Friday Five: Our top modifications for a track day
Want to take your sportscar to a racetrack? Of course you do, but first you’ll need to make some changes…
TRACK DRIVING is hard on cars so you need to prepare with at least these five;
- Driver training – the number one investment is learning how to handle your car on track; the lines, the seating position, the controls, the techniques. Not only is it a lot of fun, but there’s no doubt you’ll learn a lot and that’s good for your safety, your car’s wear and tear, and the safety of everyone else. Compared to the potential cost of a track day without instruction the difference is well worth paying.
- Brake pads – the very first mechanical change has to be brake pads. You don’t want race-spec pads which work only when hot and not when cold, but you do want track/street pads which can handle the much higher temperatures. They will be more expensive, and perhaps generate a bit more brake dust, and maybe squeal a little… but once you get a bit more confidence you’ll kill the brakes on pretty much any sportscar except for Porsches and Lotuses.
- Brake discs, fluid and lines – yes, more brake related gear. High performance discs (not drilled, that’s just asking for trouble), brake fluid that’s either DOT 4 high performance or DOT 5.1 so it has a higher boiling point, and braided brake lines that handle the additional pressure and heat.
- Tyres – stock tyres are cheap and fun, but aren’t designed for trackwork. You don’t need semi-slicks, but you do need something track-worthy. Many owners have a second set of wheels and swap to the track rubber on the day of the event, as not only are track tyres expensive but they wear quickly.
- Oils and service – if you do regular trackwork, your car needs to be looked after by a specialist shop. You know you’re at the right place when there’s lots of cars with blue triangle stickers showing where the battery is mounted. They will recommend using heavier oils and a whole host of other minor changes, so take that advice, and ensure the car is generally operating at its best before your event.
There’s a whole lot more to cover, and you’ll need basic safety gear like a fire extinguisher for most events, as well as a motorsports-approved helmet.
But if there’s one lesson that’s been learned many a time, it’s driver training and brakes first, then turbos, superchargers, E85, wings and the rest much later on.