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#1 X64v

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:53 PM

Hey guys,

I'm getting close to my very first track day (Jan 26th/27th), car's just about ready, but I really feel that I need to know more about track etiquette. Obviously I'm gonna make some beginner mistakes, but I don't want to establish myself as that 'stupid noob' that gets on everyone's nerves or potentially causes a dangerous situation out on the track.

I've read up all I could find in a google search on the subject (which surprisingly wasn't all that much), but I'd like to hear from everyone some tips to good track etiquette, especially things that lots of beginners tend to do, or things that may not be obvious to do/not to do. Also, I'm probably going to buy a book on the subject (not high performance driving, but more track day tips/etiquette), any suggestions as to good/bad books out there?

Sean
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#2 Guest_TeamNissan_*

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 10:07 PM

Hey guys,

I'm getting close to my very first track day (Jan 26th/27th), car's just about ready, but I really feel that I need to know more about track etiquette. Obviously I'm gonna make some beginner mistakes, but I don't want to establish myself as that 'stupid noob' that gets on everyone's nerves or potentially causes a dangerous situation out on the track.

I've read up all I could find in a google search on the subject (which surprisingly wasn't all that much), but I'd like to hear from everyone some tips to good track etiquette, especially things that lots of beginners tend to do, or things that may not be obvious to do/not to do. Also, I'm probably going to buy a book on the subject (not high performance driving, but more track day tips/etiquette), any suggestions as to good/bad books out there?

Sean


Great idea Sean, I'll be sure to pay attention myself. That way when my car is track able in 10 or so years I'll have a heads up :-).

#3 Tony D

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 11:17 PM

Please, when your clutch burns up, don't coast in the racing line. Especially after a blind rise on the track, after dark, with dim tail lights.

"Stay out of everyone's way" is my general rule. At least I try to. A track day is NOT a race, it's a learning experience. Use it as such and you will be far better off. There is plenty of time to be competitive later. Concentrate on the lines and technique. Ifyoustart trying to compete, you loose everything you've gained in the classroom session.

Have fun!

#4 Mikelly

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 04:37 AM

There are a bunch of differing opinions on what is and isn't acceptable, but here's what I can recommend from a total perspective...We can start another thread about track day "preparation", but this is for when at a track day.

Understand what all the flags mean before going to the track. Check online with SCCA and other clubs, but you really should understand the flagging before hand.

When you get to the track, have your track map handy at all meetings. There may be situations that ocurred overnight that they are discussing. You'll want your map handy to discuss it with.

When you get in the car your first session, look for every single corner worker and WAVE TO THEM. I find that helps to ID in my mind where I need to visually check for a situation at every point on the track.

Always, ALWAYS check your mirrors when coming up to a passing zone. You don't want to be the source of conversation in the pits because so-and-so in that blah blah blah wouldn't give a point by.

Do NOT pay attention to your mirrors when NOT in a passing zone. If you're in a "talent" section aka curved portion of the track, and you're not fully focused on entry, apex and exit, you're going to eventually have an incident. That guy glued to your bumper is showing poor etiquette and I'll get to that in a moment, but I've seen way to many incidents by guys driving with their mirrors.

Do NOT, DO NOT climb up someone's tailpipe if you're NOT in a passing zone. Lay back and give a couple of car lengths and build momentum coming into the last corner so you can have that momentum when you need it. If you're glued to his bumper a few things are happening here:

1. Your car is running hotter because less air is getting to it, which also means your brakes are getting hotter.

2. You are creating that "stress" of possibly causing a driver to check his mirrors in an unsafe spot, driving with his mirrors, as I describe above.

3. You're in a more dangerous situation if that driver does have an incident, because you are shortening your reaction time in trying to avoid him.

4. Getting the attention of the corner workers, instructors, stewards, and that reputation labels you as aggressive and at an HPDE that is NOT good. I've got some wonderful video of people doing this that I could share, but just don't be one who gets caught on tape doing it... It WILL end up on Youtube! :lmao:

Now always pay attention to where pit-out and pit-in are. These are traffic areas where abnormal things happen... People are going and coming in directions you haven't been used to for several laps. Make sure you can see that someone is giving you a point by signal, and Not a pit-in signal and in these two areas your hightened awareness is most important so use patience and good judgement.

Don't take late passes. Wave them off. It will show your instructor that you are using good "safe" judgement and have left the ego in the pits. This will help you advance in the clubs you track with.

Do NOT watch the car spinning in front of you go off track. During an incident keep your eyes on where you want to go. Otherwise your eyes will take you where you're wanting them to go by watching that BMW spin in front of you... Into the tire wall... Target fixation is a real problem, so pay attention to this. Look where you need to be, and worry about your buddies spin later.

If you do break something, get off line and find a safe spot to get the car in the grass, or more preferably a paved or gravel run off area. Grass can catch fire with hot fluids, so be mindful of that...

STAY IN YOUR CAR. Unless your car is on fire, stay in the car. I've seen students jump out of their car and cause the whole session to get black flagged. You just became the most popular guy in the group by cutting a run session short. So if you break, crash, get stuck in a gravel trap, whatever, stay in the car unless it is of the utmost concern for your safety.

Above all, eat, keep hydrated, even in cold weather, and rest when you can. Track days will sap the energy out of you. I've been known to take naps between run sessions and those little power naps really do help with my focus.

Mike

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#5 Roostmonkey

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 04:40 AM

Pay attention to cars that are coming up behind you.When you get to the designated passing zones, wave the approaching car by on whatever side you'd prefer they pass you on.And you, HOLD YOUR LINE.Dont worry about getting out of their way, just stay consistant and they can make a clean pass. Now you have a faster car in front of you. Watch their lines and brake ing points while they're still in sight. As Tony pointed out, trackdays are learning experiences so pay attention and have fun.

#6 Mikelly

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 04:44 AM

Pay attention to cars that are coming up behind you.When you get to the designated passing zones, wave the approaching car by on whatever side you'd prefer they pass you on.And you, HOLD YOUR LINE.Dont worry about getting out of their way, just stay consistant and they can make a clean pass. Now you have a faster car in front of you. Watch their lines and brake ing points while they're still in sight. As Tony pointed out, trackdays are learning experiences so pay attention and have fun.


See my comments above.

Most clubs will dictate which side a pass is given on and if you are to stay on or go off line when giving the passing signal.

Every club I run with is slightly different in many regards so be mindful of that and follow that clubs rules.
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#7 jt1

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 05:07 AM

There are basically three areas to make an ass out of yourself, the pits, your instructor, and on track.

When you get to the track, choose a pit spot that doesn't crowd anybody already there. Everybody likes a little space. If you've got some buddies there, try to pit with them. Speak to the guys beside you and check out their cars. Most guys at a track event are serious car guys and like to talk about cars. Don't block people getting their cars in and out of the pits.

Find your instructor as soon as possible, so you have some time to discuss your goals and plan the day. Time management is very important, between track, checking your car, and class you will have a very busy day. Carry your schedule and have a watch so you aren't late. Your instructor is trying to run his car, instruct you, and probably instruct another student, so time is even more critcal to him. Plan in advance where you are going to meet. You might want to pick him up at his car, or at his other students cars so that you don't waste time in the changover. That allows you to get the most track time possible and saves him trouble.

LISTEN to your instructor. There are good ones and OK ones, but they all have more experience than you and you can learn from them. Communication is the most important part. As long as you listen, then try to understand and execute, you will improve. THINK about what you're doing. Being a good driver is mostly mental.

Once you're on track, most 1st timers suffer from an information overload. There is so much new stuff going on it is very easy to be overwhelmed. You've got to think about your car, the instructor, the track, the corner workers, and other cars on track around you. There is a lot going on!!!! You just have to get used to it. Tell your instructor it's you're first day and you might need some help with traffic and flags. He should know that anyway, but if you bring it up it will impress him.

Try to listen to your instructor on track. Ignoring him will mean you come to the pits for a talk, losing track time. Watch the flagmen. Missing a flag can mean more lost track time. If there is a faster car behind you, point him by as quickly as possible. This will build respect with the other drivers in your group, nobody like to follow a slow car that won't point them by.

"IF THERE IS A CAR IN YOUR MIRROR, HE'S THERE FOR A REASON. GOD DID NOT PUT HIM THERE"

The reason is, he's faster than you. Point him by so you can learn without having to worry about a car right on your butt. It will be one less distraction, and it's the courteous thing to do. If he waves off the point, you are good to go.

In conclusion, the fact you've even asked about track etiquette means you will be OK. Treat other people like you like to be treated and you'll be fine. If you have a question, ask somebody. Younger guys may laugh you off, so ask some more experienced guys. They recognize you are trying to learn and not walk around stupid, and will usually help out. This is a very fun, very exciting sport. It can be dangerous. Nobody wants to tear their car up or leave in an ambulance, but it can happen. Leave the ego at the house and think about what you're doing, and you can learn alot and have the best time you can have with your clothes on!

Any questions, post them up, I'll try to help.

jt
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#8 MJLamberson

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 05:12 AM

this is great info... reads like a sticky if you ask me
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#9 mark

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 05:39 AM

this is great info... reads like a sticky if you ask me


I second that
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#10 Mikelly

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 05:54 AM

...And so it shall be done! :wink:

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#11 Jeff

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 06:43 AM

Do NOT pay attention to your mirrors when NOT in a passing zone. If you're in a "talent" section aka curved portion of the track, and you're not fully focused on entry, apex and exit, you're going to eventually have an incident.


I know there have been multiple people mention to watch your mirrors but I want to reinforce what Mike said above. Most times when a student of mine blows a turn before a passing zone it is because they are fixated on the car behind them. Don't worry about that person behind you until you reach a passing zone. Just make sure to give them a point by when you do and all will be good.

Just remember to check that ego at the gate and focus on your driving. Don't try to be fast, speed comes with experience and time. Go out there and have a great time.:icon14:
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#12 johnc

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 08:16 AM

All good advice. What I can add just off the top of my head:

1. Don't be afraid to ask the event organizers for a different instructor if things are not going well. Sometimes people just don't click and its nothing personal. You're the paying customer and you should enjoy the instruction you're given.

2. Pay attention to what the instructor is telling you and put your ego aside. It doesn't matter if your last or first, this isn't a race. And bragging about passing a Porsche GT3R in your Yugo GXV doesn't mean squat when you're in the beginner group.

3. Breathing! Holding your breath makes you tense and dizzy.

4. Relax your arms and shoulders. Slow and smooth arm movements and soft hands.

5. Remember to use the bathroom between sessions and drink lots of water. Skip the 4th cup of coffee or the 6th Diet Coke. Eat lunch but keep it light. Two Big Macs, a Supersized fry, and a large chocolate shake will come back to haunt you in the afternoon.

6. Bring a small selection of basic tools that fit your car and have a list of nearby auto parts stores.

7. Bring a chair.

8. You'll find that a 20 or 30 minute track session takes a lot more concentration and focus then you ever realized. If you're feeling tired or ill, don't think you have to run the last sesison of the day. Its better to end the day on a good note then go out and make a bad mistake becuase you're tired and lost focus.

9. For a track map, see if you can get a satellite picture of the track from Google Earth. An actual aerial view of the track is much more helpful then a black line on a white piece of paper.

10. Have fun!

Speedventures has a good pre-event checklist on their web site: http://www.speedventures.net.
----- John Coffey, Fabricator at Benton Performance, LLC

#13 Mikelly

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 09:56 AM

All good advice. What I can add just off the top of my head:

1. Don't be afraid to ask the event organizers for a different instructor if things are not going well. Sometimes people just don't click and its nothing personal. You're the paying customer and you should enjoy the instruction you're given.


I've done track days on and off for YEARS... Last summer at Watkins Glen With PCA was the first time EVER that I had an instructor that did not click. I made the biggest mistake in the world and "toughed" it out and it was my worst event to date. Do NOT do that. If it isn't working, it isn't working. Different styles, personality, whatever... Get another instructor and don't worry about it.

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#14 TrumpetRhapsody

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 10:15 AM

Would this be an appropriate place to briefly explain the flags too, or would that fall under preparation?
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#15 jeffer949

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 10:21 AM

8. You'll find that a 20 or 30 minute track session takes a lot more concentration and focus then you ever realized. If you're feeling tired or ill, don't think you have to run the last sesison of the day. Its better to end the day on a good note then go out and make a bad mistake becuase you're tired and lost focus.

never done a car track day but have on sport bikes and raced motorcross for years. the worst accidents seem to happen when you take "just one more lap or session" its the end of the day your tired and you just want to go do one more lap to finish your day off... you go out and your not really into it and you miss a turn or over/under shoot a jump (motorcross only i guess) and the next thing you know you are in the hospital. trust me i know from experience. i think it took me 2 trips in the ambulance before i got that point pounded into my head. So if your tired or not really feeling it. dont go out. there is no reason to risk your pride and joy(your car) and yourself, and not to mention other peoples lives and there cars.

#16 Armand

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 10:45 AM

Great thread everyone. My car is finally almost ready and my first track day is also the 27th. Looking forward to it! :-)
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#17 X64v

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 02:39 PM

Thank you guys, awesome information for sure. I've taken a good look at the flags, and I'll try to relax and keep everything in mind. I'm not too worried about driving fast, I'm confident in my driving ability, and regardless I'm not embarrassed to be passed, I just want to stay safe out there and keep out of everyone's way.
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#18 Clifton

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 06:32 AM

One of my biggest etiquette pet peeves. Holding people up in a non race group. In a street group, people with a faster straight line car that hold you up is the turns lap after lap. If some one is on you coming on to the straight but can't get by, let them by one lap. Chances are they will leave you pretty quick.

If it's your first time out you may forget to check your gauges. Check your gauges on the straights, temp being the biggy.

Being that it's your first time out and I don't know if they have instructors out there. Find braking point references.

This is if there are no instructors...Some people can't drive. Don't assume the guy you are behind can pick a line if you are new to the track. He may be new or never been there before either.

I know your turbo'd. Don't know what brakes you have but if stock, I wouldn't run a cheapo pad. Your sessions will be cut short and you may have a pedal to the floor scare you'll never forget.

#19 JMortensen

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 08:25 AM

If you're going off the course, go off the course in a straight line. Slow the car down and then wait for a corner worker to tell you it is OK to get back on course. If you drop a rear wheel off the track at corner exit and try to get back on, the likely result will be a LONG 180 across the track where there might be other newbies who don't know how to react to you spinning off in front of them. I've gone around at 100+ mph because I didn't take my own advice. I know Mike Kelly has done the same.

My other suggestion is maybe start with a track that has a lot of run off room. Laguna Seca or any track that has walls on both sides all the way around is not an ideal place to learn.

EDIT--one more: Cool down laps can be done at about 85-90% of the speed of your fast laps, barely using the brakes in most places, unless there is a hairpin at the end of a long straight or something like that. Even if there is a hairpin, just the fact that you're coasting into the braking zone instead of keeping your foot in it will still allow you to get around without putting a lot of heat in the brakes. If you cruise around the track at 40 mph it takes a lot longer to get the track cleared for the next group, and I had someone give me a little talking to at my first or second track day about that...

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#20 mikeatrpi

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 12:55 PM

The current issue of Grassroots Motorsports (feb 2008) has an article on selecting driving schools. They list general track driving tips as well.
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