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Whats the norm for getting out on the track?

I read about a lot people going to the track on this forum, but there is never a mention of a license. I plan on going to the track this year but every track I read about online says that you need to go through their training classes. I do understand that a lic. would be required if someone would want to compete at any level but for cruising around the track every once in a while makes going to different tracks a bit tedious. For example when I come back from my Track attack classes will that make a difference if I went to Summit point and I showed them I was there or would I still have to go through their classes? And if a lic. is needed what lengths does a tender foot have to go through to get one? Any help is appreciated. Thanks
 
The "norm" is, IT'S A BLAST!

It's very easy to get out on different tacks; there is typically no requirement for a license unless you are racing. Check the schedules at your local track(s) and look for High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) events. These are driving schools and they are a great tool as well as a ton of fun. Check it out.

The biggest barrier to tracking your car is money for your car prep. Your first upgrade should be brake fluid, track pads and you should consider braided brake lines. It's not uncommon to go through a set of street pads in a weekend or quicker. The next thing you will want is a set of good track tires and wheels. If after you spend LOTS of hard earned money on this and you still love it and want to get faster, you are officially screwed.

Be prepared to be a track addict.
 
1,255
2
GA
There so many HPDE events out there now that getting out on track has never been easier and as affordable. Typically only wheel-2-wheel racing requires an actual license. Groups like NASA and SCCA require that you go through their HPDE levels before letting you do Time Trials. For most groups putting on driving track days, all you need is a car and a helmet. There are different run groups based on experience; beginner groups will require an instructor to ride with you and some class time during the day. Intermediate groups and above are usually instructor optional and no class time.

Regarding what run group you will start out in, until you are clearly qualified at a higher level, sign up for the beginner group. If they see you are past that level they will sign you off for solo or move you to a higher run group quickly. This past weekend I signed up for B group with Hooked on Driving at Road Atlanta, and they had an instructor ride with me the first session just to make sure that I would not hurt myself or anyone else.

Regarding car prep for the track, I am going to play devil's advocate here. I tracked my 2008 Bullitt Mustang 6 or 7 weekends and NEVER changed my brake fluid. I used the stock pads (though upgraded from the factory) and stock all-season BFG tires. By the time I traded it in, I was ready to upgrade since I was getting too fast for the car's capabilities. I have tracked my 2012 Brembo GT stock for 2 days so far and all I have had to do was wash off a little brake dust. Your Boss is twice the track car my Bullitt was, so do yourself a favor and just drive the car stock your first couple of track days to learn it and your own capabilities, and if tracking a car is something you want to get into. Get yourself a decent helmet (SA 2010 so you can sell it if you need to later), and then wait on buying anything else. The nice thing about Track Attack is that you get to drive the hell out of someone else's car for free. If after Track Attack you want to drive the hell out of your car, then start with upgraded brake pads and DOT 3/4 fluid, and continue with whatever else you wear out on a regular basis. That is where the big money comes in when tracking a car- brake pads, fluid, tires, and other replacement parts. The harder you drive it, the harder it is on your wallet. Part of the reason I can drive my cars stock on the track is because I do not drive the hell out of them. I go fast enough to be fun, and save some of my brakes and tires for next time. This is my only car and I can't afford to replace pads and tires after every track weekend. You might be in a different situation, so you do what you can afford to do. If I had the money I would be out on track once or twice a month.
 
Make sure the first time you go, you go with a group that does instruction and preferably in-car instruction for the beginner group. It is not like driving on the street, and even if you only do one day with an instruction, I think it will be worth it regardless of how fast you are on the street. NASA has been good to me, but there are others.

This site is good for finding track days, though it leaves out some of the clubs (I don't recall if NASA shows up)
http://www.motorsportreg.com/



What state are you in? Maybe someone here will have a good local recommendation. Maybe you can tag along with someone from here too, to show you the ropes.
 
Thanks for the quick replies. Make sense that a block of instruction would be required, but, say for example I get to level "B" on one track and drive solo say 5 times and drive pretty good, go to the next track does that mean I start in group "A" until an instructor gives a thumbs up or do I get a piece of paper from the first place I went stating my level? I'm thinking "A" group until the instructor knows I can handle the more technical parts of the track because their all different. Am I understanding this correctly?
My location is near the Pa - Md line north of Baltimore. I've looked in to Summit point where chuckP works (plays) and I looked at New Jersey Motorsports park. Both are a around 3-4 hrs from here. One of the main reason for this is my daughter live in Savanah ga. and I will be making a road trip there. I liked all the pics and video's posted on here from Roebling rd (something like that) and would like to give it a try but didn't want to spend half the day sitting through classes. At any rate, there's plenty to learn and the tracks are far enough away that maybe that will save me some money. Thanks again for everyone's input, I knew I could count on ya.
 
The classes you go through with any of these groups are not a half day. They are usually 1/2 hour to an hour to give you a basic understanding of what is expected of you as a novice on track and what you can expect to encounter on track. They also give you a basic understanding of the do's and don'ts behind the wheel and how what ever organization you are running with operates.
 
1,255
2
GA
The classes are short ones 20-30 minutes between driving sessions and not like a block of 1/2 a day. The first class is the longest and goes over the track and rules of the road, and the rest are usually just reviews of the previous driving session and Q&A. Most are over by lunch time. Until you rack up some solid experience, if you run with a different group for the first time they may want you sign up for the beginner group. The best thing to do is ask the person running the program if you are not sure where to start. It is easier for them if you sign up for the beginner group and then put you in a higher group than it is to "demote" you from a higher group, as they might not have enough instructors on hand.

Hooked on Driving has a lot of dates at Roebling Road this year, and some at Pocono and NJMP. HOD-SE is safe but are not overly educational, so you won't spend a lot of time in class. You get a lot of track time in a day also.
http://www.hookedondriving.com/hooked-on-driving-region/Southern-States-Region
 
This is good information, thanks fellas. Tracking my car sounds like a lot less of a hassle then I thought. I really had no idea. I can deal with a half hour orientation. Now I can start thinking about getting my car ready for spring.
 
If you are just doing casual track days, it is not a lot of hassle at all. Just a bit of maintenance and a lot of fun. Once you start doing it a lot and needing cooling and other mods because you are getting fast, that is when it gets expensive.
 

PeteInCT

#LS-378 - So many Porsche's, so little time....
Moderator
2,848
14
Connecticut
Also keep in mind that if you REALLY want to get good, it takes a lot of seat time with good instructors. I talking years here, not events. With some clubs you can get to the point where you are allowed to drive solo fairly quickly. Some drivers who start out see that as a sign of progress, it isn't necessarily. There's a number of guys on the forum here that are very accomplished drivers and/or instructors. They will be the first to tell you that the more in-car instruction you get the quicker you will become a proficient road-course driver. You need that real time feedback. There are all levels of instruction, from guys that have just joined the instructor ranks to ex race drivers that have some very advanced instruction offerings. I've been fortunate enough to have Peter Argetsinger instruct me at Watkins Glen - he is a former pro that has family connections to that track and it's one he knows like the back of his hand - every inch of it. No matter how much I advance within the groups I drive with I will probably always sign up for at least one session with a guy like that even though I'm signed off for solo on all of the tracks that I've driven on so far. The one thing you have to look forward to is when you find an instructor that you really sync up with and you respect, there's nothing better than him/her telling you that you've significantly progressed from your last run. This will happen - enjoy it !
 
Great advice Pete. I was a bit skeptical of Track Attack since I have years of experience and a few track schools under my belt. I really wanted to just "go have fun" more than go through a relatively entry level track school. I kept an open mind though, knowing we can always learn something. I was pleasanty surprised to have pro drivers like Joe Foster, Gunnar Jeanette and Charlie Putman teaching us! I definitely walked away a better, faster driver after those two jam-packed days.
 
713
67
I've been on the track about 8 times (4 with the Boss) I'm still very much a rookie and I am hooked!

Here's another 2 HPDE groups
http://www.scda1.com/
http://www.chinmotorsports.com/events/calendar2012.asp

And a link for track day insurance
http://hpdeins.locktonaffinity.com/
 
1,255
2
GA
Yes, great advice Pete. I picked up some new tips from the instructor last weekend that really improved my driving around Road Atlanta in just one session. Even if you are tempted to request the same instructor you liked the last time, ride with a new one since you are bound to learn something new every time.
 
And don't watch NASCAR/Indycar at your local track until you get good, or you will pick up bad habits. They drive those things totally different from a street car.
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
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Blair, Nebraska
Lots of good information here and you should have no problem finding tracks to have fun on. I instruct at two different tracks and the only time they usually require a track certificate/license/membership card , is if you plan on becoming a member at that specific course. Otherwise , most road course driving events will question you about your experience, and depending on said, you may be required to take some classes during the event ,and possibly have an instructor for a period of time. As noted, go in with an open mind and you will virtually always have a blast and usually walk away with a bit more knowledge on going faster.

The only thing I would respectfully comment on is I would not even attempt to see how long you could go without changing brake fluid. This is cheap insurance and regardless of the product ( Dot 3 or Dot 4 ), heat cycles and the affinity to moisture of brake fluid can cause it to break down quite quickly in various conditions --- thin pads, very hot weather, excessively hard braking and of course going alot faster. My advice would be to change fluid at least after every two weekends, and many of us actually change after every weekend. Just a good idea IMHO.
 
Bill Pemberton said:
Lots of good information here and you should have no problem finding tracks to have fun on. I instruct at two different tracks and the only time they usually require a track certificate/license/membership card , is if you plan on becoming a member at that specific course. Otherwise , most road course driving events will question you about your experience, and depending on said, you may be required to take some classes during the event ,and possibly have an instructor for a period of time. As noted, go in with an open mind and you will virtually always have a blast and usually walk away with a bit more knowledge on going faster.

The only thing I would respectfully comment on is I would not even attempt to see how long you could go without changing brake fluid. This is cheap insurance and regardless of the product ( Dot 3 or Dot 4 ), heat cycles and the affinity to moisture of brake fluid can cause it to break down quite quickly in various conditions --- thin pads, very hot weather, excessively hard braking and of course going alot faster. My advice would be to change fluid at least after every two weekends, and many of us actually change after every weekend. Just a good idea IMHO.
Bill, some excellent advice and welcome to BMO. Do you own a Boss and which tracks do you instruct at? Your name looks familiar.
 
5 DOT 0 said:
Bill Pemberton said:
Lots of good information here and you should have no problem finding tracks to have fun on. I instruct at two different tracks and the only time they usually require a track certificate/license/membership card , is if you plan on becoming a member at that specific course. Otherwise , most road course driving events will question you about your experience, and depending on said, you may be required to take some classes during the event ,and possibly have an instructor for a period of time. As noted, go in with an open mind and you will virtually always have a blast and usually walk away with a bit more knowledge on going faster.

The only thing I would respectfully comment on is I would not even attempt to see how long you could go without changing brake fluid. This is cheap insurance and regardless of the product ( Dot 3 or Dot 4 ), heat cycles and the affinity to moisture of brake fluid can cause it to break down quite quickly in various conditions --- thin pads, very hot weather, excessively hard braking and of course going alot faster. My advice would be to change fluid at least after every two weekends, and many of us actually change after every weekend. Just a good idea IMHO.
Bill, some excellent advice and welcome to BMO. Do you own a Boss and which tracks do you instruct at? Your name looks familiar.
Bill drove a certain someone's LS really fast at a track somewhere in the middle of the country :D
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
5,754
4,290
Exp. Type
W2W Racing
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Blair, Nebraska
Ah, but some one else was on Cloud 9 , blistering everyone's times!!!

Had a few Mustang Cobras in the past and may just be joining the fray with a Boss in the near future ...............right on the edge at present!
 

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