Does hot track action from the likes of Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel get you inspired to drive? Does the Formula 1 season make you want to get behind the wheel and take to the track? Well, the good news is that you can. Try track days.
The UK is a haven for track day experiences. If you want to know where and when then take a look at this useful calendar of events taking place around the country. All the renowned circuits, such as Silverstone, Donington Park and Brands Hatch, will usually have track days to offer, just check out your local raceway.
Look at track days in your area and find one that fits the bill. Once this is decided, it becomes important to make your car is ready to hit the track and if you are also ready and prepared to put pedal to the metal.
Advice For Track Days
Help is at hand to ensure you have considered everything, in the form of this guide from specialist car radiator supplier Advanced Radiators:
Considerations for the car:
Checking that your car is ready for a track day means giving it your own service.
To begin with, have a look at your tyres and ensure the pressure matches the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
Tyre pressures can be a matter of debate when it comes to track days. For example, run them at too low a pressure and damage can be caused to the sidewalls due to flex in hard cornering. Too high a pressure runs the risk of the tyres wearing much more quickly. Bear these points in mind if you choose to deviate away from the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
Condition of the tyres is vital: that’s a must. The tread depth should be considerably above the legal limit of 1.6mm across 75 per cent of the tyre to enhance grip. There should be no dents or damage to the mounting surface or bulging on the sides. If cords or belts are visible then the tyre is too far gone for safe driving.
Okay; that’s the rubber circles sorted. Now pop open the bonnet and check that all those precious fluids are topped-up to the max. Cornering force on a track can result in fluids building up on one side of the vehicle’s reservoir, causing the potential of fluid starvation.
But it isn’t just about the car. On the inside of your car it is vital to carry out a few checks of the safety equipment. How often do you check and test the seatbelts, for example? They must be must be in tip-top condition with no tears or issues with them clipping into their anchors. Meanwhile it is also important to ensure there are no loose objects that could fly around and cause damage or injury once you’re driving at high speed.
Loose objects and tools are dangerous in a track day scenario. For the duration of the event, remove the spare wheel, jack, luggage and any rubbish from your car. This has the added advantage of making your motor lighter too — that alone is worth seconds off your lap times.
On the topic of shedding weight, ensure your car has just enough fuel to get through the day. Don’t fill it to the brim; you’re just adding extra heft. Higher octane fuel is advised, as this helps to aid performance significantly more than the usual fuel.
Considerations for the driver
Don’t spend all your time preparing for a track day by only inspecting your car. Your safety and welfare is just as important.
Consider your track day wardrobe. Remember, pro drivers wear fire-retardant clothing made using natural fibres. On amateur track days this is mandatory but drivers are recommended to have arms and legs must be covered while you’re on track. Some circuits will insist on this. They will also likely require a crash helmet. Often these are available at the venues.
Consider your choice of shoes. Closed-toe footwear is the minimum requirement at most tracks so forget the flip-flops. You should also be sure to opt for a shoe, boot or trainer with thin soles and no overhang so that they achieve good pedal feel as you test yourself at speed.
Does your car insurance policy cover you for track day experiences? It probably does not yet insurance is very important. Usually you can just add this on the day of the event for a small premium by contacting your provider. If you would prefer not to do it this way then check out specific track day cover so that your no claims discount isn’t affected in the unfortunate event that you need to make a claim from your day out. Enjoy the experience and stay safe.