Hey, hey! I think we can all agree track days are a lot of fun, especially if we end them with our cars in one piece. 😅
That said, track days can also serve as days where we can explore a new driving technique, test a car's setup or maybe practice our drift skills (if we're a bit naughty).
Through my years of doing track days and talking with you, my fellow track junkies, I've come up with a list of 3 main goals we, as amateur drivers, can have on a track day.
Why are they useful? Well, it might help you look at track days a bit differently from now on. Or they might just provide a bit of insight into why some drivers might seem super serious on track days and some just look like they came to hang out. More often, every driver will have a combination of these goals in mind.
1. Having fun
Like I mentioned, track days should be front and foremost, fun. They're unique because there is no pressure to compete. Sure, some organiziers provide transponders and then everyone can see how fast or slow you are, but that's not the point.
The point is for us to be able to drive our cars flat out in a safe and controlled environment. Every lap you do, every stint you finish, you should be enjoying to the fullest because you're on a track, hooning your car to the maximum!
2. Improving your driving style
This (along with having fun) has been my primary goal for the past few years. When I started going to track days with an E92 M3 I co-owned with a friend, I sucked real hard. My braking points were off, I wasn't able to properly load up the car in corners, I was afraid of the throttle pedal in the exits. It was more painful than it was fun, to be honest.
But I embraced that and used every track day to improve my driving style, if even by just a tiny bit. I still use every single track day as a way to try and improve one area of my driving. If I'm returning back to a specific track, I know where I lost time during the previous track day and I visualize and plan out what I'll do differently this time. Usually it's moving back a braking point, getting on the throttle sooner or trying to carry more speed through a corner.
To me, this is great because if I manage to improve that specific area, the lap time usually drops but even if it doesn't due to worse track conditions (or bad tyres, etc.), I'm still happy and satisfied with the day.
3. Setting up your car
I'm gonna be honest with you - I don't put nearly as much thought into this goal as I'd like. I'm not afraid to admit but I drove the GT3 on an unknown alignment setup for almost 2 years. Why? Because I didn't know what to adjust. The tyre wear was ok-ish on track and I thought that for my skill level, the car drove fine.
So I didn't even touch the suspension setup until I took the car to Manthey Racing for an alignment (and some other stuff). After that, one of the first track days was on Red Bull Ring where I shaved 2 seconds off my best lap. Was it because of the alignment? Yeah, among other things.
But what I want to say is that we, amateurs, don't gain as much from radical suspension setup changes as we think. I know this is controversial, but unless I drive with fresh tyres and roughly the same conditions (external and internal), I can't compare if 0.5 degrees of extra camber really helped me shave 0.2s per lap or not. Especially if I'm not able to drive 2-3 laps within those 0.2 seconds of my best lap. But more on that in a future email. 😊
What about you?
Now it's your turn. What are your main goals when doing track days? Do you set them beforehand? Do you go with the flow? How do you ensure you have the most out of a day?
Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!