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Driving school, What to expect?

Discussion in 'Driving Schools' started by flyfll, Apr 29, 2008.

    flyfll guest

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    I am attending the Morroso Driving event on may 3rd. I have never done a track day and I am looking for some insight on what to expect, what to bringand just some general information. I have an E46 M3. getting the inspection this week. I have purchased a helmet. Any insight would be great apprciated.

    Rick
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    az3579

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    I just attended my first Driver's School a few weeks ago and let me tell ya... you're gonna have a blast, especially in an M3!


    Since it's your first driver's school, take it easy and do what the instructor tells you. If you're a quick learner, you might even be able to put up a little competition, but that's generally not what the school is for. It is essentially THE best way to improve performance of your car: upgrading the driver! You will learn pretty much the basics of track driving.


    I don't know how they operate the school at your location, but at ours in CT, we had sessions that each run group went in, so Beginners-Novice first, Intermediate next, etc. Each session for us was 20 minutes each and had about 4-5 sessions (don't remember) for the whole day. There are classroom sessions in between when you're not on the track. I suggest you pay attention because a lot of what the instructors (in-car and classrom) say applies all the time, be it whether on the track or on the road.



    I must warn you though; there is a 90% chance that you will get hooked and this might possibly become an obsession!

    flyfll guest

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    Thanks.

    I read your other posts and was curious as to how it went. Any advice? Sample questions are, Did you bring tools, extra oil,radiator fluid? Did you go through a set of tires? Brakes? What is the best thing in your mind i can do to prepare for this days event? I am really excited and it nice to hear you had a great time!!! My problem is I AM EASILY ADDICTED TO RACING!

    Thanks for any help

    Rick
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    az3579

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    Me being a newbie and all and not knowing what to expect, I brought nothing with me! :eek:
    Some of the instructors there told me that next time around I should bring a cooler with lots of beverages (no sodas) such as Gatorade and water. You should definitely drink a lot, even if you're not thirsty. Stay hydrated.

    Since that day, I have also bought myself 4 R-compound tires with rims already mounted (sweet deal too - tires still have at least 4 track days left in em'). The next track day in August should prove to be perfect weather for those tires. :D

    I used my stock brakes and tires for the time I was there. My tires have barely worn and I was pushing the car really hard (some corners going flat out, quickly changing direction with no brakes!). Brakes, however, I did notice a difference on. You will have a decrease in brakes; you'll notice on the streets it will take more effort to get braking. That's pad wear talkin'. One rule of thumb is that after a track session, do NOT apply the handbrake. Leave the car in gear and let the brakes cool off. If you apply the handbrake, the rotors might warp. I already knew this beforehand so no instructor told me not to apply the handbrake.

    Another tip is that on the final lap of your session (checkered flag), do not push your car. It's the cool down lap. Do not use your brakes; go just fast enough to keep up and slow enough not to need brakes going into corners. This will cool down your brakes a bit by the time you get into the pit. It's a completely relaxed lap. My instructor told me to keep taking the corners with the correct turn-in and exit as well to get used to it. "This needs to become second nature to you so you don't have to think about it - just do it."



    But for the next time, I'm going to bring:

    * Cooler with water/Gatorade
    * 4 track tires (and lug wrench)
    * I will bring some oil with me. I hear that oil should be a bit above "full" for track duty, but I don't know if this is true.
    * I don't know what else. Anyone have opinions? Don't mention spare parts because I do not have any!



    If the track is a distance from you, use that time to relax. Don't rush getting there; it's only going to stress you out. Get a goooooood night's sleep (you WILL be tired) and eat a good breakfast. If you have some down time between sessions (if you have time after class) then take a breather and nap for whatever time you've got. I didn't do this, despite my instructor urging me to do so, and was fine till I got home. Afterwards, I just CRASHED. I'm so glad I didn't crash on the way home, as the track is a good two hours away from my house.



    I'll let you know if anything else comes to mind!

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    This is a very slippery slope...

    to add to the already excellent posts so far....

    Bring a tire pressure gauge. A good one. And if the track doesn't have a means to pump up tires, a small pump you can plug into the cig lighter.

    Spares is a slippery slope. If you don't have the part you need, your day is done and you may not be able to drive home. My basic kit contains:

    Stuff to maintain tire pressure. (keep a log if you want to get faster faster, and a tire temp measureing device is a good idea to help set pressures).
    A serpentine belt and tools to change it.
    Lug wrench.
    Quart of oil.
    Pint of brake fluid.
    Set of brake pads and tools to change them.
    Gallon of pre-mixed antifreeze.
    Pint of power steering fluid.

    Some general hand tools and sockets.

    Usually, the die-hard will have a floor jack if you really get in trouble. A buddy who does some track time has a lightweight floor jack and some collapsable jack stands.

    I've never had to use my spares (good inspections are key) but I have lent some stuff to others that have needed some fluids or the like. I've also recieved the charity of others the first time I lost a belt on the track. With the Mini Cooper S, the serpentine belt spins everything, including the water pump that is driven off the back of the supercharger. The car will run, but it will overheat real fast.

    Make sure you know where your tow loop is, and keep it in the car in case you break on track.

    If you have room for r-compoud tires and extra wheels, go for it.

    The next step is a trailer and tow vehicle.... It gets expensive fast. But while it's about as expensive as a coke habit, at least it's leagal!

    Matt

    ps, use coaches every chance you get, and not the same one! While you may like one over the other, I've learned a lot of different stuff from different coaches.

    Take the time when not in the class to cool down, drink some fluids, pee and think about the track. You'll be surprised to find that after just one, maybe two sessions, you can play the track back in your head turn for turn.

    I find it usefull to concentrate on improving one part of the track at a time, not try to do everything perfect all the time, but I'm not that good and it's a technique that works for me.

    You will never, ever ,ever look at a turn the same way, street or track, every again. Ever.

    It will make you a better driver on the street for sure. Safer too.

    Have tons of fun! That's why you're there! Don't forget that.

    If you get tired, your concentration will go down the toilet. Don't be afraid to bring the car in or back off if you feel you're loosing your edge.

    Save your money for track fees! They add up fast....

    Did I forget to say have fun? ;)
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    az3579

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    AMEN TO THAT. Of my 4/5 runs, the third run was such crap that I was taking turns as though the apex was at the exit and I got passed by at least 5 cars because I was just so out of it. I woke up toward the end of the session though and stayed on track for the remainder of the day. It's amazing how badly things can deteriorate if you get slightly tired or fatigued. There were cars that I stuck to their asses throughout my day (except that one session) that I couldn't pass on the straights because I didn't have enough power but could've easily overtaken in the corners because I had my focus. I just can't stress enough how right he is about taking a nap and relaxing between sessions during your free time.


    Thanks for the list of extra things to bring, Matt. I completely forgot about brake fluid and coolant. I've got to get me a set of collapsable jack stands. :D

    Just a quickie; since I've never been to a track event before the past one, I've never actually had to take my tires off myself (always had someone to fix something that required it for me). If I was to put on my new track tires, would I really need a torque wrench? I don't want to have to go out and buy a torque wrench if it's not necessary.
    [I know I should, but being a track-head (crack-head equivalent ;)), I've got little money and tons of addiction to cure. ]

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    Buy a torque wrench...

    it's a lot cheaper than loosing a wheel.

    Matt

    335fll guest

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    Do you guys and gals tape the front of the car to avoid damage from flying rocks?
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    MGarrison

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    I don't bother, but my car's ancient and the paint's in awful shape. I see a lot of people w/ newer and far prettier cars tape up fender leading edges and the like. Rubber marbles getting flung at you is more what I experience, unless someone puts a wheel, or wheels off, and puts debris/grass/dirt on the track. I usually don't encounter much in the way of pebbles or rocks, but that depends on what's surrounding the track as well - a sandy or dusty outfield, might have that.

    Some addition prep thoughts -
    Don't forget to consider the weather and pack accordingly - raingear, cold weather for the spring and fall schools, sunscreen if hot, a hat or rain/sun hat, umbrella, and so on. Some people carry small tents and set them up as alternate storage to covering things w/ a tarp. An E-Z up is an option, but those are so bulky and heavy, usually only people trailering their cars tend to bring them.

    Rubbermaid bins are handy for stowing your gear and keeping it dry if it rains. I always pack a tarp in addition to cover suitcases, trunk mat, etc. Take along a cooler and plenty of water, gatorade, etc. I also take along one of those collapsible chairs.

    Ditto's on everything Matt mentions for basics, tools, tire gauge/lighter-socket-powered inflator, etc.

    A torque gauge really is a must for several reasons. At a track event, you should make sure your lug bolts are torqued before every track session. (Never tighten/torque your wheel bolts right after a track session, or when they're hot). Almost undoubtedly you'll find someone willing to let you use their torque wrench to check your lug bolts, but you'll save yourself the time of having to dig one up and return it multiple times.

    The wheels are clamped to your brake rotors and hubs by the lug bolts. Evenly torqued wheel bolts ensure the pressure on the brake rotors remains even through their heating and cooling cycles, minimizing a chance of having the rotors warp due to uneven clamping pressure.

    The lug bolts also have a torque range that can be applied without damaging the bolt. If you tighten by hand, you have no way of gauging if you're over-tightening. It's fairly easy to over-stretch the bolt, or break it, neither of which is desirable for obvious reasons. If you do track events for enough years, eventually it's a good idea to get some fresh lug bolts. In the last couple of years I've had lug bolts that were about 12 yrs. old or so just break as they're being torqued - metal fatigue over time.

    And, of course, if you do any other car maintenance, eventually you'll use it for that.

    When it's a hot day, keep your helmet in the shade when you're not wearing it. If you have a helmet bag, get it out of it when you get home to allow it to dry out.

    335fll guest

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    Thanks^^^^^^^^
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    az3579

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    The only cars that had tape on them on the day I went had the tape on the headlights. Not much the tape's gonna help there, in my opinion. If it's gonna break, it's gonna break with or without tape... unless I'm missing the point?

    I always thought it looked silly. If someone's going to tape the front of their car, why can't they just buy a clear bra? It doesn't look silly and can be used every day (and it's weatherproof). Then protect what's left with minimal tape. No?

    AshleighBMW guest

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    Well, I was thinking of doing a driving school, but I don't know how (really) or have the strength to change tires, so I guess I'm SOL.
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    MGarrison

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    The point of taping the lights is not to keep them from breaking, but to keep them from having glass shards shatter off them and all over the track if they do break, potentially damaging other vehicles tire's causing flats or blowouts (inherently dangerous).

    Ashleigh - besides the fact that virtually anyone w/ any strength at all can loosen lug bolts, jack the car up, and re-tighten them (which I'm reasonably sure you could tackle if shown how) - There's no particular reason to do any tire switching at your first or any number of subsequent events.

    At a 1st driver's school, your street car as it sits without any additional modification is just fine, it just needs to be safe, get through the tech inspection, and have any issues addressed. Your street tires will work just fine unless they're completely worn out, and it's easier to learn and start the process on street tires. The time to consider a performance tire is when your driving skills have progressed to the point where you're taking enough advantage of your car's potential on the track that you're finding the tires are limiting your ability to progress further.

    If you have an interest, it's worth trying it to check it out. Driver's schools are a lot of fun, and you'll learn a lot more about driving than you'll ever have a chance to otherwise.
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    az3579

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    I've been meaning to ask but kept forgetting. Now that I've attended one in the Beginner class, what class should I move up to next? I noticed the Novice class is the next class up and that the Beginner and Novice class ran together when I was there. Is it worth taking Novice next go around or would it be a waste?

    To put things in perspective, I gave an E30 M3 a run for its money and was on a 335i's arse the whole time (except in the straights). Recommendations?

    AshleighBMW guest

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    Oh okay, my car is just over a month old, so I'm sure it'd pass inspection. I keep seeing post by people saying you need a certain type of tires. Does it put that much wear on them really, for a 1st time driving school?
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    az3579

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    No. I went with my stock tires and had just as much tread left on em' as when I got there!
    The sidewalls were a little bit more "used" but in general, I could still go quite a long time on the tires I have. I think tech inspection requires you have 3/16" tread left, but being a month old, your car should pass inspection with flyyyyyyyyying colors. :D
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    MGarrison

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    The organizers will generally put you in whatever group you're most likely to best be in, based on your experience level. Everyone progresses through the learning curve at their own rate, whatever that turns out to be. In any group there's going to be a variety of paces; if you and your instructor find that you're running a substantially faster or slower pace, then you all might talk with the chief instructor about changing groups; sometimes a run group has enough cars that there's not room to switch.

    If you found that you were running faster than some, slower than others, and were neither majorly getting held up or holding people up, then that's not a bad fit. If you were running a pace quicker than most of the group while being on line, driving consistently, safely, & smoothly, and not driving over your head, out of control, or pushing too hard, then the next group up might be a better fit.

    The organizers of the club driver's schools have been doing these for so long, they usually get the group assignments right. But there's usually some wiggle room based on how you're doing. If they ask what group you think you should be in, I don't think it'll hurt anything to say if you think the next group up might work better - you won't know 'til you're out there driving.

    Generally, focus on the basics first - smoothness, being on line, braking/turning/shifting, using your eyes properly by keeping them up and looking ahead, etc. Your sense of car control and the car's limits might be that you could be faster in some places, but if you try to go too fast, too soon, without the basic skillset in place, you'll end up fighting yourself and the car, and making it harder for yourself to learn what you need to. Speed, per se, is the natural result of doing everything else right - put it all together right and you'll be quick without even thinking about going fast.

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    Ashleigh...

    go on out and have a blast!

    I've been doing track stuff for about 4-5 years and I still haven't made the move to R-compound tires. Really, it's about having fun and learing to drive better.

    Also, one thing worth mentioning is that you won't find a more supportive group around. Pretty much everyone is there to help those that are just learning or anyone who has a problem.

    FWIW, tire wear depends a lot on driving style and some shortcomings of car design. The Mini has too little front camber, and you can eat up a set of tires very, very quickly. Just make sure that your tire pressures are good and wear will be minimized. There are also ways to drive that are easier on the tires, and you learn this with experience....

    If you're unsure if one of these things is right for you, go on out to one, borrow a helmet and get some ride a longs! If you do that I can pretty much garantee that you'll be signed up for the next one.

    Matt
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    az3579

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    Well I ask because our chapter has us register with motorsportreg.com, which has you specify which class you want to be put in. I have no clue as to what the other classes are like because I'm not allowed in any of the other cars as I'm not an instructor. I don't know what the rules are in other chapters, but essentially, in a car, only the owner (driver) and the instructor are allowed. Don't know if I'm allowed in an instructor's car, though... should look into that, even though that may only give me a taste of what the instructor run group is like and not the actual run groups I'd be interested participating in. :confused:
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    MGarrison

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    Well, there is some variation in school formats, but not that much. You can put a preference in motorsportreg, but I'm reasonably sure event organizers will place you in whatever run group they think you should be in. Insurance regulations require that only instructors can give rides. Most schools incorporate instructor run times, usually you can catch rides w/ your or other instructors during those sessions. Often, the first Sat. morning instructor session is instructors only. You should catch a ride with your instructor if you can to get a better idea about what he/she wants you to be doing, it can help a lot.

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