Tracking part 3: Confessions of a track addict
It’s been three years since that first weekend at Willow Springs, and I’ve got my red wristband. Now that I’m a committed track junkie (or at least I should be committed) I’m reminded of an expression that sums up the overall experience:
“Auto Racing is a lot like standing in a wind tunnel tearing up $100 bills.” R. Penske
OK… being a track head ain’t cheap. There’s track fees, hotels, brake pads, fluids, racing gear, and the most expensive of all… tires! The faster the tires, the more expensive they are and the shorter they’ll last. While most S2000 trackers don’t discard their tires as frequently as their F1, IRL, and NASCAR counterparts, you also can’t expect a set of shaved r-compound tires to last much more than 4-5 track days if you’re driving hard. This means probably 4 sets of tires per year at a cost of between $700 and a thousand dollars a set. All together, I spend about $7k per year to track. Averaging 20 track days with 2 hours behind the wheel at each event that works out to a cost of only $175 an hour. (Much less than my lawyer charges)
If you don’t bother with race tires and brakes, the cost is surprisingly affordable.
In the past three years, I’ve gone from a timid newbie to a pretty good driver. I never wanted to be the fastest since I know that I’m just not crazy enough to push the envelope that far. I just wanted that red wristband, and to know that I could hold my own with the fast guys. I also never forgot that nice fellow Len who took pity on me that first track weekend and became my “replacement” instructor. I’ve never seen him at another event to extend my thanks, so I became an instructor myself to “pay it forward.” I find it very rewarding to take someone as unsure of their skills as I was, to a point where they fell fast and comfortable on the track. There’s an awful lot of joy and happiness involved, and it feels great to be a part of.
Btw… for those of you who thought Rylan was kind of a creep to me that first weekend, you’re RIGHT! I thought he was a real jerk too. It turns out his car had a major failure just before my run session, and he had much to do to correct it if he wanted to drive his car that weekend. In the ensuing years, he’s not only helped me out tremendously with tech info and driving advice, he and his lovely bride have opened their home to me as a guest every time I head up to their neck of the woods for a track day. Just shows how wrong those first impressions can be, huh?
There’s almost nothing like the feeling of getting a challenging track dialed in to the point that you know exactly where you have to be and at what speed to get the most out of it. Each track has a rhythm to it, and when you get it right, it’s a thing of sheer delight.
I can’t encourage those of you thinking about getting your S out on to the track enough to do it. You don’t have to become a track-head to have fun. You just need to show up to an event and participate. Your local forum should have info about upcoming track events in your area, and you can also keep an eye on the Racing & Competition forum to see events posted there.
The track is calling… are you going to answer??!!