TRACKDAY BRIEFING: General Stuff

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casey
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TRACKDAY BRIEFING: General Stuff

Post by casey » Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:53 pm

This is the first revision of "general stuff" relating to trackdays in the UK. Please post up any comments and I'll aim to keep this as accurate and brief as possible.

What is a Trackday?

A trackday is an opportunity to drive your car on a professionally marshalled circuit, with strict safety rules in force. They are great for people who want to experience the handling of their car at higher speeds than they would be able to on the road whilst keeping their licence clean! Even if you feel you can drive your car "super fast" out on the road and really know your RX-8, seriously these capabilities can only be fully learnt out on the track which in turn may help you to be in better control of your car out on the road, potentially preventing an accident through greater understanding of how your car will react in an extreme situation.

Many RX8OC members now go to trackdays quite frequently as the experience can be quite addictive, but it's something that every RX-8 owner ought to try and do at least once to find out how well these cars handle on a race track - they are sports cars after all! However, trackdays are a form of motorsport and all motorsports are inherently dangerous. Strict safety briefings, track rules and marshalling on trackdays reduces the risk to a minimum, but it would be wrong of me not to point out the potential dangers.

Car Preparation

A stock RX-8 is entirely suitable for a trackday, provided it has been properly serviced and maintained. A trackday will tend to find weaknesses quite quickly, so if that belt has been squeaking for a while, best to find out why and fix it first!

A detailed guide to preparing your car for a trackday can be found by CLICKING HERE

Noise Limits

Virtually all tracks operate to strict noise limits. Each track has its limits set in consultation with the local authorities. Typical noise limits at most tracks is 105dB(A), but may be 102dB(A), 98dB(A), or even as low as 88dB(A). These are STATIC tests, checked at the start of most trackdays by marshals with a noise meter, measured .5m from each exhaust, at a 45 degree angle with the engine at ~6500rpm. Any RX-8 with a standard cat and with any decent aftermarket cat-back will sail through the 105dB(A) test, probably the 98dB(A) track limit too. BUT, as soon as you decat and add a 3rd party cat-back it becomes more complicated. IF YOUR CAR FAILS THE TEST you will NOT be allowed on circuit. A sticker will be applied to your windscreen to confirm your exhaust has passed the test.

Most tracks now also operate one or more trackside "drive by" noise meters, operating continuously throughout the day. These run with a lower noise limit as they will be several metres from any passing cars. If you car triggers these meters then you will be "Black Flagged" and the reason explained to you.

If you think your exhaust is marginal, you can take it to any of the MotorSportVision managed tracks around the country prior to a planned trackday to get it checked. Just phone the appropriate circuit to arrange this. Cheap noise meters - make sure they measure dB(A), NOT dB(C) - can be bought for ~£15 from Amazon or ebay and are reasonably accurate.

Insurance

Trackdays are always well managed - safety on track is taken EXTREMELY seriously. Anyone driving unsafely will be “Black Flagged” and may be banned for driving for the rest of the day. If you drive within your capability and are aware of all the other cars on track then there is minimal risk of damage to your car but, like on the road, there is always a small degree of risk. Your road insurance policy is highly unlikely to cover your car for trackday use. If you damage your car, or someone else damages your car, YOU are responsible for the costs to repair it, unless you take out specialist trackday insurance for the day. Trackday insurance is NOTcompulsory, but if you want cover, one of the specialist trackday insurers will cover you for be between £50-£200, depending on the level of cover and value of the car. Expect a heavy excess. Amongst the many Insurance companies that provide specialist cove, club members have used: Richard Egger Insurance Services (REIS), Moris and Motorsport Insurance Services (MIS).

We have a separate thread running to discuss trackday insurance CLICK HERE

Clothing

Wear clothing which covers the arms and legs when driving on track. Sometimes, but not guaranteed, a track operator will allow short sleeves in a closed top car on a hot day, but shorts are NEVER permitted. If you have a helmet, anything in good condition should be OK. Remember, it’s your head inside it, so if the helmet’s been dropped, or is damaged in any way, don’t risk it. Helmets are normally available for hire on the day for just £10.

If you are thinking of buying your own helmet (from about £30) then we have a thread for some advice CLICK HERE

Disclaimer

You’ll be asked to sign a disclaimer (or two) during the signing on process at the start of any trackday. A typical example is this one;

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/737 ... r_Form.pdf

Trackday types

There are two main types of trackday; “Open Pit Lane” and “Sessioned”

“Open Pit Lane” means that you can go onto the circuit when you like, for as long as you like, subject to the track’s car safety limit and flags. Say a short track like Brand Hatch (Indy circuit) has a track car safety limit of 30 cars. The trackday Operator will typically book 60-90 cars for the day. Not all 60 or 90 cars can be on track at once, so if there are 30 cars already on track, you will be held in a queue in the pitlane exit until cars exit the track. It’s not as bad as it seems, most cars (including the RX-8) will only be able to stay out on track for ~15 minute stints. At that time, you, the engine, tyres and brakes will be getting hot. Time to come in and rest up for ~15-30minutes for everything to cool down. So, you can see why 90 cars into 30 can work AND you can see why a “cheap” trackday MIGHT mean there are more cars booked to keep costs down, but may result in more pitlane queuing.

“Sessioned” means that the day will typically be split into 15 or 20 minute sessions and you will be allocated to one or more session(s) every hour. The advantage is that you will know exactly when you can get out on track. There will be some time lost between each session as the previous set of cars exits its session and you queue to enter yours. However, each session’s numbers will be within the track limit, so no holding you back in the pitlane – you can come in and go out again as you wish, within your session time. If a red flag incident occurs, it’s your session that is affected, so you may find you only get a few minutes in some sessions.

Trackday tuition, typically £25 for a 20-30 minute session (some "on track", some pre- and post- briefing in your car), with a qualified race instructor in your passenger seat, is almost always an option on trackdays. If you are new to trackdays, or to a specific circuit, these guys can really help the novice and intermediate driver improve their track driving.

A typical trackday agenda

07.30 Arrival and signing on
Park up, stow any loose gear, check car over; fluids, wheelnut torque, tyre pressures, etc. Sign disclaimer (you’ll need your driver’s license, both parts if you have them). Get car noise tested.

08.30 Safety briefing
COMPULSORY for all drivers; explains how the day will be run, the marshals' flags/lights in use, overtaking procedure, track layout and any “tricky” bits to beware of. Time to ask any questions.

09.00 Tracktime starts
Several (2-3 typically) laps behind a pace car in a line of ~20 cars. Use it to familiarise yourself with the track layout and possible “racing lines” around corners. Check the dryness of the circuit and grip levels. Check for trackside markers to use as braking points. Look for turning in points and apexes – many trackdays will place coloured cones as guidance to some/all of these point. Check positions of marshals’ posts around the track.

09.30 Track opens.
The fun begins! Stick to a 10-15 minute sessions and only go as fast as you feel is comfortable for you; this is not a race - your speed will build with confidence. Do not be drawn into going faster than is comfortable to "race" another car, you have no idea what modifications that car has, what tyres they are running and how capable the driver might be. It's not unusual for experienced racing drivers to use trackdays to practice for an up-coming race! Always treat the last lap as a "cooling down" lap, where you reduce sped/revs and try to use the brakes as little a possible. Keep a good eye on your mirrors and try to let the faster traffic past with minimal delay (but safely). Lap timing in the car which is visible to the driver in any way is strictly forbidden, as the trackday operator's license does not permit it. However, using a dashcam, or phone app to record times and review them after the trackday finishes has not proved to be an issue.

12.30 Lunch.
Time for fuel; yours and the car probably (it is an RX-8 after all :D ).....

13.30 Track time restarts.
Fun restarts.

17.00 Tracktime finishes (light permitting).
Fun over
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Adrian Flux
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Re: TRACKDAY BRIEFING: General Stuff

Post by Adrian Flux » Thu Dec 04, 2014 9:05 pm

Hi,
If anyone ever needs an insurance quotation for track day insurance then please feel free to drop me a line.
Regards,
Dan.

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