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Old 11-28-2003, 07:56 PM   #1
DBurke
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So you want to attend a track event...

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. This is just a heads up.

Car Prep
If you think that something mechanical isn't 100% just replace it. It will be less expensive in the long run. Your car should be in top running condition.
Brakes
A properly functioning stock system is fine. What do you think EVERY SCCA IT/SE30 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 that is available at most auto part stores is fairly decent. If you want the right answer for fluid from the start, Bimmerworld has the PFC, Redline, Castrol and Motul fluid any of which are as good as it gets. Pads, if you have "no-name" brake pads on your car make sure you have a lot of pad left, more than 75%. A good racing pad is the right answer for a good day on track. I currently only recommend PFC and Cobalt Friction pads. Call/email Bimmerworld for PFC and Cobalt for their recommended compounds for your application. Don't order blindly. SS lines are a luxury, not a necessity but a good thought seeing as your car qualifies for antique plates these days.
Engine
Engine oil should be a recent change. Run premium products, not here to debate dino/synth but run a brand name performance oil. 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 run over it and bad things happen. If you have wires everywhere from some half-wit project from three years ago, clean it up, some aggro middle management tech inspector is just looking to fail you. Check accessory drive belts and bring a spare. Also, check the mounting bolts on all accessory brackets, these like to leave, it has happened to me.
Tires
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, Dunlop and Hankook offer good HPDE street tires.
Interior
If you've got some bump, leave it at home. Take all the loose misc stuff 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.
Other
The switch that turns on your brake lights is cheap, if it dies you don't drive, you want to have a spare on hand, I now do.
Fuses, if they are as old as the car you might want to think about having some spares on hand.
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
OK, you are there, ready to get down and since Mr. Penske is in the trees you are going to be in Indycar in No Time!!! 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 the assorted tools you may need, a quart or 2 of oil, tire changing tools, torque wrench, pressure gauge, brake fluid, tarp, window cleaning suff, paper towels, duct tape or "racer's tape" some zip ties, anything else you like to have with you. 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 40-42 hot. The letters on the side are for identification not traction, bear this in mind. Check wheel torque a couple times throughout the day, not while the lugs are hot.
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. Check oil before EVERY run group, top off if necessary.
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...

On track
Relax, this is fun remember.
Check ego.
Eyes up! Look for flaggers.
Listen to your instructor, he/she is THE BOSS.
Build your speed progressively.
The LAST place to look for speed is under braking. If you sense your brakes fading, BACK OFF, stay out there just take it easy. Run laps without using the brakes at all, great exercise.
Communicate what is going on with your car to your instructor.

On the way home
Take numbers off car and remember that you are NOT on the racetrack. My Mom is out there.

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-ish brake system, Hoosiers, mildly 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 competent first. Your driving should be completely intuitive and natural. No hunting for shifter and pedals, if you are, you need more time just driving that car.

Last edited by DBurke; 10-23-2015 at 06:16 AM. Reason: 'Cause I can
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Old 12-01-2003, 04:10 PM   #2
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Great post - thanks.
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Old 12-05-2003, 11:01 PM   #3
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Ebert, Roper & Gaboriault give it
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Old 01-24-2004, 07:14 PM   #4
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Thanks alot I knew alot about most of that stuff but a new e30 owner like myself needs to hear it from anther person just to take some of the scare away from that first track day...
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Old 09-18-2004, 01:44 PM   #5
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I'd mostly just be worried about my engine blowing up since it's got 200k miles on it.
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Old 09-18-2004, 02:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oxbrain
I'd mostly just be worried about my engine blowing up since it's got 200k miles on it.
if you're smooth it won't put much more stress on it than spirited daily driving
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Old 09-18-2004, 04:56 PM   #7
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I tracked (my first track day actually) my 86 325e with 200k+ miles on it at Sebring with some Goodyear GSCS tires. It was great... just needed some extra hp for the vettes. It was a two day school as well...
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Old 09-18-2004, 10:40 PM   #8
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Another good point that you may think about is...if you know of something that may be on it's last limb, and you can't afford to replace it, don't bother throwing it on the track and testing it's limits.

Or atleast this is what i've heard...not from past experience.
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Old 09-18-2004, 11:43 PM   #9
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haha like your car trev?


couldnt resist
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Old 09-19-2004, 06:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob
haha like your car trev?


couldnt resist
Wait 'til spring...maybe then it'll be track worthy.
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Old 10-25-2004, 10:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwm3n528
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob
haha like your car trev?


couldnt resist
Wait 'til spring...maybe then it'll be track worthy.
autocross it now. nothing wrong with it.
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Old 03-06-2005, 02:15 AM   #12
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good stuff. and I need to check this again and have the spares/tools handy. yay.
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Old 03-16-2005, 05:54 PM   #13
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Good tips.

Also don't feel too stupid about trailering your car to a track even if it's bone stock if the track is far from your home. Shit happens, spending a few bucks on a U-Haul trailer is good insurance against a few hundred dollar towing bill if/when something breaks on the track. A few years ago when I took my Camaro to Buttonwillow I discovered that 1 day of extreme punishment + 50 mile old carbon metallic brake pads + 3200 pound F-body = metal to metal goodness. (never even felt them go metal to metal until they were really destroyed) It would have really sucked to make the 3+ hour drive through L.A. with the front brakes grinding their way into the rotor. As it was I just drove it back onto the trailer and didn't worry about my brakes disappearing on the 210 freeway on the trip home...
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Old 04-04-2005, 04:23 PM   #14
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I might get another set of pads just for the track.
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:28 AM   #15
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That list was pretty much all inclusive... I particularly liked the letters on the side of the wheel comment.

Seriously, the most important things for me have been:

1) Tires - tech-in is a very serious deal. If you come up in tires that are remotely close to showing the wear bar, even if you have a set of dedicated race tires in the trunk, you are going to get a lot of looks and have a lot of explaining to do.

2) Brake light switch - part # 61 31 8 360 420 for the e30 325i. Have a spare handy. This one broke on me on the way to the track. I managed to get it working with a bunch of zip ties but most will not be that lucky. This part also went out on my e36 325i. Its only $13, have it as a spare. If your brake lights don't work you can't drive. If they stop working they will track you down and stop you from driving if you don't fix it.

3) Zip ties - the man/woman with the surplus of zip ties is GOD! I have held radiator hoses on when clips broke, my entire cat-back exhaust when my mounting rings broke... these are invaluable. I recommend putting them on your radiator hoses even if you do have clips on them already. You will be nobody's friend if they have to close the track for an hour for cleaning because your radiator fluid is covering a good part of the track.

4) Brake pads - Have a spare set and inspect your pad thickness in between runs to make sure you don't come up on the sharpest turn on the track just to find out you aren't stopping.

5) Helmet - Get the best you can afford that meets the most recent Snell requirements. Some schools will allow the Snell Motorcross grade helmets, some will not. I would also recommend a neck brace as well. Makes getting in and out of the car a pain-in-the-ass but will save you should something unfortunate happen.

6) You don't need upgrades to go fast. I have seen 325i's beat down M3 lightweights through the twisties just because one driver is better than the other. The ///M-whatever may pull away in the straight-away but will feel darn stupid coming out of the turns with you on them like white on rice.

7) THIS IS NOT A RACE! - If you try and race some schools will ban you. Is a chick with a nice rack waiting to give you a check and trophie in the pit? I doubt it... only be close enough coming into the straight-aways so that you can pass quickly when the driver points you around.

8) Don't underestimate poor weather - Is there a little bit of rain coming down? Good. This isn't racing school, most of us are to old for that fantasy. When the weather forces you to drive slow, it will make you that much better when you pick up the speed.

7) Tools - bring what you can. If you can afford an aluminum jack, bring it. If you can afford an electric impact wrench, bring it. Will make changing tires and bleeding brake that much easier. Bring a box end wrench for your brake bleeding, and a set of sockets and matching wrenches. Screwdrivers. Jack stands... do not get under your car with only a hydraulic jack holding it up. Many of us are guilty of this and were lucky enough not to get hurt... don't gamble with your life.

8) Slow down at the end of the day. - My instructor told me that the last 2 times out on the track I would only be going at about 70% of my skill level. You will get tired, even after only a couple 20 minute runs. If there is anything I can respect about NASCAR it is them wrestling with a 180+ mph vehicle for 500 laps. God knows I couldn't do that.

9) Go to the classes... sometimes they suck, but occasionally you'll get a teacher who really knows his snuff and will turn you on your head.

Hope this helps... Im sure everyone who has been to DE will agree that there is so much more, but I gotta get back to work.

Later
Jared
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