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Porsche Club Track Days... Prepare Your Car

Porsche Club Track Days

Porsche Club Track Days are fun events at which you can extend both yourself and your Porsche (as far, or as little as you want) within controlled surroundings and enjoy a degree of tuition to improve your skills, getting the best from yourself and the car. Our days are not in the least bit competitive and anybody found timing, or being timed, will be asked to vacate the venue !

Even so, the cars (and the drivers) can encounter higher stresses than would ordinarily be encountered on the road (excepting the most aggressive of road drivers !!). For this reason, it is important that drivers be satisfied the car is up to the task. Unless the car has been serviced very recently, it is advisable to get it checked prior to taking it on a Track Day. As a guide, things you should consider are:

Noise - Circuits are coming under increasing pressure from local residents and various environmental groups regarding noise issues. Some circuits have more difficulties than others and therefore are required to operate to differing noise limits. Most of the circuits that the Club uses, including Goodwood, operate to a noise limit of 105 dBA. This will usually mean that all standard Porsches will not have a problem, even 911's - the 964 type with 'Sport Exhaust' usually being the worst example, tending to measure 104-105 dBA. Bedford is also subject to relatively tight restrictions and a drive by test of 97dB(A) applies, again the 964 model with a Sport Exhaust can be used, if a little 'restraint' is displayed. Castle Combe in Wiltshire is the circuit with the tightest noise limits, at 100 dB(A). This means that only cars with standard exhaust systems will be allowed on track. Anything non-standard is likely to be too noisy.

Brakes - Hard use of the brakes will increase the temperatures to which components are subjected. Pads, which are getting low, may struggle to cope with the extra heat and brake 'fade' may result. Thin (worn) discs may be prone to distortion if used to extremes. Brake fluid may need to be changed as it absorbs moisture over time, leading to a spongy pedal under hard use. The fluid should be changed at least every two years anyhow. A high temperature fluid (DOT4 or 5) is advisable (standard on later model Porsches).

Tyres - Are they in good physical condition with no damage to sidewalls? If the tread is low, this may improve the feel of the car and its stability under dry conditions, but if it rains you may be in trouble. As with all things in life, this element relies on compromise. Brand new tyres will feel 'slippery' until they have bedded in and the deep tread blocks may make the car feel 'fidgety' when cornering hard. Generally, Porsche tyre pressures do not need to be increased for track use. In fact for some models (later 911's in particular), you will need to lower the rear pressures, perhaps by 6-8lbs or more, depending how hard the car is being driven and how much heat is being generated within the tyres. A mix of tyre makes on the car is not to be recommended and may lead to strange handling characteristics, particularly when driven hard.

Driving quickly on a circuit will use the tyres harder than normal, but wear will not be excessive unless driven like a lunatic. Quick driving means using the grip, not exceeding it or sliding the car around. The edges of the tread blocks will 'feather' slightly, but normal road driving will tend to flatten them off again.

Suspension geometry - Cars used primarily for Track Days can be set to 'optimise' the handling and may use non-standard settings. For occasional track use, leave the settings standard, at least until you determine how the car handles and how hard you are likely to be driving. Incorrect geometry settings will upset the handling of the car and may lead to extreme or uneven tyre wear. Cars, which have been lowered significantly may have insufficient suspension travel and can become very nervous on bumpy surfaces at speed.

Lights - Headlights and driving/fog lamps should be taped-up to avoid glass falling on the track if a stone hits them. Electrical insulating tape is ideal for this, as it is easily removed.

Vehicle contents - You should make sure that all unnecessary and loose items are removed from the car, preferably before you set off for the circuit, as this avoids a job on the day. Loose contents can fly around inside the car under braking and cornering and are therefore a potential danger. This applies equally to mobile phones, which should be switched off to avoid distractions.

Fuel - Some circuits offer fuel 'on-site', but it is usually less expensive to fill up before arriving at the circuit. You may not be able to get 'Super Unleaded' at the track. Your car will consume more fuel than you imagine when driven hard on a circuit, therefore arrive with at least 1/2 tank to save time-consuming journeys to the pumps.

Note: as a rule, more fuel in a 911 means better 'turn-in' to corners and reduced understeer.

Lubricant levels - Engines used at high revs may consume more oil than under normal use. If necessary, bring a can to top-up if you know the engine is consuming oil. Do not over-fill the engine oil and, for 911 models, keep it no higher than 3/4 mark on the dipstick. Any higher and it may overflow when hot and the oil expands. The resulting mess is embarrassing (for the driver) and may lead to the car being taken off-track. It is also advisable to check the transmission oil before the event.

To a greater or lesser degree these points can also apply for road use. For example, extreme geometry settings or mixing of tyres will lead to inconsistent or erratic handling whether driven on the road or on a track. In addition, personal safety is of great importance and, for that reason, the following points need to be observed:

Crash helmet - Must be worn at all times when a driver or passenger is on the track. These do not need to be to the latest racing standard (although this is advisable, as they can then be used for racing if you decide that is your next step), but they must be in good condition. The Club will always have a number of helmets available for 'loan', but there may not be sufficient to go around. Therefore, if you have your own, bring it with you.

Clothing - It is not necessary to wear special clothing, but (for reasons of safety, not modesty) arms and legs must be covered at all times. Therefore, shorts or short sleeved shirts are not acceptable, whatever the weather.

Driving licence - All drivers will be required to show their Driving Licence when signing on before the event. This is not to check how many points you have, but to ensure you are able to drive a car legally. Regrettably, no licence - no track time and no refund!

Insurance - Some insurance companies will extend road risk cover to include Club organised Track Days (most specifically Royal & Sun Alliance, through PerformanceMarque - Tel: 0121 248 0911). Check with your insurance company or broker and stress there is 'no competition element' to the day. Some companies can offer 'one-off' accident cover for these events and we will send contact details with joining instructions, but your own insurer is probably the least expensive route. This is something worth considering when your road risk policy is due for renewal. Taking out a cheap policy which does not cover track days, will undoubtedly result in significantly higher costs to get track day insurance cover later on, if it is possible at all. If in doubt, talk to PerformanceMarque !

Insurance Indemnity - All drivers and passengers going on circuit will be required to complete a number of Insurance Indemnity Forms. These will be sent out with the joining instructions and should be brought to signing on, completed, to save time.

After attending a number of Track Days you may find you have been 'bitten by the bug' and you want to get quicker, or take it to the next stage and enter competitive events. The Club can provide the opportunities, through its Speed Championships, the Porsche Cup, the Porsche Classic Championship or the Porsche Open Series.

SO .... look through the Track Days dates listed on the 'Home Page' (there is a downloadable booking form there also) and get your bookings in quick to avoid disappointment.