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Old 08-15-2010, 06:11 PM   #1
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Default Advice on tracking

Track guys:

I went up to Lime Rock to do some spectating yesterday and after I have quite a few questions for you guys.

How did you go about doing your first track day?

What are the common things you take to the track?

How quickly do you burn up a set of tires?

What is required to race?

I know there are several, but common mods for the track?

What are weak spots in a Miata while tracking?

On a good day how much do you spend at the track?

Favorite fire suit, helmets, gloves etc..

As far as track etiquette goes, are people in the pits normally pretty friendly and helpful?

Being it was the first track day that I ever watched, I was extremely intimidated to go about asking questions.

(Still had a smile on my face the entire day, Nothing better than cars rocking out everywhere)

I really want to get on the track.. But figured I'd ask a few questions before attempting to.

I wish I had money to blow to go to track school unfortunately I'm a school student with a part time job. If I got to the track once a month I would be more than content.
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Old 08-15-2010, 06:23 PM   #2
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seeing the track once a month on a tight budget is very optimistic. I have a loose budget and I'm lucky to see the track three times/summer

on half as many wheels
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Old 08-15-2010, 06:28 PM   #3
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I went up to Lime Rock to do some spectating yesterday and after I have quite a few questions for you guys.

How did you go about doing your first track day?
You have to find the events. Best place to look is http://www.nasaproracing.com/ scca.org and https://www.trackdaze.com/
There are also clubs that hold events such as bmw and Porsche.


What are the common things you take to the track?
I just bring basic tools but my car is stock when it comes to power so I dont have to worry about working on a turbo at the track Most miata owners that track get a tow trailer and bring a jack and jack stands if they need to change pads or bleed brakes or whatever is needed. I have never brought a jack or stands because I don't have the room. Maybe next year
How quickly do you burn up a set of tires?


What is required to race?
Helmet. lol You can find most of this info on nasaracing
I know there are several, but common mods for the track?
Well you NEED a rollbar so thats first on the list. After that racing brakepads like hawk hp+ or xp8s. Also racing brake fluid such as ATE superblue or RBF600. I would get summer tires such as the re-11 or the star specs.
What are weak spots in a Miata while tracking?
Shitty drivers in their heavy cars slowing you up. A bone stock miata with basic upgrade such as tires and pads are great cars for a beginner driver.
On a good day how much do you spend at the track?
With hotel close to a grand :(. Without I would say 600-800
Favorite fire suit, helmets, gloves etc..
I like my bell helmet a lot. I dont need a suit or gloves at my level but once I get my new wheel I plan to get gloves
As far as track etiquette goes, are people in the pits normally pretty friendly and helpful?
Super helpful. I am from NY so if you see me at the track next year say hello Also limerock is awesome
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Old 08-15-2010, 06:29 PM   #4
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PM me if you need anything. I have done most of the big tracks in the east coast.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:04 PM   #5
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Holy ****, a grand for a weekend? I'm glad I don't lap at your tracks....
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #6
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Holy ****, a grand for a weekend? I'm glad I don't lap at your tracks....
I am thinking he is adding up all the costs he has during the weekend. $400 for the weekend of track time, $100-$200 for fuel for weekend, $200 for hotel, $xxx misc parts and such. So it can add up quickly.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:50 PM   #7
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Ya I guess... but still I don't spend that much in a weekend. Say $350 for track time. Tires work out to maybe $70-$100 worth of wear. Pads are $50/set and last 3-4 days. Maybe use 3 tanks of gas = $100 give or take that's still nowhere near $1000.

I guess it all depends on how reliably you built your car...
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:04 PM   #8
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Track days around here are $200 for the good ones, which is 7 30 minute sessions. I had a $90 for 4 30 minute session once, it was in Feb. though.

So look around for HPDE days around your area, try motorsportreg.com.

After the track day itself, plan on 1-1.5 tanks of gas for N/A, 2-3 tanks for turbo.

It's not that the turbo itself is ever at fault. Beyond stretch studs, they're usually fine. It's the over heating issues that are the major problem, then you have issues like your tune doing something wacky once you're racing it, oiling problems (PCV systesm do weird things under high G loads), so on a so forth. I'd also plan on changing your oil and filter within a week of the track day, and again within a week afterwords. Some would say you're fine after a track day to run it for a 1000 miles or two, but I wouldn't skip the oil change before hand.

I've had two sets of tires last for 20,000+ miles and a couple of track days. One of those sets was the stock 185, although I didn't have a turbo at the time. The miata can be very easy on tires if you drive correctly.

I'd have to disagree with 02semiata's advice on brake pads. The xp8 is indeed a track pad, but the Hawk HP+ is not. I tracked them for my first 3-4 track days, but I started having issues on my 3rd and 4th. Both with the brakes and the rest of the car, so I wasn't even pushing it as hard as I could.

I wouldn't worry about race tires, as a beginner you'll learn bad habits if you start on an R compound. Look on GRM's site and find their articles on cheap tires. They're almost all done on a miata, so it's direct testing.

I would just make sure all belts and hoses on your car are in great shape, along with your tires well above the wear bar, and put on a set of xp8 pads with fresh rotors. Keep the pads with the rotors, and swap them on and off for track days to make them last (although the XP8 is one of the few pads that won't squeal on the street too much). Then get the required roll bar, and most HPDE's will have helmets available for rent for $10 a day. Remove your fog lights. Not only are the stupid, but they do block some flow, along with any mesh grill you may have.
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:34 PM   #9
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Most of my two day events are $470 plus hotel, food, gas, blah blah. It does add up. Sorry for the mistake on the brake pads I run xp8s not hawks so I was unsure of what pad it was. Thanks for correcting me
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:42 PM   #10
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The colors are Hawk's race pads. So hawk blue and black are race pads. You're running the right pad though.

Yeah if you have a local track (no hotel), and only do a one day event, it easily cuts the price in half. I don't think we have many two day events around here.
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:56 PM   #11
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Yeah NY tends to have higher priced events. Most of the events I do are two so
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:28 AM   #12
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I haven't tracked my Miata yet, but I'm prepping it to be my track car; I have tracked my s2000 though. 1 day events are usually $150. 2 day events are $300. All you need is a helmet. Some trackdays require you to get your car tech inspected by a reputable shop, so that's another $20-$50. My first track day was a blast, it was out at Harris Hill Road. The instructor I had was awesome and helped me a lot even though I had a bit of car control experience from autocross already.

Car Essentials to bring...
Helmet
Tire pressure gauge
Tire temp gauge
Portable air pump if track doesn't have one (small ones from Harbor Freight are pretty cheap)
Window cleaner (at least for the bugs here in Texas)

Non-Car Essentials to bring...
Water. Plenty of water, even if it's cool outside. Stay hydrated.
Sunscreen
Windjacket (yes, even in the summer it can get brutal if there aren't any trees around)
Snacks to keep your energy and focus up
Change of clothes for the ride home
Bring the fun, man!

A small tow trailer to carry tools would be pretty helpful when you start to get serious but if you start making friends you might be able to borrow some tools to get you by until you do get a trailer.
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Old 08-16-2010, 12:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by RavynX View Post
I haven't tracked my Miata yet, but I'm prepping it to be my track car; I have tracked my s2000 though. 1 day events are usually $150. 2 day events are $300. All you need is a helmet. Some trackdays require you to get your car tech inspected by a reputable shop, so that's another $20-$50. My first track day was a blast, it was out at Harris Hill Road. The instructor I had was awesome and helped me a lot even though I had a bit of car control experience from autocross already.

Car Essentials to bring...
Helmet
Tire pressure gauge
Tire temp gauge
Portable air pump if track doesn't have one (small ones from Harbor Freight are pretty cheap)
Window cleaner (at least for the bugs here in Texas)

Non-Car Essentials to bring...
Water. Plenty of water, even if it's cool outside. Stay hydrated.
Sunscreen
Windjacket (yes, even in the summer it can get brutal if there aren't any trees around)
Snacks to keep your energy and focus up
Change of clothes for the ride home
Bring the fun, man!

A small tow trailer to carry tools would be pretty helpful when you start to get serious but if you start making friends you might be able to borrow some tools to get you by until you do get a trailer.
+1 Thanks for putting in everything I missed haha. When I first started racing I got all that info from the nasa site like I posted about. Also I wish my track days were that cheap maybe I should do show shopping around next season
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Old 08-16-2010, 12:11 PM   #14
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Change of clothes for the ride home
+ 1 billion. After four session of driving in the heat, and wrenching inbetween in the heat, and any other time just sitting around in the heat, my shirt is always soaked in sweat. Track days always end around 5pm, so my fresh shirt is then soaked in sweat by the time I get through rush hour. But at least I've comfortable again for the first half hour.
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimR View Post
Track guys:

I went up to Lime Rock to do some spectating yesterday and after I have quite a few questions for you guys.

How did you go about doing your first track day?
I did my first HPDE weekend back in 2000 using two cars- a rented Mazda 626 with skinny tires, fail wheel drive, and an autotragic on Saturday because it was raining cats and dogs. Sunday it dried out and we took dad's RX-7 off the trailer and I drove that. Obviously I had the luxury of not having to worry about car maintenance before/during the event, which was nice. That brings up the point... get your car sorted well in advance. You don't want to be rushing to get **** done before your first track day, because you'll be nervous enough already.

What are the common things you take to the track?
Basic hand tools, tire pressure gauge, spare set of brake pads, pint of brake fluid, extra qt of motor oil, spare set of front hubs (haven't needed them yet). I bring a laptop with the appropriate software for the Megasquirt. Air source, jack & jack stands can easily be borrowed from someone else in the paddock if you don't have room to bring your own. Then the usual water, snacks, hat, sunscreen, camp chair, etc. Bring a tarp big enough to cover all your stuff when it rains.

How quickly do you burn up a set of tires?
In a stock Miata, not quickly enough. I have 10 or 12 track days on my RS2s and I'm squealing them around every turn and the bitches won't die. I want to wear them out because I've been ready for R-comps for quite a while now. Even with street tires, you will pwn the other noobs in their bloated sedans once you learn how to drive.

What is required to race?
Roll bar, helmet is all that should be required for an HPDE but check the group's rules. You won't be "racing."

I know there are several, but common mods for the track?
Roll bar, your tires are fine, brake pads and FRESH FLUID, you will eventually want stiffer springs & sways and may or may not need a coolant reroute.

What are weak spots in a Miata while tracking?
For a noob driver, a stock Miata has no real weaknesses as far as you're concerned. Lack of horsepower is not a weakness at that stage; in fact it will make you better in the long run.

On a good day how much do you spend at the track?
Summit Point is $350/wknd with NASA. Only an hour from home so my cheap *** doesn't have to spring for a hotel. VIR is closer to $450/wknd then add hotel, food, gas, spare parts and/or wear, etc and $800-1000 isn't unrealistic. A stock Miata gets 14-15 mpg on track. Contrast that with a single turbo RX-7 that burns $2 per minute (conservative estimate) worth of 100 octane gas for 3-4 hours of track time during the weekend, or built Corvettes that require brake pads and fresh tires about as often as I put on a fresh pair of socks. It's not a cheap hobby, but a stock Miata is about as cheap as it gets.

Favorite fire suit, helmets, gloves etc..
I bought my own helmet (~$350) because renting one that's had somebody else's fat sweaty head up in there was not appealing. Bought some nice Sparco gloves on clearance, have owned the same pair of Simpson nomex driving shoes ~forever. No driving suit for me yet, just long cotton pants & long sleeved shirt.

As far as track etiquette goes, are people in the pits normally pretty friendly and helpful?
Being it was the first track day that I ever watched, I was extremely intimidated to go about asking questions.
Don't be. In any crowd there's always a douchebag or two but 98% of us are friendly and like talking about cars & driving. Although I despise most of the general public, at a track day I feel like I can shoot the **** with anyone I meet, and I always try to help noobs who look lost or confused. There's no shortage of help if you need it. Head over to where the Miatas are paddocked if you need a reach-around.

I wish I had money to blow to go to track school unfortunately I'm a school student with a part time job. If I got to the track once a month I would be more than content.
Not gonna lie, the only track days I could afford when I was in grad school were the ones my dad mostly paid for. I couldn't afford the money or time to have my own track car so he'd let me co-drive his one or two weekends a year. It was quality father-son time and it got me hooked. After my first event I vowed that one day when I finished up my degree and got a real job that I'd get into track days on my own, and look at me now! I still don't have a real job, but I do have an almost-capable track Miata.
.........................
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Old 08-17-2010, 01:41 AM   #16
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Hi Tim,

Track guys:

I went up to Lime Rock to do some spectating yesterday and after I have quite a few questions for you guys.

How did you go about doing your first track day?

Some people start with autocross, some don't. These people usually hear about track days from their autocross friends, and eventually take the plunge. There are also many people that go straight to track days, and while some just show up without knowing anyone, it is more common for newbies to already have a friend that regularly goes to track days.

What are the common things you take to the track?
You'll need to arrive with a good night's sleep, a mechanically sound car, a cotton long-sleeve shirt, pants (not shorts), closed-toe shoes (no sandals), and a helmet (usually rated M2005 or newer). Everything else is negotiable.

How quickly do you burn up a set of tires?
If you are driving a relatively stock Miata, on street tires, they will last plenty long.

What is required to race?
There are lots of types of racing, from time-trials to wheel-to-wheel racing. Track days are usually considered school/educational days, though there is nothing slow or boring about them. If you are asking what is required to get into wheel-to-wheel racing, the answer is lots of money. Lots. A lot of that money will be spent on track days, where you shoujld be learning how to drive (before you learn how to race, there is a big difference).

I know there are several, but common mods for the track?
Starting out? A mechanically sound car. Maybe slightly upgraded brake pads. The only thing you really need is a mechanically sound car. No major fluid leaks, decent brake pad/rotor thickness, fresh fluids, plenty of tread on your tires. If you would be willing to drive your car down to Florida and back, without expecting any mechanical issues during the trip, then the car is good-to-go. Safety-wise, at a minimum you need a real 4-point rollbar (not style bar), and to have your helmeted head lower than the top of the bar when you are sitting in the driver's seat.

What are weak spots in a Miata while tracking?
Usually the driver, but that is easy to fix.

On a good day how much do you spend at the track?
A beginner would likely spend $250, including registration fees.

Favorite fire suit, helmets, gloves etc..
Good idea to have, but not necessary at first. HJC makes some great helmets that are actually affordable too.

As far as track etiquette goes, are people in the pits normally pretty friendly and helpful?
Yes. Extremely. But this can depend on the club/organization you run with. Some clubs lean more toward the wine & cheese crowd, others are not as focused on fast lap times as others. The club I'm most involved with is all about the fast lap and is one of the very few that allows in-car timers (actually, we recommend them, other clubs ban them).

Being it was the first track day that I ever watched, I was extremely intimidated to go about asking questions.
Totally normal. The whole thing is very intimidating for first-timers.

(Still had a smile on my face the entire day, Nothing better than cars rocking out everywhere)
Sounds like you owe it to yourself to find out more about events in your area.

I really want to get on the track.. But figured I'd ask a few questions before attempting to.
Very smart!

I wish I had money to blow to go to track school unfortunately I'm a school student with a part time job. If I got to the track once a month I would be more than content.
Once a month might be a tall order. Autocross will definitely fit your budget more, and it can be very fun.

You are in NY?


I would highly recommend COM Sports Car Club. We run all over the northeast and Canada, at world-class race tracks (Watkins Glen, Mosport, Mt Tremblant, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Monticello, Calabogie, Summit, etc. We have a 2-day at NHMS the weekend after next, were the first day is a school day and the 2nd day is our time-trial day.

Your first day with the club would cost $125.
The normal rate is $225, but we provide a $100 rebate for first-time club participants (regardless of previous experience with other clubs).
There are a TON of Miatas there, usually at least 25 - 50% of the cars there are Miatas, and many of our instructors drive Miatas too. I think our July event at NHMS had about 35-40 Miatas (I'm kind of surprised that there hasn't been a bigger push to organize a "Miata Challenge" series with so many and such a large variety of Miatas at our events).

You made a great and honest observation about being intimidated. EVERYONE is intimidated at first. To help out newbies, ease their intimidation, answer questions, and get them up and running for their first event, COMSCC offers a mentor program. Signup on the website, it is free. We'll hook you up with a friendly, experienced member who will be just as enthusiastic about your first day as you are.

We also offer Hot-Lap Ride-Alongs. These are offered to non-participants at our events. The Ride-Along is just that, turning laps on-track in the passenger seat of an instructor's car. Participants get a taste of the full track experience at speed in a car driven by a well-sorted instructor. We'll start slow, talk you through it, and add as much speed as you can stand, then we'll go a bit faster. Participants get the full-effect of a track day, as they are welcome to hang out with us in the paddock, check out all of the cars, and sit-in a classroom session or two.

Ride-Alongs are $35, which covers a year's worth of annual club dues. Basically the Ride-Alongs are "free", but our insurance requires that anyone on-track at anytime during one of our events be an active club member. So, to cover the insurance requirement, Ride-Alongs are $35 and include a free 1-year membership.

COM's website is:
www.comscc.org

COM's forums are pretty active, you can find it here (and by the way, there is an awesome deal on a Hard Dog Hard Core Double-Diagonal bar in the classifieds right now, and other Miata deals too).
www.comscc.org/forums

Here's a direct link to the "Getting Started" page, which has some helpful info and a link to register for our mentor program.
www.comscc.org/getting-started

By the way, I would not suggest Lime Rock as a good venue for your first event. A track like NHMS would be a much better fit. Even NJMP or Watkins Glen would be better choices. I like LimeRock, hold a record or two there, but it is far from my favorite track. It is one of those tracks where a spin or off can easily result in your car hitting a gaurd rail.

If you decide to check out a COM event, let me know. I'll be happy to take you out for a ride-along or set you up with a different type of car, if you prefer.

Cheers,

Will
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:09 PM   #17
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Also if you can find the local club, they might have enough performance guys who go out to the track days/autox vs. wine and cheese. Around here there's a whole bunch of guys who are into the days, so you get to hear about all sorts of days/options.

I usually run 2 or 3 track days a year, with lots of autox in between. However, it's mostly because of available time.

Depending on who's running the events can determine the safety gear required. Some will let you lap without 'bars, others want 2" clearance.... Most cases, helmet, bar, and some smooth shoes are all you need.

Also the first rule is... don't worry about having people be faster, yada, yada. You're first time, will really open your eyes to the lines on the track, where to brake etc. Normally, the events I've attended have the noobies in one group, and then "more experienced". By the end of the day, it usually loosens up, but the noobies are generally more comfortable at that point. Also a lot of time, you can have a more experienced driver in the pax seat to help point where the turns are, etc.... which can really help regardless of experience. I find having pax, or pax'ing in somebody's car can show you where you are slower, or even just how they handle a specific spot on the track.

Lots of water, snacks etc.... Also expect that you will be "done" at the end of the day... So if you have a good drive home, a stop for dinner in the AC can sometimes be a good move....

So in my case, I have a trailer and tires already... so it's got the jack, the regular tool case (sockets, etc)... plus I usually all the stuff required to change brakes.... (I usually have a spare pads for the just in case...) Plus any other misc stuff, I might think I want that day... Oh and always, have at least one quart of oil..... I've always found I seem to go through a little at the track.

Dave,
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:36 PM   #18
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Track guys:

How did you go about doing your first track day?

I got into motorsports through the FSAE team at OSU. We used the local SCCA autoXes to get seat time in our cars. Then I started driving my street car, and eventually got invited by some friends to try Hallett (OK's only road course).

What are the common things you take to the track?

Ice chest with lots of water! Good set of tools (wrenches, sockets, brake-line wrench), jack, jack-stands, zip-ties, brake fluid, oil, extra front rotors, extra front brake pads, extra shirt, comfy shoes or flip-flops for the drive home.

How quickly do you burn up a set of tires?

Depending on the track and if you have the right pressure in them, you could trash a set of fronts in one day if you don't rotate between 1 or 2 sessions.

What is required to race?

This will vary by track, but generally you will need a SA2000 helmet (or newer) and some tracks allow M-rated helmets. Long sleeve t-shirt and pants. Your battery must be secure and some tracks will not let convertibles run without a roll bar.

I know there are several, but common mods for the track?

Dedicated set of wheels/tires, dedicated set of brake pads/rotors, SS brake lines. I wouldn't do anything the car until you've been out with it stock. This will let you draw your own conclusions for where you need to modify your car to suit your driving style.

What are weak spots in a Miata while tracking?

Cooling. If you haven't done the cooling mod, you might want to look into it. ...though, if it is your first time out you probably won't be driving it hard enough to get it hot. The stock brakes and suspension on these cars are pretty good from Mazda.

On a good day how much do you spend at the track?

1 tank of gas to and from track, 1 tank of gas on track, entry fees, lunch/snacks - $300-$500

Favorite fire suit, helmets, gloves etc..

If you have a location close to you, go try on everything! Some helmets fit small, some fit big. Same with gloves, shoes, suits, seats, etc.

As far as track etiquette goes, are people in the pits normally pretty friendly and helpful?

At Hallett, almost everyone is very approachable. I've been in so many exotics, it isn't even funny. Best place to meet people is in between sessions, and a great ice breaker is "nice car, can I drive it?"
My answers in bolded red.
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:47 PM   #19
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Wow thanks for all the advice guys I recently went out to autox this weekend... It doesnt seem like it would compare to the track but its a cheap way to improve your driving skillz while having a blast and meeting some cool people. Here are some pics I got First in my class..(First timers but its a start, beat an older porsche and some trailered Camaro)

Course

mmm

a little sideways

tweaked

tight

tight

rolll outttt



Fast Finish:



Bananas:







Raw FTD car:



Great looking Elise:



Getting My trophy:

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Old 09-01-2010, 01:09 PM   #20
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I just moved to WNY. I'll have to hit you NY guys up on track info once I get my car rebuilt and moved up from FL.
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