Your insurance policy will usually not cover your vehicle while on the track. You may wish to get additional coverage from a company like American Collectors Insurance in NJ that will give you coverage for track events.
Take your Ferrari out to one of the local tracks and experience it the way it was meant to be driven! One of the most common objections to tracking your Ferrari is no longer valid as transparent clear plastic body covers are now widely available to protect your finish from the nicks and paint chips associated with the track. When applied, they are nearly invisible to the eye. So take that garage queen out and see what it can do! You have no idea what your car is really capable of until you open it up on a road course and push it through it's paces around a world-class raceway at high speed.
We are very fortunate to have several very fine road courses right here in Las Vegas and a short drive just outside of town. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is just minutes north of the strip on Las Vegas Boulevard and can also be reached quickly from I-15. It has a counter-clockwise road course incorporating the high-bank tri-oval inside the stadium. There is also another track adjacent to the stadium with a recently expanded 2.3 mile clockwise road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It's a good combination of tight corners with two fast straights. About a half hour outside town is Spring Mountain Motor Sports Park, another world-class 2.2 mile road course in Pahrump, NV.
If you have never been on a road course before you might have a lot of questions your first time out, so here is probably more than you need to know about most track procedures and suggestions. Hopefully this is enough information to get you started, and then some.
Have your mechanic sign off the "Tech Form" provided by the event sponsor and make sure everything is also checked by you. Although a T-shirt and jeans may be all that's required, a long sleeved cotton shirt is better. Long pants are usually required of a natural fabric like cotton. Bring a cooler of bottled water to the track as there is usually nothing to drink out there. Because there is also typically no shade, a hat is a good idea and maybe a folding chair. Bring a tire pressure gauge. Fill up your tires at the gas station before leaving with about 5 or 6 pounds more pressure than normal. If you normally have 30 or 32 pounds on the street in each tire, before heading to the track put in 36-38 pounds. After the first track session they heat up to about 42-44 pounds in each tire. Every tire is different, so see below for more specific instructions.
Every event organizes run groups differently. Generally all first timers start in the novice group with an instructor in the passenger seat. You will graduate into a more advanced group based upon ability. If they put you into the novice group, it has no relation to your car, but to your experience level. Based upon how well you do in your first session your instructor may even move you up into a higher group for subsequent sessions.
Sometimes your instructor will ask you if he can drive your car around the track for the first lap or two with you riding shotgun. This is very valuable, so it is recommended that you allow him to do so, especially if you have never driven that track before. Pay very close attention to the exact path he takes around the course. The best thing you can do is to memorize the exact positioning of the car the instructor takes around the track. Try to memorize where he brakes before each turn, where he starts each turn, where he cuts the corner (apex of the turn), and where he ends up after each turn. Then he will pull into the pits to change places and watch while you drive. Try to match his "line" exactly. This is extremely important from his perspective. He is much more concerned with your ability to stay in the proper line, than he is with how fast you actually go. Even if the car ahead of you is all over the place, try to stay in the exact line your instructor showed you previously through every turn. Stay in his tiremarks exactly as if you were a slot-car through the entire course if you want to make the best impression.
Cones are sometimes set up on the course to help you learn the line. They are placed at the turn-in point where you start your turn, at the apex or center of the turn and at the exit-point where you should end up as you accelerate out of the turn. The cones are extremely helpful, but don't count on them always being there. If your instructor uses slightly different turn in points, apex points, and exit points, try to memorize and replicate exactly what your instructor does regardless of where the cones are.
Keep your hands at the 3 and 9 o'clock position at all times through the turn even if your arms cross over slightly. If the course is clockwise, most of the turns will be right-hand turns. When turning right: you usually want to aim straight for a point as close as you can get to the cone on the left-hand side of the roadway. You usually will want to start your turn-in from the farthest left side of the roadway - but not always. Brake hard before you get to the the turn-in point. When you reach the cone where you need to start turning, get off the brakes. Never brake while in a turn. Move your foot from the brake to the gas pedal, and turn the wheel smoothly to the right as you aim for the apex "center" of the turn on the right side of the roadway. Try to pass as close as possible to the apex cone. Then continue your turn aiming for the exit cone on the left side of the roadway by unwinding the wheel smoothly. You should be able to accelerate gradually all the way through the turn and pass within a few inches of each cone. Control your speed with the gas pedal and the steering wheel through the turn - never with your brake pedal. At first your goal should be to go into your turns slow and come out fast. Worry about your speed later. At first only the proper line matters.
On a clock-wise course there will also be a few left hand turns. The procedure is the same, but for some reason, turns in the opposite direction often give the most trouble to beginning drivers. As soon as you get through a turn, look all the way down the track at the next turn so you can try to remember the turn-in, apex, and exit points well in advance. Always look ahead of where you are. Look at where you want to go next, and you will end up there. That usually means that you have your head turned a lot to the right as you go around right-hand turns, and to the left on left-hand turns.
Make your turns smooth. If you start your turn in the right place, and cross the apex at the right place, and end up in the right place at the end of your turn, other things can go wrong and you will still be OK. As you gain confidence in your turns you will find that you will enter your turns faster by braking later before the turn. If you want to go faster still, concentrate on making everything you do smoother. Your car scrubs off less speed when you negotiate your turns smoother.
On a road course you are either accelerating as fast as you can out of a corner, or you are braking as hard as you can just before entering the next corner. Then you must remember to be smooth as you go through the corner. Unlike the street, remember to always brake before the corner - never while actually turning. Even if you find you are going too fast going into a corner, always get off the brakes and onto the gas pedal before turning the wheel.
Always observe the correct line around every corner. If you are in the correct line around the corner, you will have the best chance of making the corner even if you are going too fast. Use the gas pedal very gently around the corner - never touch the brakes. Touch the brakes in a corner, and you will most certainly go into a spin. The gas pedal can actually help you position the car around the corner. Resist the temptation to use the brakes even if you start to lose control. Using the gas pedal help position the car around the turn.
In the very unlikely event that you end up in the gravel, don't worry. That's about the worst thing that can happen to you on most tracks. Even road courses inside high bank oval tracks have runoffs. Don't try to drive back up onto the track from the gravel while at speed. Just straighten out your wheel and head straight out onto the gravel. When you've slowed down sufficiently and no traffic is coming, head back onto the track in a controlled manner.
In the very unlikely event that you go into a spin, don't worry. The rule is - put both feet in: step on the clutch and step on the brake at the same time and wait for the car to stop spinning. That way the car won't stall. It will stop spinning sooner, and you will be able to get out of the way of traffic sooner and head back onto the track in a controlled manner.
Try to make everything you do very smooth. Make your brake smooth also, but it is OK to "slam" on the brakes at the end of the straightaway if you wish, as long as you get off them again before you start to turn the wheel. If you stay in the proper line your instructor showed you, and drive smoothly, you won't go off the track or spin out. Memorize where your instructor started braking before every corner. Memorize the exact path your instructor took around every corner. Do everything he did, and do it smoothly. If you can follow in your instructor's line exactly around every corner on every lap regardless of how fast you go.
Memorize the most common flags:
Yellow - no passing - (usually no passing on first lap or 2) - If waved - exercise caution - problem ahead
Yellow & Red - exercise caution - no passing - Debris or oil on the track
Green - OK to pass in passing areas as specified
Black - pointed at you - pull into the pits - they need to talk to you - you may have done something wrong, or it could just be an urgent phone call
Black - waved at everyone - everyone pulls into the pits immediately - session is over
Red - check your rearview and pull over to the right and stop on the shoulder in front of the next flagman
Blue or Blue & Yellow - faster car(s) behind you - let them pass! - lift off the gas and point them by
Black with an Orange Circle - Your car is leaving debris or oil on the track - pull into pits or off the track
White - Emergency or other vehicle on the track - exercise caution - OK to pass where allowed
Checkered - Last lap - no passing - cool down - slow down and don't use your brakes - pull into pits
Point By - point your index finger out the window to the left - allow car behind you to pass on your left
Point By on the Right - point your index finger over the roof to the right - he will pass you on the right
Pit Signal - Hold clenched fist up in the air to indicate you are slowing down to enter the pits
Wave - If a flagman is waving or pointing a flag at you, wave to assure him you've seen it
Passing in most groups is only allowed in two or three places - usually on the longer straights. When approaching these straights, check your rearview mirror. If there is a car behind you, point him by, and lift off the gas to make sure he gets past you before the next turn. After passing you it is courteous for him to give you a thank you wave.
In most groups, you must not pass anyone if they neglect to give you a point-by. Just stay on his bumper until he decides to point you by, or until he gets a blue flag. If he still doesn't give you a point-by, the flag workers will see you on his bumper all the way around the track. If he continues to ignore blue flags, he will ultimately get black-flagged. Even if he pulls away from you on the straights, but you catch him on the corners, he must give you a point-by and slow up to let you pass him on the straight. He may have a faster car on the straights, but if you are a better driver in the corners - he still must intentionally slow down to let you pass.
If you are following a car, and he gives you a point-by, you can choose not to pass if you wish. You pass at your option.
It is courteous to wave at a corner worker that is holding a flag so he knows you've seen it. It is also a tradition to wave at the corner workers on the last checkered flag cool-down lap or to give them a thumbs-up as you pass by to thank them for their efforts. If they respond in kind, you know they appreciate your gesture.
When you get off the track, do not use your emergency brake. Your brakes are still hot and using the emergency brake will cause damage to your rotors. Put the car in gear and turn it off.
WHEELS & TIRES – The wheels should be round without any dents or damage to the mounting surface. The tires should be in good condition. The tread should be above the wear bars. No cords or belts should show. Flat tires repaired with plugs should not be used as these could fail under the high stress of track conditions. Hubcaps or beauty rings should be removed. They can come off causing a dangerous situation for you & other drivers.
STEERING & SUSPENSION – Check the wheel bearings by grabbing the tire & trying to move the wheel from side to side. There should not be any play or clunking sounds. The front wheels should move when you turn the steering wheel. There should not be any excess play.
ENGINE – The engine should not have any leaks that will allow liquids to fall onto the track. These fluids will cause slippery conditions on the track. This includes radiator fluid (antifreeze) which is very slippery. The battery should be secured with two (2) bolts. The battery terminals should be covered to prevent any arcs in case of accidental contact.
BRAKES – The brake system should be in good working order with no leaks in the system. The brake lines should not have any cracks. The brake fluid should be clear & at the maximum level. The pads should have plenty of life left in them, as the high speeds on the track will wear them out faster than the street. The brake lights should function properly.
BRAKE PADS - Be sure your brake pads are able to stop your car adequately. You will put a lot of wear on these during the course of our track day. You should consider buying an extra set of pads just in case. Email SpeedToys.com to place your order and they will have your pads waiting for you at the track.
SAFETY EQUIPMENT – Check event for the minimum safety equipment that group requires. Seatbelts must be in good condition. Factory seatbelts are usually OK for most club events. Spyders and other cars without fixed roofs are usually required to have roll bars. Natural fibers are recommended for clothing. Minimum allowable clothing is usually jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt & closed toe shoes. If you find that you enjoy the track, a flame retardant 3-ply Nomex driver suit is an excellent investment. You will be required to wear a helmet when on the track. The minimum rating is usually SA rating of 95 or greater. Very few clubs still allow motorcycle helmets. Eye protection is required (face shield, goggles, safety glasses). The more and better the safety equipment you have & use, the safer you will be.
MISCELLANEOUS – There should be no exposed wires. The car should have a good gas cap that seals. The seats should be bolted in tightly.
AT THE TRACK - Now that you made it to the track there are still a few things to do. You will want to take out everything you can. Remove your spare tire & jack. Take out all the floor mats. Any more loose stuff in there? Take it out. Next apply some wax to a portion of your door or quarter panel. When it dries to a haze, leave it there. Take some racer’s tape (colored duct tape) & put your “numbers” on top of the waxed portion. Now wipe off the rest of the haze. When the end of the day comes, you will be able to remove your numbers without doing damage or leaving a residue on your paint. Clean your front & back windows with glass cleaner. There will be less glare & you will be able to see your reference points easier. Fasten any unused seatbelts. You don’t want the buckles flying around. Apply some white shoe polish from the most outward tread block to around the shoulder of your tires. By checking the shoe polish after a run, you can tell if your tires are rolling over onto the sidewall. Most people need to increase the tire pressure from what they normally use on the street. How much will depend on your tires. When you come off the track after a run, leave your car in gear or use a block of wood to keep our car from rolling. Don’t use the parking brake. That will trap the heat that could cause your rotors to warp. Keep the engine running for a couple of minutes with the hood up. This will allow your engine to cool down & help circulate the hot fluids.
THINGS TO BRING - Here are a few things to bring that will help make your time with us more enjoyable. For the car: glass cleaner, wax, and a quart of oil, rags, white shoe polish (applicator bottle type), a battery operated air compressor, a tire gauge, a tarp to put all the stuff you took out on, and some basic tools. For you: a change of clothes, suntan lotion, drinks, a cooler, folding chairs, a shade canopy, a camera, and friends to enjoy the driving with.
HELMETS - Get a closed face helmet, not an open face NASCAR-style one. Correct helmet fit is critical. You can start with your hat size, but it must be very tight. A helmet should be as snug as possible without giving you a headache. SA95 helmets mean that the helmet was Snell Approved in 1995. SA00 helmets were approved in 2000. Then SA2005 helmets were approved in 2005 and will most likely still be acceptable by most clubs and tracks for ten years until the year 2015. Avoid M helmets as they are designed and rated for motorcycles only and not acceptable at most automotive events. You may decide to invest in a helmet with a ventilation or cooling system, as heat is always a factor in Las Vegas. Some reputable suppliers are listed here although there are many other online sources as well:
Two places in town have Snell Approved (SA) helmets in stock:
Dark Horse Racing Safety, Inc.
7005 Speedway Blvd, Building F 104
Las Vegas, NV 89115
Call first before you go:
Craig Stevenson, Manager (702) 326-0718
Pam Perkins, Owner (702) 372-8415
Office and Shop (702) 644-6994
Phone/Fax: (702) 644-6994
Tollfree: (866) 208-1385
See the directions on their website.
American Racing Supply, Inc.
222 W. Utah Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Pat (Patrica), Owner
From the strip: Go east on Charleston under the RR Tracks.
Turn right on Commerce and drive for about one-half mile.
Turn right on Utah. They are the 3rd bldg on the right.