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      07-24-2012, 05:05 PM   #23
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Risk Chart:


Quality Track Event . . . . . . . . . . . Topanga Canyon
No dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dogs & cats (playing together)
No Law Enforcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHP
Specific Passing Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . Double Yellow Line sometimes meaningful
Run-offs at turns. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fence, houses, 30-degree deep canyon
Skill Levels in Groups. . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 year olds, 80 year olds, no skill req'd
Smooth surface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Potholes, cracks, bumps
Controlled surface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Branches from recent tree-trimming
One-way driving. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Usually...
Make friends with other drivers. . . . . . Get a wave (lucky), get a finger (maybe)



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      07-24-2012, 05:11 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chriszeh
If you like having money in your wallet and being able to sleep at night don't do it. You will become a depraved addict in 30 minutes and will be done for for life. You will contemplate tire, brake, suspension setups while your supposed to be working, sleeping, or lsitening to your wife. Its like crack. The track is full of the worst junkies. You soon won't care about the cosmetic appeal of your car and will laugh off rock chips and hot rubber marks everywhere. You will start thinking about how much use you could get out of the car without any interior and if your wife will notice. Your garage will turn into a parts warehouse for tires and brakes. You will get up at 2 in the morning because it seemed like a good time to rotate your track tires and bleed the brakes. Beware.
You nailed it. This was exactly my reaction after my first track day. It gets expensive quick but it's soooo worth it.
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      07-24-2012, 05:13 PM   #25
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Usually the ones saying the canyons like the track are the guys who have tried a track day once and weren't nearly as fast as they thought they were. Go out and try it once, it's criminal not to in this car
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      07-24-2012, 05:24 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chriszeh View Post
If you like having money in your wallet and being able to sleep at night don't do it. You will become a depraved addict in 30 minutes and will be done for for life. You will contemplate tire, brake, suspension setups while your supposed to be working, sleeping, or lsitening to your wife. Its like crack. The track is full of the worst junkies. You soon won't care about the cosmetic appeal of your car and will laugh off rock chips and hot rubber marks everywhere. You will start thinking about how much use you could get out of the car without any interior and if your wife will notice. Your garage will turn into a parts warehouse for tires and brakes. You will get up at 2 in the morning because it seemed like a good time to rotate your track tires and bleed the brakes. Beware.
Love this! So true.

Based on the original post and some of the responses, it must be possible with some track organizations out West to run as a novice or first-timer without instruction. If this is true, it blows my mind--I would stay far away from those groups. Every organization I've run with (NASA, SCDA, Porsche Club chapters) absolutely requires a novice to have an instructor. It's just the common-sense, responsible thing to do.

As others have said above, running on the track is generally a safe, controlled way to explore your car's true potential. The track's road surface is typically smooth and well-maintained, there are flaggers warning you of trouble ahead, there is only one-way traffic (typically), you have an instructor showing you the line until you're experienced enough and know that particular track well enough to do it on your own, and there is a trackside ambulance crew for the small chance of a serious incident. You can't say any of that for running at high speeds on public roads in the canyons of Orange County.
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      07-24-2012, 05:31 PM   #27
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I'll answer better when I have more time, but as someone who has attended multiple track days with no incident, I'll tell you that tracking is mostly about a state of mind IMO. Don't push your luck, have some humility, convince yourself you're not Schumacher, go with an open mind to learn from an instructor, don't force yourself if you're tired, get enough rest, keep an eye ahead, sign up for the proper group, don't talk back to the instructor and listen to him, pay attention to conditions, respect passing rules and point by often so as to not get pressured from behind and try to be faster than someone that you're not and end up going in to hot and run off track, etc. OPEN TRACK DAY IS NOT A RACE DAY, it is a way for people to explore a higher speed than on public roads without legal issues and have fun, but there are still etiquette and common sense and rules to follow. If you want to experience racing, sign up for NASA or a similar program.

Also, there exists track day insurance, I heard like $1000 for 10 track days or something?
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      07-24-2012, 05:36 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McLoven View Post
You nailed it. This was exactly my reaction after my first track day. It gets expensive quick but it's soooo worth it.
Yeah I got a small problem that's getting worse I think. Its like booze, gambling and sex. Once you start its a slippery slope to hand jobs in an alley for a set of r-comps. Not that I'm there yet.
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      07-24-2012, 05:40 PM   #29
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+1 for the track over canyon roads. I would also recommend going to organized track events where you can have an instructor. personally when I started going to the track a couple years ago it was my boss who instructed me, but we went with the organization speedventures where I started in the beginning group and he was in the open passing group. they do have instruction available. beginner groups for example you will start out in single file in groups of about 5 cars with an instructor leading each group, and you can have an instructor in your car as well. as for track insurance, Ive seen one day go for about $300.
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      07-24-2012, 06:17 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LM3 View Post
Food for thought, sure. I think most who have tracked without track insurance have considered the risks. I certainly have.

Seems that one of the biggest misconceptions on the part of those who have never participated is that a track day is inevitably where crazy happens. Where people and their cars are just barely in control, pushed to the brink of disaster at every turn. You're lucky to emerge without damage. It's a RACE track after all...

The truth is, for the most part your risk factor is controlled by you, and that unlike a public road, the track is engineered to accommodate cars at high speeds. I've never once felt out of control, or at excessive risk in dozens of sessions at numerous tracks. If I did, well, I'd just pit or leave the event altogether. It's not Death Race.

No doubt that there's an inherent, unavoidable risk in the activity, and that if you don't have track day insurance and have a serious incident you are probably screwed. If that's enough reason for you not to try it, that's an understandable position. It's worth the risk to me though.

As others have suggested, join a track day with a reputable organization, enroll as a novice requiring instruction, don't lose your head, and you'll be fine. If you just can't get over the chance of an incident and the lack of coverage, then purchase track day insurance. I did once when I went to an unknown track with some rather close walls..
EXACTLY what he said.

To OP: If you ever do go to the track don't push it over your limit. PM me. I go all the time. You can roll with us and show you around We are going this Saturday to Buttonwillow, but if that is too far for you Speedventures will have their next event @ Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
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      07-24-2012, 06:24 PM   #31
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OP, definitely go to the track where you'll have an instructor riding shotgun. It's not especially cheap, particularly if you have to buy dedicated track insurance because your normal policy won't cover it (mine does, one of many reasons I'm with Amica), but IMHO it's one of the best fun-per-dollar experiences available.

As for mods, I would say if you've never been to the track before, you could probably track this car bone stock and be just fine; just get your car inspected beforehand to make sure everything's in working order and you have sufficient tire tread, brake pad thickness, fluid levels and "newness", etc. If you keep with it and get better, brake fluid will be your first issue (spongy pedal), which can be fixed by running something like ATE Super Blue or Type 200 (same stuff, just different colors), and then brake pads will probably be next to deal with fade. Then much later on, suspension mods might be considered to address understeer (once you can handle neutral handling), then OPTIONALLY tires if you want to run slicks and are willing to pay for them, in which case you'd probably want a BBK to deal with the extra brake heat generated from all that extra grip, and then FINALLY engine mods MAYBE -- but all of that would be much later. Notice how suspension, BBKs, and engine mods are LAST in that list even though they're the mods a lot of people jump straight for, skipping over the less sexy items? Yeah, that's how you separate real drivers from poseurs. The first three mods of any real driver and the ones that make the largest speed difference by far are the driver, the driver, and the driver.

As you get better, the habit does indeed get more expensive since brakes and tires wear faster, fuel economy decreases, you start thinking about more expensive mods, and of course you'll want to go more often. But even if you don't become a regular, it's a great thing to do in this car even once because the M3 can't be fully appreciated when confined to public roads, especially US roads. The track is what it was built for, after all!

As others have said, just leave your ego at the track entrance, keep DSC on to start, listen to what your instructor is telling you, and don't hesitate to let people pass you so you can focus on what you're doing rather than what's behind you. Accidents under those conditions are highly unlikely, but a fun time is virtually guaranteed. Oh, and the more you drive on the track, the more mellow you'll be on the street -- then you'll stop thinking about doing stupid things like treating a canyon road as a track and being paranoid about cops.

Last edited by jphughan; 07-24-2012 at 07:27 PM.
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      07-24-2012, 06:30 PM   #32
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Track days are not a day at the races. They are quite safe, with no pressure to be any faster than you feel comfortable. Definitely, give it a try.
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      07-24-2012, 06:33 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chriszeh View Post
If you like having money in your wallet and being able to sleep at night don't do it. You will become a depraved addict in 30 minutes and will be done for for life. You will contemplate tire, brake, suspension setups while your supposed to be working, sleeping, or lsitening to your wife. Its like crack. The track is full of the worst junkies. You soon won't care about the cosmetic appeal of your car and will laugh off rock chips and hot rubber marks everywhere. You will start thinking about how much use you could get out of the car without any interior and if your wife will notice. Your garage will turn into a parts warehouse for tires and brakes. You will get up at 2 in the morning because it seemed like a good time to rotate your track tires and bleed the brakes. Beware.
+1 on the crack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by klammer View Post
Usually the ones saying the canyons like the track are the guys who have tried a track day once and weren't nearly as fast as they thought they were. Go out and try it once, it's criminal not to in this car
Agreed. No way is a canyon run close to a track event... unless you just don't care about your car or other people on the road.

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      07-24-2012, 07:10 PM   #34
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Hi

I agree fully with most of the posts here, I regularly track my car.

1. It loves it
2. Do NOT go to public day
3. Find a club/group of people/small track day company
4. Get insurance, it can be done particularly if there are instructors present
5. Get instruction
6. The last hour is always best, I regularly have the whole track to myself!
7. Then turn the traction control off on the slow corners! (search youtube E92 Hamptons)

Having completed that you will slow down on the road, because you'll learn just how dangerous/fun an M3 is!

Cheers
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      07-25-2012, 04:30 AM   #35
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going to a track without any training or coaching is crazy. speeding on a public road is crazier. speeding on a canyon road is absolutely moronic. The safest way to enjoy your car is with a reputable organization on a closed driver education school such as with BMW CCA. It is very sad that insurance company's can deny coverage for an accident at a school but will cover a drunk driver plowing into opposing traffic. The lessons you learn at a driving school can be applied all the time and make you a safer driver. It also reduces your eagerness to do stupid things on a public road as the things you can do on a track simply can't be perfomed on public roads safely or legally.

I would say if you buy any BMW and intend to use it in a sporting manner, it should be mandatory to take at least a car control clinic with BMW CCA or BMW corporate.

Check with your insurance company's full policy. see if they specifically exlcude any driving on a closed course. Some do not exclude it as long as its not a contest of speed. BMW CCA driving schools are not timed. Its not about racing. Thats a different school.

In the end though, you have to be willing to write off the entire car and walk away. If you can't accept that possibility then don't take it to a driving school no matter who is hosting it or how safe it is. A quality driving school takes out many of the risk factors and its much much safer than speeding on a public road, but there are still risks. If you aren't prepared to accept a complete loss, then get a cheaper vehicle to learn in.

I learned mostly in a disposable E30 325is. It had all the safety equipment in it and I was way faster in that than several people in new M3's worried about damaging their car. Actually it accelerates your learning curve because you can focus on driving better versus getting some paint scratches.

I also highly recommend going to a car control clinic or autocross first before trying a big track. learning to correct your car in an oversteer condition or solving understeer in a low speed autocross will come in handy as you progress through the ranks of a driving school and get progressively faster (more dangerous and less room for mistakes). The local BMW CCA chapters conduct these almost every month. San Diego is the best with their courses at Qualcomm! LA does a great job too.

finally, all the people here writing the same advice, I wish you were here in germany! Let me know if you ever visit.
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      07-25-2012, 08:29 AM   #36
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It's safer to drive at or above the limits of your car on a track over public roads anyday. The probability of accidents happening on the road are quantifiably higher on the roads than at the track considering you share the road with mostly hazard prone drivers.

Accidents are more likely to happen in the advanced sessions during track days. If anything...accidents during novice sessions w/instructor happen only because of driver error and not someone else rear ending you.

Most track groups require you complete a tech inspection at a shop before taking your car to the track with a completed and signed form by the mechanic/tech/inspector. This is good for you and other drivers given they know that your car has passed a mechanical and visual inspection and is less likely to 'blow up'. (This doesn't mean shit won't happen-these cars are stretched to their limits at the track and may be subject to mechanical issues)

From a price of entry standpoint (at least here in the NE):
Entry for one track day ranges from $220-$300 depending on the club or track organizers. This usually includes an instructor as well.
You need a proper set of track tires (preferably a square setup)
Gas money.
Insurance: A must if you drive the advanced session but in your case-novice so not necessary.
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      07-25-2012, 09:58 AM   #37
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I disagree with having to go to a bmwcca day since most if not all "public" days have instruction options. Speed ventures, speed district which ever are good starting points as long as you sign up for instruction. I've yet to see 2cars hit usually it's a spin out into a wall when the driver pushes too hard. Track day insurance seems to be an over kill when you're starting out IMO.

As far as canyon driving, 20sec of actually being able to hit a turn cleanly an maybe 15mins total of higher speed in turns does not = 100min of track time. Even "cautious" or "slower" track driving is better than avoiding cops an other cars.
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      07-25-2012, 10:22 AM   #38
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Now read this and ... see if it does not put a smile on your face


FIVE ELDERLYLADIES DRIVING .....

Sitting on the side of the road waiting to catch speeding drivers, a Massachusetts state trooper sees a car puttering along at 24 mph. He thinks to himself, "This driver is as dangerous as a speeder!" So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over.Approaching the car, he notices that there are five elderly ladies - two in the front seat and three in the back, wide-eyed and white as ghosts.

The driver, obviously confused, says to him, "Officer, I don't understand. I was going the exact speed limit. What seems to be the problem?"

The trooper trying to contain a chuckle, explains to her that 24 was the route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.

"But before you go, Ma'am, I have to ask, is everyone in this car OK? These women seem awfully shaken.""Oh, they'll be all right in a minute, officer. We just got off Route 128."

Whatever you do don't let these fine ladies on the track
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      07-25-2012, 10:57 AM   #39
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      07-25-2012, 01:02 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chriszeh View Post
If you like having money in your wallet and being able to sleep at night don't do it. You will become a depraved addict in 30 minutes and will be done for for life. You will contemplate tire, brake, suspension setups while your supposed to be working, sleeping, or lsitening to your wife. Its like crack. The track is full of the worst junkies. You soon won't care about the cosmetic appeal of your car and will laugh off rock chips and hot rubber marks everywhere. You will start thinking about how much use you could get out of the car without any interior and if your wife will notice. Your garage will turn into a parts warehouse for tires and brakes. You will get up at 2 in the morning because it seemed like a good time to rotate your track tires and bleed the brakes. Beware.
This x100.
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      07-25-2012, 01:03 PM   #41
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Going to the track is an amazing experience, and our cars were made for it....my suggestion, is to DEFINETLY go through an intructed course first. We have alot of porsche clients who are always eager to go to the track after they buy a car since we are strongly affiliated with local tracks, but we always send them with an instructor, and then a lead car, then we let them drive on their own. It is a totally different world out there. Until youve been on a track, youve never been able to drive your car.
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      07-25-2012, 07:06 PM   #42
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Lots of great advice on going to the track (vs. "tracking" in the canyons). Not sure why this thread wasn't moved to the dedicated track forum where it belongs. I will say I think anyone that takes an M3 to the track without either buying dedicated insurance or making absolutely sure their insurance company will cover it is crazy. Most major ones will not (the "racing" exclusion is old language, now most of them have an exclusion for anything held on a course designed for racing, meaning they could technically deny coverage for an autocross held at a track). I agree the risk isn't all that high, and agree also that car-to-car incidents are quite rare, but I've rarely been at an event where there wasn't at least one serious incident (out of 50 - 100 students), with damages ranging from thousands to full total of car. If you can "walk away" from the car (in the worst case of total loss) or have enough in savings to pay for major repairs, great. If not, insurance should be pretty much a no-brainer.

I speak from experience too. I spun in the wet (in my experience, risk of incident goes up dramatically on a wet track, even at lower average speeds), paid ~5K out of pocket to fix my R32. If you regularly engage in "canyon racing", I also think you are dramatically underestimating potential costs there, in the case it leads to an accident -- out of pocket deductibles, higher insurance premiums, being dropped by your insurance company.
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      07-25-2012, 07:16 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzentruber View Post
Lots of great advice on going to the track (vs. "tracking" in the canyons). Not sure why this thread wasn't moved to the dedicated track forum where it belongs. I will say I think anyone that takes an M3 to the track without either buying dedicated insurance or making absolutely sure their insurance company will cover it is crazy. Most major ones will not (the "racing" exclusion is old language, now most of them have an exclusion for anything held on a course designed for racing, meaning they could technically deny coverage for an autocross held at a track). I agree the risk isn't all that high, and agree also that car-to-car incidents are quite rare, but I've rarely been at an event where there wasn't at least one serious incident (out of 50 - 100 students), with damages ranging from thousands to full total of car. If you can "walk away" from the car (in the worst case of total loss) or have enough in savings to pay for major repairs, great. If not, insurance should be pretty much a no-brainer.

I speak from experience too. I spun in the wet (in my experience, risk of incident goes up dramatically on a wet track, even at lower average speeds), paid ~5K out of pocket to fix my R32. If you regularly engage in "canyon racing", I also think you are dramatically underestimating potential costs there, in the case it leads to an accident -- out of pocket deductibles, higher insurance premiums, being dropped by your insurance company.
You're running with the wrong group if you're havign that many accidents.

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Let me get this straight... You are swapping out parts designed by some of the top engineers in the world because some guys sponsored by a company told you it's "better??" But when you ask the same guy about tracking, "oh no, I have a kid now" or "I just detailed my car." or "i just got new tires."
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      07-25-2012, 07:41 PM   #44
swartzentruber
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aus View Post
You're running with the wrong group if you're havign that many accidents.

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Uh no, they have almost all been with BMWCCA. I think most people that give this response either drastically underestimate the risk, or are running at hugely safer tracks with no armco/trees for miles and tons of runoff. At BMWCCA Ofest 2 years ago at Road America, I recall at least 2-3 cars with very significant damage, including an almost brand new M3. Granted, quite a few of the incidents I recall happened at Road America, which has the rep of being a somewhat more dangerous track, but I've seen incidents at virtually all the local tracks I've run at.

I also mention that it's not uncommon that we have to run events on wet tracks, which as I said, seems to dramatically increase risk of incident. I notice you are in CA, perhaps this is a far rarer occurence for you (wet track), which could partically account for the differences we are seeing.
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Last edited by swartzentruber; 07-25-2012 at 07:46 PM.
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