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My first track day is in march

Old 12-06-06, 02:24 PM
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My first track day is in march

So i have a 1986 mazda rx7 gxl. It is basically stock except for the exhaust system. In march there is a open track event that i plan on running and i was wondering if it would be neccesary, or at least a good idea if i did all of the following.

1. oil change before
2. transmission fluid change
3. differential fluid change
4. brake fluid bleed and replace with higher dot. maybe dot 4 or 5.1
5. radiator flush and coolant replacement.
6. maybe run a small amount of premix.

Is there anything else that may be helpful, or that i need to do? I just want to be able to go out and not blow up my motor or anything, it only has 107000 miles.
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Old 12-06-06, 03:13 PM
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Do all of the above and also give the car a once over looking for 'iffy' things in the "Go" system, the "Stop" system and the "Turn" system. Also look at all suspension bushings and make sure their in good shape.

I would also recommend a set of racing brake pads and change them out for track events. You will go through a set of street pads very quickly on the track and may wreck them totally anyway.

Brake bleed/fluid change would be ranked #1
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Old 12-06-06, 03:30 PM
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Yep, what he said ^. For the first few times out something like the Hawk HP+ pads should be sufficient (I happen to have some extra 1 piston front pads if you want), and Ford DOT3 fluid is the best deal in high temp fluid (assuming you can find the old 550 degree formulation, I can still get it).

I wouldn't reccomend an open track day for a rookie. Go to a few driving schools first. You'll improve a lot more in one day with an istructor than with several days by yourself. You'll also be safer, you'll learn the correct techniques and lines and will gain insight into what it takes to be really good. Get rides with them in their car if possible. Un-learning bad habbits will be hard.

The BMWCCA abd PCA run schools in the area that are very reasonably priced. I was at a joint school by them on Sept 9-10 at Pacific Raceways and it was very well run. Pacific Raceways is a nice track, also consider schools in Spokane (EXCELLENT learners track) and Portland. The main advantage of Spokane (BMWCCA does a March school there) is that their schools are 2 day schools on the weekend. With a 2 day school you'll learn more than double than you will at a one day school, and the expenses are less than 2 one day schools. Before going to the track watch videos of people lapping, it'll help you a lot if you're somewhat familiar with the track and its layout, that way at least you'll know what's coming.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:32 PM
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What they said, plus..

I would check every nut and bolt under the car. Check the ball joints and tie rod ends. Check all the joints in the rear suspension. Everything that moves and/or eventually wears should be checked.

These cars are 20 years old now, and you will be putting stress on things that have probably never been stressed before.

Be careful with the shifter. The transmission is definately a weakness when they are run hard. Smooth, easy shifts will help, and don't dump the clutch(especially on downshift).

Good luck..have fun
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Old 12-06-06, 06:58 PM
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Make sure you're not leaking oil or something so you don't get disqualified due to the tech inspection, wasting your expensive registration fee.

Also, make sure the battery is tied down and no other loose items. (also disqualified)

I also agree with tightening all the suspension bolts... the guys at the car club in Japan I was at seemed to do that before every event.

Last edited by Valkyrie; 12-06-06 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 12-06-06, 07:35 PM
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All the schools I've been to have required a tech inspection to be done by a certified mechanic before you even show up at the track, any problems and you fail. Even if it's not a requirement of the school/track day then you should do it anyway, just to be sure.
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Old 12-06-06, 10:54 PM
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thank you everyone for the advice i will definatly be doing a driving school sometime i just need to find out some of the dates around here.
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Old 12-06-06, 11:26 PM
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Here's the sites of some of the groups within a reasonable drive that do schools. I included the BMW club of BC in case you want to come to Canada to drive. I also incuded the track websites so you can look up their schedules.

http://www.pnwr.org/
http://www.bmwpugetsound.com/
http://www.iebmw.org/
http://www.bmwccbc.org/
http://www.pacificraceways.com/
http://www.spokaneracewaypark.com/
http://www.portlandraceway.com/
http://www.bremertonraceway.com/
http://www.missionraceway.com/

Also check the track schedules to see what groups are going when then look them up and see if it fits you. Remember, there's a big difference between a race school and a driving school. Most groups won't post the schedule for a few months, as most tracks don't even have a schedule yet.
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Old 12-07-06, 02:21 PM
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wow thank you alot for taking the time to do that, I greatly appreciate it.
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Old 12-07-06, 02:46 PM
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add an alignment to that list and you should be good to go.

are your shocks original also?

how are your tires?
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Old 12-07-06, 02:49 PM
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shocks are original and they do need to be replaced i'll throw that on the list. Tires are new and should work for now.
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Old 12-07-06, 05:13 PM
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Your welcome. Don't let anyone convince you that you MUST get new shocks, performance tires or whatever (except for brakes, track worthy brakes are a MUST). My first track day was in my FC which was nearly 100% stock at the time (except for intake and exhaust), I still am on the original springs and shocks and it does just fine. The tires I had on my first track day were a set of hard old all season Pirellis (620 wear rating). Even they held up fine, they weren't fast, but it was fine. As long as theres nothing questionable mechanically, you've got good brakes, the shocks aren't completely blown, the tires have decent tread left on them then you're fine.

For the alignment there's really nothing that can be done other than toe, so if the tire wear is ok then don't bother.

One of the instructors at Spokane has done days in a Prius, and a Neon on snow tires, to prove that you really can do it in anything.

I was in your situation not that long ago. Feel free to PM me with any questions, I don't think there's many people on this board with driving school experiance in the area.

Again, I highly reccomend going to Spokane first, it's an easier track for a rookie and it's very easy on the brakes and the car. Pacific Raceways is a more difficult track and wouldn't be as good to learn on IMHO.
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Old 12-07-06, 06:07 PM
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IME
All season tires are decent on the Auto X, HOWEVER a nice set of Falken Azenas would be GREAT. Take it from me Winter tires in the FC is HORRIBLE I did 2 races this year in my FC on snow tires both were not nearly as good as I could do.

I have stock suspension but it is tight,if u plan on doing this all he time a nice set of KYB GR2's and some stiffer lowering springs (like racing beat) would be AWSOME to up handling and lower center of gravity

bigger sway bar help alot however they change the way the car will go into and out of a corner so it will take another few runs to begin to understand the car.

make sure all your fluids are up to snuff, make sure your fan is working good, make sure if u have an S4 thats your AUX ports are opening (well with any FC but on my S4 due to an exhaust leak both of my times at the track my ports were not opening)

brakes are good HOWEVER I am not a firm beliver in racing pads they are VERY harsh and will not work great untill heated up anyways by the time the breaks are heated enough u will be halfway or more done with the race.. I sell and use the Posi Quiet CERAMIC pads and boy do they work AWSOME.. and there is no realy need for cross drilled or slotted rotors either, regular blanks will work fine.

as for brake fluid I say a nice Castrol GTLMA it is a Dot 3/ Dot 4 compliant brake fluid but the dot 5 is silicone base and is not recomended for an every day car, u will have to COMPLETLY flush your lines with mineral spirts and replace your brake master before using it otherwise u will end up with problems in the long run. plus it dont last as long and requires more frequent changing
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Old 12-07-06, 06:31 PM
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Ya i have good tires and for now cuz of the budget my car will remain pretty stock this isn't a very serious racing event it is just going to be (hopefully) a fun track day with some friends, and a good learning experience. As I get into it more i'm sure there will be some upgrades but for now i don't need it.
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Old 12-08-06, 08:06 AM
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New brake fluid, within a couple of weeks before the event, and new front brake pads are a must. New thick brake pads put less heat into the brake caliper pistons than thinner, worn pads. Thicker material has less thermal conductivity from the pad wear surface thru to the backing plate than thin material.
All the horsepower you generate going down the straights gets converted into a large amount of heat in a few seconds of braking. Cleaning the rust out of the cooling vanes on the rotors helps the rotors cool down quicker. Mods to the backing plates to get more air into the center of the rotors helps them cool down quicker.
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Old 12-08-06, 11:09 AM
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If you are running street tires... they won't be so hot at the track. If you can borrow or buy some R compound tires that would make a world of difference.

Upgraded springs/shocks should be on the list also and a performance alignment. Synthetic fluid are must haves (use 2 bottles and completely flush the system) and I have run HAWK HP+'s with great sucess on my 100% stock GXL with coilovers and Toyo RA1 tires.

If you really want to get into track days buy a 2nd set of rims and have either R compound tires you can drive to track on (Toyo RA1, MichPSCups, Nitto NT-01 etc) or some more serious slick style DOT tires that should be trailered (Hoosier/Kumho etc).

You will have a blast. Make sure on your last lap you use the brakes as little as possible and at about 50% of your potential so you let your brakes cool off. Do not set the parking brake when you park the car after a session. Simply put it in gear or the parking brake pads can warp the rotors as they cool down from being clamped down on them.
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Old 12-08-06, 11:27 AM
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I totally disagree on the R compound tire thing. This is a first time outing, you'll have enough to worry about without worrying about being fast. This is the LAST thing that should be on your mind when learning. Go slow and smooth and speed will come all on it's own. The object is to build skill, get a feel for how the car reacts and so on. Street tires do just fine, more than half of all the people at track days run street tires, I've run on 3 different sets myself, one set were hard all seasons. I still had a buttload of fun. Yes it isn't as fast, but you'll know the capabilities of the car in an as driven condition, and it'll make it easier to learn, as your pre-existing frame of reference is valid. Besides, it can be difficult to feel the limit of R's and they can let go without much warning, which will be very bad for a novice, potentialy leading to a bad crash. The crash will also be at faster speeds than if you were on street tires.

I still pass people in $100k cars when I'm on street tires with a nearly stock car, at this level driver skill is more important to speed than the car is.

DO NOT GET R COMPOUND TIRES YET. Do several schools before even considering it. Besides, you may not even like it, so that $$$$ will have been wasted on wheels and tires.
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Old 12-08-06, 11:32 AM
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Found on Miata.net forums, written by jay dub about his first driving school experiance. This is an EXCELLENT example of what the first time is like and reminded me of my first time out. The club thought it was such a good reccolection that they printed it in their newsletterr.

TWS 11-16-04

Impressions from a middle age “first timer” at the driver’s education school

I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into but I wanted to try my car at a higher speed. BMW CCA has always put on great autocrosses so what the heck – let’s go for a high speed driver’s instruction weekend.

After the first 2 sessions, I realized how poor a driver I was.
Basically, I sucked!
1. I couldn’t remember the course – was the next turn left or right, was it a hard brake or no brake, uphill or downhill. I wasn’t even sure I was on the same course each lap.
2. My field of vision was bullet narrow
3. I never glanced at a gauge or my speedometer
4. I didn’t remember to how to breathe
5. I braked too late
6. I braked too hard
7. I braked too early
8. I didn’t brake enough
9. I didn’t brake in a straight line
10. The only way I knew how to hit the gas was hard
11. I didn’t know the meaning of the word “smooth”
12. All the apexes were playing hide and seek and I was losing
13. I never saw a course worker (unless they were pointed out to me)
14. Cars behind me broke my concentration
15. Cars in front of me broke my concentration
16. No cars around me broke my concentration
17. I wondered if anybody would notice if I didn’t come back for the next session
18. I forgot how to shift
19. I didn’t know how to steer
20. I wondered if I would survive the weekend
21. And finally, I learned a new phrase “pucker factor” through experience

There were a few things that went right in the first two sessions
1. My instructor (Saint Steve McCool) didn’t abandon me no matter how many reasons I gave him.
2. My instructor didn’t swear
3. Thumbs up and 3 & 9 does work!
4. I didn’t hit anything
5. I didn’t kill us
6. I didn’t injure us (unless you include my ego)
7. No off-course sight seeing adventures
8. The car didn’t break
9. I didn’t see anyone pointing at my car in the pits (that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, I just didn’t see it)
10. I found other “first timers” to lick my wounds with
11. And finally, I didn’t cry – well maybe a little whimpering


The last two sessions on Saturday were pretty much as the first two except
1. I remember taking a breath on the straight away one time
2. Fourth gear became my friend. It forced me to become a little bit smoother. I could do the whole course in one gear.
3. Slower and smoother really can be faster
4. I started to “associate” some of the course with the course map
5. I didn’t worry as much about speed
6. I started to remember “some” of the turns
7. Then I forgot some of the turns I thought I knew
8. Consistency was something I could discuss but I had no clue how to achieve.
9. Absolutely no car that I followed took the same line I was supposed to take. This turn out to be true all weekend.
10. I started to pick up some reference points on the track. Instructor Steve only had to point these out 15 or 20 times before I started to pick up a few.
11. Each lap I went around 1 or 2 turns correctly. These were never the same turns.
12. I stopped thinking about slipping away and concentrated on surviving until the end of the day
13. Instructor Steve and I were still on speaking terms
14. The thought of an “adult beverage” after leaving the track sounded better as the day wore on.
15. When I asked Instructor Steve if he was going to return and be my instructor on Sunday, he said he’d be back thus ruining my planned excuse of blaming him for anything my new instructor didn’t like!

The first 2 sessions Sunday morning
1. First, I’m surprised Instructor Steve really does show up again.
2. Unlike Saturday morning, I had a better idea of what the hell I had gotten myself into – now it was a matter finding out if I was a hopeless case or could I improve.
3. I remembered seeing parts of the course from the day before
4. I got a “thumbs up” from Instructor Steve on a turn or two.
5. I started telling Instructor Steve what I did wrong. I did a lot of talking.
6. When I did something wrong, that usually set me up for screwing up the next turn. I must learn to think of what’s ahead not what I just did.
7. My consistency meter came off flat-line but was still on support systems
8. Instructor Steve had to help with the steering wheel less and less
9. I found I couldn’t pass a high horsepower vehicle in front of us on the back straight away no matter how well we set him up in the turns. Rocking back and forth in the seat didn’t help.
10. It finally dawns on me that there are parts of the course that should be run while maintaining speed. My previous idea was to either be on the gas or on the brake.
11. I started to think I knew what the next turn was going to be and how I had to get set up. Knowing and actually doing were still many times worlds apart.
12. I was able to get the oil light to flicker on when I hit “Larry, Moe and Curly” correctly. Yes, that means I actually did look at my gauges once in a while. My field of vision opened up.
13. I didn’t have thoughts of sneaking away.

The final 2 sessions on Sunday
1. There were sections of eerie quiet when Instructor Steve didn’t have to say or was it yell anything. It was kind of spooky. I wasn’t sure if it was because he was exhausted, lost his voice, had a heart attack or I wasn’t screwing up so there wasn’t anything to say.
2. I got some more thumbs up from Instructor Steve and a few “Yeahs!” thus leading to my helmet starting to get tight.
3. I think I hit every corner correct at least once. Don’t think I improved that much. This was never done all in the same lap and usually not more than 2 or 3 in a row.
4. I had a few laps that were fun. Things clicked together. I saw more, I took breaths, I sometimes saw the corner workers, and I knew where I had to be next turn.
5. I started to use 3rd gear again.
6. I started to screw up using 3rd gear again.
7. I looked forward to the next lap to see if I could get through it cleaner than the lap I was on. More laps than not this didn’t happen.
8. I enjoyed myself.
9. My overall speed increased significantly
10. I realized I was having a good time
11. I also realized Instructor Steve was a good teacher and definitely more patient that I am.
12. I started to think about doing this again!
13. I realize laps are like golf. What? There’s never a “perfect” lap just like there’s never a perfect round of golf. You can look back and always find something you could have done different. My quest will now be for “good” lines.
14. And finally, I still have a long, long way to go but I can proudly say now “I suck less!”
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Old 12-08-06, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Black91n/a
13. I never saw a course worker (unless they were pointed out to me)
LOL!
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Old 12-08-06, 01:11 PM
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Forgot to metion.... overfill your oil pan by 1 quart over stock and check it after every session. I had to typically add 1/2 quart to 1 quart every session. When you drive WOT for 20 minutes the motor ingests quite a bit of oil.
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Old 12-08-06, 02:04 PM
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Excellent write up...all very true points....especially

2. My field of vision was bullet narrow

13. I never saw a course worker (unless they were pointed out to me)

( I know this was the case for me)
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Old 12-08-06, 02:04 PM
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gnx7 you have an oil seal or side seal problem.
If you calculated out your gasoline/oil ratio you would see that - it sounds like you are oiling down in the 24:1 ratio (12 quarts of gas to 0.5 quart oil)
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Old 12-08-06, 02:12 PM
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Mark, when do you think your car will be ready for the track? Myself and another Chico guy will probably be taking our Fd's out to ThunderHill again early next year, and I'm planning a pilgrimage to Laguna Seca in April.
See what happens from just one Driving School? Now I can't help myself, it's damn addicting! (not to mention expensive - tires, brakes, and my car gets less than 8 mpg. at the track). Most important thing to have for a track day - $$$$!

Matt

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Old 12-08-06, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by speedturn
gnx7 you have an oil seal or side seal problem.
If you calculated out your gasoline/oil ratio you would see that - it sounds like you are oiling down in the 24:1 ratio (12 quarts of gas to 0.5 quart oil)
or its going out the pcv cause its overfilled
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Old 12-08-06, 02:36 PM
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Once again thank you everyone, you have been very helpful to me so far and i realize i have a long way to go, but i am greatly looking forward to the learning experience i have ahead of me. Thakns for all the advice and the information i'll try to keep this thread updated every once in a while.
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