First time tracking - what should i know? - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-13-2017, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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First time tracking - what should i know?

I'm planning to track my supercharged Elise for the first time at Sonoma Raceway. Does anyone have any newbie tips that would be helpful for a first timer?
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post #2 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 04:51 AM
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Change your brake fluid and torque your wheels.

Play iRacing so you know the track.

Listen to your instructor about when to get on and off the brakes.
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post #3 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 06:34 AM
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Know the passing zones. Check your mirrors for cars that want to pass. keep the tank 1/2 full or better. Have fun!
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post #4 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 06:36 AM
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First time tracking - what should i know?

As noted above fresh brake fluid, and oil change before track day are very important.

Check torque of lugs between sessions.

Check and record tire pressure before and immediately after sessions. If it gets too high the car will become squirrelly.

Leave car in gear and do not apply the e-brake after your sessions.

And remember, don't stab, be smooth with inputs and keep your eyes up, looking far ahead.

If you happen to find yourself going into a spin, both feet in (hard on brake and clutch depressed)

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post #5 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 06:42 AM
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Plenty of good drivers contributed to this thread. Worth your while to watch, especially some of the Lotus Cup drivers.

https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=120041

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post #6 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 07:30 AM
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It can't hurt to understand some of the basics.
Here is a link to some good tutorials:
https://driver61.com/uni/

But don't over-think it since this is your first time.
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post #7 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 07:55 AM
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Have you checked your toe-link? If not, that'd be the first thing I addressd before tracking.

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post #8 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone!! Super good info here.

Toe links and wheels were torqued to spec last month when oil and brake fluid were changed. I think the car is more ready than the driver.

I?m considering if i want to sit passenger in a friend?s car first to get a feel for it before i drive my own car.
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post #9 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 09:15 AM
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@brandobot89 I think you missed the point. You need to buy a torque wrench and check them that day before your first session. #1 failure on the track in new cars/drivers is either wheel bolts failing, or brake fluid boiling.
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post #10 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandobot89 View Post
I?m considering if i want to sit passenger in a friend?s car first to get a feel for it before i drive my own car.
I think this is a good idea if they take it slow and explain the track to you. Rides at full speed with others can be eye opening but not sure it is a good idea right before your first ever session. Once you have a few sessions in, take a full speed ride and you will learn a lot more than just going for a joy ride.
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post #11 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 10:49 AM Thread Starter
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@brandobot89 I think you missed the point. You need to buy a torque wrench and check them that day before your first session. #1 failure on the track in new cars/drivers is either wheel bolts failing, or brake fluid boiling.
Got it. I do have a set of torque wrenches.

Are toe links and wheel bolts the only components I should be checking the day before?
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post #12 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 12:32 PM
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There are a couple of things that everybody is forgetting to tell you.

1) First and foremost, "Have Fun!". Go out and enjoy driving the car and the track.

2) You are not racing therefore enjoy yourself.

3) Leave the stress at home and this will be one of the funniest things you will ever do.

4) Listen to your coach and ask questions.

Take care,
Eldon
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post #13 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by brandobot89 View Post
Got it. I do have a set of torque wrenches.

Are toe links and wheel bolts the only components I should be checking the day before?
Well it depends what the life of your car has been. There are other suspension components that tend to fail, they shoud require you to have the car teched if you remove the under tray before you bring it to a mechanic for a tech inspection then you can ask them to do a "nut and bolt" where they will check all the suspension components.

2007 Exige S with almost every track mod...
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post #14 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-14-2017, 06:41 PM
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Bring a tire gauge. You will likely end up having to bleed air out of the tires over the course of the day. I like to keep my hot pressures at about 28f/28R. Others may have different opinions, but most of us like to keep them under 30, particularly the rears. Much above that and it'll get squirrelly.

Your instructor is your new BFF. Let them drive your car for the first few laps of the first session to show you the line and point out key features of the track. At the end of each session, make it a point to wave at each flagging station on your cool-down lap. This does 2 things: It forces you to locate the flagging stations, and tells the flaggers that you've been paying attention and know where they are.

Other things: Drink plenty of water, bring sunscreen and a folding chair.
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Last edited by Pengineer91; 10-14-2017 at 06:41 PM. Reason: typo
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post #15 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-15-2017, 06:58 AM
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Good times. I just had my first track event 2 weeks ago. And my 2nd one yesterday. Things I've learned:

-Helps to study videos of other people on the track...just pay attention to the lines at this point. Braking zones, turn-ins, and track outs. Trying to get smoothness is key. And familiarity with the course will help that. If the group you're riding with has any print-outs and write-ups on the track, helps to familiarize yourself with that too.

-Just listen to your instructor. And if there are classroom sessions, attend them, and pay attention. Especially when they start going over track information and strategies.

-It'll help to familiarize yourself with the flagging stations...but at this point everything will be so overwhelming that try not to focus too much on that. Your instructor will be there with you, and he'll keep an eye out for them. After you get more comfortable, you can start trying to locate them as your field of vision opens up.

-Don't get too caught up with speed...your first session should be slow and you just want to get used to the track. The speed will come as you learn the track, stay smooth with your inputs, and gain some confidence. Yesterday on my first session, I was literally letting everybody pass me except for this one mustang. But by session 3 and 4, I was passing everyone except for a well sorted out civic. I'm still in the newbie group...so everyone was generally "slow." I didn't bother keeping track of my time...obviously the whole point of this is to get faster and have fun. But I know when I'm getting faster without tracking my time. I didn't want the number to affect my driving.

-Oh and if you want to let someone pass...keep yourself in your driving path. Point them by and back off the gas a little. Don't brake. And I still struggle with this...but if you want to pass someone else, you really have to get up on them to let them know you want a point by. Otherwise they think the two of you are driving equally and that they're staying a little ahead.

-I brought a basic set of mechanic tools with me. Torque wrench. Air pressure gauge. Some glass cleaner and towels for the mirrors and glass. Blue tape to number my car. Extra fluids just in case. I brought a lot of water and some snacks.

That's about all I can think of right now.

2007 Chrome Orange Lotus Elise
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post #16 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-15-2017, 08:06 AM
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I cover my front lights and turn signals with painters tape. Sometimes chunks of rubber get thrown up and they are expensive to replace.

Try to get an instructor who drives a Miata or other momentum car. They will understand your car more than a high horsepower driver.

For sunny days, a pop up canopy is highly recommended.

Have fun!
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post #17 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-15-2017, 08:23 AM
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Have you booked it yet? Which group? Almost no one is allowed to instruct in-car at Sonoma, so realistically you're looking at a "lead-follow" situation. But you should be able to hitch a ride as a passenger and I HIGHLY recommend this. Don't ride with a friend though unless they are instructor level/know the track really well. Sonoma is a tricky track and riding with the wrong person won't be helpful.

If you haven't booked yet, I would suggest doing the Simraceway stage 1 performance driving program. It includes car control exercises OFF TRACK as well as lead-follow. Start slow, learn proper technique and you'll improve quicker and with less anxiety.
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post #18 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-15-2017, 08:55 AM
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Oh god, Sonoma is super tricky too. yeah for sure don't go out there with no instructor.

2007 Exige S with almost every track mod...
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post #19 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-15-2017, 08:57 AM
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Plenty of good advice here already. I didn't see anyone mention it, so I will... Track day insurance may be an option at your event. It can provide some ease of mind knowing that you won't be making a $30K+ mistake.

I used this company, and fortunately I did not have to make a claim:
https://locktonmotorsports.com/product/hpde-insurance

I would also suggest to pick your spots, start with a pace that leaves you feeling comfortable and completely in control, then add speed later. If you have an instructor, even better. They can help you with where you are giving up the most time, where to brake, add speed, best line, etc. Odds are that you are not Senna reincarnated, so be prepared to listen and learn.

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post #20 of 57 (permalink) Old 10-15-2017, 09:05 AM
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Just to reiterate, there generally ISN'T ANY IN-CAR INSTRUCTION AT SONOMA
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