Getting on Track for the First Time
Lots of folks ask us, “how do I begin driving on a race track”. The process is not complex, and we can help you get there. To begin, an individual only needs 2 things: a road worthy car (a stock car on street tires is perfectly fine), and a Snell certified automobile helmet (motorcycle helmets are usually not accepted by racing organizations). Given these items and the will to give it a go, the next step is to select an event. Pit Row Sports maintains a list of events we intend to participate in on this site, on our facebook page, and on our iOS mobile App. Additionally, events can be found on clubregistration.net, motorsportreg.com, nasaproracing.com, and a number of other racing organization’s websites. Select an event, at a track you’d like to drive, called a DE or HPDE event. DE stands for Driver’s Education, and HPDE is High Performance Driving Event. These types of events are the only track events well suited to beginners. Sign up, pay the fee (usually around $350) and you are officially in. NOTE: Most of these events have no or limited refund policies so be sure you will attend before signing up.
Preparing for Your Event
A few items need to be managed before your event. Many clubs require a track inspection to be performed by a qualified auto mechanic. Print out the event forms, and take the pre-race tech form to your service provider and have your car inspected (from $0 – $100), and the form completed by your service provider. Also, the event will require that your car is empty and free of lose items in the cockpit – this includes floor mats, vehicle books and literature, and any items in glove boxes, trunks, and small storage consoles.
Before leaving for your event, be sure to bring the essentials and required event items. Bring your completed event forms and inspections, the correct clothing (if not specified, jeans and a long sleeve cotton shirt will be fine), and some cash to cover food gas and other miscellaneous items.
What to Expect at the Event
Most events have an official registration period and subsequent vehicle technical inspection. Be on time, courteous, and pay attention to their process and procedures. At this time, you will be introduced to your instructor (he/she will be in the car with you throughout your entire track adventure), and receive the event schedule, passes, wristbands, etc. Be sure to get a good night sleep and report promptly to all drivers meetings and instruction sessions. From here, the instructors will take over and help teach you the fine points of track driving.
Finally, there are a few points to remember. First, no one is Mario Andretti the first time on track, so pay attention to your instructor and be sure to spend a little time watching the more experienced drivers. Take time to talk to the folks at the track. They may seem busy, but track folks are usually happy to share their experiences, car set-ups, and a ton of stories.