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Tracking newbie.. what to expect.

Old 04-13-14, 11:42 PM
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Tracking newbie.. what to expect.

So with planning on starting tracking this summer, and not having been on a track in nearly 10 years, I just wanted to ask some of the more experienced people what I should expect starting out. Ive signed up with NASA, just want to start doing some HPDEs to get my feet wet and then decide from there where I want to go. I basically am just curious of what to expect on my first, or first few track days? I know at first I will have to drive with an instructor, what is the procedure for that, and how long until you are allowed out by yourself? It it instructor discretion, or number of hours/days experience?
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Old 04-14-14, 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Rxmfn7 View Post
So with planning on starting tracking this summer, and not having been on a track in nearly 10 years, I just wanted to ask some of the more experienced people what I should expect starting out. Ive signed up with NASA, just want to start doing some HPDEs to get my feet wet and then decide from there where I want to go. I basically am just curious of what to expect on my first, or first few track days? I know at first I will have to drive with an instructor, what is the procedure for that, and how long until you are allowed out by yourself? It it instructor discretion, or number of hours/days experience?
The best thing is having the car prepared, so you don't have any troubles with it. Part of that is getting everything out of the car that is no bolted down. Next is be prepared for a long day. Have Water, food and snacks.
Learn the track before you go out on it (track Map). NASA instructors are normally good.
Moving up to group 2 is based on your ability to know the track and rules with out someone telling them to you. But in MHO stay in 1 as long as you can, so you can use that free instruction.
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Old 04-14-14, 12:26 PM
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With NASA, there is no required timeline for moving between the HPDE level. When drivers are ready, they are ready. NASA instructors/staff will do check rides when the driver is ready to ensure they have the skills defined in their NASA Passport for their level. I would say it's pretty rare to have someone come in as HPDE 1 and leave the weekend as HPDE 2 unless they have had a prior HPDE 1 weekend recently. That's not to say it can't happen though!

I'd like to think NASA Instructors are a great resource for drivers. In my region, I have a problems getting drivers to not want instructors because they enjoy the instant feedback they receive. Not a bad problem to have. In HPDE 1 & 2, there will be "classroom" type sessions after your track sessions to talk about car control basics and understanding the track. I lead those sessions for the Central region and I often have some of the DE 3 & 4's stopping by as well as some of the staff hanging out. There is always something for everyone to learn at a track no matter how long you've been doing it.

Check out the article on page 44 titled "Cumulative Progress":

NASA Speed News Magazine - April 2014 http://www.speednewsmag.com/Apr.html

BTW, that is actually me during a classroom session on page 47 (the photo is old, from May 2013 but new issue of the magazine).



The main things to ensure that you have a smooth weekend:


* Make sure you have an updated event schedule. NASA runs "on time" like clockwork.
* Make sure to attend the morning Drivers Meeting. It's mandatory, but some people still miss it.
* Make sure you have your Tech form completed. If your car has non-OEM safety equipment (seats, belts, airbag removal), it will also need to be inspected by NASA Tech at the venue. Make
sure to arrive early as tech will be busy with the race and time trial cars if your car will require a NASA Tech.

* Attend your Driver Download sessions
* Stay hydrated
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Old 04-14-14, 01:46 PM
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^^^ good points, especially the schedule, uncle Jerry sometimes updates the morning of. i like to find it on my phone, and bookmark the link, that way its easy to find later, and it gets updated.

other than that, show up at the drivers meeting, and go from there

and have fun!
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Old 04-14-14, 11:50 PM
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Thanks guys
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Old 04-15-14, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Rxmfn7 View Post
what I should expect starting out
Just to follow up on this one, expect to be very tired on Sunday evening (mentally and physically).
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Old 04-15-14, 08:44 AM
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Have you thought about what track you're most likely to attend? If Coming to Mid Ohio then any of the Ohio PCA regions all out on great events with good instruction. I'll be at Mid Ohio about 6 times this year so let me know if you're looking to go there and I can let you know my schedule.
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Old 04-19-14, 11:14 PM
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1. be mentally prepared to get rick rolled by miatas, minis, V6 mustangs, and other "slow" cars that have faster drivers in them. at my first event i was surprised how slow i was in a 340whp FD. being "fast" around the track is about 75% driver / 25% car.

2. don't try to catch the 911s and z06s in front if you if you're new. you'll end up doing something stupid. trust me. don't worry about what the "fast" cars are doing. just listen to your instructor and figure out WTF you're doing.

3. what is your car setup? get the car set to some general "standards," like in terms of alignment, tire size, tire pressure, brake pads, fluid, etc. and this absolutely includes some quality track pads (Carbotech XP-10s, Hawk DTC-60s, etc.) that have been bedded correctly. howard coleman also has a good thread you should read about track setup. also check out the pettit alignment specs, but keep in mind they're a little conservative. i just got my FD aligned TODAY to 2.0* camber front, 1.5* rear, 6* caster, zero toe all around. i'm also running 18x9.5 RPF1s with 265 RE11s. it is a great setup so far.

what j9fd3s said above is crucial. it would really suck to pay all that money and have to go stop for the day halfway through the 1st session because of a blown coolant hose you overlooked, or because of a sticking brake caliper.

i am currently tracking with a group or 6-7 friends (as part of the bigger HPDE groups), and most of us are later beginner / intermediate level all with at least 5 track days with some good instruction. it helps a lot to go with a couple friends so you can help eachother and make sure you're being safe, learning, and having fun. i'm just now at the point where i have a quality setup and i'm trying to work on learning the car and avoid developing any bad habits. we have the new National Corvette Museum track event this fall, which will be amazing, and i'll be running in intermediate, but i'll also have a very experienced friend ride with me a few laps and show me where i'm slow

TL;DR you're going to be slow. just go out there, learn some things, and have a good time
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Old 04-19-14, 11:47 PM
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The comments here is spot on.

I remember when I first took my FD to the track years ago. I was experiencing the usually "over-confidence or high expectations syndrome" When I saw my **** lap times or when a fixed up 1996 camry (literally) passed me I got so pissed that I over drove and spun at 120+mph creating a mess. Take is one step at a time. Gradually push yourself and try to absorb as much info/advice/experience as you can. If the track has a skid pad, DEFINITELY sign up to use and TRY to slide the car around and gain the confidence of car control. Your ultimate goal is to drive the car at its edgey limit for every turn and control it effortlessly.

As an occasional instructor I can tell you that the most common problem cars have at the track include what ^ said. Brakes and mental stress. Get good brake pads, fluids, decent tires and have fun. Try to get a gopro to "review" yourself.

Lastly, be careful during the drive home. As all your excitement induced glucocorticoids and catecholamines wear off your body become VERY tired. Ive had a few close calls.
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Old 04-27-14, 11:26 PM
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^nicely said, armen.

also, good point about getting some in-car video. me and my group of friends all use in-car video (my camera is on my helmet) and we have a night where we all hang out and review the videos and compare our lap times (if any of us got any no-traffic laps) and see who was faster in which sections.

also, IIRC you have the 3 rotor FD that Defined has been working on. that thing is going to be a blast out on the track. you better get some video
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