First track day - advice please!

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First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:42 am

Guys,

I would appreciate some tips here guys. Although I've done a few 'experience days' on track with other cars, I've decided to take my Rex on track to see how I find it. I am admittedly nervous about doing this, and intend to do a couple of instructor sessions first to see how I find it. This will likely be at Knockhill.

I'm don't want to invest too much extra money for track-specific driving yet, and I believe the stock car is fine for fun - I'm not going for all out speed, I just want to approach closer to the car limits than I do on the road, and importantly, enjoy it! I'm having new tyres fitted on Wed, I had new (standard) rear discs and pads changed last month, along with a brake fluid change as part of my 4 yr service. My front discs and pads are 40% worn - is that OK?

I don't premix currently, and wasn't planning to start. I'll take oil with me to top up if necessary.

I think I need to have a toeing eye available, so will need to remove one of my lockwoods - probably the rear. I take it one is enough?

Anything else I should think about for my first venture out on track in the Rex?
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by California Style » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:53 am

Im sure you will get loads of good advice here, but I'll be very clear and make only ONE Point.

Drive carefully, and ONLY as fast as you feel comfortable. Dont just try and go hell for leather as soon as you leave the pits! Use the whole day to get comfortable in multiple shortish (15mins?) stints and slowly speed up as you learn the track. Watch your mirrors, and dont be embarrassed letting people past. After all you are learning.
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:59 am

Thanks, understood! This is the sort of thing I was thinking of doing first: http://driving-experience.knockhill.com ... riving.php
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Dan507 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:14 am

You should get one of these mate.

http://www.haynes.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stor ... &langId=-1

I've got one and it's brilliant. It has everything you'll ever need to know.
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by RX8R3Rod » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:41 pm

I can only reiterate California Style's message. Only go as fast as you feel ok with, and just let people past if they want or need to go faster. You're there to have fun :D and learn, not to feel pressured or stressed. Enjoy. :D :D
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Shagrington » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:46 pm

There are a couple of helpful links in this thread http://www.rx8ownersclub.co.uk/forum/vi ... 00&t=34973
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:00 pm

@Dan, I'll check it out, cheers!

@Shaggy, thanks for the link, helpful as ever. I've been on track a few times so have been through some of those guidelines with instructors before. It is preparing (and then driving) my own car that is worrying me most, although theoretically familiarity should be a benefit I guess.

I've been on track with a few different cars, from supercars to semi-race-prepped cars, and also rally days (apparently where I show most aptitude, on loose surfaces). However the most fun I had was in a single seater with a sequential gearbox at Knockhill, on slick tyres in pouring rain. Scary but great fun, trying to keep it on track while others were spinning out.
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Shagrington » Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:11 am

I have found an old post from a former trader offering advice on preparing for a track day in your own car. I will copy the content here - I have written none of this, I just have a bit more access to old posts than most here might and managed to find this one:

"Trackdays are becoming more and more popular given they are a relatively safe environment to test the performance and find the limits of your vehicle without the risk of ending up in a ditch or being tugged by the police.

The days are going to be hard on your car; each mile you drive on circuit is roughly equivalent to 10 miles on a twisty A road, and cars will often fail due to a primary lack of preparation and maintenance prior to the day.

I have added a number of basic rules, these aren't designed to patronise but hopefully will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable day (feel free to add more).

Preparation checks
Bushes
These need to be checked for wear. This will be obvious if there is any sloppiness or any clunking noises.
Ensure the bolts are all tight.
Dampers
Check for any leaks and that the springs are seated correctly and are free from corrosion.
Tyres
You need to have at least 3-4mm of tread before driving to the circuit. You wouldn't believe the number of people that try to drive home with cords showing!
Make sure the wheels are balanced, as this will cause vibration and reduce the feedback you need to control the car.
If you can bring a set of track wheels, then that is even better. You won't damage your best wheels on the curbs, and you can run semi slick tyres which aren't advisable as road tyres.
Alignment
Ideally you need to check this whenever possible, as it is amazing how quickly this can be put out. Having the wheels pointing the way Mazda intended is at the very least a start! Obviously there will be plenty of data on the net with changes to tow, camber and caster. These are all a personal preference depending on your style of driving.
Brakes
Your brakes will take a hammering! There is no way around this, and not looking after the brakes will quickly finish your day!
Discs/Rotors need to be within the tolerances stated within the manual or within the manufactures recommendations for aftermarket units.
Pads make sure you have plenty of depth left. These will disappear quickly, plus the pad you use on the road might not be suitable for the track.
Fluid. Brake fluid is hydroscopic, and so by its nature absorbs water. This lowers the boiling point and will introduce a number of problems when you start to cook the brakes! When was the last time you changed the fluid?
Oil
Change the engine oil after every couple of trackdays, it is amazing how much heat will be generated in the engine and this will cause the oil to start to break down.
Change the gearbox oil after every 10 trackdays, the oil in here will also start to break down, and by changing it you will prolong the life of the box.

Have a good night's sleep, no point in turning up relying on Redbull to keep you awake!
Have a good meal the night before, but nothing too stodgy as this will hang on you for the following day. Something high in Carbs so that they release throughout the day.

What to bring

You need to bring very little!
Helmet
Gloves
Shoes (soft soled/comfortable - not walking boots!)
Tyre Gauge
Tyre Pump
Socket set
Brake fluid
Spare Brake pads
Engine Oil
Water for both you and the car.
Wheel wrench/torque wrench
Wheel chock (easily available from Halfords or similar)

What to do when you are there
Remove everything from inside the car
If you have a crash the last thing you want is to be hit by a lose object. They also move around and will distract you.

Go through each corner and do another visual at the brakes discs and pads. Check the wheel nuts/studs are torqued correctly; too many times I see a big bar being used to aid the tightening, all this does is stretch the threads and ironically can result in the nuts becoming loose.

Check your tyre pressures
Pressure, volume and heat are a direct relation to each other. Tyres will move around on the walls and generate heat, this will increase the pressure and cause the tyre to become non compliant. Start with a lower pressure then check the tyres as soon as you come back in ensuring they are still hot. You will probably notice an imbalance, the outside front should be higher than the inside rear.

Tape up your speedo
You don't need to know how fast you are going, it is irrelevant! It will distract you as you can become fixated by the readings. Learn to judge your speed through association, if you were exiting a corner in 3rd gear and 4,000 rpm at the beginning of the day and by the end of the day you are in 4th gear at 4000 rpm you are clearly going faster!

Make sure you are comfortable in the car
If your seat is incorrectly positioned it will be uncomfortable, this will potentially distract you and can make you tire quicker.
As a quick guide, sit back in the seat and with your arms straight, adjust the seat until you can put your wrists on the top of the wheel.
You should be driving with your arms slightly bent, elbows down, and thumbs inside the wheel with hands at 3:45

Never apply the handbrake when you've just been out on track. Chock the wheels or leave it in gear. Leaving the handbrake on will transfer heat from the discs and pads into the fluid and this will cause soft pedals!

Out on track
Getting your monies worth but not at the expensive of learning! Going too fast from the offing, unless you are naturally gifted, isn't the best plan. Take time to familiarise yourself with the circuit and learn how the car reacts within the circuit and then start to learn your limits. Don't bow to peer pressure, it is a very quick way to have an off! But if someone is slightly quicker let them overtake and sit behind them. Learn from their lines and see if they work for you.
Your first lap no matter which session it is should always be used as a sighting/warm up lap. There could have been rain and part of the circuit is still damp, you just don't know what to expect, so familiarise yourself...it is only one lap after all. Plus it lets the car warm up gradually. Likewise the last lap should be a cool down lap.

Without wishing to get technical on driving there are primarily 4 points of interest or Reference Points (RPs):
Braking point
Turn in point
Apex
Exit Point

Each corner will be different, it doesn’t follow that the turn in point is at the side of the circuit, nor does it follow that there will only be one turn in and apex per corner. So experiment! This means trying different ideas, having said that don’t come barrelling into a corner and blame me saying you were experimenting! Always leave plenty of space for mistakes until you build up some hours on track. Learn what both the inside and outside of the track feels like. These are dirty areas and so will have grease, rubber marbles and general dirt washed out by the cars. You might ask why....but when you mess up or have to go off line due to a car overtaking, or you overtaking another car. So why not find out what is there under your own conditions rather than find out when it all goes wrong!

Get away from the concept of a “racing line” you have an “ideal line” which is the fastest way around the circuit. This will change to given conditions and vehicles. If we imagine an oval circuit the shortest and conceptually the quickest method of getting around the circuit is the inside line. Likewise the longest would be to follow the outside line around the circuit. Once you introduce speed then maintaining that speed through the corners becomes difficult and so you need to maximise the radius, hence we start to look at going to the outside of the circuit and cutting through to the apex and look for the exit.

The exit point is a very important and often overlooked! Once you have sighted your apex then you look towards the exit point, the moment the apex has been clipped, then start driving towards the exit point. This is important as you can’t apply full power until the wheels are straight (or near) so as you drive out of the corner you can start to apply more throttle.

When learning a new circuit, start with a later apex than you think (with a slower entry) this will help you understand the corner and the true exit point/apex. as the laps build you can slowly bring the speed up and make the apex earlier - this allows you to learn the optimum speed without rushing toward it and hoping for the best.

Problems

Survival reactions
We were designed to fight woolly mammals and not drive cars, so intuitive reactions will often be wrong! Take for instance going too fast in a bend...your reactions tell you to slow down, so you hit the brakes or chop the throttle and suddenly the back end switches round on you. You have to learn to ignore them, and deal with the situations in what may seem to be an alien manner, otherwise irony takes over and will try and kill you!

Target fixation
Quite simply you will drive towards where you look. So if you are running wide and look at the edge of the circuit you will go to the grass! The same happens when someone spins in front of you. If this happens look at the way out and not at the spinning car. If the car is sliding look steer/look to where you want to be, not what you are heading towards - but see understeer for the exception.

Understeer
The whys and wherefores of understeer aren’t the problem it’s how to react to the problem. The natural survival reaction is turn more, but this will just scrub off more speed and now have the wheels pointing in the wrong direction! You must always turn into the direction of the skid, brake (where necessary) and reapply lock. You will have more grip through weight transfer and this will combat the understeer.

Oversteer
Everyone knows to turn into the slide, but it is also important to not make dramatic throttle changes, nor lurch onto the brakes!

Tiredness
If you are lucky to be on an unlimited trackday, then make sure you aren't getting tired! There is no point in eking out the last drop of time to then crash because your reactions are reduced. Go out for 15 minute sessions at a time, come in think about everything you've done, and then go out again.

Brakes
Problems can occur for a number of reasons, but if you are running standard discs then be aware they are simply not designed to work at 100% for more than 15 minutes. Aftermarket systems will extend this time, our own cars can go for numerous hours without problems, but you need to work with what you have. When you brake the least time spent braking at 100% pressure is far better than longer periods at 50% pressure. The longer you brake the more heat you will transfer into the fluid, and it will take longer for your system as a whole to cool down.

Don't be frightened to brake mid corner. Be aware of the concept of transference of weight. Now I know I said further above that your survival reactions will want you to brake mid bend and that is bad...but it is how you brake. If you are about to crash into something then there is no point in sitting there saying "I can't brake so I won't brake" because the impending crash is far worse! Straighten the car and brake short and hard, this will throw weight over the front wheels and aid turning.

This guide is purely that. I take no responsibility of your translation of what I have written. This is here to help you think about what you are doing on track. It has only touched on the vast subject that is circuit driving, but hopefully it will prevent problems that can become costly."
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:58 am

Lol... you're not easing my worries Shaggy! Thanks though.

Any idea what "reasonable pad depth" means in the context of track work, with standard Rex pads and discs? My fronts are 40% worn at present.
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Shagrington » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:07 am

I did the AGM track day at Blyton last year with stock brake pads - I had an 'advisory' for worn (more than 40% I would imagine) front brake pads at the MOT over 6 months earlier. So, I took a new set of front pads with me and one of the club members changed them for me =D> at lunch time after I'd had plenty of fun round the track in the morning.

I have kept the old pads as spares as they were still OK. :)

Get a spare set and take them with you, just in case ... unless you stay out on track too long at a time (do 15 minutes and then let everything cool down for half an hour before you go out again) I reckon you won't need them.

Someone who does more track days than me will advise you properly. :wink:
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by GreySilver Beast » Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:53 pm

Its also very addictive & before you know it you will be setting your RX-8 up for Track use :lol:
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:14 pm

That is perhaps part of my concern :) . However, I did a brake disc and pad upgrade on my previous car, and that is certainly something I'd consider if I kept it going. But that is likely how it starts :roll:

The downside to being up north means I'm unlikely to manage any forum track days and lose out on getting advice from other experienced people on the day. On the other hand, it also means I don't see their upgrades and get tempted :)
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by GreySilver Beast » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:30 pm

You could of course always organise something up in Scotland & find us Accommodation & then some of us might then come up to your part of the world for a Trackday :P

Just a thought :twisted:
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by kopite72 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:36 pm

Regarding the oil situ,don't consider taking some,DEF take some,in fact take a lot!!
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:42 pm

Cheers Kopite, I will :)

Nigel, I've just looked up your location on google maps... that would be a substantial round trip! :shock:
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by GreySilver Beast » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:52 pm

True :lol: ,but have you read the Yorkshire Trips that I have done :roll: :wink: :P
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:47 pm

I'm only part joking when I ask if your Jazz can tow an R3 on a trailer to allow you to save on fuel...
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Will66 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:58 pm

RX8 is too heavy to be towed by the Jazz. The recommended towing weight is 85% of the vehicle weight.
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:02 pm

Well, I took my car to knockhill today and did a performance driving course in it. It consisted of around 30 laps, 3 by the instructor. It was a dry day, and I had improved significantly by the end. It was fun overtaking people in 'experience day' Ferraris and Aston Martins too!

I was really impressed by the car - it didn't miss a trick. The instructor also said it was soft enough to be forgiving, but stable and balanced enough to be good on track. I was impressed at how the DSC coped too (especially on the occasions I knew I was taking liberties as I had the ideal line wrong). By the end I was 10mph faster through the most difficult corner, which he said makes all the difference to lap times.

Overall, the instructor said I would be considerably ahead most track day go-ers that he sees around knockhill - he says doing a day like this is the right way to get into it, because the initial learning curve is the biggest. He said at the last track day only one person asked for instruction in the 4 hours it was available!

Anyway, thanks to those who offered advice, I had a blast. Now that I'm more confident in myself and the car, I just need to decide if I trust other drivers enough to do a proper track day...
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Shagrington » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:49 pm

=D> Well done Mani - sounds like you had some fun. :twisted:
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by casey » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:52 pm

^^^ Really pleased to hear you enjoyed your trackday outing, and found out how good a stock RX-8 is on track. That was a good idea to invest in some training to give you some feedback and confidence in what you are doing. Now you've experienced the RX-8 on track I bet you'll find you will want to repeat the trackday experience again - how long can you hold out.... :lol:
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:16 pm

Thanks guys, and I will admit checking out Knockhills track day schedule already! Although track Scotland doesn't seem to think much of drivers who attend hot hatch days there.

I was surprised at just how good the car was on track, and it showed how much more it has to give around corners compared to how I drive it on the road. Along with the balance, I think the decent stock brakes and smooth power delivery make it a good choice for the track. There was very little understeer and although the back goes light through one corner in particular where the pace is higher, it never felt like I needed to back off.

It really is awfully addictive - and rather satisfying when you get a sequence of corners right! I wonder if any other Scottish members would be up for a group track day since I doubt we'll host an official club day this far north.
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by casey » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:39 pm

Mani wrote:It really is awfully addictive.............
:lol: :lol: A number of us have discovered that; trackday number 28 for me next week at Snetterton :D

There are now a fair few RX-8 owners in Scotland who have done trackdays so maybe see if you can get a group of you along to Knockhill. We've had groups of 5 to 30 at various trackdays "down sarf" since 2007 and it's great fun with a group. Furthest north I've done is Oulton Park.

Maybe next year we could organise a day at Croft, which is a track I'd love to do, and is very roughly equi-distant for those from the South as from Scotland? Would that be too far for you? I was going to try and get a trackday organised there this year, but other opportunities sprung up, and none of the dates I saw for Croft really worked around other events, plus most of their days have very strict noise limits (88dB) - fine for a standard RX-8, but some after market cat-backs, plus de-cats, will struggle to comply :cry:
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by Mani » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:24 pm

I might take up you up on the suggestion of trying a few other Scottish owners. Somewhere like Crofts would be within reach for me, although I might choose to stay over beforehand depending on how I feel. Anything above 200 miles or so is less likely though.

Btw, I noticed open sessions at Knockhill are 3 times the price of standard track days. Is this because track days only offer you a certain amount of time slots or something, it price is linked to time on track? I figured you might know if this is a standard thing or specific to knockhill.
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Re: First track day - advice please!

Post by casey » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:50 pm

Mani wrote:I noticed open sessions at Knockhill are 3 times the price of standard track days. Is this because track days only offer you a certain amount of time slots or something, it price is linked to time on track? I figured you might know if this is a standard thing or specific to knockhill.
From experience we prefer to book "Open Pitlane" days as you can go out on track as and when you like during the day. The price for an OPL day will depend on the number of cars booked. For example, Brands Hatch might charge £100 for an OPL day with 70 cars booked in the Winter months, BUT the track limit is ~30 cars, so some waiting may be involved when the number of cars on rack is at the limit. Pay £120 and maybe only 60 cars will be booked, so waiting time will be less. Bearing in mind most cars can only manage 20 minutes every hour as people have to allow for the cars to cool off, a 70/30 ratio isn't too bad. Sometimes, a bargain OPL day can be a nightmare of pitlane queuing, as too many cars have been booked and the track limit becomes a problem.

"Sessioned" days are cheaper, as maybe you get one allocated slot of 15 or 20 minutes every hour. The Paddock will be heaving, with lots more cars to fill the 4 "parallel trackdays". Advantage, cheaper, BUT you can lose a lot of time on the session changeovers and if you are unlucky enough to get a red flag in a session, that's it, no tracktime until the next session, or a very short session at best.

Of course, prices also vary according to the time of the year and day of the week.

So, it's a bit of, pays your money and take your choice. Hope that helps your decision on what to do.
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