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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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.
Anything beyond that is a nice to have, be it gloves, a fire safe suit, shoes, fire safe undergarment, etc.
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!
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:
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
Whilst not a mandated requirement by CAMS for speed events, again some event organisers scrutineers may choose to demand some items as mandatory:
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.
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.
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.