Car-cuterie

Standard disclaimer: This article was written in jest and good humour poking fun of my own experience on the track as a competitor, lapper and HPDE instructor. I am by no means offering any professional advice and this is not a comprehensive list of the only things to follow. They are only suggestions and as with all things on the internet, subject to your own research and liability. 

For maximum enjoyment of your first time at the track, might I highly suggest the following platter…

Ingredients:

  • Helmet (#melonlivesmatter)
  • Plenty of potable water (4L minimum suggested)
  • Sunscreen (daywalker or not)
  • Torque wrench with an upper limit of 150 lbs-ft
  • Socket that fits your wheel lugs for said torque wrench
  • Windshield cleaner
  • Paper towel roll (might I suggest that of the recycled variety)
  • VTEC juice Engine oil (a 1L bottle as a minimum is suggested)
  • Tire pump
  • Tire pressure gauge (preferably one with a quick bleed valve)
  • Approved gasoline storage container (5L minimum suggested)

Optional:

  • Painters tape (to mask off plates or front lip of bumpers)
  • Chalk to mark your tire sidewalls see how much your tires are rolling over
  • Multi-head tool (to take off license plates if you didn’t want to tape it)
  • Laser thermometer
  • Car jack (remember to check if it will go under your car and know your jack points beforehand)
  • Folding / collapsing chair
  • Mini cooler with ice packs (stay frosty!)
  • Biggest umbrella you can fit
  • Spare parts (or spare car if you’re Thomas Holland)
  • Plastic tarp
  • Non vintage brake fluid (ie: fresh unopened)

Directions:

  1. Inspect your car the week before. Check your oil level and quality, brake fluid color and level, air filter, tires for damage or wear and if your car would pass any reasonable mechanical safety. Put it this way, if you have any remote fears the car would not survive a continuous trip between oil changes, you should not be on the track with it. Ideally, get an oil change before the day of. It’s the cheapest way to ensure your engine has clean coursing in its veins.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep before hand. Go to bed super early as you’ll be far too excited to fall asleep quickly enough. Trust me.
  3. Get a decent breakfast but nothing too heavy.
  4. Wear clean, dry, comfortable shoes you know well. The comfortable part is easy but why clean? So you can remove your floor mats. We don’t want one curling up behind, say, your brake pedal do you?
  5. Arrive as early as possible. In fact, I suggest arriving as soon as the gates open. This gives you plenty of time to set up and find the best parking spot that offers a good balance of being near the pit in and pit out (which may or may not be the same), washrooms and area to hang around in. PRO TIP: I said near washrooms not right next to them lest you enjoy any leaks of the non-motoring kind near you.
  6. Check your tire pressures when you get there. Some old farts will scribe a chalk mark from the edge of the tire face (the surface that hits the ground) up an inch or two on the sidewall. This is used to mark how much your tires are rolling over when you corner. After each session you can check your chalk marks and if the sidewall marks are still intact, it means you’re not rolling your tires over. If they’re all gone, this means that your tire sidewall is bending and scrubbing on the ground to that point. Might want to add some more air to the tires to help them stand up to the lateral loading.
  7. Junk-in-the-trunk becomes projectiles-for-missiles when you’re flying around the track. Are you the type where a rattle will bug the $#@% out of you on the road? Well imagine that THUMP as you CRUNCH swing left BOINK and right BAMF on every corner HRRK or bump GIGGITY. Check all cavities and empty all them giblets onto your pit area. Weight reduction.
  8. The junk you just unloaded onto the pit area? It’s the equivalent of dogs pee-marking. YOURS NOW.
  9. Make sure all your wheel lugs are tight as per factory spec (read your manual).
  10. Check your oil level again. Do it. Again. Don’t be that guy.
  11. Clean your windshield, inside and out – Mr. Magoo is funny on TV but not so funny on the track.
  12. Stay hydrated. Fun fact! Your brain is about 73% water and as you dehydrate, you might as well be impaired. Find your body fluid rhythm and work with it. For me, I hit the washrooms before the track and take a gulp of water. After I get back, I gulp down more water and stay in the shade. Repeat.
  13. Skin cancer is real. You still want to keep doing this for years to come right? Apply sunscreen at the beginning and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day.
  14. Attend the drivers meeting and pay attention. Know your passing zones (if any), which side to pass on and how to indicate a pass. Know the flags and where they’re located and keep an eye out. Find out if there are instructors available for first timers. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS. They will help you maximize your enjoyment and remind you of the things you may have already forget about the drivers meeting. Who knows, they might become your friends!
  15. Drive at your comfort level and always be aware of your surroundings. Check your rear view mirrors well before a turn and after a turn. Cars don’t teleport: you just didn’t see them come at you.
  16. Yield to faster drivers. Key words there being faster drivers. Think that dinky little Miata won’t be able to keep up with your Camaro on the twisties? Guess what, if (s)he’s on your butt at the twisties and you lose them on the straight only to be caught up again at the twisties? Imagine how fast they are going in the twisties to catch back up to you. Don’t be that guy. Let’s be nice and yield. They will likely wave back in gratitude.
  17. Depending on your physical endurance and the track size, I highly suggest doing 15 minutes on and 30 minutes off. It doesn’t sound like much but you will get tired. Your heart rate will skyrocket, you will tense up and all your muscles will scream OH MY GOD THIS IS FUN and this will tire you out. Get off the track and see point #12 about hydrating.
  18. Make sure all your wheel lugs are tight as per factory spec (read your manual).
  19. Check your oil level again. No, you didn’t get Alzheimer’s – this and point #18 are a repeat on purpose. Top and torque up if necessary and keep track of oil consumption.
  20. Don’t ever feel like you have to get back out there. If for whatever reason you feel unwell or out of it, pull yourself out. You want to go home safe and sound, we all do. Don’t push yourself so hard so fast. You will learn to find your limits in due time. It will come.
  21. Have fun. Smile. Talk to people. It doesn’t matter what you drive. You came out and tracked your car and that makes you awesome. Many of us came to know each other because we all share the same enjoyment of driving. So come and join the house; we’d love to have you.

– Kevin Wong

 

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