There are two ways for eager novice track racers to satisfy their need for speed – either race their regular road car or invest in a track car. For many track fans, racing their daily hatchback isn’t the most practical idea. For one thing, a lot of the other folks on the track will be driving track-modified cars which don’t need to be driven carefully in order to make sure there are still four wheels in good enough shape to collect the kids from school!
1. The investment of time
It is possible to use a regular road car as a track car too. The difference being it needs to be insured and taxed in order to drive it to and from the track. This can be a great way to get into track racing and see how it feels without investing too much time in preparation, but it’s not typically a practical long-term solution. The car will need to be driven carefully and always with the consideration of not driving too hard and risking being stuck at the circuit with a duff vehicle and no transport home.
Putting a bit more time into the project – buying a track day car and making a go of tracking as a hobby – is usually the best option for committed drivers. This is the only way to make modifications that don’t need to be road legal.
So, in terms of time investment, it’s a lot of work for drivers opting to maintain a tracking-only car.
2. Build or buy?
To build usually means something akin to a labour of love. But for folks who are good with their hands, a custom build could present a superb low-cost solution. There are plenty of “track dogs” out there that might have questionable bodywork but are in good mechanical nick and can be thrown around the track and modified without things like road legality concerns. Finding a local, reliable motorsport supplier canbe a great way to find like-minded folks and resources to get started.
To get to a track day car to the track, the average punter will need a trailer and something to tow it with too.
3. Health and safety
There’s plenty of motorsport equipment out there designed for the novice track day enthusiast. It’s not usually essential to invest in too much kit – a helmet that’s in good nick and some flat, well-fitted shoes and long sleeves are generally all that’s required by track officials. Most tracks will rent out helmets to novice drivers.
The cost of track racing can be high (repairs etc.), and that can be one of the main reasons not to race a regular road car. In terms of insurance, single-day track insurance is usually around 10% of the value of the car, but lots of drivers don’t bother. Track day insurance is optional and if they’re running the car as a hobby, many drivers opt to just shoulder the costs of repair personally.
A great way to get involved in the exciting motorsports industry is to start attending various local events by yourself, with friends, or through corporate appreciation events. By doing this it will give you the opportunity to walk around and talk to various car buffs and race car drivers who are always willing to give you some insight into the sport as well as some recommendations on where to start. Whether you are planning to drift, drag, or sprint, there are always people willing to talk to you at the race track. Keep in mind, however, when you start your motorsport racing hobby or career, where you will be exhilarated by the speed, the noise, and the roaring crowd, your fun should always come secondary to your car safety and maintenance.