need it on the track so save your money.

Transponder: The HPDE events I’ve been to specifically do not allow timed laps. This is dictated by insurance. No timed laps == cheaper insurance. If guys aren’t competing they are less likely to over drive their car and stuff it in the wall.

Peter


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PostPosted: December 9, 2007, 12:23 pm 
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Early part of 2007 I ran with the Golden Gate Lotus club at Laguna Seca. They ran a HPDE, but with different rules than I was used to. They had a 3-4 tiered setup, where if you were a beginner, it was a "traditional" HPDE, passing only in certain areas. However, if you had more experience (more events under your belt) the passing rule became less inforced. In fact, the top tier was doing flat-out wheel-to-wheel racing.

So the point is that it depends who you're running with. And of course, you're free to joing any run group you want; you don't have to be racing if you don't want to. And lastly, you control the throttle. If you feen uncomfortable, let up a little.

Since this is another trackday thread, here's the link to all the organizations I know of: http://honda-tech.com/zerothread?id=972109

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PostPosted: December 9, 2007, 12:39 pm 
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Flags: I'm not sure if HPDE events use them or not but I know SCCA schools do. You need to know what the different flags mean. You will have enough new information and commands swirling through your head at your first event so it's helpful to learn what the flags before you show up.

Green flag: Go (duh!)
Yellow: slow down and proceed with caution-trouble ahead, no passing. (someone is off in a tirewall or gravel pit or something)
Waving Yellow: Slow down and look, there is probably someone stopped on the track, proceed safely around them. (obviousy no passing still applies)

Red flag: Safely stop at the next worker station, something bad has happenned ahead.

Blue flag: Workers will show this to you when you are holding someone up or when a faster car is behind you. Sometimes they will roll it up and point it at you as you go by.

Black flag: Applies to an individual car only. Usually waved from the starters station. Usually there will be a person holding a board with a number on it too, or the flag will be waved and then pointed at the offender. If it's your car number or they point at you, pit next time around, someone wants to talk to you. :shock:

I'm probably forgetting some, but I think these are the important ones.

Here's a site with the pics of the flags:
http://www.texasscca.org/race_flags.html

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Last edited by chetcpo on December 9, 2007, 11:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: December 9, 2007, 1:50 pm 
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Worthy of a sticky. Lots info for those that have never been to an event, or just ones that go straight.


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PostPosted: December 9, 2007, 5:06 pm 
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Blackbird wrote:
This is also a good time to define for you what a track day is exactly


Thanks for the exposition, Moti. I'm sure lots of newbies like me are a bit fuzzy about different levels of sport driving events.

-dave

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PostPosted: December 10, 2007, 4:18 am 
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Here are the flags.

Moti


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PostPosted: December 10, 2007, 12:30 pm 
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KB58 wrote:
Early part of 2007 I ran with the Golden Gate Lotus club at Laguna Seca. They ran a HPDE, but with different rules than I was used to. They had a 3-4 tiered setup, where if you were a beginner, it was a "traditional" HPDE, passing only in certain areas. However, if you had more experience (more events under your belt) the passing rule became less inforced. In fact, the top tier was doing flat-out wheel-to-wheel racing.

I'm running in the red group with Speedventures and Redline and we have a pretty lose set of rules too, mainly with SV.
Dive bombing into corners is fine and come to think of it, I think that the only thing that is not permitted is contact... :lol:

Dave -
Feel free to ask if you have anything in mind, it really is the best way to get answers 8) .

Moti

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PostPosted: December 10, 2007, 5:19 pm 
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This is excellent information. My car (and my wallet) will need some work before I qualify, but it sounds like fun. :-)

John


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PostPosted: December 11, 2007, 12:43 pm 
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Call it "pocket massage" :lol: ...

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PostPosted: April 18, 2008, 9:33 am 
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Another HPDE rule they have at Hallett OK. The wheels off rule rule. Get two wheels off and the flagger will point a black flag at you. That means you're a little too aggresive. Get 4 wheels off and they will bring you in for a quick conference with track safety. Do it again and you're done for that session. Do it again and you're done for the day.

When I first started racing I went to HPDE to get a little experience before I started actual competition. Tech looked at me with a suspicious eye when they saw that I was driving basically a GT-3 car. After a few weekends they requested I start racing because I was running a little hard for HDPE.

Just a side note...IMHO, racing is safer than HPDE..for the most part the cars are more well suited for the environment and so are the drivers. In HPDE you really need to keep your head up. Drivers are prone to stay on the track facing the wrong direction after a spin etc. They don't want to get the M3 or the Z06 off in the dirt. Or if they do get off in the dirt they don't watch traffic when they come back on...Or for some reason they will slow down and stay in the line. (This isn't to say that these things won't happen in a race).

Not sure that has anything to do with this thread...

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PostPosted: April 18, 2008, 10:15 am 
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Roll bar pading.

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PostPosted: April 18, 2008, 10:21 am 
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Proper roll-bar padding is not hot water pipe padding, it's the SFI-approved stuff.

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PostPosted: April 18, 2008, 11:27 am 
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Roll Bar padding??? I guess that never dawned on me. I did HPDE in either a total DD that didn't even have a roll bar or I was in my racecar that had a full cage. You are probably refering to convertibles and yes it is required for a soft top. I would imagine that the rule on roll bar and padding would be like other equipment rules, you don't necessarily have to have it, but if you do, it has to be correct.

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PostPosted: April 18, 2008, 1:35 pm 
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There is a lot of good information here, but as an organizer of open track/HPDE days, not every event follows these rules. I think the biggest key to finding an event you enjoy, is asking a lot of questions. My experience says that no two groups run an event the same way. For instance, we are moving to simplify the usage of flags at our events because there are too many flags and beginners get more confused than anything. Our group happens to allow convertibles without roll bars. (Before people start flaming, ask yourself how many times you have gone screaming down some two lane mountain road without any runoff room in your convertible.) Rules on passengers vary quite a bit as well. My point is, find out how a group runs their events by either talking with the organizers or people that have been to their events.

Another point, do not convince yourself that you are safe because you have a roll bar, the best helmet money can buy, a top notch instructor, etc. If you are going to take your car on the track (or that two lane mountain road) you need to understand that crap happens, and it happens when you least expect it. Driving your car at the limits is not safe, but that's probably why it's so much fun. When you show up an event, you need to look around and decide if the risks have been addressed and make a decision on whether or not to participate. If things don't look right, don't get on the track. If that means forfeiting $300, that is still a lot less than replacing a car, or paying hospital bills.

Ken


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