South Florida's Premier European Auto Repair, Performance & Race Facility Since 1978
Foreign Affirs Motorsport
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Foreign Affairs Motorsport
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Race Coaching for Track Day Newbies

race coaching

Speed, adrenaline, mechanics, fine-tuned engineering – whichever tickles your fancy, racing has it. Highly recommended and safer than most people think, testing out your car and your abilities on a racetrack is much better than the dangers of speeding on public roads. But if you have never raced before, here’s some handy advice and the basics of race coaching to help you on the track.

1. Pre-track day race coaching

If your car club runs D.E (Drivers Education) events, it is sometimes not possible to choose a track to go to as it depends where the DE event is being held. Of course, if you are being pro-active then choosing the track will also depend on the type of events, courses and various driver instruction events that they may have.

  • Choosing a track

    Most circuits have difficulty ratings, listed characteristics, and assessments that can make choosing a circuit to race easier. For your first circuit, look for tracks suitable for beginners. These includes tracks with fewer difficult bends and large asphalt or gravel areas around corners called ‘run-off’. These spaces provide a level of safety should you spin off the track during a turn. The gravel/asphalt increases the friction and helps bring your car to stop without causing too much damage.

  • Booking track day

    Some tracks have specific track organizers with whom all logistical features are discussed. They take into consideration your level, budget, type of car and racing desires to find you the event that best suits you. They will also be able to fill you in on all the track and racing rules and regulations to ensure best quality racing day.

  • Your car or hire?

    There are advantages and disadvantages to using your own car on track day: power, brake sensitivity, turning circles; but the possibility of damage to your car is always present. There are many places to hire quality, vetted cars for track day that can provide you the same great experience. Remember that your regular insurance company won’t cover any track-related damages. It is, therefore, easy to see why the option to secure your vehicle with track day car insurance is something racing veterans and coaches would recommend.

  • Tuning Your Vehicle

    Technical inspection of your vehicle is extremely important to make sure your car – or the one you may choose to hire – is suitable, safe and at optimal performance to participate in a track day. Make sure the check happens within 2 weeks of track day. If taking your own car, it is advisable to print out a tech sheet specific to your car model so that it may be checked accurately and thoroughly. The brake pad depth, condition of the rotor, wheel bearings, tire depth, suspension, exhaust and oil leakages are just some of the things on this checklist.

  • What to expect from others

    Although stock cars are welcome on tracks, it is not unusual for race cars to join them. Remember that these are simple track sessions, not races, so there shouldn’t be too much pressure involved. Drivers who don’t follow track rules are usually dealt with swiftly and sternly; don’t feel intimidated!

2. Track Day Race Prep

  • Driving Safety

    Foreign Affairs Motorsport is an approved Tech Inspection Station – at a tech inspection will go through your car and your gear to make sure you are track ready and safe for driving. Once your tech inspection has been completed we will issue you with a stamped technical inspection sheet – Don’t forget to take this to the track to assure the track chair that your car is not a danger to you or any other participant. Consider taking a second set of tires so as not to wear out your road-use tires. Ensure your oil, water, brake fluid and fuel tank are all full and that you take along extra bottles. Don’t forget to also check your seatbelts – track-day instructors will not get into a car with a loose seatbelt mount or ill-fitting seatbelt mechanism.

  • Protecting the Car

    To avoid chipping or scratching the paint on your hood and front bumper, place clear cover or tape over it. Protect your rims from the excessive brake dust and debris from the track with wheel jelly; apply thoroughly and wipe with a microfiber cloth after washing. Wash and dry your vehicle before adding paint sealant as a water protective and rubber protective barrier. Wash the inside and outside of your windshield and consider applying a hydrophobic agent to help water glide off and improve your visibility. Bring along a tarp or alternative covering to protect your car and a camping chair and refreshments for between sessions.

  • Instructors and Passengers

    Having an instructor on the race day can be very reassuring to some people. They offer driving, racing and risk management advice to help you get the hang of racing faster. They will teach you many useful driving techniques such as how to ‘drive the line’ or the optimal position to be on the track for maximal trajectory for minimal effort. It’s often not considered the best idea to host passengers, other than an instructor, on your first few sessions around the track. The instructor will also be able to help you make changes to the car during track day to improve control and performance.

  • Outfit of The Day

    Although a complete racer’s driving safety kit is not necessary, it is often recommended. If you’re on a shoe-string budget, a helmet – well-fitted, durable and good quality, full-body clothing including gloves, and thin-soled trainers should be acceptable racing day attire. Specialized driving shoes and gloves are recommended if you’re considering investing more time into track racing.

    An extra shirt, rain jacket, sunglasses, sunscreen and your driver’s license.

  • Equipment for The Day

    You should take the tools you may need to use; although ore experienced drivers are likely to have them and would be willing to let you borrow them. At the very least, a tire pressure gauge and torque wrench should be in your track day bag. Pack some window towels and window cleaners as they will be ideal to clear the windshield of bugs and other debris during track day. Pack around oil and water for top ups during the day. Remember to also pack lunch, snacks and bring along plenty of water.

3. Track Day Racing Tips

  • Logistics

    Sign the track waver upon entering track grounds, park near bathrooms but with sufficient space between cars for repairs, check-ups and general maneuvering. Pick up your track times, find out who your track instructor is, and what time your track training (if available) will begin. Unpack the car and be sure to remove any loose objects, including loose floor mats, as these can become a hazard when driving.

  • On Your Marks

    Remember to keep your signed tech sheet and driver’s license at the ready. Drive to the starting bays where a second quick inspection will occur. Attend the track chairs driver’s meeting in the morning which is extremely helpful to beginnings so listen closely.

  • Driving Position

    Your seat should be forward and upright enough so that your leg is bent whilst your foot is resting on the pedal. Your mirrors should be adjusted accordingly.

  • First laps

    Experts tend to suggest using the first few laps as reconnaissance, learning the lumps and bumps and curves of the tracks, noting the pitfalls and areas of increased difficulty.

  • Eyes on the Prize

    When on the race track, it’s important to focus your vision on the road in the future. This results in the eyes focusing through the top on third of the windscreen. This will allow you enough time to gauge the necessary speed, braking and steering required for turns and when to look for the exit out of them.

  • Braking

    Brake hard and fast on the straight line, easing up as you take the turn. Although this may seem counterintuitive, race coaching recommends that you do not use your handbrake in between racing sessions as the clamp around hot brake discs can damage them.

  • Accelerating and Steering

    Accelerating should be done on straights and when exiting a corner. Remember to keep your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the steering. Do not lift them or rearrange them – if a hard turn is required, crossed arms should be expected. This is to try minimize spinning out as the wheel will never be left unrestrained.

  • Gear Changing

    Changing gears on a manual car is probably the most difficult and tricky parts of racing. The most important tip would be to co-ordinate – listen to your car, watch the speedometer and the rev count and use all three to know when would be the best time to shift. Only shift on straights and remember to reduce your speed enough before downshifting to avoid overrevving and unnecessary damage to your engine.

  • Between Session Checks

    Check your tires pressure while the rubber is still warm to learn the unique pressures that work best on your tires to improve handling. Make sure to check all of your car’s fluid levels before each run. This will ensure maximal performance while simultaneously minimizing any potential damage to your engine. Remember to also register your own personal fluid input and output! Drink plenty of water and don’t forget to take bathroom breaks.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to get involved and have fun! It takes a lot of time to perfect the art of car control and you should keep practicing. If you have any other questions about racing/motorsport, don’t hesitate to contact us at Foreign Affairs Motor Sport today!

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