As I mentioned in my last post I was at Thunderhill with T.E.A.M this weekend for a track day that was organized at the last minute. We unfortunately had a pretty bad accident when a Viper lost it coming out of turn 13 and was absolutely totaled when it hit the barriers (the concrete block literally cracked on impact). We did have some anxious moments as we waited for the safety crew to get there (they were on the scene in under a minute) it turned out that both the driver and passenger were fine.
When I tell people about an incident like this they usually ask me why I do this and I respond that its tracking is a relatively safe activity with very few incidents if you follow some simple guidelines. This is my list of safety tips for a track day
- Safety is always #1: Your number one priority at any track event should be to drive home in you own car. Safety is everything – anything else comes second.
- Tech your car: Most track groups have a tech sheet that you must fill out – make sure that you actually check the items on the list and you will usually be fine. Track duty does put a heavy strain on the cars and the very first thing that you should do is make sure you car is up for the rigors ahead. A few cars have some special quirks that you need to check for (eg: inner toe links on the Elise) and you can find out about them at your friendly internet forum.
- Check your ego at the door: Your very first track day will teach you just how much your driving sucks. I guarantee that all drivers will get passed by a Spec Miata at some point – just get over it and learn from the guy instead. The track is not the place to prove you manhood (or womanhood) by trying to keep up with a faster car and/or blocking other people.
- Take is slow: Take it nice and slow for your first few laps on track. Let the tires warm up and get to temperature before you start pushing – pushing on cold tires is a recipe for disaster.
- Watch for fatigue: Track driving is very tiring (I currently have aches in my left palm, right forearm, right knee and back from my Thunderhill day), if you feel any fatigue at all do NOT go out on track. know that its very tempting to try and get your moneys worth from a track day but in the end $40 of track time is not worth the risk. I know this personal experience – I ended up pushing too much at my Reno Fernley date and ended up going off twice in 2 laps before I came to my senses and called it quits.
- Listen to the instructor: If you have an instructor please listen to him, he may only drive a crappy civic but unlike you he actually knows how to drive. He has taken a hell of a risk to get in the car with you – don’t make him regret it.
- Raise you limits slowly: Just because you made it through a corner at 50 doesn’t mean you should try it at 70 the next lap. Raise you speeds 1 or 2 mph at a time and always be aware of what you car is doing. Don’t make the mistake of trying to become Schumacher in one day – it took him years to get this good, you are not going to do it any faster.
- Be safe and have fun.
[tags]trackday, HPDE, Thunderhill, Thunderhill Raceway Park, safety[/tags]