Track Days: Intro and Prep

1y ago


DISCLAIMER: This won't be an all inclusive tutorial. I primarily run in the SCCA Washington DC Region. Your organization may and quite probably will be run a bit differently. It's highly suggested that you look into how your organization requires. Much of this will be Elise/Exige specific, but can be applied to all platforms.

I've always been the type to want to drive fast while turning the steering wheel to the left and right. Autocross was fun, but I had a need for more speed than it provided. When I moved to NoVa where there are so many tracks, and acquired my Elise there was no reason to not dip my toe into the fun. At first I started doing track days on a casual basis. Over the years across multiple events, I learned quite a bit through trial and error.

The Basics:

Most of the questions I get when speaking to someone new in the hobby is "What do I need to have to do a track day?" This is easily the most simple question to answer... all you need is a well maintained car of any year, make, or model and well as a good attitude. Yes, that's it.

Before you get on track, there are some logistical tasks to take care of first. Of course you'll need to find an event, register, pay, and inspect your car. For the DMV region, most events are managed through Create an account and search for events closest to you. Just as an FYI, with the WDCR-SCCA the money will not be charged until after the event. When that's taken care of, it's time to turn your focus onto your vehicle. With the SCCA, they provide you a track tech inspection form. If you don't have the time, space, ability to perform the inspection yourself there are shops in the area that can do it for you. A big shout out to PTuning, those guys are awesome.

Track Tech inspection form WDCR-SCCA

• For the Elige, maintenance goes a step further than other cars. We are plagued with weak toe links from the factory. It would be a great idea to replace the factory units with one from your favorite Lotus tuning shop. If you are unsure if you want to take this seriously or not, insuring the bolts are at the specific torque spec will suffice. Of course if you see any type of unusual wear or damage, you should replace them immediately. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to check all of your suspension bolt torques.

Rear Suspension

• Bleed your brakes and use a high quality fluid. Don't leave safety to chance. Make sure that your brake fluid is fresh and your brake pads are far more than just ok.

• Inspect your rotors. For the factory Elige rotors, over time the are prone to cracking. If you see any hairline cracks do yourself a favor and treat you and the car to new rotors before an event.

• Check your fluids. Since all of our cars are very well maintained, there's no chance of them being low on oil, coolant, or brake fluid right?

• Check to see if you have any fluid leaks. Our cars are pretty compact so this check should be a quick and easy one.

• Re-torque all of your your lug nuts. For whatever reason or source of magic, the lug bolts or nuts if you have studs installed. I'm not sure through what source of magic is at hand, but my lug nuts back themselves off of the stud. Notice the answer is not torque them down more.

• Take a look at your battery. The stock battery tie down has been known to ... well not tie anything down. Make sure your battery doesn't go anywhere.

• The tires are the only thing between you and the road. They should be in good shape with no excessive wear, or cracking. In my opinion tires and brakes are the key to a good day.

• Bring masking tape because you'll need numbers for your car. If you are so inclined, masking tape can also be used as a temporary paint protector for your paint as well.

The Human Element:

Taking care of the car is important. Taking care of yourself is even more important. You really need to try and make yourself as comfortable outside of the car as you can. In the summer, it would be in your best to at a minimum, stay out of the sun and drink lots of fluids. Here are a few things that you might want to bring along.

• Chairs

• Helmet

• EZ-up canopy

• Cooler

• water/Gatorade

• Tool bag

• Jack and Jack helper

• torque wrench

In Conclusion:

Track days can be a ton of fun. It's truly amazing how far modern cars can be pushed safely. Keep in mind that you should come to an event with an open mind and minimal ego. In the beginning you will be assigned an instructor to teach you the basics, provide encouragement, and to keep you from hurting yourself and others. If you thought you were a fast driver prior to your first track event, you'll quickly realize how slow you really were. Smooth is fast. Good inputs equal good outputs. Apex everything.

We'll see you out there.

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