In the second of our 3-part series on preparing for your first track day, we visit the driver component of our checklist. Cars only move with a pilot that can connect with it, are you suitably prepared to steer your machine?
Yes you can rock up and put in laps without managing yourself in the lead-up, but dependent on the circuit a mistake can have some pretty severe repercussions. You’re driving at pace, with others on the track and needing to make split-second judgement calls on your next course of action. We’ve all been there where seemingly innocent behaviours have led to an L, so here are some of our starters to ensure you’re ready to fully enjoy a track day.
Get some proper sleep. This applies to how you live your life, but especially when you’re attending your first day at the track. Some circuits are a long drive away, and you don’t want to feel that caffeine crash halfway through the morning trek. Let’s not forget how ruined you are going to feel once the day is over and your body is sore. Get an early night’s sleep, aim for those 8 hours the doctors say is best for humans!
Eat! Like your car, you don’t want to be running on fumes and an empty tank when you’re needing to concentrate and use up carbs during and in-between sessions. Have a proper meal the night before, have breakfast, cup of coffee and as you’ll see below, bring food or be ready to eat throughout the day.
Have the right equipment. Most circuits require you to wear fully sleeved clothing as a fire-deterrent. Don’t worry about looking stylish, you’re probably going to get dirty anyway. You will need a helmet as well, you don’t need to break the bank for one but one that fits your noggin and is comfortable with appropriate vision is essential. For footwear, it needs to be enclosed and our advice is to use a pair of joggers with a thin sole for better feel.
A lot of tracks will require an amateur motorsports license of some sort. Most of the time you can purchase these at the track as a day pass (highly recommended for first timers), but keep this in mind as an additional expense on the day.
Full list of Sparco products to help you with your track day can be found here
Re-familiarise yourself with driving dynamics. Most of us have access to driving games of some kind, whether that’s at the arcade or playing the likes of Gran Turismo or iRacing at home. Take the time to revisit the dynamics of vehicle control from the safety of a computer.
Remember what to do when it oversteers, when you apply throttle or brakes mid-corner, when you hit a ripple strip a little too hard. You can never truly replicate what happens in a real car on a real track through a game, but the principles apply the same when it comes to vehicle control. It comes in handy, even the best recommend it!
Keep your eyes peeled for our final segment in preparing for your first track day, where we go over some of the event considerations you should have and prepare for!