Track Days are organised events for people to drive round established motor racing circuits. “Driving round” is not the same as racing, this an opportunity to experience your car with less of the restrictions of the public highway. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules, to make sure everyone has a good safe experience, there are plenty of those which I’ll come to later.
So, what should the beginner do to prepare for their first track day? It's a good idea to choose a track that will suit the novice track driver. If you are going to drive to the track, it’s probably a good idea to choose a track which is near to where you live. Track driving can be intense and tiring and you won’t want a long drive home at the end of the day.
There are two sorts of track day “open pit-lane” and “sessions” Open pit-lane means you park in the pit lane and go out whenever you like. This means you’ll be driving around with all sorts of cars from hot hatches to Caterhams and a lot of them could be overtaking you (not racing!) which may not be the experience you are looking for. “Sessions” are usually more appealing to the beginner because the organisers will put you into a group with drivers that have similar experience and lap times. Some tracks have “novice only” and/or “road only” for road cars rather than race cars.
Beginners often favour circuits with lots of “run off” (asphalt or gravel) surrounding a corner, so check this before making your final decision.
What about booking a session with an instructor? Many tracks have ARDS (Association of Race Driving Schools) qualified instructors available to hire for tuition sessions. This can help you make the transition from public highway to track driving safely without acquiring any bad habits.
You’ve booked your day, what about your car? It needs to be in decent condition with the correct fluid levels and plenty of tyre tread. Make sure there aren’t any loose objects inside the car. Some tracks have strict noise level restrictions so check what is appropriate for the day you have chosen. If your car exceeds the noise level and you are unable to correct it on the day, you will not be allowed on the track.
You need to wear a crash helmet (these can be hired on the day), clothing that covers your arms and legs plus thin soled shoes.
Check that you and anyone else who is going to drive the car has track day cover either at your usual insurer or a special track day cover insurer.
On the day, everyone has to attend a briefing session to make sure they understand the rules. These include which side, when and where you can overtake and how to react to other drivers who want to overtake you, the rules about stopping on the track if there is an incident with your car plus the track day flag signals:
Anyone breaking the rules can be banned from the event as organisers want to make sure everyone has an enjoyable but safe driving experience.