A track day is an exciting and unique way to put your car through its paces and to experience the adrenalin rush that can only be achieved by driving at speeds that ordinarily would not be permitted on public roads (at least, not without feeling the long arm of the law).
However, it goes without saying that your car must be suitably prepared for the occasion either for your own safety (think here about the dangers of dodgy brakes) or for your enjoyment (changing ruptured tyres isn’t part of the fun). So before you venture on your track day, carry out some basic checks and maintenance for the best possible driving experience.
Expect to be driving at higher speeds and braking more sharply than normal, possibly in wet conditions, so ensuring your tyres are in tiptop condition is essential. If your car tyres are approaching the 1.6mm UK legal limit then you may wish to consider whether it is sensible to replace these or even to purchase a separate set of wheels and tyres which can be changed for the occasion in future. Some drivers slightly deflate or inflate their car’s tyres to assist with grip and to reduce wear but seek professional advice in advance before making this decision if you are new to the event.
Driving at high speeds on a race circuit inevitably means that you will be braking more sharply than normal which will place your car’s braking system under much higher stress. Wearing your brake pads thin on the day will only risk causing serious damage to the discs (elevating your repair bill in the process). Ideally you should start the track day with brake pads that are in optimum condition as opposed to ones that are already nearly worn. If you buy new pads specifically for the day, remember to bed them in by driving for approximately 200 miles on public roads first. Check that your brake fluid is topped up; a high performance product with a higher boiling point may be advisable.
On the day plan a cool down lap every time you break from driving to let the brakes cool with free-flowing air. When you park up do not apply the handbrake straight away or else the pads may stick to the disks.
Track days are not generally covered by a standard car insurance policy. Check with your insurer first and expect to pay a supplement to insure for the occasion; a higher excess will almost certainly apply. If you intend to enjoy track days frequently then an annual policy may be more economical.
While accidents are rare and safety is taken seriously by track operators, bear in mind that the financial consequences of an accident may extend beyond simply repairing or replacing your car if personal injury is involved.
You are bound not to forget a track day in a hurry and many drivers discover a hidden passion for the event but completing sensible preparations to protect your car and your safety are essential to make the day unforgettable for all the right reasons.