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Signed up for HPDE1 @ Autoclub, getting cold feet


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Hi all,


Have a 2017 Challenger SRT 392 and signed up for my first HPDE1 next month, but to be honest, I'm having second thoughts after reading through these forums. Basically, I'm not out to spend a ton of money on new tires, brake pads, high-performance brake fluid, etc. -- but I don't want to have a bad day where the brakes and tires give out too soon. I've read a lot of stories of cars (especially heavy cars like mine) boiling the stock brake fluid.


Here's the state of my current brakes/tires: about 6/32" (maybe less by the time May 19th rolls around) tread on original Pirelli P-Zero all-season tires, about 13000 miles on them. Brake pads stock, still >50% life, but already squeaking from hard spots from the insane amount of dust they put out. Brake fluid, well, it's in there and it's the original stuff. It should also be noted that one of the tires was punctured by a screw (not a blow out, just slow leak), and has subsequently been plugged.


Heck, I'm not even sure it will pass tech with a plugged tire. I'm willing to change the oil, it's due for that anyway, but I'm not dropping $1500 on the rest just for one day of tracking, that's not worth it to me. Again, I don't want to waste my day because my worn stock brakes/tires/fluid let me down, and I definitely don't want to put myself or others at any safety risk, but is it too big of a gamble with what I have now?


I suppose I could always reschedule for another event around the time my brakes/tires are due for replacement. Any advice?



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Being a new member myself with Nasa and getting ready for my first track day tomorrow I figured I would share with you. I am not new to racing, I have road raced bikes for more than ten years, so the dynamics are similar in many respects. The car being the one un-known for me just as it is for you.


What I will share about your first day. You should be a little nervous, you are doing something you have never done before. There is an element of risk to, for both your car and yourself. To be casual about it would be un-safe, not only to you but to the others on the track. I am excited, and I too am also wondering what it will be like to drive my car at top speed and take corners, testing both the limits of my skills and the abilities of my car.


I am driving an older car that is also paid for, a 1999 c5 Corvette, if it gets wrecked it is on my dime. I plan on being safe and relying on my instructor who has already emailed me. We have already written back and forth getting to know each other. I already feel comfortable with him and he answered my questions and we shared info about each other’s past track experience. We are a good fit and it should be very rewarding.


What we don’t share, is the willingness to spend money on our cars. I spent months doing research and finding out how best to prepare my car. I did all the fluid changes to synthetic, new rotors and track pads. The car is fitted with race seats and harnesses. I did a hood vent and air ducts for the brakes, heat is an enemy. I have tires just for the track. I also installed an Auto blip, seeing as learning to heel and toe was taking a long time and I know from racing motorcycles, braking is just as important as horse power.


Do you need to do the things I did, not all but some? Brakes rotors and fluids are a must. Confidence in your equipment is key to confidence in your ability to drive. You cannot wonder about your car. Will it stop when I need it to, can I rely on it a 100 percent. Working on your car, both doing the work and the research will give you that confidence…the confidence you are currently lacking with good reason. Given your willingness to get your car ready I would recommend you put your date off until you are mentally in a better place and your car is ready. You not only have your safety to be concerned with but that of your instructor and fellow drivers to be concerned with.


I am writing about my track day for the local paper I will share the link with you when I finish my two track days at Watkins Glen the 23rd and 24th of April.


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I started HPDE in 2011 using a SRT8 Charger.so I understand where you are right now......and I set another track record this past weekend in a race prep mustang while W2W racing.


Your car and tires will be fine but the car is heavy. I swapped my Charger over to Wilwood EXP and left that fluid in the car for several years until I sold it, ( I use Castrol SRF in the race car now). I bought a set of front brake pads from Carbotech and simply swapped them a day or 2 before track weekends. Brakes are critical and without these simple upgrades you will need to drive the car at 8/10ths or less. There are plenty of other things you can upgrade but they can wait. Rotors, rear brakes, etc, etc. may come AFTER you decide you want to keep doing this. I almost added adjustable control arms for camber but moved on to racing.


My original plan was to do 1-2 track weekends a year.........however now I race 10-12+ weekends a year.

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Thanks for the responses guys. This is my daily driver, I never intended to drive it at 100% and push the limits, just wanted a nice intro course (hence HPDE1) and to be able to drive it on a track faster than on the highway. I am not completely incompetent when it comes to cars, and am by no means mechanically savvy, but I will consider doing the brake fluid.


I also spoke to my local section rep, and he agreed the tires will be fine as well.

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  • 7 months later...

If you haven't gotten out yet, let me encourage you again to do so. I have a project car I was waiting to take out and my region's mentors encouraged me to bring out my daily for the first couple events. My car had some chinese struts on it, couple compliance bushings starting to crack, car wasn't perfect. But it doesn't have to be.

Honestly, all you need to do is: oil change, DOT 4 brake fluid flush, and strongly consider some Hawk HP+ pads (they are driveable on street too, just squeaky when cold).

As long as your tires are above wear markers, you are okay. I ran all seasons this past year. Especially with a heavier car, you will eat brakes and tires faster, but in HPDE you won't be pushing your car to its limits breaking things. As our classroom teacher said my first event, "Did everyone drive their car here today? Good. The goal is you drive it home in the same condition and you have fun."

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  • 5 months later...

I did my first two HPDEs on an all-stock car that was a few years old at the time. It's definitely worth it; one thing you will learn quite quickly IMO is that a stock car is not a race car from a video game, and you will probably go faster by being smooth and mechanically patient with the vehicle, the brakes, and the tires. I got through that first day with nothing more than some brake dust on the wheels and maybe 1/32" of tire wear. The second day was hot and lightly attended to the point where they stopped with run groups and just let people lap open (neither of the two HPDEs I'm talking about were NASA-run, for what it's worth), and I kept pounding around the track even as the pedal got soft (because it never got TOTALLY soft, and I was feeling the limits of the vehicle in a safe environment), and I did end up cooking my brake pads to death and corduroy groove my rotors that day...it was a lesson in mechanical sympathy that cost a few hundred bucks in pads and rotors, but pads and rotors are a pretty easy job to do. I found it to be a very worthwhile and cost-effective lesson anyway.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Agree on all the responses, especially in terms of easing your way into things. Do it with the stock car, you won't hurt it, go 7/10's. Then see how much you like it and change/alter/upgrade from there. Chances are you'll have a blast. If it's not mandatory, getting a coach for the first day is something I would definitely recommend too.

That said, for anyone else in the "cold feet" bucket or generally thinking about a first track day, there are a few other things to consider to make the day a success. It's stuff like considering tire pressures, having extra engine oil, lots of water for yourself, maybe some blue tape, etc. Here's a quick guide that covers some of those basics: https://www.torqued.io/track-day-101

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