Originally Posted by DBurke
To those who are track regulars just humor me, you already know this, or should.
I was inspired to write this after reading some posts here earlier.
So you want to come on out to a DE, HPDE, BMWCCA school etc., etc. If you haven't done this before its the most punishment that you are going to put your car through. I don't care where or how you drive on the street. I'm just going to give you the heads up.
If you think that something mechanical isn't 100% just replace it. It will be less expensive in the long run.
A properly functioning stock system is fine. What do you think EVERY IT car in the country has on it? You should have recent brake fluid, freshly bled, no more than 3 months old, it should be clean and of a high performance variety. The Valvoline stuff is available at most auto part stores as well as the Ford DOT 3 which is the same stuff as the PF Z rated brake fluid, if you want to step it up a notch go for something from ATE, Motul, or GS 610. Pads, if you have "no-name" brake pads on your car make sure you have a lot of pad left, more than 75%. Pretty much anything from Pagid, PF, Hawk, bhp, and Cobalt is good stuff. Call these people and get the right pad for your application, don't order blindly. SS lines are a luxury, not a necessity but a good thought seeing as your car is at the youngest 17 now.
Since we all go 3000 miles on oil changes if you are over 2000 miles since your last change, change the oil. Use something with a brand name, not the $.50 a quart stuff. Kendall, Valvoline, Pennzoil, Castrol GTX, and if your synthetic do it up as well. Cooling hoses and upper/lower radiator inlet/outlet, check these, they are a common failure point, they blow off, break etc. This makes coolant go on the ground (thats where your tires are) and then you or the guy behind you goes off track, spins, you do the math... If you have wires everywhere from some half-wit project from three years ago, clean it up, you won't pass tech. Check accessory drive belts. Also, check the mounting bolts on all accessory brackets, these like to leave, its happened to me 3 times, (Loctited now).
Are they round, black and hold air? You are all set. Just make sure you don't show up with some dry rotted something or other, you won't pass tech. Lets go with at least a V speed rating. There are tons of options for cheap nowadays, Falken, Kumho and Hankook offer good HPDE street tires.
If you've got some bump, leave it at home. Take all the loose chit out. You will find all the change in the car the first time that you brake for the corner after the longest straightaway. Don't buy those rally belts, stockers are fine for now and don't use a harness if you don't have a roll bar. Clean your windows.
The switch that turns on your brake lights is $11.48 from bmaparts, if it dies you don't drive, might want to have a spare, I now do.
Fuses, if they are as old as the car you might want to think about replacing them.
Wheel torque, I go for 90 ft/lbs, make sure they won't fall off but anything above 100 is way overkill. Torque lugs in a star pattern.
At the track
Wheee, you are there ready to get down and since Mr. Penske is in the trees you are going to be in the IRL in No Time, NOT!!! There isn't anyone looking for new talent at any DE so check the ego and open the mind. Remember 2 eyes, 2 ears and one mouth.
Bring some assorted tools you may need, quart or 2 of oil, torque wrench, tire pressure guage, brake fluid, tarp (to put your chit on), window cleaning suff, paper towels, duct tape or "racer's tape" some zip ties, anything else you might need. Keep your things in a tote, one with a top that is removable, not the fold open/close type, water leaks in with those.
Tires/wheels, bump up air pressure, ~35 lbs cold works for most street tires. Shoot for 40 hot. The letters on the side are for identification not traction, bear this in mind. Check wheel torque.
Engine, make sure that all fluids are full and no leaks appeared on the way to the track. This is a good reason to keep a CLEAN engine compartment. Top off oil and check before EVERY run group.
Interior, empty everything out, no loose objects.
Brakes, if you haven't bled, do it now. You did bring those tools, right? Brake pedal should be a firm and confidence inspiring.
Go to every classroom session.
Ride along with instructors and watch the well driven cars in the faster groups, not just the fast cars. Listen to the footwork, watch different lines, learn from watching.
Make sure car is warm/up to temperature before heading out on track.
Don't forget about taking care of the driver. Drink plenty of water or your favorite sports drink, stay hydrated, maintain throughout the day. Eat good stuff for you, go for the grilled chicken before the chili dog, the apple before the french fries. Or don't temp yourself, bring your food with. I highly recommend this, you will have what you want, when you want it and you won't be paying "track food" prices, that leaves you money for gas on the way home as well as all the stuff you just used up on track, pads, rotors tires, etc. If you intend on doing this frequently, get yourself in shape. A good total body program is fine but, the key is cardio, every top pro runs for DAYS, the mental focus to accomplish a long run is similar to the focus required to pilot your car around the track well. You don't have to be an Olympian, but think about it...
Relax, this is fun remember.
Eyes up! Look for flaggers.
Listen to your instructor, he/she is THE BOSS.
Build your speed slowly.
The LAST place to look for speed is under braking. If you sense your brakes going away, BACK OFF, stay out there just take it easy. Run laps without using the brakes at all, great exercise.
On the way home
Take numbers off car and remember that you are NOT on the racetrack. My Mom is out there dammit.
You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about any modifications. Here is the rule if you are going to become a track junkie and you want to spend your day driving and not wrenching. Only upgrade/change parts that are going to make your car more durable for track use. Get some good tires, you don't have to go R compound but some good hi-po street tires. Make sure your brake system is at 100%, run some good pads and fluid, as mentioned above. If you are going to play with suspesion that is fine, just make sure that all your bushings etc. are there/functioning/not blown out before you dump $1500 on some super-jammy go-fast trick of the week setup. Motor, outside of a chip and making sure its in top running conditon, leave it alone.
Look at what the instructors drive. Yes, their cars are more expensive and faster than yours thats because you'll find the wealthiest people at racetracks around the world (why are they all men). If they are not driving some sort of a racecar the car they are driving will (at least in New England) have a stock brake system, Hoosiers, mildly (if at all) upgraded suspension and a pretty much stock with the exception of a chip/intake motor. That's because all the super-jammy go-fast trick of the week stuff doesn't make you all that much faster, really. Yes, we all want to go fast, but we're out there trying to learn and be consistent first.
Any other track peoples feel free to add or comment.