trackprep

Quick Start Guide to Track Days in Australia



Over the years, I've learnt many of the strengths and weaknesses of Mazda's "worlds best selling" sportscar in the best way I know, at the race track. Here is my guide to getting started with even the most basic of track days in Australia. It really is quite easy!

Note: While this guide is mostly applicable to those located in Australia, it should also serve as a good basis for any track day, for any car, anywhere in the world.

1

Prerequisites before you start!

Before you can start attending Track days, lets start with the basics. Firstly you're going to need to get your 'paperwork' in order to even be able to enter any events.

CAMS Speed Licence (Formerly L2S)

The 'Speed' is the basic club level motor sport licence and entitles the holder to compete in Non-Speed (L2NS) events plus regularity trials up to National Championship level, single and multi-car speed events (not racing) up to International level, drifting events and touring road events that do not run over closed road sections.
These are the most popular licences among the CAMS member base and are used widely at grassroots club events.
Online registration takes about 20minutes and phyiscal licence will be sent in the mail in 1-2 weeks. Cost approx $120 per year. Register for a CAMS licence here: https://www.cams.com.au/members/registration

Car Club Membership

You'll need to join a CAMS offiliated car club, of which there are over 500 to choose from. However, it will depend on what car you have and what you want to do with your car. My suggestion is to use your brain, choose a club that suits your particular car or the type of events you want to do, or the one your friends are already a member of.
CAMS have a list of affiliated clubs available on their website: HERE
I personally am a member of the MX-5 Club of Victoria (and Tasmania), see HERE

Car compliance

Aside from the obvious, of ensuring that your car is working and in a state suitable for the trials and tribulations of the track, there are a few items required for your car to comply with on track requirements.

  • A 1kg Fire extinguisher (meeting AS1841, minimum 900g to be precise) bolted to your car (screws are no good, brackets must be bolted in... and no plastic brackets) The Extinguisher must be securely mounted within reach of the driver. And, it must be no more than three years old.
  • Depending on how stringent the track event scrutineers are, they may demand a secondary restraint for the bonnet.This can be a simple strap through the latch hook and tied to the chassis rails, allowing limited bonnet travel. Elastic type cords are insufficient, use steel wire. Bonnet pins or other permanent modifications are not explicity required but are acceptable.
  • And a 150mm blue triangle (sticker) to mark the battery location of the vehicle

Lastly, a reminder on the more boring parts of your car to check, firstly make sure it’s in good running order, check the tyres have tread and they are up to pressure. Ensure brake pads have meat left. And check your fluid levels, better yet, replace them all with fresh quality stuff!

Personal Safety Equipment

Obviously, you cannot drive on track in your sandals and a singlet, and certianly not without a helmet. Personal safety equipment is all the gear you need to wear on your person to keep yourself safe in the unfortunate event of a bad situation.

  • Non-flammable neck-to-wrist-to-ankle clothing (no flammable synthetics, wool or cotton is fine).
  • Non-flammable, close-fitting footwear (normal runners are fine, thin-soled shoes are ideal).
  • The only other item you must have is a helmet meeting AS1698 (or equivalent).

Anything beyond that is a nice to have, be it gloves, a fire safe suit, shoes, fire safe undergarment, etc.

1

Time to find a Track Day!

Perfect, you've got your licences, your car is all prepped, and your safety gear is packed ready to go. But where do you go? Well you need to find a Track day event and get your entry in!

Finding an event

Once you have your paperwork in order, your car prepared, and you've scrubbed up your skills on Gran Turismo, it's time to enter an event.
Many clubs run track days that are open to public entry, generally you need to sign up approx 1 month prior to the event depending on its popularity. Finding events is a bit like finding a car club, choose the event with the clubs that you like, or that your friends are going to.

I try to keep an up to date compilation of Melbourne/Victoria Multi-Club Track Days: HERE
Some clubs I like to keep an eye on for Multi Club public track days are:

Cams have a great calendar of events, for basic sprint events you will want to filter for 'Club' or 'Multi-Club' competitions: HERE
Some clubs I like to keep an eye on for Multi Club public track days are:

  • Tampered Motorsport
  • WRX CLUB
  • Alfa Romeo Owners Club
  • Vic Time Attack
  • Maserati Club
  • MSCA
  • Circuit Club
  • PIARC
  • Ford Fours
  • Track For Days
  • Porsche Club Victoria
  • EXE Club
  • Vivid Motorsports
  • Skylines Australia

Entering your chosen event

Now that you've found a club, and an event to which you'd like to enter, you need to complete their entry forms and submit your payment.

Every car club will do this differently, most clubs offer a form which must be printed out, completed, scanned, and emailed back to the event organiser. Some clubs are a bit more modern, and have a web based entry system, but not all.

Similarly, most clubs accept credit card as entry payment, some will allow you to pay via other means such as direct deposit or paypal. Depending on the event and the organiser, you often CANNOT enter on the day, at the track. This is not a hard and fast rule, but the general suggestion is to get your entry in early if you can.

Costs vary by track and organiser, more prestigious and well kept tracks usually carry a higher price, such as Phillip Island. Similarly the more prestigious car clubs will charge a higher entry fee also. Generally expect the entry fee to be somewhere between $200 to $300. (Also keep in mind additional costs such as fuel, tyres, brake pads, food, drink and accomodation.)

1

On the Day!

So you've entered an event, paid your $200-300 odd costs in entry, and arrived at the track at the crack of dawn ready to drive... but there are a few things you need to consider before you can start pumping out laptimes.

Signing On

Firstly, you'll need to sign on with the hosting club for the event. This involves presenting your licence and club membership and collecting any paperwork or signing any forms in the designated sign in area. Exactly where sign on takes place varies by track and event organiser but it's usually in a main office or somewhere fairly obvious. This is usually the very first thing you do before moving on to getting your car ready.

Car Preperation & Scrutineering

Next, you'll need to clean your car up ready for the track. You might think, "err, clean my car?". I don't mean taking a mob and bucket to it, I mean it must be devoid of all loose or unnecessary items, essentially get the car into 'track' spec. That means absolutely nothing in the glove box, no spare wheel in the boot, etc. Remove it all.

From there, your car will need to be scrutineered to verify it is safe for track use. An official will check your car over and sign it off. In a similar way to driver sign on, the scrutineer location may vary by track and event organiser, but it's usually somewhere fairly obvious. If you don't know, ask!

Driver Breifing

Usually before any track action, the organisers will run a 'Driver Breifing' where they run through the rules, flags, and general operation of the day. This is important to understand how you need to act/function on the day, so pay attention. They will also often explain who is in charge for the day, how the sessions will be run, where flag marshals will be on track. All information which you should know before you start driving your car at speed.

On track - finally!

Lastly, wait for your group/session to be called for the track. Most event organisers bunch cars up into a group by 'group number' or a 'group colour'. These are 10-20 cars of similar pace that will be on track at the same time. In most cases you'll be called over the announcement public address system to arrive at a pre-grid area with your helmet on ready to drive. This is the time when you should be in the car, helmet strapped up and ready to drive. From there, once the track is clear, your group will be sent out and you'll be free to do your thing on track.

At the conclusion of your session you'll usually get a chquererd flag, at which point you should bring your car into the pits and park up. Now is a good time to check your cars tyres and take a quick rest. Once things have cooled a little it's good to monitor your oil level and review how you were driving... don't forget to chat with your mates, and compare times!

Congratulations, you did it!

What can I say, other than I hope it was everying you expected! The best part is when, at the end of the day, you get to pack everything up and drive home with your car in one piece and all your limbs still attached. And maybe with a new personal best laptime too!

1

Additional words of wisdom

You have all the information you need to get yourself into the hot seat and enjoy a track day, but here are a few final items that may help make your track day experience a little more satisfying, or slightly more confortable.

Additional safety equipment

Whilst not a mandated requirement by CAMS for speed events, again some event organisers scrutineers may choose to demand some items as mandatory:

  • roll bars for open/softtop cars (take care, some organisers may REQUIRE a rollbar)
  • safety harnesses beyond a standard seat belt
  • metal valve caps on the wheels

While these items are certainly suggested safety modifications, they aren't explicitly required by CAMS requirements. Nonetheless, your access to the track is at the mercy of the scrutineer, and they may choose to deny your vehicle for track use at their discression. It is suggested to contact the event organiser for further clarification in you are unsure.

Some "less common" things to bring with you

And, just a couple of other tips/ideas on items to bring along with you to the track to make your experience a little bit more satisfying and comfortable.

  • GoPro or similar camera to capture your excitement on the day
  • A few jerry cans to for extra fuel, particularly if your car is rather thirsty.
  • Food to keep you nourished, and plenty of drinks to keep you hydrated.
  • Generaly personal care such as sunscreen on the sunny days, or some spare clothes on days where you get a little dirty.

Finally, always best to head to the track with the intention of going home safe. Avoid the mindset of attending a track and planning on 'winning'. The right attitude will keep you and your car in one piece.

1

8 different MX-5's

29+ PSI of Boost

100+ Track Events

?? Lap Records