With the 2017 Formula One season now in full swing, has the thrilling action from the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel got you inspired to get behind the wheel on a race circuit yourself?
Fortunately for you, the UK is a haven for track day experiences — just take a look at this handy calendar from Track Days for events taking place on renowned circuits such as Silverstone, Donington Park and Brands Hatch.
Found a track day experience that’s perfect for you? That’s great, but it’s important to makes your car is ready to hit the track and if you are prepared to put pedal to the metal.
Help is at hand to ensure you have considered everything, in the form of this guide from specialist car radiator supplier Advanced Radiators:
Considerations for the car
Checking that your car is ready for a track day means giving it your own service.
To begin with, have a look at your tyres and ensure the pressure matches the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Tyre pressures can be a cause for debate when it comes to track days — run them too low and damage can be caused to the sidewalls (due to them flexing when putting them through sustained cornering), while too high a pressure runs the risk of increased wear. Bear these points in mind when deviating away from the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
Obviously ensure your tyres are in good condition too. The tread depth should be considerably above the legal limit of 1.6mm across 75 per cent of the Tyre to enhance grip; there shouldn’t be any dents or damage to the mounting surface, and no cords or belts should be visible.
Once you’re happy with the car’s tyres, pop open the bonnet and check that all fluids are topped-up to their maximum marks. Cornering force on a track can result in fluids building up on one side of the vehicle’s reservoir, causing the potential of fluid starvation.
Next, go inside your car and carry out a few checks of the safety equipment in the cabin. Seatbelts must be in good condition with no tears or issues with them clipping into their holds, while you need to ensure there are no loose objects that could fly around and cause damage or injury once you’re at high speed.
The best way to avoid loose objects causing problems is to take as much as possible out of the car while it’s on the track. Removing the spare wheel, jack, luggage and any rubbish from your car has the added benefit of making your car lighter too — you’ll be surprised how much this takes off your lap times.
On the topic of shedding weight, ensure your car has just enough fuel to get through the day instead of filling the tank all the way to the top – and causing the vehicle to be unnecessarily heavy. Higher octane fuel is advised, as they tend to aid performance significantly more than the standard alternatives.
Considerations for the driver
Don’t spend all your time preparing for a track day by only inspecting your car — getting yourself ready for the experience is also highly important.
You will want to look at your wardrobe, for one, as fire-retardant clothing made using natural fibers are recommended to ensure the highest level of protection. In fact, many circuits have policies in place that state that arms and legs must be covered while you’re on track.
Take the time to consider your choice of shoes too. Closed toe footwear is the minimum requirement at most tracks, though you should also be sure to opt for a shoe, boot or trainer with thin soles and no overhang so that they achieve good pedal feel lap after lap.
Have you checked that your car insurance policy covers you for the track day experience too? Most don’t as standard but usually you can just add this on the day of the event for a small premium by contacting your provider. If this isn’t an option for you, seek out specific track day cover so that your no claims discount isn’t affected in the unfortunate event that you need to make a claim from your day out.