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Last Post 12 Dec 2014 01:14 PM by  Kylini
How to get my daily driver on the track
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efarley
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11 Dec 2014 06:44 PM

    Hello,

    I've loved cars and driving fast since I was 16 and now that I'm older and driving a high end sports car (2009 Audi S5, v8 6spd manual) I'm interested in finding the best way to get my car on a track so I can use it for what it was built for! I am considering joining the SCCA to help get me and my car on the track. Since I currently drive a very nice sports car and am looking at replacing it with either the 2015 Corvette Z06 or 2012 Nissian GT-R in the next year I am not interested in building a race car or spending a huge amount of money modifying a car for the track aside from tires. What I'd love to do is just go out with my daily driver and having some fun on the weekends once a month or so during summer. I'd like to complete against other drivers in similar classed cars, but I'd want to keep everything stock except my tires since it's my daily driver.

    I live in the pacific northwest (Portland to be exact), I checked the Portland International Raceways website about track days but they require you to have an instructor in the car which isn't an issue except it cost an extra $200 bringing the total to $500 per session which is crazy expensive IMHO. I see that the SCCA has 3-4 track days per year that I think might be cheaper but I don't know what to expect or if those are open to stock cars like mine or focused on true race cars.

    Autocross is another option I'm considering but ever time I've seen autocross it was a tiny track in a mall parking lot with no straights longer than 50 feet or so, which doesn't seem very interesting, and possibly very difficult to race in such a confined space with a car that accelerates like the GT-R or Z06.

    Any ideas on places or ways I can get my daily driver on the track every now and then for some friendly amateur competition without spending $500 a session?

    Kylini
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    12 Dec 2014 01:10 PM
    The easiest way to get on track is PDX (SCCA) or HPDE (other organizations). SCCA PDXs are instructed track days and aren't timed. As your instructor becomes more comfortable with your driving and abilities, you'll advance into higher run groups and have more sessions without a passenger. PDXs are affordable but the actual price depends on the region, the track, and the number of entries. PDXs are not competitive; aggressive driving is discouraged and passing is limited.

    Some regions host a Club Time Trial (CTT) which is a timed, uninstructed PDX. Once you've established that you aren't a hazard to others on track, this is your best bet. Cars are classed appropriately and you compete with your colleagues for fastest lap. Several practice sessions are held before a qualifying, and then the final timed session. You aren't wheel-to-wheel racing during CTT but it is competitive. Passing is still limited but obstructing is more strongly discouraged.

    If you intend to get into wheel-to-wheel racing, you will want to attend a racing school after this point. This will get you your SCCA license which, nicely enough, is generally accepted at most track days to mean "this guy isn't a risk to others and can be bumped to a faster run group." If you had a properly caged, logged race car that just happened to be out of date or hard to class, there is a Club Racing Experience (CRE) series of events, where you are properly wheel-to-wheel racing against other cars. Finally, there's full blown Club Racing. However, all wheel-to-wheel options require full cages, seats, harnesses, and safety equipment.

    No matter what you do, safety is the last thing you want to cheap out on. You might wear your gear every event, but you only *really* get to use it once. Strongly consider a good helmet, a neck restraint, a properly rated or back-braced seat, and harnesses but realize that all of these things work as a system. Hans devices are wonderful but won't work well without harnesses, which are simply unsafe without a seat and roll protection (even in a fixed roof car). Also strongly consider a proper layered racing suit, gloves, shoes, and underwear. Cotton long sleeve shirts might be good for a second, but it will probably take you longer than that to get out of your car if it's on fire.
    Kylini
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    12 Dec 2014 01:14 PM
    For a more specific course of action, harass those Portland SCCA guys! I'm sure they're friendly! They can give you the skinny on what their events cost in the past. Your car *will* be fine for PDX beyond question; you just have to take the time to ensure it's safe (brake fluid, pads, lights, throttle, battery tie-down, etc.; they'll have a tech checklist). Make sure to find out when their PDXs are, ask about CTT, and attend an autocross or two for good measure!
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