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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
BUMP for 2014!

I think it would be fun to get a group together for a track day. I need to get back onto a road course and know there are others in the NorCal area that would like to track their cars as well. Since there are some options for tracks, dates, etc. I figured we should start a discussion.

For those that have never done one, track days are generally run by a track day group (Hooked on Driving, TrackMasters, etc.) or clubs (NASA, SCCA, PCoA, etc.). These groups rent the track and then charge a fee for each participant ($250-350 depending on the group, track, number of sessions, instruction, etc.). Events are typically broken into 30 minute sessions and divided between groups/classes based on experience (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, etc.). Generally you can expect to get 2-2.5 hours of track time over the course of the day.

The only requirements for participation is a SA 2005 or newer helmet and a well maintained car. Prior to the event you should perform a thorough tech inspection (check tires, brake pads/fluids, etc.) but no other modifications are required (unless you're driving a convertible).

There are three major tracks in NorCal: Thunderhill, Sonoma (Sears Point), and Laguna Seca.

Spots for track days at some tracks fill-up quickly, so it is best to plan ahead. Also, track days are rain-or-shine (and almost never give refunds if it rains), so the time of the year might be important for some. Most groups/tracks are available weekends, but others are often mid-week. Track days generally run from 8am-5pm and can be physically and mentally demanding, depending on the track I would recommend looking into a hotel for the night before/after (a 2.5hr drive to Thunderhill trying to make an 8am drivers meeting can make for a very long day).

So, questions for everyone... who's interested in doing a track day event? Which tracks are people interested in? When (season, day of week, etc.) would people like to have the track day? Is there any desire for a two-day event? What on-track experience do people have? Any comments/concerns about doing a track day?

-Todd...
 

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Don't Claim Power If UCANTMPH
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Interested. It would have to be a weekend event.
 

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Building something nasty...
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I'm in. Just tell me when and where now that I make my own schedule. I would like to do Laguna Seca but I don't think I could pass the DB requirement:bomb:

Sonoma would be my second choice at is much closer than thunder, although I realize it is very advanced. I've run it a million times on Forza so I'm good to go:)
 

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Don't Claim Power If UCANTMPH
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Abracadabra Holmes
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I'm in. Just tell me when and where now that I make my own schedule. I would like to do Laguna Seca but I don't think I could pass the DB requirement:bomb:

Sonoma would be my second choice at is much closer than thunder, although I realize it is very advanced. I've run it a million times on Forza so I'm good to go:)
:lol:
You must have a newer version of forza then me, I don't have Infineon on mine.... I do have Laguna seca though and that track I'm a master at. :)
 

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DE3/High Intermediate group ...done a few advanced days but ehh, not there yet.

Down for any track.
Prefer 2 day weekend events.
Track is crack.

As long as Ferdz are allowed to hang with the cool kids. :)

 

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Look for the HPDE days offered by NASA out at Sears Point. I know they do a few of them each year and last one I went to was a 2 day event on the first weekend in May a few years back. I had 4 sessions per day and each was 20 minutes long. Wait for the 2013 schedule to fill up and contact the group putting on the event.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Interested. It would have to be a weekend event.
Have you ever driven on track before? Is there a track you would prefer?

I'm in. Just tell me when and where
Would you prefer a weekend or weekday event? Any interest in doing two consecutive days? What are your thoughts on rain... would a spring date (with a chance of rain) be better than a summer one (with hotter temperatures)?

I would like to do Laguna Seca but I don't think I could pass the DB requirement:bomb:
Very good point, Laguna Seca has a 92dB sound limit for many track days (there are a few 90dB days as well). Anyone running long tubes and/or no cats might have difficulties with the sound limits. There are ways to work around the limits (like lifting on the straight next to the sound shack), but it's something to be aware of. With my supercharger and shorties I was OK, but I've not run there with LTs yet.

Sonoma would be my second choice at is much closer than thunder, although I realize it is very advanced.
Sonoma and Laguna Seca are a bit more challenging than Thunderhill, mostly due do to the close proximity of the walls to the track. If things go wrong there's less room to recover. I've never driven at Thunderhill, but I've heard it's a great track for those starting out.


DE3/High Intermediate group ...done a few advanced days but ehh, not there yet.

Down for any track.
Prefer 2 day weekend events.
Track is crack.
Is there a group you prefer to run with?

As long as Ferdz are allowed to hang with the cool kids. :)
The best track car I've driven was a Ford!




Besides, it's highly unlikely that we'd get enough people at a various experience level to block-out an entire run group.

Look for the HPDE days offered by NASA out at Sears Point. I know they do a few of them each year and last one I went to was a 2 day event on the first weekend in May a few years back. I had 4 sessions per day and each was 20 minutes long. Wait for the 2013 schedule to fill up and contact the group putting on the event.
The schedules are starting to come together now... I've never run with NASA, but I hear they are a great group (especially if you want to move into racing). Do you know if they have instructors for beginner drivers?

-Todd...
 

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I'm down for weekdays. I prefer them over weekends, and I'm not worried about getting rained out. I don't need a two day event either. Just more likely to destroy a second set of brakes and tires...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I've attended several driving schools and done one track day with my G8 at Laguna Seca. I'm often eligible for "open passing" run groups, but would prefer to stick with the "point-by" ones while learning a new track. I'm a member of CFRA, so can sponsor guests at their events (previous track day experience required).

I would prefer a two-day weekend event at Sonoma or Thunderhill. With my latest round of upgrades I don't think I'll be under the 92dB limit at Laguna Seca (and no way under a 90dB limit). While I'm not against a Laguna event, I might need some exhaust mods prior.

-Todd...

PS - I added a list of potential track day events to the second post. I'll try to keep this up-to-date as we progress.
 

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Don't Claim Power If UCANTMPH
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I don't have any road race experience.
 

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NASA events have very good instruction and would be good for the first-timers. They're pretty anal, but for guys who don't want to go FlatOut(tm) and risk their cars, that's not a bad thing. The 4x20 minute sessions per day is not a lot of track time. But 8x20 over a weekend does feel like a lot, and making a weekend of it is a more enjoyable experience than a one-day quickie - that three-hour Saturday evening dinner can be epic. The main benefit of NASA is that redtopz06 and I get to hang with you guys ;)

If the consensus is for a one-day event then, umm, dunno. You want an organizer who is laid back and has got decent instruction. That's a rare combination. TEAM Racing would have been great, but Bonni recently shut it down :( Trackmasters will be OK. NCRC are great guys but don't normally have instruction. You can arrange instructors with NCRC for some extra $.

And I do think Thunderhill would be best. The runoff areas make it a lot safer than Sonoma or Laguna, and the track's relative simplicity means that you can concentrate more on your driving and being safe and having fun. Whereas Sonoma is such a damn chess game that 110% of your thought and concentration will be consumed by the intricacies of the track itself. I mean, if the objective is "go fast" then at Sonoma, the way to go fast is to learn Sonoma better, rather than to drive your car better. Laguna is a very simple track and would be a great one for relative newcomers; but it's less safe and has the 92dB thing and fewer track days.
 

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Big question I have is how can your car be insured for something like this ? you are WAY more likely to damage your car on a race track then you are doing the 1/4 mile.

FYI my rims came with some really nice track tires. Two are barely worn, the other two are pretty worn but still have some life. Unless there is a way to insure my car I will most likely be selling these tires. I have always wanted to race at Laguna Seca.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
NASA events have very good instruction and would be good for the first-timers. They're pretty anal, but for guys who don't want to go FlatOut(tm) and risk their cars, that's not a bad thing.
I'm getting in contact with the HPDE director, but if you know anything else about their events that would be great. Do you know if they things the same dates as the race weekend, or are they separate?

The 4x20 minute sessions per day is not a lot of track time. But 8x20 over a weekend does feel like a lot, and making a weekend of it is a more enjoyable experience than a one-day quickie - that three-hour Saturday evening dinner can be epic. The main benefit of NASA is that redtopz06 and I get to hang with you guys ;)
I agree with this 100%. The first day you'll spend much of your time learning the logistics of being on track... the second day you'll really start to have fun. Spending time at night talking shop with others is also a great experience.

If the consensus is for a one-day event then, umm, dunno. You want an organizer who is laid back and has got decent instruction. That's a rare combination.
My thought would be to choose a two-day event and those who want to only do a single day could just do the first day. Those wanting more can do both days.

I do think Thunderhill would be best. The runoff areas make it a lot safer than Sonoma or Laguna, and the track's relative simplicity means that you can concentrate more on your driving and being safe and having fun. Whereas Sonoma is such a damn chess game that 110% of your thought and concentration will be consumed by the intricacies of the track itself. I mean, if the objective is "go fast" then at Sonoma, the way to go fast is to learn Sonoma better, rather than to drive your car better. Laguna is a very simple track and would be a great one for relative newcomers; but it's less safe and has the 92dB thing and fewer track days.
Very good points.

Big question I have is how can your car be insured for something like this ? you are WAY more likely to damage your car on a race track then you are doing the 1/4 mile.
Several groups offer insurance for the beginning run groups for an extra cost. Generally the distinction for most insurance is "timed events". I've discussed my track activities with my insurance carrier (State Farm) and my policy covers "non-timed events". For them it's not about being on-track, rather it being "a race"... so for me, 1/4 mile isn't covered (since it's timed) but track days are (since they are not timed).

I will also say, as long as you're being smart/safe and driving within your limits, HPDEs on a road course is not an overly risky activity. I feel safer on track than I do driving on the freeway with soccer moms in SUVs texting away on their cell phones.

-Todd...
 

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I'm getting in contact with the HPDE director, but if you know anything else about their events that would be great. Do you know if they things the same dates as the race weekend, or are they separate?
Yes, HPDE runs at the same events as Time trial and racing. Not all NASA events have HPDE, but most do. Occasionally HPDE only runs for one day of the weekend. The July Laguna event is TT/race only, for example.

Here's the September 2012 event schedule: http://norcalinfo.nasamail.net/events2012/sept/septcombined.pdf - it's pretty typical.

Several groups offer insurance for the beginning run groups for an extra cost.
Googling for "HPDE insurance" lists a few providers. The locktonaffinity guys are best-known and seem to have a decent reputation.

I wouldn't bother personally, especially if it's Thunderhill - collisions are vanishingly rare in HPDE and the most likely cost item is a mechanical failure, rather than hitting something. There has been a significant amount of damage in (non-NASA) HPDE due to doing it in the rain at Sonoma - don't do that!
 

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Several groups offer insurance for the beginning run groups for an extra cost. Generally the distinction for most insurance is "timed events". I've discussed my track activities with my insurance carrier (State Farm) and my policy covers "non-timed events". For them it's not about being on-track, rather it being "a race"... so for me, 1/4 mile isn't covered (since it's timed) but track days are (since they are not timed).

I will also say, as long as you're being smart/safe and driving within your limits, HPDEs on a road course is not an overly risky activity. I feel safer on track than I do driving on the freeway with soccer moms in SUVs texting away on their cell phones.

-Todd...

Wow, no shit ? I need to find out if my Farmers policy covers non timed events. I have four tires sitting right here ready to roll. I would totally be down for a track day especially Laguna Seca. :turbonaug My car has a lot of good suspension mods done to it and I think it would be a lot of fun with good tires. Can you run regular street radials too ?
 

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Maybe not anymore it seems

the industry began to add a new exclusion to its policies in the late 1990s, with most companies adding it within the last few years. Instead of trying to define racing, policies exclude damage at any location that could accommodate racing, timed or not. That eliminated coverage during high-performance driving schools and track days.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Maybe not anymore it seems
I've heard various things from various sources... even within the same company. Best to double-check the specific terms of your policy. If your policy doesn't cover any track events, there is supplemental track day specific insurance available from various companies. If it's something that you're concerned about it's worth looking into.

When I took my driving schools I always opted for the insurance (~$100 more per day w/$5k deductible) just to have the piece of mind. I wanted to push the limits and didn't want to find myself needing to pay for a $75k race car.

Can you run regular street radials too ?
I would recommend that someone with limited experience stick to street tires. They are much more forgiving and predictable than r-comp or slick tires. Besides, the first few times the driver will be the limiting factor by far.

I would totally be down for a track day especially Laguna Seca. :turbonaug My car has a lot of good suspension mods done to it and I think it would be a lot of fun
Do you have any previous track experience? Would a weekday or weekend event work better for you? Any desire for a two day event? Would you prefer a spring date (with a greater chance for rain) or a summer event (with hotter temperatures)?

-Todd...
 
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