track days through owners' clubs etc

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by GQgeek, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. turboman808

    turboman808 Senior member

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    If it's just for the track then an elise is a great car. It's not much fun on the street.

    911 is fun on the street and the track.

    HOWEVER. 911 cost are going to be HUGE compared to an elise. The elise is super cheap to maintain.
     


  2. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    I wouldn't worry too much about getting a really fancy car initially. If you want a track toy, then get one, but there are lots of perfectly fine cars that can handle track duties with little problem, especially as you're starting out.

    For example, an E36 M3 restored to factory condition for its suspension and bushings will be enough car to take you all the way through any school's advanced run group. And it's always great to have a comfy car and AC for the drive home after a long day at the track, and it's nice to have enough storage space for hauling all your track paraphernalia.

    You will go through many sets of brake pads, rotors, brake fluid, and tires. Factor that in because while those 19-inch 325-width tires look really cool, they will cost you an arm and a leg when you have to replace them. That is, if you can find the tire you like for them.

    Most groups are pretty marque-agnostic. The BMW CCA will let any kind of car run in the driving schools, for example. Do research on the schools near you, and find one that's relatively conservative. There are some pretty bad groups out there that don't teach much, and have pretty bad safety practices. You want a school with instructors in the car with you and with full corner workers stationed, with emergency vehicles standing by. You can also look to see how many people they send on to racing school successfully as another indicator of their teaching efficacy.

    There's really no need to go to a Lotus school if you have a Lotus. For the most part, car dynamics are the same across different cars and drivetrains (RWD, FWD, AWD), as you'll adjust your technique a bit for different cars. They should all teach you the same thing that you can apply to any car: the tools to cause a certain action as well as the sensitivity to know when and how to deploy those tools.

    Good luck, and have fun!

    --Andre
     


  3. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Senior member

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    Good luck. I'm no expert at all, but track driving is very fun. You definitively have to keep up with maintenance as tires, brakes, etc. will obviously start to go more quickly. If you can, I would recommend going with an instructor. It is very helpful to get the line, as well as knowing when to brake, when to get on the power, etc. It is not something that you can really teach yourself (at least I don't think I could), and I have always found instructors to be extremely useful.
     


  4. maomao1980

    maomao1980 Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Track days now starts at $200? When I started going to the track, some events cost as little as under $100, even Laguna Seca was around $150.
     


  5. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    I wouldn't worry too much about getting a really fancy car initially. If you want a track toy, then get one, but there are lots of perfectly fine cars that can handle track duties with little problem, especially as you're starting out.

    For example, an E36 M3 restored to factory condition for its suspension and bushings will be enough car to take you all the way through any school's advanced run group. And it's always great to have a comfy car and AC for the drive home after a long day at the track, and it's nice to have enough storage space for hauling all your track paraphernalia.

    +1. Most decent street cars cannot be driven to their potential by the typical HPDE student. A powerful sports car just gives an inexperienced driver more rope with which to hang himself.

    This won't happen until you're well into the intermediate or advanced run groups. You have to be either really bad (locking up tires and unnecessary wheel-spin in every corner) or pretty fast before you're eating up too many tires and brakes. Or driving a really heavy car.

    Another good point. Last time I checked, the Porsche Club wanted the VIN of your Porsche on the membership application.

    Has anyone mentioned that most HPDE's pair you up with an instructor and have required classroom sessions? Your enjoyment of the event will depend significantly on the quality of both.

    Also, you will likely find it very addicting.
     


  6. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Senior member

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    This is true, but it's a very expensive way to learn, and the OP seems concerned about costs - it's been a couple grand each time I've done it (coincidentally, I'm wearing my BMW Perfomance Driving School shirt as I write this) and although that included meals and hotel rooms it's a lot more than a club track day/car control clinic.

    This is what I'd do if I were the OP. I've been to BMW's PDC twice now, and will probably do it again this spring. It's a great time, you learn a good deal, and it scratches that itch, at least for a while.
     


  7. epb

    epb Senior member

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    This is what I'd do if I were the OP. I've been to BMW's PDC twice now, and will probably do it again this spring. It's a great time, you learn a good deal, and it scratches that itch, at least for a while.

    He's looking for a cheaper route, and truth is you can pay for a lot of track days with the tuition to a 2-day PDC. The only thing cheaper than club track days is karting...
     


  8. rohde88

    rohde88 Senior member

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    He's looking for a cheaper route, and truth is you can pay for a lot of track days with the tuition to a 2-day PDC. The only thing cheaper than club track days is karting...

    And autocross, but Solo II is kinda boring...
     


  9. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Senior member

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    He's looking for a cheaper route, and truth is you can pay for a lot of track days with the tuition to a 2-day PDC. The only thing cheaper than club track days is karting...

    PDC is more than just track days though, you learn driving skills and responses that can come in very handy in real life, reaction to oversteer/understeer are good examples.

    I was also reading OP as being on the fence about buying a car to track. Best way to find out if he's gonna like this at all is to do it with someone else's car. I will admit though, factoring in tuition and travel (if he's flying in), it's an expensive option, but I've been in situations where properly learning to respond to my rear end coming out from under me on a slick road has been priceless.
     


  10. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    The good track schools (like BMW CCA's) will teach you car control skills as well, because mastery of those skills is necessary to improve and go faster safely. For some club chapters, a car control clinic which just does oversteer, understeer, weight transfer, etc. is a mandatory prerequisite for a track school.

    The bad schools will just let you go out there and drive like a yahoo.

    --Andre
     


  11. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

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    PDC is more than just track days though, you learn driving skills and responses that can come in very handy in real life, reaction to oversteer/understeer are good examples.

    I was also reading OP as being on the fence about buying a car to track. Best way to find out if he's gonna like this at all is to do it with someone else's car. I will admit though, factoring in tuition and travel (if he's flying in), it's an expensive option, but I've been in situations where properly learning to respond to my rear end coming out from under me on a slick road has been priceless.


    Which courses did you take?

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the BMW courses vs. others?
     


  12. 13k

    13k Senior member

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    Which courses did you take?

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the BMW courses vs. others?


    Just noticed this section of the forum... but BMW is a good entry level program. Porsche, Lotus has one too (depending on your location). Most of these are use your own car.

    If you're looking for a more advanced driving school, they cost anywhere from 500-4,000 (1-2 days) and may include professional instruction and provided cars to use.

    Some regional tracks (Mostly sanctioned SCCA tracks) have beginner courses available as well. I believe they run anywhere from 125-250 a day.
     


  13. darnelled

    darnelled Senior member

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    I'd just start looking at the scca regional site for your area. I've done a few at 2 different tracks and they are the most fun I've had in years. There are always a wide variety of cars and drivers and we were classed by experience.

    Each was $200 and included an instructor. I never buy the track insurance, but have seen wrecks at all but 1 of the events attended. One was a Viper that sustained $35k in damages and the owner went to the hospital for 3 days with a concussion- he came back with the car fixed and ready to go at the next event.

    It's the best safe and legal way to learn to drive your car to its limits.
     


  14. Kai

    Kai Senior member

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    My experience with track days is that they can cost anywhere from $120 on the low end, to $250 at the high end. It depends on who is organizing the events, and the costs of the track.

    I've not seen any insurance that will cover track days. These days, your regular insurance likely has an exclusion for anything that happens on a "racing surface" which means tracks are not covered even if you aren't racing. My rule of thumb is that if I can't afford to total the car and walk away from it, then I can't afford to drive that car at the track.

    Most of the track days I've been to have 20 minute sessions, which is about how long most sports cars can go before their tires and/or brakes and/or cooling systems become over worked.

    Most track days I've been to also have run groups that are based on speed and experience. Beginner run groups tend to have stricter rules about where you can pass other cars, and often require the car in front to give a "point by" to signal the car behind it's ok to pass. Moderate and advanced run groups tend to relax these rules, and often the advanced groups are simply passing at the driver's discretion.

    I've been to maybe 40 track days at 4 different tracks. I've seen a lot of cars take minor damage from spin outs onto dirt or smacking into tire walls, but I've only ever seen one car get seriously smashed up. It was a beautiful azure blue Ferrari 360 Convertible that drove straight into the concrete wall on a NASCAR "roval."

    There are some track days that are timed. These are generally referred to as "time attack" or "time trial" events. These are competition events, where the person with the fastest lap time of the day is the winner. SCCA, NASA, and some private clubs sponsor these events. The level of competition in some of these events can be pretty high, with some pretty fast cars, and pretty fast drivers.

    As for what car to get for track days, if I were looking for a relatively inexpensive car that was good on the track, I would likely get a Porsche 944. They can be had for not too much money, and they are a real blast to drive. A Mazda Miata would be another option.
     


  15. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Senior member

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    Which courses did you take?

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the BMW courses vs. others?


    M school, one day and went back for the two day. Also did a full day there with our bankers from Wachovia a few years back as part of a "client business meeting". Didn't drive just the Ms but the Z and some 3 series as well. I'd highly recommend the M school.
     


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