Yes, it's as much fun as it looks-and you should be out there! Getting your car on a racetrack has never been easier because there have never been as many clubs, companies, and racing organizations offering track days across the country as there are right now. The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) have been around for many years. These are national racing organizations that operate through local regions across the country. Both offer novice and relatively inexperienced drivers the opportunity to take to the track in what is commonly referred to as a performance driving experience (worded thusly for insurance reasons) in conjunction with a full weekend of racing at one of their events. You don't need to be a member to participate, either, though you may get a price break if you are. Another option is to seek out a private company that rents a track for a day and allows people to register to attend. In California, we have Open Track Racing and Speed Ventures, and similar groups are sprouting up in other parts of the country. One big advantage to attending a company track day is it may have fewer people in attendance than an SCCA or NASA track day. You may be able to spend more time on the track and share it with fewer cars. Car clubs, and more recently, message boards, rent track time. Check the local Shelby, Corvette, Porsche, or Ferrari clubs' schedules. You may be able to tag along even if you don't own that particular car-it is in the club's interest to attract a greater number of cars to amortize the rental fee. OK, so you're signed up. Here's what to expect: Arrive early and find a place in the pits. Just like drag racing, don't take up too much space and leave room for other cars and trailers.OK, so you're signed up. Here's what to expect: Arrive early and find a place in the pits. Get your car ready to drive. Most tech officials won't let you on the course if you have a bunch of loose stuff in your car. The car can be difficult to stop if a water bottle gets stuck under your brake pedal, so remove everything that isn't bolted down. Matt Robertson and Michael Fine carry extra sets of brake pads and rotors in addition to a set of sticky tires. Robertson told us his 4,400-pound Magnum will kill one set of pads per track event.Get your car ready to drive. Most tech officials won't let you on the course if you have a Blue painter's tape seems to be in vogue. We've seen guys put it over the entire front end of their cars and after all the wheel openings just to prevent rocks and other debris from damaging their paint. Jim Edison was more sparing than most-applying some along the leading edge of the hood of his '07 Mustang Shelby GT.Blue painter's tape seems to be in vogue. We've seen guys put it over the entire front end Some track organizations perform a tech inspection on your car before allowing you to drive, while others, such as Open Track Racing, assume you are responsible enough to have brought a safe car to the track. Either way, you should inspect your car one more time before taking it out. David Escudero is an executive chauffeur. He rented this '10 Cadillac DTS because it is the same model as one of his clients' and he wanted to know how it handled at the limit. Not trusting the rental agency's maintenance schedule, he checked the brakes, suspension, fluids, and retorqued the wheels.Some track organizations perform a tech inspection on your car before allowing you to driv There will always be a drivers' meeting right before the track is opened up. In it, the organizers will discuss the basic rules, indicate the passing zones, and review the flags. Afterward, there may be an additional meeting for the newbies. Here, Open Track Racing driving instructor Allan Crocket discusses the basics of the driving line, braking and acceleration techniques, and how to safely pull into or out of the pits. We recommend attending this meeting even if you think you know what you're doing. It's always good to review.There will always be a drivers' meeting right before the track is opened up. In it, the or Drivers are usually broken into three or four different run groups based on how much (or little) track experience they have-from total noobs up to an open or unlimited group. Beginner and novice groups usually start with a lead-and-follow session. An instructor leads the group around the track at reduced speeds for a few laps to give the drivers time to calm their nerves and start to learn the driving line. Track sessions for each group generally last somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, and you may have as many as five sessions in a day.Drivers are usually broken into three or four different run groups based on how much (or l Once the lead-and-follow session is over, you're on your own the next time out. Relax, have fun, and don't try to set a track record. Instead, concentrate on being smooth and consistent. Driving on a racetrack is a lot more physically and mentally demanding than you think. This was Dave Rivera's first time on a track with his newly purchased '94 Viper. He was a little wary of his car's reputation for being prone to sudden oversteer but had no problems (and a lot of fun) through the first two sessions of the day until a melted power steering fitting ended his day.Once the lead-and-follow session is over, you're on your own the next time out. Relax, hav Some of the run groups will only allow passing on certain sections of the course-usually on a couple of the straights. The driver of the slower car is supposed to give a point by, pointing out the window to which side he wants the faster cars to pass him on. Notice the driver of the Miata is pointing the Porsche by on his left.Some of the run groups will only allow passing on certain sections of the course-usually o Instructors will be there throughout the day to help with any problems. Take advantage of their knowledge and willingness to help. They will often ride with you or drive you around the track, showing how to improve your technique. Here, Allan Crocket takes us for a hot lap in his girlfriend's Mustang.Instructors will be there throughout the day to help with any problems. Take advantage of Cars are machines that do break down periodically. If something lets go on the track, get to the pits as soon as possible, staying off the driving line along the way. Mike Acuna's '95 Taurus SHO just had a minor power steering reservoir puking episode. He was back on the track after a quick cleanup. If you have a big leak, get off the track and wait for the tow truck to get you.Cars are machines that do break down periodically. If something lets go on the track, get When your session is over, the track official will wave the checkered flag. Take one more lap at slower speeds. This allows the brakes and fluids to cool down before pulling into the pits and turning off your car.When your session is over, the track official will wave the checkered flag. Take one more If the prospects of track driving are a little too daunting, or if the price is a little too steep, give autocrossing a try. It's cheaper, the speeds are lower, so there is less wear on your car, and cars run the course one at a time, so you don't have faster cars scrambling to pass you. Plus, the risk of crashing your car is virtually nonexistent. Autocross courses are usually set up in open areas with very few things to hit. However, the skills needed to successfully pilot the course are just as demanding as track driving-early and late apex corners, trail braking, and car control all apply on the autocross course. SCCA and NASA hold autocross events at venues nationwide.If the prospects of track driving are a little too daunting, or if the price is a little t 1 | 2 | 3 | » | View Full Article By Jeff Smith, John McGann Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!