Random stuff that might help in your track journey…
Get Faster, Faster
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Write stuff down
Keep a journal of your track time. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I use a 5.5 x 8.5 sketchbook with blank, non-lined pages. In it I start the day writing in the date and track. Then I’ll log my starting tire pressures and ambient temperature. After the session I log the Session number and time, tire pressures, general impressions (i.e. felt great, track was slippery, I sucked, etc.), and specific notes (i.e. missing apex on T3). If I adjust pressures I’ll note how much pressure I added/removed from each tire. I’ll then note the next session number, start time, and if I made any adjustments to sway bar or such I’ll note that. Then when I come off track, I make notes for that session.
At the end of the day, I make notes that will help next time I come to this track. The tire brand/size (these might change and if you don’t note this, you’ll forget), tire pressures I should start with, setup, track notes (ie. for T1 brake at the 3), and anything else I think would be helpful for the next time. Doing this will help you skip experimenting the next time. You’ll be starting out faster and waste less time dialing in the car.
If you want you can transfer the important bits to a phone app. You can then quickly reference that next time you come to the track. But still, keep notes that day too.
Street vs Track and your mods
Mechanical changes in the car that make you faster on the track often make you less comfortable on the street. Stiff suspension is great for the track, not so much for the street. Race brakes are game-changing on track but squeal like crazy on the street. Grippy tires will but a smile on your face while on the track but add noise on the street.
You’ll have to decide the balance you want. Everyone is different. Some will have a ball with a totally stock car on track. Others put the focus on their track life. Don’t let anyone push you in one direction or the other. Time will tell where your balance point is.
If you want to make your life easier, keep track of how long your consumables last. I track Tires, fluids, brake pads, rotors, alignments, and a few other things. Over time you’ll learn what your ‘change interval’ is in miles or hours, however you want to track it. I can glance at my spreadsheet and know exactly when I should start thinking about replacing something. How you do it be it paper, spreadsheet, sticky notes, is up to you. In my case, I have a fancy Google Spreadsheet that keeps track of everything for me. I just have to enter a date, the track, odometer reading, average lap time, and fastest lap time. When I change out a consumable, I log that as well. Then my spreadsheet shows me the details I can use to know when to start thinking about that consumable.
Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
If you have access to instructors, use them! You don’t know, what you don’t know. I see too many students want to quickly move up the HPDE ladder so they can drive by themselves. Personally, I stayed in the lower run groups until they finally kicked me out. I got a lot of different instructors and their viewpoints. That was very valuable in my education.
Looking back at your track journey is fun. Take pictures. At the track, while working on your car, of the good and the bad, people you meet, whatever you want. It’s all part of your journey and you’ll enjoy looking at them down the road.