Have you ever wondered what it is like to be in a car race? I mean all the sensory experience of being pressed into your seat wearing a helmet so snug that it smushes your head. The feeling of all that power being released to propel you forward pressing you into your seat then the requisite braking into a turn and being pressed from side to side in the process. If you like roller coasters you’re going to love the track day experience. This is your opportunity to go 130 miles an hour legally while still on the ground.
It is not who can do it but rather you can do it. There is no affirmative action, your gender and orientation does not matter. Yes, there are rules and things you need to know and apply. There is a test you have to take with nothing less than 100% score. There are also videos that walk you through all this making it easy and relatively quick. Safety is a primary focus.
Prep for a weekend at the track
Somethings are a must before you head out. I do not recommend just popping in your car and taking off to the track unless you know what you are getting into. The best way to go about the trip is to think of it like a camping trip. In fact most tracks offer camping sites at decent rates.
For me these are the must haves before you go to the track:
- Torque wrench
- Lug nut socket and socket kits
- Zip ties and duct tape
- Oil and brake fluid
- Wrench set
- If you can a jack and jack stands
Track day – getting ready
Your equipment, your car, should be in excellent mechanical condition. The tires and brakes in particular need to be correct. This means that the brake fluid needs to be high temperature to avoid failure from excessive heat. The tires need to be designed for racing with the right pressure and there is plenty help out there to locate them. Our ride was a 2018 ZL1 Camaro which has a supercharged 6.2L V8 with 650 hp motor. We saw cars ranging from their wives Miata and a McLaren to a Mazda MPV minivan. There also was plenty of Mustangs and Corvettes too. You will need to have a tow hook available.
Track day experience
While you are grouped with other drivers by driving skill level, you are not required to drive any faster than you feel safe. You do need to follow the courtesy rules for allowing cars to pass you safely. There are noise limits in effect so excessive sound was not an issue. On Saturday afternoon when the temperature was 105 there was a situation where a driver went up over a hill and off the track; other than this event things were quite tame. On Sunday after the second run on the five mile track our front brake rotors had stress cracks so we called it a day.
I came away from the weekend impressed with the quality of people and their attitude. They were clearly there to have a fun time and share their cars and experience.
For more information on Thunderhill you can check out their website here.
If you want to know why someone would want to do this then check out this article.
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