Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

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Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by cib24 » Tue May 27, 2014 10:59 am

Hello all,

My RX-8 is beyond the break-in stage for the rebuilt motor and I am now looking to start doing a few track days with it. However, I am a complete novice to track days other than the odd "drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc. for 3 laps around a small circuit" experience days. Also, prior to this car I had never really owned anything that could turn that well (Mustang, Buick Grand National) so I focused on 1/4 mile drag racing. I have no false beliefs that I am anywhere even near an average driver in a track environment. As a matter of fact, I am still learning how to heal-toe downshift with my size 11.5 feet properly in this car! Having introduced my naivety, I would like to hear the community's suggestions about what I should do to prepare for a track day, what I should bring with me to a track day, how I should drive on a track day, and anything else useful to a complete novice.

What I should do to prepare for a track day?
  1. Helmets. The prices range from relatively inexpensive to insanely expensive but the safety standards also range according to price as well. I assume the more expensive the safer the helmet is likely to be but what is a good minimum that should be spent on one when you aren't driving a Formula 1 car and are in a car that can be out accelerated by a hot hatch?
  2. Specific shoes? Do you want to be wearing specific shoes to improve heel-toe downshifts and the like?
  3. Is it necessary to get instructions from a place like Car Limits High Performance Driver Training prior to going to a track day? Obviously, this would probably be recommended and I really want to do at least 1 training day with them in the future.
  4. Do I need track day insurance? These cars aren't really worth much and I would like to think I won't be driving like a dumbass the first few times but I suppose there is a real possibility of a collision with another driver either due to my own mistake or the other drivers mistake?
  5. Is there anything else in particular that I should do to prepare either myself or my car?
What should I bring to a track day?
  1. I assume it is wise to bring a bit of extra oil, a mobile tyre pump and psi gauge, perhaps some brake fluid, coolant, some jack stands and a small toolbox, at least 2 litres of water and some sandwiches for myself. Is there anything else in particular related to the car that I should bring?
  2. Considering the above, where do you store this stuff while you are out racing? Do you need to rent a garage space and hope no one nicks anything?
  3. When not out racing does everyone just hang out near their own car sitting in a lawn chair with an umbrella in case it starts raining? Lol, I'm serious about this. I would imagine sometimes there isn't a nearby club house or place to get food and chat with other people.
How should I drive on a track day?
  1. I am going to assume most of you would recommend leaving the DSC fully engaged? I think so too...Maybe after a few laps I would be confident to partially disable it on my first track day.
  2. Several cars will be faster than me so how do I let them know it is ok to pass? I would presume that you never let them pass in a corner but on a straight you get out of there way. Do you signal with a blinker?
  3. If by some miracle I am going faster than a few other cars how do I signal that I would like to pass?
  4. When on a cool down lap do you drive with your hazards on so everyone knows?
  5. Is there anything else I am missing that is useful to know aside from driving techniques in terms of hitting the apex correctly, accelerating once at the end of the turn, etc.?
Is there anything else that I haven't covered that would be good advice to a novice? Are there any RX-8 specific things that experienced track day enthusiasts would like to share?
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Johnspackman » Tue May 27, 2014 11:47 am

Hi cib

I'm no expert at track days, but here's a few answers:

1. Helmets - the more expensive they are, the more decals and air vents they have on them - once upon a time I spent £600 on a helmet for my bike and afterwards realised that if I want venting, open the visor! There are two standards, but all helmets sold in the UK should comply, either are as safe as you need. My current one is cheap (£40 ish) and is open face for car driving.

2. Specific shoes? - your track organiser will tell you about what to wear, but something comfortable and sturdy - and something that you you wear regularly and are comfortable driving in. Don't buy new shoes for the day, they'll only get in the way.

3. Instructions - good teaching is always a plus, my first experience was a day of lessons at prodrive (skid pans are *such* fun). My RX8 was my first ever RWD car, and it taught me a lot. Most track days have on site instructors, some are free and some are around £20/hr. Definiately a good idea when setting out, they will make a huge difference to your driving and introduce you to the track.

4. Track day insurance - up to you, I've not bothered because it's so damn expensive, I try to stay within my limits and expect that to be enough. That doesn't stop anyone from driving up your exhaust pipe or stop me from making stupid decisions! YMMV

5. Anything else? A good nights sleep, no beers the night before, a thermos of hot proper coffee for the day, and enough tread on your tires to get you home without being pulled by plod.

What to bring
1. I took all kinds of stuff my first time, now I just take oil (just in case), water (to drink), coffee, and £20 for food and snacks. The pump and guage that comes with the car is good enough for checking the tires.

2. Storing it - in a box or bag, IMHO don't rent a garage (if there is one). I don't think theft's much of an issue (I'm guessing)

3. Where to hang out - depends on the place. Castle Coomb have a club house type affair, with food etc; airfields have just a burger van. On hot days (whatever they are), a gazebo is a really good idea, especially if like me you go a nice lobster red faster that you can say "where's that suncrea..."


How to drive
1. Leave the DSC on - i think that if you have to ask that, then you shouldn't be turning it off.

2, 3, 4. How to pass/be passed/behave on track - your track day organiser will tell you on the day. It's generally very similar, but it can vary and your organiser's rule is final.

5. Driving tips: ask an instructor on the day :) Its £20 (ish) and will be far more effective and safer than reading a load of text.

#1 rule has to be - drive within your limits, #2 is relax and have fun.

Good luck :)

John

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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Nerdstrike » Tue May 27, 2014 1:20 pm

cib24 wrote:[*] Do I need track day insurance? These cars aren't really worth much and I would like to think I won't be driving like a dumbass the first few times but I suppose there is a real possibility of a collision with another driver either due to my own mistake or the other drivers mistake?
Insurance is not really going to compensate you for trashing your pride and joy, and the damage excess is massive, so the cost is non-trivial if you do have an accident. Stuff goes wrong and people crash, but more importantly, if things get hot with numerous cars queuing up behind someone slow, dropping back or pitting can save you from a mess. I've been on two trackdays and seen some pretty big accidents, mainly caused by courage exceeding skill. Try to keep your manly competitive urges in check and you'll come home without a scratch.
cib24 wrote:I am going to assume most of you would recommend leaving the DSC fully engaged? I think so too...Maybe after a few laps I would be confident to partially disable it on my first track day.
First thing in the morning or in the event of bad weather, the track can be greasy or damp. You do not want to be getting the hang of your car without traction control in these conditions. You will not be slow because of your DSC, but it does inhibit your possibilities for both hoonage and creative corner exits. I know my DSC clipped my wings on two occasions on circuit, mainly because I'd gotten my line a bit wrong and I was trying to muscle back on course.
cib24 wrote:Is there anything else I am missing that is useful to know aside from driving techniques in terms of hitting the apex correctly, accelerating once at the end of the turn, etc.?
Circuits often leave cones at the turn-in and apex to help you find them. Pay attention to them!

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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Shagrington » Tue May 27, 2014 6:47 pm

I reckon one of the best ways to do your first track day is to go to one where there will be other club members present. Check this thread out for dates http://www.rx8ownersclub.co.uk/forum/vi ... 6&start=15 and talk to Casey about the club "track day buddy" system he has instigated.

Doing a Car Limits car control day - highly recommended. :thumleft: They are going to be running the club activity day GSB has organised http://www.rx8ownersclub.co.uk/forum/vi ... 00&t=55917
You are unfortunately too late to get in on that I think, but you could come and jump into other members' cars as a passenger I'm sure. This is a 20 car day - the 4 car days they do are better for personal tuition.
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by GreySilver Beast » Tue May 27, 2014 6:54 pm

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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Shagrington » Tue May 27, 2014 7:03 pm

I hoped I would be able to find this - somebody else was asking the same questions at the beginning of last year. You will find some useful advice and information about doing your first track day here http://www.rx8ownersclub.co.uk/forum/vi ... 00&t=49614
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by tractorboy » Tue May 27, 2014 7:28 pm

I was very nervous about going on track but did my first one at Snetterton in Feb 2013. It was actually supposed to be a novice day but for various reasons was a poor and intimidating introduction to trackdays. However, with the encouragement of club members I attended another day at Blyton Park and haven't looked back. I've now done 7 in total. I'm sure there is a thread or post somewhere that is a guide for novices but can't find it. Casey, our trackday guru probably knows where it is. Anyway, I've answered your queries inline below:

What I should do to prepare for a track day?
  1. Helmets. The prices range from relatively inexpensive to insanely expensive but the safety standards also range according to price as well. I assume the more expensive the safer the helmet is likely to be but what is a good minimum that should be spent on one when you aren't driving a Formula 1 car and are in a car that can be out accelerated by a hot hatch? Given the relatively low risk at a trackday (as a motor "sport"), I bought a £40 open face scooter type helmet. You could hire one at the track for your 1st session and see what other people are using.
  2. Specific shoes? Do you want to be wearing specific shoes to improve heel-toe downshifts and the like? Something lighter probably helps. I have just started heel and toeing and could do with something a bit lighter than my walking shoes. e.g light running shoes.
  3. Is it necessary to get instructions from a place like Car Limits High Performance Driver Training prior to going to a track day? Obviously, this would probably be recommended and I really want to do at least 1 training day with them in the future. Not essential but useful at any time.
  4. Do I need track day insurance? These cars aren't really worth much and I would like to think I won't be driving like a dumbass the first few times but I suppose there is a real possibility of a collision with another driver either due to my own mistake or the other drivers mistake? Accidents do happen but are usually down to the driver over-doing it. Personal choice... I don't bother.
  5. Is there anything else in particular that I should do to prepare either myself or my car? I started with a standard car; just make sure you have plenty of wear left in tyres and brakes and make sure fluids are OK (Oil nearer half way on stick rather than full.)
What should I bring to a track day?
  1. I assume it is wise to bring a bit of extra oil, a mobile tyre pump and psi gauge, perhaps some brake fluid, coolant, some jack stands and a small toolbox, at least 2 litres of water and some sandwiches for myself. Is there anything else in particular related to the car that I should bring? Sound about right. You'll find other drivers, especially club members very willing to share.
  2. Considering the above, where do you store this stuff while you are out racing? Do you need to rent a garage space and hope no one nicks anything? Renting a garage (shared if possible) is best, especially if wet. Some circuits (e.g Blyton, Cadwell) don't have garages, so it's tarps and/or waterproof boxes.
  3. When not out racing does everyone just hang out near their own car sitting in a lawn chair with an umbrella in case it starts raining? Lol, I'm serious about this. I would imagine sometimes there isn't a nearby club house or place to get food and chat with other people. Usually standing around as you say. Not much sitting. Oh, and it is not "racing"!! If you drove like it was a race you'd be sent home pretty quickly :)
How should I drive on a track day?
  1. I am going to assume most of you would recommend leaving the DSC fully engaged? I think so too...Maybe after a few laps I would be confident to partially disable it on my first track day. I have not turned it off yet. It is so good at stopping you spinning and All the crashes I've seen have involved cars loses the back end in way which probably wouldn't happen with DSC on. I'm hoping the day at Car Limits will be wet so I can safely get to know the car without DSC.
  2. Several cars will be faster than me so how do I let them know it is ok to pass? I would presume that you never let them pass in a corner but on a straight you get out of there way. Do you signal with a blinker? This is always covered in the driver briefing. Basically you only pass by consent and on the straights. If you have someone behind who has caught you then you pull to one side (depends on circuit direction) and lift off. People tend to indicate too.
  3. If by some miracle I am going faster than a few other cars how do I signal that I would like to pass? You don't, you wait until they let you pass. Some tracks use blue flags, some don'y. Unfortunately a small minority either don't look in their mirrors or are just plain selfish, so be patient, or just back off to give youself a bit of clear track.
  4. When on a cool down lap do you drive with your hazards on so everyone knows? No, just make sure you let people get past.
  5. Is there anything else I am missing that is useful to know aside from driving techniques in terms of hitting the apex correctly, accelerating once at the end of the turn, etc.? There are some really good guides online, and I found the Haynes trackday manual pretty handy. You could also pay for an instructor for your first session like I did.


Have fun!!

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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by casey » Tue May 27, 2014 7:29 pm

Shagrington wrote:I reckon one of the best ways to do your first track day is to go to one where there will be other club members present. Check this thread out for dates http://www.rx8ownersclub.co.uk/forum/vi ... 6&start=15 and talk to Casey about the club "track day buddy" system he has instigated.
My ears were burning Shaggy :D

Lots of good advice so far. If you can join one of the events I publicise on here then you'll get off to a better start as you'll have plenty of support, tools, parts, etc on hand should you need to borrow anything. As Shaggy said, we offer a "Buddy" system to anyone who would liek some one-to-one support at the start of the day for as long as you feel you need it. You'd be assigned an experienced "trackie" who knows the ropes and can help you get started, take you out on a lap as a passenger, then swop over - no substitute for a qualified instructor, but we find you learn more from the instructor if you've got the basics of a circuit sorted out first. Don't bother about heel and toe at this stage. It will ultimately gain you a few seconds on a lap, but many of us (including me) can lap quickly by simply driving smoothly and not using heel and toe. After 36 trackdays in the 8 I'm still not confident enough with my H&T to use it on track :oops: :lol:

Halmet, I'd advise getting an open face one, unless you plan on passengering a lot in an open-top cars. I used a closed helmet to start with but it's a lot better in an open face. Several of us have bought the "V2 Tourer" LINK HERE as it's a SNELL approved helmet at a reasonable price of £129. You can buy helmets that meet the EU regs (for motorbikes) for £30, or you can spend £500+. It's all a matter of personal choice. It's you head, so it's your choice.

There is a compulsory safety briefing at the start of every trackday. You have to attend this and get a wristband to confirm you've been. The briefing will tell you all you need to know about circuit entry and exit, overtaking rules, flags, marshall's post positions, if cones have been placed at braking and apex points, special hazards to look out for, etc. After the briefing there will be 2-3 "sighting laps" of the circuit, where you will drive you car in a "convoy", following a pace car - no overtaking allowed. This gives you the chance to "learn" the circuit, see the race lines, experience the level of grip (or lack of!), etc.

Ah, whilst I've been writing this I see Shaggy's pointed to a previous thread that I'd forgotten about. Probably best let you absorb what we've thrown at you so far and you can come back if you have any unanswered questions :D

Last point, beware, trackdays can become addictive, especially when driving as car as good as the 8 :lol:

Edit: Tractorboy was also posting as I wrote the above. Again, great advice.
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by tractorboy » Tue May 27, 2014 7:39 pm

Oh, and I would definitely do your first one with the club. Apart from a great bunch of people, it's good to have RX-8 experts on hand should your car play up, and even be able to borrow some spares. Fancy coming to Croft on June 24th? http://www.rx8ownersclub.co.uk/forum/vi ... 00&t=57337

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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by casey » Tue May 27, 2014 7:43 pm

:whathesaid: about Croft, we've got ~15 already signed up and I'm sure they'll be a few more the before all the places sell out :D

A couple of other links to threads you might find useful, if you haven't found them already;

Trackday Insurance
Trackday Helmets
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by cib24 » Wed May 28, 2014 11:53 am

Thanks for all of the advice guys. I was looking at the Croft and North Weald activity days actually, but there are two obstacles at the moment that I need to overcome. For Croft, according to Google maps it is over 4 hours drive from London which is a pain and will end up being quite expensive in fuel (probably £550-£600 all in including the event, hotel, fuel and food). For North Weald, I really want to go to this but I just checked my calendar and I am actually in Dublin over the weekend and returning to London on the day of the event, so there is no way I could make it. I will think about Croft over the next few days and do some man maths to determine if I should head all the way up there.
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Ian.Mothersole » Wed May 28, 2014 2:13 pm

cib24 wrote:... and do some man maths ...
for me this usually involves thinking up reasons to justify why I should go :lol:
And then choosing the best moment to tell the other half 8-[
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Harrizone » Wed May 28, 2014 4:54 pm

:whathesaid: :lol:
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Johnspackman » Wed May 28, 2014 5:57 pm

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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by turbot » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:40 pm

comfortable cloathes and footwear, trackday insurence, a well maintained car with all levels checked and good tread on the tyres and a full tank of gas are essential

i find nice to have optional things are a helmet, 20 litre jerry can full of petrol, and a funnel, basic tool kit, spare fluids for the car

basicly start slow and build speed throughout the day, do warm up and cool down laps, indicate and lift off slightly on the straights if a car has caught up to you to let them by, overtaking cars should always wait until the car in front gives them the go ahead to go past. if ur stuck behind someone who wont believe his car isnt the fastest then do a drive through at the pits to bring you out on track in a different spot. always park on level ground when returning to the pits and leave the handbrake off, first sign of brake fade, higher coolant or oil temps return to the pits. get a yellow sticker with a black cross on it for your rear bumper off the organisers, and have fun of course!

i cant wait to get back out there but gotta do the maintenance thing first!
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by turbot » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:42 pm

oh and forgot to say, always had trackday insurence in the past but the one day i didnt take it out was the day i stuffed it in the armco sliding on wet leaves at oulton park! always worth it i reckon now!
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Re: Want to do my first track day ever - What do I need?

Post by Ranjan » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:37 am

cib24 wrote:Thanks for all of the advice guys. I was looking at the Croft and North Weald activity days actually, but there are two obstacles at the moment that I need to overcome. For Croft, according to Google maps it is over 4 hours drive from London which is a pain and will end up being quite expensive in fuel (probably £550-£600 all in including the event, hotel, fuel and food). For North Weald, I really want to go to this but I just checked my calendar and I am actually in Dublin over the weekend and returning to London on the day of the event, so there is no way I could make it. I will think about Croft over the next few days and do some man maths to determine if I should head all the way up there.
Hi Cib,

if you fancy a track day which will be good for your first time try Mallory Park on 18th July run by Javelin. I will be there if you want some company. It is a very easy circuit to learn but technical enough to pose a challenge; I promise you will love it. It is also a great circuit to learn how to heel and toe, by the end of the day you will be quite good at it, again a promise. Also not so far from London.

Ranjan.

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Want to do my first track day ever What do I need

Post by Belozerovwrene » Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:50 pm

Theres nothing else you really need. Your list could have been like this:

My current suspension/braking mods;
Stock

And youd be fine for your first track day. Im having a hard time getting a few buddies out to the track because they want to go in with full blown race cars. Yet they have never set foot on a track other than to take pics of my car on the track. Aside from the obvious maintenance things, youll be perfectly fine with what you have already. I guess you could upgrade your pads if it wont hinder you from getting out there.

Youre going to/should be more focused on your driving and figuring out the course anyway. Good luck out there, enjoy yourself and take lots of pics...and stay hydrated.

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Basic track day prep advice please

Post by dac69er » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:42 pm

Booked a track day in August and want to make sure I don't end up missing something and having less fun than I could do.

Car is in good mechanical condition etc etc. But is there anything that is lacking for some light track fun? Will the brakes fade after a few hard uses? Will the clutch destroy itself if I'm not careful? Any advice on premix?

Just anything to be mindful of on this particular car other than needing my own fuel tanker to keep it going for the day?

Car has all the basics like uprated coils, minimap, decat and cat back. Rest of the car is stock but fully up to scratch service wise.

Thanks in advance

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Re: Basic track day prep advice please

Post by warpc0il » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:53 pm

The most cost effective way to improve your laptimes and get the most from the car is to take some one-to-one tuition.

There's nothing that you have to do to the car except make sure that everything is working as it should; brakes, tyres, suspension etc.

Premixing won't do any harm.

I'd also recommend buying a CG-LOCK from the club shop, as it will make you much more secure in the seat.

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Re: Basic track day prep advice please

Post by boosted » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:12 pm

what year? early cars are a bit more prone to oil surging, or burping. consider fitting a catch tank. Run the oil level at 2/3rds.
premix some 2t in your fuel tank.
Dont run fuel at less than 1/3 else may suffer fuel starvation.
keep your sessions short so nothing overheats, brakes and clutch, melt your tyres.
build up gradual, start slow in morning learning circuit, learning car and your abilities.
Dont be afraid to ask advice from organisers, other track dayers and yes get some instruction.
Take all the junk out of your car, dont want stuff flying around.
Check your wheels periodically nut tightness, and pressure ratings.
Before you go check brake pads ideally want over half thickness.
and have FUN.
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Re: Basic track day prep advice please

Post by PeteH » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:25 pm

:whathesaid: If you don't know when your brake fluid was last changed then now's a good time to change it (old fluid will boil at a much lower temperature). Apart from that, have fun!
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Re: Basic track day prep advice please

Post by brix79 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:27 pm

From another novice;
Check you have your tow eye, and that it threads in to the hole nicely. Very common for them to get a bit rusty.
Spare front brake pads if they're a little low. I'm sure you can guess why I'd say that.. :D
A suitable helmet of your preference.

I took a few tools, and needed the ones I didn't take, but if there are Club members and/or folk from the forum, there's usually plenty around to sort things out if needed.

If they offer tuition, I'd take it. I would have done so at Pembrey but my brakes gave out first. :mrgreen:
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Re: Basic track day prep advice please

Post by Rotary Potato » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:41 pm

If the pits/paddock are on a slope, your handbrake won't be enough to hold the car. The heat in the disks and pads will overheat the pads and your car will merrily roll away.

Always leave the car in gear to stop this.

You will be a lot more popular if your car doesn't roll into someone else's! (guess how I know this! :oops: :oops: :oops: )
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Re: Basic track day prep advice please

Post by qwakers » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:44 pm

and leave the handbrake off after going on track, unless you want warped disks (something that didnt occur to me until it was pointed out at jdm coombe)
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