When Top Gear was still great, we used to love watching the trio whizz around the tracks in fast cars. In fact, watching them probably encouraged quite a few boy and girl racers to have a go themselves on the track. There, you can put the pedal to the medal and break free from the clutches of road laws. Now, you’re Mad Max, road warrior. Off the road and on the track, ready to inflict some real damage. Or, can you? You might have thought that driving a car on a track means the ultimate form of racing freedom. Well, it’s time to come back down to earth. Here are some facts they left out all the episode of Top Gear.
You’ll Wear Out Your Tyres…Fast
Driving hard on the road or track will wear your tyres down quickly. On a track day, you can expect to scrub out a set of tyres in far less time than you would on the road. How much you wear your tyres will still depend on your driving style and the car, but pretty much any vehicle will munch through tyres at an alarming rate. There isn’t really any respite for fans of Front Wheel Drive or Rear Wheel Drive, both set ups will put strain on front and rear tyres whilst scrabbling for grip and acceleration and during cornering.
Setting up your car for the track day can also increase tyre wear. That extra camber or toe-in you’ve dialled in to achieve faster lap times is also going to help wear your tyres faster and more unevenly than normal.
If you intend to drift your car, you’re going to need a stack of spare tyres, especially if you intend driving home from the track!
You Will Damage Your Car (Probably)
Whether you’re racing other drivers or racing against your own track time, if you’re pushing it to the limit then there’s a good chance you’ll damage your car. Track days are strictly non-contact, but accidents can happen. Thankfully, tracks are a relatively safe place to practice your skills thanks to the large run off areas, specially designed barriers and lack of road furniture such as bus stops and kerb stones, but even so, nicks and scrapes can be expected. A run off into the gravel might leave your car aesthetically unscathed, but it’s easy to tear out suspension and chassis components when you’ve misjudged the apex and gone careening across the grass… Flying debris from other cars can also be a problem, so it’s worthwhile not being too precious about your paintwork on a track day…
You’ll Need Special Track Day Insurance
Never presume that your standard insurance cover will provide adequate back up on a track day. Insurers don’t take kindly you booting your car around a closed circuit on a Saturday afternoon, so you’ll need proper insurance cover for your track car, whether it’s your daily driver or a purpose built weekend toy.
You may be surprised what you’re up against…
Your £1500 track day machine might seem like a rocket ship when it’s at the build stage, but you may be surprised by what you find at the track. Aside from the usual cohort of BMW E36 / Citroen Saxo VTR / Renault Clio Sports, track days are also used by more well heeled drivers to try their skills. Porsches, Lamborghinis and high end sports cars will be in abundance, as well as the odd track-only car such as the Caparo T1 which famously caught fire whilst being tested by Jason Plato. Fingers crossed it won’t be YOUR car that goes up in smoke!