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Drivewiththumos

First HPDE Questions/Concerns

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Drivewiththumos

Hello Everyone,

 

Just signed up w/ Nasa about a month ago and have my first registered HPDE coming up in Daytona. Racing definitely feels like something I want to get involved in, but the costs and responsibilities feel a bit daunting. As with my first drag racing experience, I know that simply going out and getting through the first event will clear most of that; but I can't help but try and do the most homework I can so I'm not so stressed when I'm there (and thus might actually have fun).

 

Anywho, I've been looking through the HPDE forum and have already learned quite a bit: mostly about getting aftermarket pads and brake fluid as minimum; which for now is about all I can manage. I've also read some things about insurance, driver etiquette, pointing, flags, etc. I'm still reading through the rules and trying to memorize the flags but I still have other questions that I'd appreciate knowing before I find out the hard way there.

 

Firstly, how do the logistics work? I've read that you should empty your car of basically everything non-essential, but that you should also bring a lot of tools/equipment/spares etc. So when you're racing, where do these things go? I certainly don't have a trailer and I'm going by myself, so what do I do with what I take out? Is there like a specific pit or area that I get to store my stuff while on the track, or do I just lay it out on a tarp and hope it doesn't disappear? I realize this may be track specific, so if it helps I'm headed to Daytona this November 1st weekend.

 

Secondly, what kind of supplies are normally available at the events? I take it there must be gas available, but what about tires (in case of blowout or similar), racing clothing, helmets (already have one but in case its not to spec), food?

 

Obviously, playing music with the car stereo would be a complete no, but what about GoPro's? I've seen quite a few youtube videos of HPDE's but is there an official stance on their use? (inside car obviously) What about 'track apps' devices? I don't have any currently and my Mustang didn't come with any, but any tips on their use? Where to get them/rent them?

 

I'm sure there's plenty of really simple questions that I'm not thinking of right now, but I'd appreciate any wisdom from you veterans. Not expecting to go crazy my first time out and in fact if I top 130mph I'll be feeling pretty good considering the clips I've seen of Daytona. Just want to get my feet wet, break the first time jitters, and see if this thing really is addicting like I'm seeing reference too.

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MikeAtl

Lotsa questions. Good, but don't over think it.

 

I'll try and maybe others can chime in. Never been to Daytona, so not sure of the amenities. I'm sure there are many. Most NASA events have an on-site racing supply vendor and a tire vendor, not sure about Daytona.

 

Good work on brake pads and fluid. This is all you need to do. Make sure they are at least some sort of track-oriented pad. Aftermarket does not equal track worthy.

 

If first DE, you will be in Green group with classroom before track and an in-car instructor. Most of your track etiquette questions will be answered either in the classroom or by your instructor.

 

Find a place in the paddock, unload your stuff from your car, meaning everything that may come loose, spare tire, jack, floormats, everything. Place on ground in your paddock spot and no one will touch it. Cover tools with a tarp if it makes you feel better. This crowd is more likely to offer to help you than take your stuff. Bring a chair, shade tent if you have one, cooler with food/drinks, AND KEEP HYDRATED.

 

While you may want a track app and/or a go pro, and there is no prohibition on these, you should focus your energy on the driving experience, and worry less about data. That said, if you have a gopro, bring it and use it.

 

Most importantly, listen to your instructors, relax and HAVE FUN.

 

Mike

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jjl04002

To try and help you along:

 

1st, don't call it racing . It's HPDE.

 

Logistically, empty your car of EVERYTHING that is not bolted down including change, car chargers, tuners, etc. Spare tire seems to OK in my region, but I would just pull it anyway.

 

As for tools/parts, typically I bring the following:

New Pads

Rotors

Brake tools

Serpentine Belt

Jack Stands

Jack

Wrenches

Torque wrench

Air compressor

Pressure guage

Brake fluid

Tire tread measure thingy

Helmet

Gas

And some other odds and ends.

 

Of that I have used in 5 track days:

Torque wrench for lug nuts

Air pressure gauge

Helmet

Gas

 

Note how much shorter the list is. Realistically if something breaks after lunch you are not going to have a chance to fix it anyway. You are better off getting your car in good shape before you go.

 

So really the only things that you need are something to check your pressure, and something to tighten you lug nuts (WHEN COLD). Usually there is air at the track. Start an manufacturer pressure and go from there.

 

As for where these things go, I usually trailer so that makes things easy. A lot of people will bring a tarp and just put everything on that and leave it out. Make some friends and see if someone can keep an eye on things if you are worried, but usually people will just leave their stuff out. The NASA guys seem to be a good bunch.

 

Gas is track specific as is other stuff, although I have been to new jersey and thompson and both have had at least gas and fluids. New Jersey had enough tools to build a car if you were so inclined. I think most places have helmets, but really just make sure yours is squared away. NE NASA will also rent helmets if needed, i suspect your chapter is the same. I think you need a Snell certified helmet at least as new as 2005, but don't quote me on that.

 

For your first time, i would suggest against go pro cameras for your first time. It is just one more thing to worry about. Don't time yourself either. Just go out and learn. You will be beyond overwhelmed the first few times out. There is plenty of time for this stuff later.

 

Another thing, please look over your car and the tech sheet. If you are not great with cars then have a mechanic look it over. Don't go home because of something stupid. Check your belts, pad life, etc, and for the love of god put some fresh DOT 4 fluid (Motul 600 is my preference). I have only talked to one guy who had bad brake fade his first day, and it was because he was on 2 year old DOT 3 fluid in his Camaro.

 

Aside from all this, have fun and listen to your instructor. You very well may be the slowest person on the track because you are new both to HPDE and to the track. Don't get frustrated; you will pick things up quicker than you think. Have fun, get there early, go to class, and chat people up. Bring long sleeves and pants. Oh...and kiss your spare cash goodbye, you are about to develop and expensive habit .

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jjaisli
Hello Everyone,

 

...mostly about getting aftermarket pads and brake fluid as minimum; which for now is about all I can manage. I've also read some things about insurance, driver etiquette, pointing, flags, etc. I'm still reading through the rules and trying to memorize the flags but I still have other questions that I'd appreciate knowing before I find out the hard way there.

 

Firstly, how do the logistics work? I've read that you should empty your car of basically everything non-essential, but that you should also bring a lot of tools/equipment/spares etc. So when you're racing, where do these things go? I certainly don't have a trailer and I'm going by myself, so what do I do with what I take out? Is there like a specific pit or area that I get to store my stuff while on the track, or do I just lay it out on a tarp and hope it doesn't disappear? I realize this may be track specific, so if it helps I'm headed to Daytona this November 1st weekend.

 

Secondly, what kind of supplies are normally available at the events? I take it there must be gas available, but what about tires (in case of blowout or similar), racing clothing, helmets (already have one but in case its not to spec), food?

 

Obviously, playing music with the car stereo would be a complete no, but what about GoPro's? I've seen quite a few youtube videos of HPDE's but is there an official stance on their use? (inside car obviously) What about 'track apps' devices? I don't have any currently and my Mustang didn't come with any, but any tips on their use? Where to get them/rent them?

 

I'm sure there's plenty of really simple questions that I'm not thinking of right now, but I'd appreciate any wisdom from you veterans. Not expecting to go crazy my first time out and in fact if I top 130mph I'll be feeling pretty good considering the clips I've seen of Daytona. Just want to get my feet wet, break the first time jitters, and see if this thing really is addicting like I'm seeing reference too.

 

Hi @Drivewiththumos

 

I'm probably not as qualified to answer these questions compared to, well, just about everybody else, but I'll give it a shot.

 

- You're right about the brake pads and fluid. Both important. It's a good idea to try and memorize the flags, but (a) they'll go over it in the classroom anyway and (b) your instructor will be there to help you and will be on the lookout for them. Don't sweat it. The first few sessions of your first track day is always a jumble of sensory input and you'll be doing better than most if you even see any of the flags. As time goes by and things around you appear to 'slow down', you'll be more aware of them.

 

- I was worried too about leaving my things in the staging area. Especially because my very first track day was an overnight drive-away event and I was fretting over where to leave my things. So yes, I had exactly this same question and worry. Maybe it's a bit naive, both on my part and on others, but the general rule of thumb is "don't touch other people's things". And in the half dozen or so events I've attended, nobody EVER has. Everybody is at the track for the same reason and from my experience, people are very well behaved and respectful. So you'll arrive (most likely EARLY in the morning), you'll find an open spot in the paddock, you'll park your car, and you'll remove your things and leave them in a neat pile behind your car. And then you'll put it out of your mind until it's time to pack up again. And everything will be fine. Hopefully nobody makes a liar out of me. Oh, and if it rains, you might want to bring a tarp.

 

- Gas is available at most tracks but expect to pay a premium over any gas station on the outside. And tracks that offer 100 octane race fuel, you'll probably pay about $8~$10/gallon.

 

- It's track dependent but many have a shop that sell a lot of basic tools and items. But they're not fully stocked garages. If you're really in trouble, your best bet is to ask around and chances are somebody around you will be able to loan you some tools. Extra tires, yeah, probably not.

 

- GoPro shouldn't be a problem but it depends. Mounting outside the car, most tracks will only allow it with a tether. Inside, it better be something strong and secure like a RAM mount.

 

- For HPDE1, I think officially (or maybe unofficially) timing devices are not allowed. Or at least discouraged. But I personally think it's silly. Even a DE1 student wants to at least have some idea of how long it took them around the track, and to use it as a baseline for when they come back next time. It's human nature. So I've been using Harry's Lap timer since my 2nd track event and nobody has ever really given me a hard time about it, although tech will occasionally question the mount and make sure it's really secure.

 

I hope this helps.

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getfast

Welcome! There is some great info and advice above. Adding my thoughts...

 

Lots of questions are answered in the rulebook so we always recommend starting there. Example, someone above posted incorrectly about HPDE helmet requirements https://nasa-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/document/document/282/ccr.pdf

 

Then go to the event page and read everything there. In this case, http://www.nasa-se.com/2014Nov01.php ... all those pics and links on the right.

 

And lastly some questions will be answered in the pre-event email. For this event it's at http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=f8ea6230-4d99-449c-83ea-dfd0ce4cfe6e&c=f430bec0-5e99-11e4-b97f-d4ae5275dbea&ch=f4483e60-5e99-11e4-b98f-d4ae5275dbea

 

After that, your best bet - other than posting here of course, especially in the subforum for the region/event in question ( viewforum.php?f=42 ) - is to ask those in charge of the event. Jim or Julie Pantas would be happy to help and are on phone and email all day for at least a week or two before each event, you can reach 'em from http://www.nasa-se.com/contactus.php

 

Hope it helps. See ya there!

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Fr3AkAzOiD

Most everything has been covered but one big one would be to find your driving instructor ASAP.

I have seen instructors just jump into a car and head right out with a new student.

 

Try to find yours early so things such as what's been done to the car, your experience, even getting better meaning into what his driving commands may be.

 

Change all fluids. Brake, coolant, oil and bring extra of each.

 

A lot of people use tarps but I picked up some Rubbermaid containers to keep my tools and stuff in when it rains.

 

If you have a decent PC it may be worth getting a subscription to iracing to learn a bit about the track, helped me a bit at VIR the first time.

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MikeAtl

Great point on the instructor. I have had a number of instructors from different organizations and I always like it when the instructor and I can connect ahead of the first session to meet/greet and go over goals, basic communication stuff, etc. As a student, please be receptive to what your instructor says and does. He or she is there to help you and is placing quite a bit of trust in your judgement.

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n80

I use a high strength fishing leader to secure my GoPro. It has snap swivels at both ends. Cost next to nothing. However, the suction cup has never failed.........even when I crashed.

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beerkat

So Drivewithhumos how would you rate your first time on a road course?

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Drivewiththumos

In a word: awesome. And my apologies for the archaically late reply; my work schedule picked up very soon following that early November event and I've been unable to spend much time on anything racing since then despite how much I would have liked to return to the track.

 

So first I'd like to thank everyone for their input. While I am basically necro-ing this thread, I like to finish what I start and help spread whatever wisdom I can since many were glad to share with me.

 

My overall first impression/experiences could basically come down to the following: get there early, invest in brakes, research what other amenities are nearby (outside the track), and don't overspend on other things. That and get used to loving how your engine sounds when you can actually stay on the throttle above highway speeds.

 

I'll get to quantifying those things in a minute, but I'd like to start first with answering my own questions I started with:

Firstly, how do the logistics work? I've read that you should empty your car of basically everything non-essential, but that you should also bring a lot of tools/equipment/spares etc. So when you're racing, where do these things go? I certainly don't have a trailer and I'm going by myself, so what do I do with what I take out? Is there like a specific pit or area that I get to store my stuff while on the track, or do I just lay it out on a tarp and hope it doesn't disappear? I realize this may be track specific, so if it helps I'm headed to Daytona this November 1st weekend.

This partly has to do with my impression of 'don't overspend', but yes just emptying your car of everything and leaving it on the paddock generally does work. I didn't have any issues with anyone messing with it or moving it. The only slight issue I had was that the paddock itself was a bit crowded, and sometimes between sessions the particular spot my car was parked at (by my stuff) might not be there by the next time I came off the track. This might just be a Daytona thing since it seemed to be quite popular. But it just comes down to being respectful and mindful of the other drivers and not blocking anyone in (especially the actual racers). I might bring some small cones with me next time just to mark off an actual 'square' where I can put my car reliably every time.

 

Secondly, what kind of supplies are normally available at the events? I take it there must be gas available, but what about tires (in case of blowout or similar), racing clothing, helmets (already have one but in case its not to spec), food?

For me this really touches on the 'don't overspend' impression I gave up top. Like I mentioned in my op, logistics tend to stress me out, so I basically tried to come prepared for everything short of an engine replacement. I had jacks, jack stands, tool boxes, tuners, and a bunch of other stuff all of which I never used. While I did have some mechanical related trouble at the track (more on that later), nothing I had could help with it. This then also touches on my point of "know what is around the track" point as anything you might need (unless you have a whole pit crew with you) will most likely be found at a normal business nearby then in your trunk. This may also be just Daytona related as its a very developed area; don't know about other tracks. Fuel, tires, food, repair facilities could all be found near the track at Daytona, so I really didn't need to bring as much as I did.

 

Obviously, playing music with the car stereo would be a complete no, but what about GoPro's? I've seen quite a few youtube videos of HPDE's but is there an official stance on their use? (inside car obviously) What about 'track apps' devices? I don't have any currently and my Mustang didn't come with any, but any tips on their use? Where to get them/rent them?

Basically I think this comes down to what you (and your instructor for HPDE) are comfortable using. I actually had two instructors over the weekend (the first snapped his driveshaft on his Viper on Saturday and thus didn't care to spend the rest of the weekend there) and both of them were perfectly happy running my GoPro for me. I wasn't running any kind of 'track app' but as long as it didn't involve laptops sitting around the inside of the car I don't feel like it would have been a problem (correct me if I'm wrong).

 

I think that was about it for my three questions. So as far as my original impressions go, it might just be easier to describe them as I go through my experience; and thanks for bearing with me on my long-windedness. So the Friday before I got a really late start leaving for the track and didn't pull in to Daytona till about 10pm; obviously too late for check in. On the way down, my 'low tire pressure' light had started going off. The next morning I woke to a tire with a whopping 10psi; and this was my dd, so obviously I had no extras. So I basically had to cautiously drive to the actual track (from the hotel) as I knew no business would be open that early, get checked in, tech'ed, numbers on car, make it to the first classroom session, and fix my tire all before the first session. Basically I got everything else done, but only managed to pump the tire back up instead of troubleshoot it. It actually drove fine for the first two sessions (they were just about back to back with the classroom) but then I had a break and drove outside the track to the nearby Firestone (I believe) and had them patch it. For the safety conscious it was a very slow leak; maybe 2psi an hour. But that morning basically rounds out my point of logistics stress me out. The rest of the weekend went great after that. It was a bit windy so the instructors were cautioning exit speeds on the banked sections of the speedway; so I never got to flat out a whole speedway section but I still got over 145 so that was enough to keep me psyched. Video for those who care:

 

That's about it I think. It's tough remembering something from ~8 months ago. Hopefully my workload will lighten here soon and I'll be able to get back to the tracks more. I know this was a bit long winded, but I ramble a bit when I type, and I just wanted to put down whatever I could remember in case some other first time overly preparing person wants another first timers thoughts.

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