By on June 7, 2016

First-Track-Day

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We love the idea of people taking their car out to a track day: It’s a great way to learn about handling dynamics and the limits of your car (and your own nerves).

However, going to a track day isn’t just a matter of taking your car as-is — there are things you and your car are going to need. From auto parts, to accessories, to tools, here are some of the basics.

A Helmet

helmet-01

Most track events require head protection, and while it may be possible to borrow a helmet, it’s nicer to squish around in your own head-sweat rather than someone else’s. Check your venue see if they have requirements for helmets; most will require a standard such as Snell SA2010 or 2015. Helmets can get very expensive — you can spend a grand or more if you are so inclined — but there are lots of good helmets in the $150 to $500 range. Don’t skimp: Remember, if it all goes horribly wrong, your helmet is your last line of defense.

Find your helmet for sale here.

 

A Set of Track Tires

tires-01

Track use is harder on tires than you can imagine. Not only will you burn through the tread, but you’re going to be putting a hurt on the sidewalls. Instead of racing on your street tires, consider buying a dedicated set of tires on their own wheels that you bolt on when you get to the track. That way you can pick rubber that is best suited for racing, and not have to worry about wearing down your track-specific tread on your commute. And when you do drive home from the track, you’re doing so on tires that have not been subjected to the abuse of racing. (Remember, a tire failure in a closed racing environment is much safer than a blowout on a crowded freeway.)

Find your track tires for sale here.

 

A Digital Tire Pressure Gauge

pressure_gauge-01

Tire pressure is critical to giving your car maximum grip and fine-tuned handling. Your car’s tire pressures will change throughout the day, rising as the tires heat and dropping as they cool, so it’s important to keep an eye on those pressures. By monitoring pressures between runs, you’ll know which tires heat up faster, and that will help you choose pre-run cold pressures to fine-tune your car’s performance.

Shop for a digital tire pressure gauge here.

 

Better Brake Pads

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Track driving is just as hard on your brakes as it is on your tires. For the moment, forget about fancy slotted and cross-drilled rotors and concentrate on the pads; they’re doing all the work. Don’t just buy the highest-performance pad you can find, either. Some racing pads are as useless as blocks of wood when cold, and you may not generate enough heat in a few laps for them to be effective. Study up on how different compounds work and consider bringing a couple different types so you can find what works best. Take the time to become proficient at brake-pad changes so you can quickly swap out pads at the track.

Shop for brake pads for sale here.

 

A Tool Set

toolset-01

With wheels and brake pads (at the very least) going on and off the car, a tool set is an important (and obvious) thing to have along. Racing teams bring along truck-loads of tools, but most weekend racers don’t have that luxury, so bring the basics: A good-quality socket set, open and box-end wrenches, screwdrivers, a breaker bar, cutters, pliers, and a rubber mallet.

Shop for a tool set for sale here.

 

Lightweight Jack and Jackstands

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Obviously, it’s impossible to change tires and brake pads or do any work on the underside of the car while its tires are sitting on the ground. Don’t even think of relying on the spare tire jack; leave it home and get a good lightweight aluminum floor jack that’s strong and (relatively) easy to carry. While this should go without saying, we’ll say it anyway: Don’t even think about going underneath your car unless its secured on jackstands. Bring at least one pair so you can work on your car safely.

Shop for aluminum car jack and stands for sale here.

 

A Torque Wrench

torque_wrench-01

Tightening bolts to their proper torque value is important any time you work on your car, and you want to be especially careful with the torque of your lug nuts, especially when racing. Too tight, and you can warp rotors or weaken studs; too loose and you may find one of your wheels taking an entirely different line than the rest of the car. Bring a nice big torque wrench (digital or the “click” type for the best precision) and check the torque on your wheels before every track session.

Shop for a torque wrench for sale here.

 

Zip Ties and Duct Tape

ducttape-01

Attend enough track days, and sooner or later you’re going to do things wrong — and there’s a good chance you’re going to need to drive your car home afterwards. Zip ties and duct tape are great for improvised repairs, and they’ll let you secure damaged bodywork to the car so you can get back home home and cry in private.

Shop for zip ties and duct tape here.

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34 Comments on “8 Things You’ll Need for Your First Track Day...”


  • avatar
    qfrog

    Yeah… you will understand if I regard anything posted under this name as a fecal salad, right?

    You could make an effort to post links that you profit from to quality kit… but you’re just linking to mediocrity and just as often to sub par products.

    Example: This is what you think a track tire is? Atturo AZ800? Seriously? Have you been doing a little drug named Crocodile?

    EBC yellows are meh brake pads. I’ve had them and tracked them, I was not impressed.

    Cheap torque wrenches can be dangerous as they are often a fun combination of inconsistent and inaccurate.

    • 0 avatar
      Tandoor

      They’re just paying some bills. Sure beats those ridiculous ads that covered the bottom half of my phone. The disclaimer at the top of the article is something you won’t see on other sites. And look at the clickbait title. Would not be surprised to see this at the bottom of another website next to “5 celebrities with bad teeth” or “6 things your tires are trying to tell you”. Btw, fecal salad is my new favorite phrase.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        I get that and I tried to hint to the fact that they could do us a service by listing GOOD stuff. Maybe get setup with KCtool and list a Gedore torque wrench that is on blowout sale or a Wera.

        Do a tire rack affiliate link and list some Pilot Super Sports or Direzza star specs.

        Maybe link up with one of the posters on this site that unless I’m mistaken is the guy behind JackPoint jackstands.

        Enjoy the phrase and use it in good health.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          I think you are being unfair, qfrog.

          Mark explained last time as to what this is, and put the disclaimer fairly prominently upfront. You are asking him to do EVEN MORE WORK by ‘tailoring’ these articles. Look at the former one for why he doesn’t want to.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ll copy and paste the comment I made on the last post:

            “This is sponsored content. You are advocating for me (editorial) to craft the message of sponsored content (advertising).

            No. Not going to happen.

            The team behind The Wise Guide is new to the audience here. Over time, the message will surely be crafted more toward the tastes of the B&B. However, it’s not my responsibility, nor should it be my responsibility, to craft advertising messages for the B&B.”

            The only work I did with this piece in particular was some minor changes to copy (spelling, sentence structure, etc.). The only control I have with regards to what products are selected for advertising is binary: do we run this or do we nix it?

          • 0 avatar
            Stumpaster

            But Mark, you, or someone else at TTAC, did write editorial content for this ad. TTAC didn’t even call it an ad – TTAC said here are Wise Guys “introducing you to GREAT products”

            TTAC said the product is GREAT.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Internet People think they’re entitled to receive exactly what they want, and for free all of the time.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          well maybe you should tell the staff at TTAC what you consider “good,” since you evidently expect them to cater to your specific desires.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      @Mark S, this should be tagged as sponsered content.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    I think there is an important tip missed out: “Be willing to accept you may crash.”

  • avatar
    twotone

    #0 — rent a track preped car & instructor and leave your daily driver in the parking lot.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Understand you might be replacing either out of pocket, so find out replacement costs first (don’t expect anyone to work with you on insurance fraud for the track prepped car).

      Consider doing a [serious] kart first. Preferably enough to get good at it (I’ve yet to see any kind of karting instruction. Presumably not worth it, but a great reason not to sit in the passenger seat while a rookie is driving all out for the first time). Unfortunately, the local “serious” kart place (Summit Point Karts) is no more. Don’t always expect to be able to find one ever remotely nearby.

  • avatar
    yamahog

    Beam style torque wrenches are generally more accurate than ‘click’ type torque wrenches at a given price.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    You don’t need track tires, especially for your first time out. Amy street tires in good condition will do. If you do go for extra sticky rubber, you may find you need stiffer anti-roll bars and springs as well. It’s better to stay closer to the factory spec.

    One thing I would highly recommend is to flush and bleed your brakes. Old brake fluid may have absorbed water and is more prone to making your brakes fade.

    • 0 avatar
      5280thinair

      This, for a couple of reasons. One is the one already mentioned, that track tires are less forgiving. For a first timer, learning what the car feels like when it’s breaking away is much better done at the lower speeds/limits of normal street tires.

      The second is, your first track day may convince you this isn’t for you. I’ve seen a number of people get spooked once they experience track speeds and the reality of hitting something sinks in. Get that first day under your belt without investing money in things that will be useless to you if you decide it isn’t for you.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Way back, I was told that noobs should avoid race tires, as the speed of breakaway was increased relative to street rubber, despite their higher traction limits.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      Higher traction limit means you are moving faster when the traction breaks away be it suddenly or gradually. Keep the noobs slow so they have time to react and save it rather than having a horrible day from stuffing it in the wall.

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    You forgot the most important thing thing, a proper tech inspection.

    My usual job at my local track day is the tech inspection spot check line. We do not perform a full tech inspection at the track. The 30 to 60 minutes it takes to properly inspect a street car is way too much for the tech volunteers when there are 80 cars at an event. We only spot check a few things. The participants are responsible for having their cars inspected by a knowledgeable person or shop. Even with a tech form with clear instructions and specific points of inspection, I still occasionally have to bounce people for things like out of date helmets, loose batteries, and old brake fluid.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Just to echo some important things others have mentioned:

    1) Replace your brake fluid! Your car’s fluid, no matter how “sporty” will boil easily and result in massive brake fade. Brake fade = no stopping = crash. Even cars with high-end braking systems (like Brembo) don’t come with racing fluid from the factory. So switching to racing fluid is the #1 thing you must do before tracking your car!

    More aggressive pads are helpful and EBC Yellows are fine for those that are just learning. The main thing is want you want NEW pads on the car because track time will wear your pads in a heartbeat. So 1/2 used street pads might not last very long on track days. One more thing… do not use your parking or e-brake, your pads and rotors will be so hot you might melt them together. To keep your car from rolling away bring some wheel chalks.

    2) You don’t need track tires, in fact I’d advise against it at first because really grippy tires tend to break lose much faster and with less warning than “standard” tires. If you decide tracking your car is something you want to do more of then tires are the first upgrade to make.

    3) I got a digital torque adapter, it turns ANY standard socket wrench into a torque wrench and is way more accurate then the clicker type deals. Digital torque adapters come calibrated from the manufacture and have a memory setting so you can ensure your wheels are bolted up properly.

    4) Check your ego at the door. I don’t care how good you think you are, how long your have been driving, if your last name is Hamilton or how many races you’ve won in Gran Turismo or Forza, the real deal is completely different. Keep traction control ON until you learn where the car is losing grip in each turn. Do not try to save the car by counter steering (IE: drifting), you’ll over react for sure and put it into the wall. Listen your instructor, they surely know more then you.

    5) Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Driving on a track is demanding both physically and mentally. You are going to wear down quickly and turn into a sweaty puddle, so make sure you drink and eat accordingly.

    6) Along with helmets check if any other clothing is required or recommended. The first group I ran with required long sleeves and long pants for protection. The club I run with now has no such rules as long as your in a production car (IE: not a race car with a fuel cell, roll cage, etc.)

    7) Don’t forget your GoPro with all the necessary mounts and batteries. I also recommend Harry’s Lap Timer app on your smart phone provided you have a sturdy mount.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      ^
      See, that’s a good response to a thread like this. You can discuss the topic at hand, point out why the sponsor bot is wrong, etc without jabs at the people who do work hard and put in plenty of effort to make this a great place.

      This is 1000x better than me having to reload pages 6 or 7 times because a giant black-screen ad appeared and covered up 9/10ths of the page (all it ever shows is a little loading spinning icon thing, it never actually loads). Also preferable to the “From our partners” crap on other nameless auto website(s) that makes the site super laggy while they each load.

      • 0 avatar
        bertvl

        You mean there is advertising on this website?

        I seriously have no idea how people put up with the web without an ad-blocker. I never realized this website was so obnoxious with regards to its third-party “content”.

        Clearly-indicated and relevant sponsored content is fine by me, but there is no way I’ll allow any virus-ridden third-party advertising to show in my browser.

    • 0 avatar
      bludragon

      Great post!

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    Mark – thanks for putting the sponsored notice out in front, and good job for keeping it pithy. That’s why I clicked through. As sponsored content goes – not too bad. They could have added more and I would have been fine with it, perhaps even more specific references to products before the link. Again, good work on the notice – it reinforces the ethical stance you and the rest of the crew have taken.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’d throw baling wire in the bag. You might need several wraps around the bumper cover, or tie a driveshaft up and away, for a dolly tow, or a few other possibilities where a zip and a tape won’t cut it. Like securing a hood/door closed, following a crash, or even a temporary tierod ‘fix’, just enough to get you back to the pits, or up/down a flatbed. And Motorcycle straps too.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    No Baruth brothers comments? I’d suspect they are well-versed in this subject.

  • avatar
    Beemernator

    You could just go look for used tyres. They can be worn down to the legal limit and still be good for one one final fling on a track day. Just don’t use them on the street. Serious racers shave new street tyres (where the rules demand them) before heading out onto the track.

    Having said that, tyre shops and junk yards will probably not be willing to give out old rubber to you for liability reasons. So treat your ride to fresh rubber for the street and use the old ones for fun.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    Agree with others: dedicated track tires for your *first* track day is a really bad and expensive idea for numerous reasons.

  • avatar
    pbr

    Please stop. “Retire The Wise Guide” now.

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    I’ve done track for 2 1/2 decades in everything from 60 hp to 400 hp cars, FWD, RWD and AWD, taught in-car and classroom for Audi, Porsche and a couple of times MB clubs, created the national DE documents for one club, and raced with some success. So I think I’m qualified to comment.

    What’s even more important than bringing your eager butt and a car with solid suspension booshings, good brakes, properly torqued wheels and inflated tires, and non-old/used seat belts is what to LEAVE AT HOME.

    Your testacles. Detach and put them in a jar of saline on the bathroom sink until you get home again. They will not miss you.

    Testosterone leads to track tires, suspension upgrades, leichtwicht components and general loss of cubic dollars in sorry attempts to cover up a general lack of integration of butt, feet and hands.

    No more sure way to ball up your can than to try to shortcut those 10000 hours of skill development by spending money.

  • avatar

    The title is “Track Day” yet you continue to refer to this activity as “Racing.”

    I do not think “Racing” means what you think it means.

    • 0 avatar
      Testacles Megalos

      see, even just the thought of track day causes a mind-clouding burst of Redmist-brand testicular aggression.

      Dog see cat. Dog chase cat.

      Boy see track. Boy race.

      Bad dog.

      Bad boy.

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