Road Racing/Open Track Day Basics and Misconceptions

Posted by Ludachris, Jul 20, 2006
Road Course & Autocross - Autocross, Road Race, and Open Track Event discussions. Preparation, technique, tips, and stories from the events. Tell us about your last event.

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  1. Ludachris

    Ludachris Founder & Zookeeper

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    Roseville, California
    It seems that everyone I talk to about road racing/open track days is almost always hesitant to try it out for one reason or another. Many people get caught up in the straight line speed and think that drag racing is cheaper and easier on your car. That's not always true. I wanted to start a thread that will help take away the road blocks preventing some people from participating in open track days and answer a few basic questions. Hopefully this info will get a few more people out of their shell and out on the road courses. Also be sure to read:
    http://www.dsmtuners.com/forums/road-course-autocross/236213-towing-your-race-car.html

    1. "My car isn't ready for road racing..."
    - All cars are ready for road racing. If your car is well maintained and in good running condition (which is should be) it is ready for the road course. Don't think you need a full racing suspension to have fun at the road course. All you need is some newer brake pads, good brake fluid (bleed on the system), tires that are not on their way out in the tread department, and working seatbelts - all things that your car should have anyway. You don't need a full-on race car to do an open track day. In fact, most cars that participate at track events are driven to and from the event. Rarely do you see cars trailered in.

    2. "It's too expensive to go road racing..."
    - Real road racing competition is not cheap, certainly. But doing open track days is not all that expensive. If you really want to get on the track there are ways to minimize the cost. NASA Pro Racing has a program that allows you to get free track time. Simply volunteer to work 2 events (number of events varies by region) and you'll receive a free track day in return. And even if you don't volunteer, for $100-150 for a day you usually receive instruction and over an hour of track time at a NASA event. Do the math - look at how much time on track for the dollar you get compared to drag racing and autoX. It's actually a better value even without the instruction.

    3. "I don't want to wreck my car..."
    - Road course events are almost always held in controlled environments and have rules in place to enforce safety. You're more likely to wreck your car on the street doing something stupid than you are at the track. It's funny to me how many people are fine with racing their car on the street but are worried about crashing at the track :rolleyes:

    4. "Too much wear and tear on my car..."
    - Yes, you will go through brake pads faster. You will have to change your oil and brake fluid more often. Your tires will wear out faster than usual. But that's what it's all about! Modifying your car to perform at its best and testing those modifications. The car will hold up to the challenge - especially if you keep up with the maintenance. You just have to know your car. Things might break. The might not. Chances are, if something goes wrong, it probably was going to happen eventually anyway. Why put so much time and effort into modifying their car and are then afraid to drive it like it's supposed to be driven?

    5. "What do I need for an open track day?"
    - A helmet. If your car is well maintained, which it should be, the only additional things you'll need is a helmet and a tech sheet. A tech sheet is a quick safety inspection to make sure your car is safe for the track. You can usually get this done at the track day or at a local shop specified by the organizing body for the event. It's done to make sure you have good tires, brakes, seat belts, wheel bearings, battery tie-down, no leaks, etc. Everyone who drives their car hard on the street and at the drag strip should be able to pass a tech inspection. It's just basic safety stuff.

    6. "What should I bring to a track event? How should I prepare?"
    - HPDE: Personal Experience
    - HPDE: Driving Tips

    Road course events are the most fun I've ever had in my car. You get all the fun of an autocross event at higher speeds and it's not so one-dimensional like drag racing. Many tracks have long straights that give you the feeling of drag racing anyway. If you want to drive fast in a safe and controlled environment, and you want to truly improve your driving skills, you need to get out to the road course. It's the ultimate rush. It's all about being a fast driver, not having a fast car. Anyone can do it. Now get out there and learn how to drive, the right way! Once you do it you'll be hooked.
     
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  2. weith1111

    weith1111 Proven Member

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    Wheaton, Illinois
    You can delete my post if you'd like since it doesn't really contribute to your info, but I wanted to say:

    Awesome info and great support for road racing. Over the last 6 months the talk about road racing has increased 10 fold on here, and it made me start thinking about the purpose of my car now that it's not even a DD. With you Kyle, Greg, and a bunch of other people talking up the road racing, I've decided that's the place for me.

    Drag racing isn't really that much fun at all. So many cars are in the 11's, and all the racing shops are dropping the big money in the race to be the fastest, there's nothing to shoot for anymore that I can do with my $500. The budget "buy a car for $250 and hit 12's for another $500" doesn't really interest me either. What do you do with the car once you've done it? Start over?

    With road racing it just keeps going, forever. You keep getting better, you enter harder races, you up your HP, you enter higher classes, so on and so forth.

    I love playing Forza, and shake my head at every 60 yr old dude peddling his z06 around town. If I see another Modena that gets 26 miles put on it in a year I'm going to puke. "I bet that dude doesn't even drive that thing like it wants to be driven." Well I need to take my own advice. Talon, meet road racing.

    Looking forward to it. Hopefully more people jump on the bandwagon, and keep it off the street! :thumb:
     
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  3. RonJeremY

    RonJeremY Proven Member

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    Green Destiny (my 95 Forest Green Metallic AWD Talon) and I will be jumping on that bandwagon in 3 days! Hallelujah, I must exorcise the demons!
     
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  4. RonJeremY

    RonJeremY Proven Member

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    I got four letters to describe the first-time track day experience:
    O-M-F-G

    Well, besides the Talon getting all hot and bothered and spewing tranny fluid out the passenger side axle seal after the second session, it was a lifechanging experience. I will be coming back. Often. I am just glad my wife loves me enough to let me finish out the day in her Audi. She thought we were just meeting for lunch! Very different cars in a very on the fly side-by side comparison. I had just gotten my confidence up in the track and myself when I had to adjust to a different car, but at the end of the day, I got to drive BOTH cars to 120+ on the back straight! Oh, and the Audi didn't visibly complain with a belch of hypoid gear oil...

    Seriously, though, these cars, even in stock form with good tires, make great track day rides. There is no need to get bored trying to go .001 second faster in a straight line...

    Do yourself a favor and get out there and do it. In whatever you drive, for that matter.

    BTW Any road racers / track day ppl out there ever have issues with tranny seals failing? My current hypothesis is that I may have had marginal seals but never pushed them that hard for a sustained period of time until today. It actually STOPPED leaking when my wife drove it home and it didn't lose all that much at the track, just enough to keep me and my instructor from wanting to risk it. Maybe lost ~3oz total.

    EDIT: Lesson learned, the next day I went to fill the tranny and find out how much I lost... it was full! Cold gear lube doesn't flow well, and I must have overfilled it a little and not given it enough time to drain back down to the fill plug. I always fill it that way, but I probably never noticed on the street because the tranny doesn't get that hot until you go between 45 and 125mph over and over for 20 minutes at a time. I thought it was coming out the pass side seal, but it was the vent. So don't overfill your tranny and go to the track :)
     
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  5. Greg Collier

    Greg Collier Proven Member

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    Welcome to the passion... if they only new what you now know! ;)
     
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  6. Defiant

    Defiant DSM Wiseman

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    glorious Galt, California
    I actually got black-flagged at my first open track day. They thought I was starting to go too fast, and would lose it. Of course, I claim in was an optical illusion brought on by the TR-6 that spun in front of me as I motored on around him in the old turn 11 at Sears Point with my mighty Datsun 2000.
    My friend had an L-20 with a turbo in a 510. It took him seven pounds of boost to stay with the roadster that day.
     
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  7. Greg Collier

    Greg Collier Proven Member

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    I had an opportunity to buy a 68 Datsun 2000 in showroom condition for $1500.00 about five years ago and I'm still kicking myself in the a$$. Those were great handeling cars, and with the power to weight ratio an absoulte thrill to drive...
    [That's a '69- only year with the teardrop fender lights, and it has the later high windshield]
     
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  8. RonJeremY

    RonJeremY Proven Member

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    What I know now is I have a LOT to learn and need to start saving more money so I can fix my car when those weak points are found as well as being able to afford 6-8 track days next year! Not to mention my brand new tires are not-so-new. Oh, yeah, and still go skiing all winter... Basically I need to "readjust" my priorities a little to accomodate the coolest thing ever.

    As far as tire wear scaring people away from track days, partially worn tires are great, the "shaved" (shaved=25k miles street driving with even wear) tires on my wife's car seemed to fair better under the abuse, despite 600 lbs more weight on the car and 20mm less width. Is that due to the tread blocks not flexing as much? They didn't have that 45 degree chamfer on all edges like the new tires did, and about half as much gooey rubber rolled up between the blocks. They both had the same track time, and I had more confidence and carried more speed in the 3rd and 4th sessions in the big car. The new ones were broken in w/500 miles. Is this why BFG KD's come with less tread depth than KDW's?

    I also figured out why so many old guys do it. You know how it feels like time speeds up as you get older? I found a way to reduce or reverse that, if only in my mind. Everything is so much slower and more relaxing now :)

    BTW is that the pic of the car you could have had for $1500 or a different car? I have started looking at S2000's, 914 targa's, even miata's in a whole new light, I have to admit yesterday I wondered what it would be like with the top down. After having an Eclipse Spyder for 7 years I appreciated the open air experience, and it is not the same with a sunroof.
     
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  9. tsiboosted

    tsiboosted Proven Member

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    I would LOVE to see more DSM's at road racing events. A lot of times I am the only one there. I know Greg, Chris and Kyle really work hard at attracting more DSM's from this site and others into the road racing experience. I hope posting up my experiences this year in my road racing series will attract more peoples interests into getting involved in road racing.

    Most poeple that I take for rides in my car absolutely love it. They get out with a huge grin on their face. Bad thing is, they are mostly not DSM drivers. Maybe with Mitsubishi fielding a touring car next year in the SCCA Touring Car Championships with the Lancer, it will spark more DSM people to look into road racing. I know the Lancer is not an Eclipse/Laser/Talon, but at least it shows that Mitsubishi (DSM) is willing to get in the game again when it comes to road racing.

    The DSM Lancer for the '08 SCCA Pro Series

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. 801_GST

    801_GST Probationary Member

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    i still remember being like 8 years old and playing Gran Turismo for the first time. ever since then, i was hooked on road racing!

    so, ludachris. i've seen alot of your posts in the road/track racing area. maybe i should be writing you a personal message, but i would like to ask everyone in this section..

    what are some tips and tricks i could use to advance in road racing?? how do i get sponsors, what are some good mods to make a good track car, besides the obvious, tires, brakes, suspension. detailed parts please!! i will be doing my first open track day the 14th of this month. couldnt be happier! it would be awesome to see some more dsm's down there. in all the times i've been down there, i've only seen one! :boring:

    hoping to take this somewhere.... check out my sponsorship everything thread!
     
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  11. UnsafeAtAnySpd

    UnsafeAtAnySpd Proven Member

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    Where are you going? Miller?
     
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