The Beginning of (Track Day) Addiction
Many of us have memories of our very first track outing. The hustle and bustle around the paddock, purpose-built race cars being driven in on trailers, the whirr of pneumatic tools as lug nuts are tightened and the public announcement system calling groups to the staging area. All that may make a rookie feel out of place or insignificant in the grander scheme of things until the time comes to go out on track for the first session. Once you go out and run on track, you realize that you have crossed a threshold and that you now have something in common with all those people that you saw in the paddock. You now have driven on track, survived it and want to go out for more – an addiction takes hold. From the land down under (Australia mate!), our member, nofearofdanger, writes about his memorable first track day. We hope that this rekindles fond memories of your own first track day and we also hope that it helps those of you considering a track day to make an affirmative and life-changing decision. Be sure to leave a word of encouragement for nofearofdanger by sounding off in the comments.
Everyone who has the opportunity to get out on the track should do so.
I’ll attempt to tell you why…
As someone who has always driven in a spirited manner on the twisties, my local track (by local, I mean 2 and a half hours away) was having an open day. Anybody in any car could attend, so long as it was in good shape. After listening to repeated accounts by my older, and more seasoned track friends on how good it is to get out, I took the plunge. I’ll tell you now, no matter how hard you drive through mountain roads, this is a completely different experience all together. You approach it with a different attitude. There’s no pressing thought in the back of your mind of flashing police lights dancing on the mirror behind you because you’ve exceeded the posted speed limit. No apprehension, no nervousness of the prospect of highway patrol waiting in the median, or on the side of the road with his laser gun out, ready to impound your car and break your wallet.
That being said, it’s not just the driving, it’s everything else that comes along with it. Going up with a group of your friends who all share the same love for motorsport and cars. The new buddies you make up there, too. The sound of cars with tuned exhausts and intakes screaming down the main straight. The smell of burnt petrol, meandering through the air and tickling the nose with a sense of great familiarity. The sight of cars attacking corners like there’s no tomorrow. It really is, like nothing else out there. The laughter, the foolishness the enthusiasm, the passion. It all comes together to give you an unexplainable feeling. The warm fuzzy feeling at the back of your pants that James May so often mentions. It’s a petrol-head’s sensory delight. How I envy those who are fortunate and talented enough to work professionally within the industry. For those of us who are hardcore enough, it would be utopia.
6000, 7000, 8000, 9000rpm into third, VTEC singing like an angry demon, brake hard, the nose of the car dips as the mass transfers onto the front axle and my neck resists against the longitudinal g-forces. Enter the corner, look for the apex. Turn hard. Clip it. Lateral g-forces generated by my Direzzas push and pull on my entire body. Slowly ease on the gas as corner exit, then wide open as the car is pointing forwards. An assault on your physical and mental stamina, but in the most glorious of ways.
When you’re on the track, nothing else matters. You don’t have to clock an amazing time. You don’t have to be modified. You can be a professional or a first timer. All of life’s problems seem to wither away into nothingness. The magic occurs when everything amalgamates together into something beyond physical or mental experience. The track allows the car and driver to unite into one, more than you could on the street. It allows you to push that crucial 10% harder. It transcends the combined rational worth of a man and his car, because it stirs the soul deeply, just like Soichiro intended.
At the end of the day, you have little to show for what you have just experienced. You’re tired as hell, your tires are cooked, your brakes are worn, and countless litres of petrol have been burned, but nothing in the world can wipe that smile off your face.
Images courtesy of nofearofdanger
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