Lots of us have likely heard others talking about track days and how much fun they are, but how many of us actually know how diverse an offering they are? Far from being jus a place where a handful of enthusiasts race vehicles around tracks, these events are often much bigger and well attended than you imagine. In today’s article, we’re looking at all things “track day.”
What is a Track Day?
Put simply, a track day is an organized automotive sporting event to which amateur drivers are invited to use established professional racing circuits. In the past, it wasn’t always established circuits that were used, but other large open spaces with asphalt track surfaces, like abandoned airfields. This is now very rare, though.
Although attendees and their vehicles come to these racetrack locations, what actually happens is far from what usually happens at these venues. Racing as we understand is invariably forbidden at these events. So, what do the attendees actually do, then?
Ultimately, what goes down at the track event depends entirely on what kind of car club, organizing group or other platform you seek your experiences. Some events are large, multi-day events spanning the entire weekend. Others are just a morning and early afternoon at a small track.
Broadly speaking, however, the attendees are divided into groups and given time to use the track for speed testing, and solo driving around the circuit. Beginner drivers might go with a qualified instructor.
Around the track even you’ll find vendors, instructors offering guidance and more, all of which help to make it a more comprehensive experience.
How are Drivers Grouped?
Drivers are arranged by order or experience and skill on the track. The designations of these groups varies, but the principle remains the same. It could be quite generic like novice to advanced, beginner to expert; it might be something a little more creative like color coding.
The unifying factor between all track events is that drivers are divided according to their track driving level.
Each group is allocated a time slot on the track, during which they can be sure that the circuit is occupied only by others of a similar speed and level to them.
This allows instructors to work effectively with beginners without worrying about some seasoned veteran cutting them up or otherwise giving a poor green-horn a shock.
Most people attending a track event bring their own vehicle. It might be their OEM car or another one they’ve modified or purchased specifically for use racing.
The more committed enthusiasts bring a change of tires with them so that their experience on the track can feel all the more authentic, alebeit more expensive. Either way, your tire budget will have to be bumped up if you're considering taking your daily driver out there.
Track Events Organizers
If you’re wondering how to find more information on your local track days, there are some organizations who bring together days all over the US and put them all in one place for easy reference.
Some others even offer up a great standard format that is used at all their promoted events, which can help attendees gain a more steady and consistent experience. This is especially useful when your goal is to genuinely boost your driving skills.
The Chin Format
The Chin Format is among the best-known organizers in the country and they have events happening all year round and in multiple states across the country.
Their ideal runs on a somewhat lower enrollment at each event with a smaller number of groups. This gives all groups taking part more track time. According to information on chintrackdays.com, a typical event allows for about 3.5 hours of total track time.
Chin organizes its drivers into four groups:
- Green – entry-level drivers who travel around the track with an instructor
- Yellow – entry-level solo, who have done enough to go solo but remain at the lower skill level. They are driving their way up to greater confidence
- Blue – intermediate solo drivers who have likely been to several events and earned the trust and right to drive solo at Chin events
- Red – advanced solo drivers who have garnered years of experience and thousands of laps.
The typical Green driver is there for the first time or among their first few times. The Red driving group, on the other hand, has drivers who have completed some 50 or more track days (and that’s usually at the low end).
The different groups take their time on the track, and then rotate every 30 minutes or so. This helps to ensure that no one is sat around doing nothing for hours at a time, which can indeed make the events tedious.
Attending a track event typically isn’t free. The event organizers have costs to cover, too. It’s not free to have anyone on a track site using the high-grade facilities.
There’s usually a standard entry fee for those going on the track. On average, people should be prepared to spend in the multiple hundreds of dollars to get onto a track.
Chin events, for example, are $599 for the track registration, with an additional $175 for a second driver, and $150 if you need a coach. These are typical rates you can expect to pay.
What are the Benefits of Track Days?
It may surprise some readers to learn that open track events are not always attended by gearheads who are in need of a speed fix.
It’s true that many tracks open their doors to allow drivers the experience of driving a vehicle at speeds public roads don’t allow, but that’s not the biggest attraction for those coming to attend. There are greater benefits:
1. Professional Instruction
On site are professional instructors offering service to new drivers. This means that you can learn from the best, and get fantastic information that can increase your knowledge of regular street driving and track driving. These pros know it all.
2. Safer Youth Driving
It may seem counterintuitive that time on the professional racetrack can help teen drivers improve their safe-driving credentials, but it’s true. Track day instruction is by no means a guide on how to be reckless on the road.
Far from it, the experience is actually one in which young drivers gain the ability to better control their vehicle and understand its capabilities.
3. Advanced Driving Skills
Anyone, young or old, can benefit from better driving skills. Fewer people would suffer and fewer roads would get clogged with needless jams if people would learn to drive properly and use their vehicles properly.
A trip to the professional asphalt is a source of fantastic driving instruction, from which just about anyone with a license can participate.
Upcoming Events in 2021
Events are happening all over the country every month of the year. Those who are just getting into the idea of a track event would benefit greatly from attendance at a Chin Track Days event (https://chintrackdays.com/).
Their high standards and nationwide locations offer the best opportunity to get your foot in the door. Alternatively, you could log into motorsportreg.com and see what’s going on in the world of smaller racing events.
Whether you want to see cars go fast, experience the thrill of a race track, build up your own on-track experience, boost your driving skills or help your teenage son or daughter get crucial driving experience, a track day is a terrific and productive day out for the family. There’s a lot more to them than meets the eye.