gramboda

2017 Track Days - You Goin?

44 posts in this topic

I am planning to attend my first track event sometime this summer. Either the RA track day in July through the NW Shelby club or a Blackhawk Wed. track day. There are also a couple BCCA track days at RA that would fit my schedule.

Either way, I'm only going to one as I am figuring $1K out the door after track fees, insurance etc., right? I need to buy a helmet as well. UGH.

I welcome any thoughts/advice on which are the best days to attend.

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1 hour ago, gramboda said:

I am planning to attend my first track event sometime this summer. Either the RA track day in July through the NW Shelby club or a Blackhawk Wed. track day. There are also a couple BCCA track days at RA that would fit my schedule.

Either way, I'm only going to one as I am figuring $1K out the door after track fees, insurance etc., right? I need to buy a helmet as well. UGH.

I welcome any thoughts/advice on which are the best days to attend.

My buddy is doing one in April with the NW Shelby Club. I was going to, but my car is going to be under the knife around that time. If there is another event with NWSC in July, I'd love to go. It looks like a handful of BMWs make an appearance with that club. Unfortunately, they require an SA2010 helmet or better - which I don't have. A few hundred bucks, like you said.

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I'm thinking about doing one this year if I can get the e30 running reliably (or at all...) before they close registration/the season ends

 

Lots of helmet info from when Dan (straight6pwr) and I were looking for helmets: 

 

We went to pegasus and got ours, the guy there is extremely helpful. 

 

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If you're only doing one track day then just rent a helmet.  I rented one from BHF last year and saved a few bucks.  I'll be at 2 Wednesday track days at BHF again this year and i'd like to do a 3rd day somewhere else as well.

Being your first track day I would HIGHLY recommend using an instructor from BHF on a Wednesday.  I got paired up with a BMWCCA instructor and the knowledge I gained was invaluable.  He pushed me beyond where I thought my limits were which I greatly appreciated.  I've never run with NWSC but I know they are cheap.  I've also heard not so great things about their events.

RA is on my to do list but I'd really like to push my skill level a little further before I step on to RA.  I thought I was a decent driver until I got onto the track at BHF and realized my skills were very much at the beginner/amateur level.

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39 minutes ago, patsbimmer1 said:

If you're only doing one track day then just rent a helmet.  I rented one from BHF last year and saved a few bucks.  I'll be at 2 Wednesday track days at BHF again this year and i'd like to do a 3rd day somewhere else as well.

Being your first track day I would HIGHLY recommend using an instructor from BHF on a Wednesday.  I got paired up with a BMWCCA instructor and the knowledge I gained was invaluable.  He pushed me beyond where I thought my limits were which I greatly appreciated.  I've never run with NWSC but I know they are cheap.  I've also heard not so great things about their events.

RA is on my to do list but I'd really like to push my skill level a little further before I step on to RA.  I thought I was a decent driver until I got onto the track at BHF and realized my skills were very much at the beginner/amateur level.

So, you'd do BHF first over RA? 

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51 minutes ago, patsbimmer1 said:

If you're only doing one track day then just rent a helmet.  I rented one from BHF last year and saved a few bucks.  I'll be at 2 Wednesday track days at BHF again this year and i'd like to do a 3rd day somewhere else as well.

Being your first track day I would HIGHLY recommend using an instructor from BHF on a Wednesday.  I got paired up with a BMWCCA instructor and the knowledge I gained was invaluable.  He pushed me beyond where I thought my limits were which I greatly appreciated.  I've never run with NWSC but I know they are cheap.  I've also heard not so great things about their events.

RA is on my to do list but I'd really like to push my skill level a little further before I step on to RA.  I thought I was a decent driver until I got onto the track at BHF and realized my skills were very much at the beginner/amateur level.

Thank you for this post. I think the last paragraph hit the nail on the head and I think I'll find myself in the same boat.

I've heard Gingerman and BHF are much more forgiving than RA.

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Yes, in a heartbeat.  Track driving is a completely different experience than "spirited driving".  I thought I could hop out on to RA with no problems but after getting out on BHF I realized that there is way more that goes into driving fast and safe than go/stop/turn.  It was also nice to start figuring out the limits of my car on a track like BHF.  Things like what does severe brake fade feel like, how to prevent brake fade by adjusting driving techniques, how to look for lines, etc.  I think there are a few seasoned track guys on here that may agree with this. 

I was hitting 110ish on the main straight at BHF which may not sound "fast" but take that and then add in looking for your braking point, heel/toe downshift, standing on your brakes, rapidly slowing a large vehicle and asking it to make a sharp right.

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12 minutes ago, suspenceful said:

Thank you for this post. I think the last paragraph hit the nail on the head and I think I'll find myself in the same boat.

I've heard Gingerman and BHF are much more forgiving than RA.

I typically hear Gingerman and BHF thrown in the same sentence.  Guys really seem to love Gingerman when I talk to them and that's on my list as well!  Autobahn Country Club is another one I hear about but I've heard mixed reviews about the track.

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With Road America you get a larger track with greater combinations of turns, layouts, elevation changes. Also much longer straights which allows for greater speeds and high horsepower street cars to have more fun than they would at more technical tracks like Blackhawk. If you're in a beginning-intermediate run group the speed differentials won't be as great since folks are still learning how to catch up their skills to the potential of the car. I did my very first DE at RA in a 1993 Miata and have been hooked every since. Very fun track. It will be more costly than BFR, ABCC, and Gingerman both in terms of registration fees and track day insurance but well worth it.

Blackhawk is a shorter track and has two straights where you can wind things out a bit. But the real fun is learning and working on carrying speed through the more technical parts of the track. The turn 3-5 sequence is a blast and a challenge. BFR will work your brakes hard (pads, rotors, fluid), especially as you learn how to drive it so make sure your brakes are in good shape before you go. The facilities upgrades the past few years have been a nice plus.

Gingerman is less technical than Blackhawk but has its challenging parts. Some slight elevation changes and turn sequences that make you work and wonder about where exactly is the line--except when you're racing there and the answer is "it just depends". They expanded the track a number of years ago to add a longer back straight which allows for some greater speeds. Compared to Road America and BFR it is harder to make an expensive mistake at Gingerman. Plenty of runoff room where you will never be near a concrete wall (say compared to RA) and there are no trees in sight (say compared to BFR). Facilities are a work in progress if your planning on camping there. The showers work...drainage at times is questionable.

I've only run the south track at Autobahn which is kind of like Gingerman in terms of layout (two long straights, some slight elevation changes, and a challenging turn sequence called "Patience"). One difference is that there are closer tire walls and less runoff room in a few places. So behave. The track is also built on reclaimed swamp land I think and there are some design issues that lead to interesting water flows across the track with heavy rains. Still a fun track. Facilities depend on your access. There is a nice clubhouse but for members.Otherwise the bathrooms/showers are good, newer with better drainage than Gingerman.  Camping at the track requires really good earplugs or a white noise machine. One of the largest truck distribution terminals in the country is about a mile away and you will hear trains and semis backing up all night long. I've found ear plugs plus harbor freight headset ear protection works if you can figure out the sleeping angle. On the plus side if you can't sleep you can look at the flames at the oil refinery in the distance to the south.

Bottom line get out there on a track and have fun. Get an instructor, listen to what he/she says, and be humble. It will take you a long time before you as a driver catch up to what your car is capable of on the track.

     

   

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I would recommend doing MVP Tracktime's event at RA, or the BMW CCA OktoberFAST event at RA, and also one of the BMW CCA events at BHF. Both organizations have a sterling reputation for safety and non-fuckery. NW Shelby isn't bad but they don't run as tight of a ship. 

RA carries more speed than BHF for sure, but I would not shy away at all from starting with RA. The reality is when shit gets weird at BHF, it gets weird really fast and there is almost nowhere to go that ends well.  RA is a faster track but you are far less likely to trash your car at RA because they have a lot more runoff and gravel pits. Just don't lift going into the kink. In 5 years of tracking I went off once at BHF last summer in my E30 and was truly fortunate that it was at one of the few spots where there was just tire wall with no concrete or anything behind it, so my car wasn't destroyed and lives to fight another day. Most other spots on BHF are not great if you go off. 

Boris summed the rest up well. 

I will have my M3 at RA this year likely for MVP Tracktime and BMWCCA OktoberFAST.

 

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Well, now ya'll are kinda freaking me out. Wall this and concrete that. Run off here and fiery-blazing-inferno-total-destruction over there!

Should I just stick to the Extreme Experience where you pay $500 to drive a Lambo for 6 minutes but get to walk away if it all goes to hell?

Seriously, if I am not a maniac, do I need to worry about incurring a $6000 deductible repair bill?

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32 minutes ago, gramboda said:

Well, now ya'll are kinda freaking me out. Wall this and concrete that. Run off here and fiery-blazing-inferno-total-destruction over there!

Should I just stick to the Extreme Experience where you pay $500 to drive a Lambo for 6 minutes but get to walk away if it all goes to hell?

Seriously, if I am not a maniac, do I need to worry about incurring a $6000 deductible repair bill?

There is always the case that anything can happen. One small over or under correction and you can end up "buns up kneeling". You should be okay though as long as you listen to your instructor

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Sorry, didn't mean to freak folks out. Well-run DE events rarely have issues, especially in the beginning run groups. For most DE folks who are using their daily, track day insurance (through Lockton or other vendors) is cheap relative to the value of your car for an extra piece of mind. Listen to your instructor, pay attention to track conditions, your concentration (especially early and the last sessions of the day), and all good. Autox you go 10/10ths out of the gate, track events you don't. As the organizers in a well-run event will tell you this is not racing, you're here to learn about your cars, to become a better driver, and drive your car home at the end of the day.      

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Indeed. Likelihood of crashing is low. The most dangerous times on track are during passing typically, and the highest frequency of issues comes in Intermediate run groups for obvious reasons. 

Novice is usually fine and I can't stress enough what Boris said about understanding your focus will be tested. I've taken myself off and skipped the final session of a day before because I could tell my fatigue was setting in. Smartest thing you can do is know when you're too tired. This shit really takes a lot out of you. I've had some buddies that shoulda called it quits on 85 degree days and crash in the last session because they just can't keep focus. 

Again going back to the fact that I think you should run with either BMW CCA or MVP Tracktime, or both - they run really tight ships with great instructors, and as a result it's a very safe event. Remember in Novice groups everyone is going super slow, being very conservative, relatively speaking. Everybody builds up speed by the end of the day as people start to learn the line, their cars, and carry more speed through turns and it becomes a lot of fun. 

You'll be fine. 

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There is some really great advice in here. Don't be freaked out, get out there and do it. You will love it and not one will be able to slap the smile off your face. 

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Like a lot of these guys have said, just get out there and have fun.  You'll make it home at the end of the day, especially with an instructor in the car.  You'll be pushed and you'll find your limits but it's a good feeling.  

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One last warning though, track days can be addicting. If you have a street car soon it seems to make sense to start improving suspension, tires, brakes, adding better seats and seat belts/harnesses, and adding assorted go fast parts, and carefully cutting out your carpet to install a roll bar and 5-6-7 point harnesses and picking up a HANs, and then maybe "adding lightness" by removing some weight...and then maybe you hit the cross roads of getting out for a cheaper hobby or if the jonesing is strong buying a dedicated track car or going full bore gutting and caging your once mild-mannered street car.

In the meantime you will find yourself wandering the paddock when you're not out on track and looking at other folks rides, sitting in their driver's seats "just to try it out", and then maybe you start looking at their open trailers and tow rigs, and looking on Craiglist for cheap tow setups, and then having tow rig envy when wandering the paddock and looking at enclosed trailers and bigger tow rigs.

Perhaps you come to your senses somewhere on this slippery slope by choice, economic necessity or family push back. Or maybe you don't and you start hooking your friends just like other folks hooked you, and hey you know instructing looks interesting, and/or hey rather than this point-to-pass stuff maybe actual racing sounds like a good idea so let's check out Chump, Lemons, WRL, NASA, Council, or SCCA, etc.

Not saying this will happen to you but consider yourself warned. B)

         

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1 hour ago, Boris3 said:

One last warning though, track days can be addicting. If you have a street car soon it seems to make sense to start improving suspension, tires, brakes, adding better seats and seat belts/harnesses, and adding assorted go fast parts, and carefully cutting out your carpet to install a roll bar and 5-6-7 point harnesses and picking up a HANs, and then maybe "adding lightness" by removing some weight...and then maybe you hit the cross roads of getting out for a cheaper hobby or if the jonesing is strong buying a dedicated track car or going full bore gutting and caging your once mild-mannered street car.

In the meantime you will find yourself wandering the paddock when you're not out on track and looking at other folks rides, sitting in their driver's seats "just to try it out", and then maybe you start looking at their open trailers and tow rigs, and looking on Craiglist for cheap tow setups, and then having tow rig envy when wandering the paddock and looking at enclosed trailers and bigger tow rigs.

Perhaps you come to your senses somewhere on this slippery slope by choice, economic necessity or family push back. Or maybe you don't and you start hooking your friends just like other folks hooked you, and hey you know instructing looks interesting, and/or hey rather than this point-to-pass stuff maybe actual racing sounds like a good idea so let's check out Chump, Lemons, WRL, NASA, Council, or SCCA, etc.

Not saying this will happen to you but consider yourself warned. B)

         

I am not sure I know what you mean /s :P

 

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