First Day at the Track
High Performance Driving Event (HPDE) – Introduction
Going onto a race track for the first time can be intimidating, but there are steps you can take to make the most of your experience:
Get Yourself Ready
Learn the NASA line until you can demonstrate it’s faster using another line. It will take time and practice to drive faster on another line. To learn the line, download and study the track map for your event. Next, search YouTube by track name for in-car camera views. Look for cars similar to your own, driven by experienced drivers. Skip motorcycles; they don’t follow the same line as cars. Use the map and videos together to get familiar with the circuit. Get used to wearing a helmet in your car.
Get Your Car Ready
Prepare your car for Inspection by checking all of the following:
- General: There should be no exposed wires. The car should have a good gas cap that seals.
- Wheels and tires: No cracks, dents, or damage to the edges (mounting surface). Tire tread should be above the wear bars. No cords or belts showing. No tires repaired with plugs. Hubcaps or “beauty rings” must be removed.
- Steering and suspension: Test play in wheel bearings by grabbing the tire with both hands and trying to move the wheel side to side. There should not be any play or sound. There should no excess play in the steering: movement of the steering wheel should directly affect direction of the front wheels, without hesitation.
- Engine: No fluid leaks. Battery fully secured by two bolts. Battery terminals covered, to prevent arcs/sparks (fire) in an accident.
- Brakes: The brakes pedal should be firm, continually. Check brake lines to ensure there are no cracks or leaks. Check brake fluid level and clarity. Brake pads must have greater minimal thickness than safe or necessary for street driving. Test brake lights.
- Safety gear: A properly fitting helmet is required. It should be snug, but comfortable. A little too snug is better than a little too loose. On the track you’ll forget about it being too snug anyway. Minimum rating is SNELL 1990 (SA1990 or M1990). Newer helmets with SA ratings are strongly recommended.
Eye protection is required: face shield, goggles, or safety glasses, etc. The seats should be bolted in tightly. Seat belts must be in excellent condition (factory seat belts are okay). Cars without fixed roofs must have a roll bar.
Wear natural fiber clothing. Synthetic/man-made fibers are flammable unless specifically marketed as non-flammable. Wear snugly fitting, closed toe shoes. Most drivers like thin soles for pedal feel. Generally, the more safety equipment you use, the better.