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      07-26-2012, 03:04 PM   #67
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Most track organizations will have different groups for your level, beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

When I was in the beginner group I thought they did a great job in explaining the safety and etiquette of track driving.

Also, everyone on the track is usually pretty aware. It was scarier driving home on the freeway with so many people on their cell phones not paying attention.

Just don't drive beyond your abilities or comfort zone. Remember, you're just trying to have fun in a safe environment, no prize for finishing first.
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      07-26-2012, 04:07 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya335 View Post
Most track organizations will have different groups for your level, beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

When I was in the beginner group I thought they did a great job in explaining the safety and etiquette of track driving.

Also, everyone on the track is usually pretty aware. It was scarier driving home on the freeway with so many people on their cell phones not paying attention.

Just don't drive beyond your abilities or comfort zone. Remember, you're just trying to have fun in a safe environment, no prize for finishing first.
you mean you can't use your cell phone while driving on the track
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      07-26-2012, 04:19 PM   #69
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I'll briefly weigh-in:

I have taken my M3 tracking once. This is what I learned / gathered:

The Pros: it's true what they say - you won't appreciate the machine you're driving until you bring it rocking down a straightaway at 135mph and 8400 rpm only to drop anchor 300 yards out and coax it through a gut-turning, g-force causing hairpin at 75-85 mph. For what has a times been labeled both a "sedan" and a "cruiser," it's a hell of a car and you won't fully appreciate what you're driving until you take it to the track. Given the premium we paid for the M vs. a standard 3, it's my opinion that every M driver should take their car to a track event at least once. In some ways, it legitimizes the extra cost we plonked down the day we picked up the keys.

Beyond the experience itself - which I'd characterize as an amazingly fun (and terrifying) self-directed roller coaster - you learn quite a bit as well. I was fortunate enough to be paired up with an instuctor with over 20 years of racing experience. He was shouting at me the entire time while simultaneously encouraging me to go faster. Through 1 full day and 4 sessions, I learned quite a bit from him. I feel that I have implemented a lot of what he taught me into my daily driving routine, and to this end, the experience was additionally worthwhile.

In this video, you can sort of hear his muffled commands as I went around Lime Rock Park. He was on top of me the entire time.


Further to the above point, I think that it's imperative that any first-timers go to an event that provides instructors. It's my feeling that taking on day numero uno sans instructor would be tantamount to suicide. It's not so much about skill per se rather it's an issue of technique. The technique comes with instruction, and you don't learn it from playing Need for Speed .

The Cons: It's dangerous. My instructor was the first to tell me that you can do everything right, play by the rules, keep the speed in check, and still very easily end up in the wall. There are so many variables that are out of your control - for example, it is not uncommon for cars to dump some oil on the track. The oil is incredibly hard to see, and if you hit it, well, that's all she wrote. Additionally, and maybe stating the obvious here, but you are not the only driver out there ...

Through the 1 day and 4 sessions, one car did go into the wall. The guy didn't have track day insurance, and the car was totaled. Expensive day for your prototypcal weekend warrior type. His mistake? 2 wheels on the track, 2 wheels in the grass - he didn't realize it, hit the brakes - the difference in grip threw him into a spin that carried his car nose-first into the wall. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt, but his new car looked like an accordion on the back of the flat-bed truck. Apparently this guy was a very experienced driver - shit happens, however.

The realities: Before you go, you will most likely need to get fresh brake fluid and, if necessary, new pads. Additionally, you will have to find an event that provides instructors for newbs (like me). Lastly, and though I didn't do it myself the first time out, you really, really should think about getting track day insurance. With the insurance, you're looking at an expensive day. For example, the track day that I attended was $350 through BMWCCA. Add the cost of insurance, ~$400, plus cost of gas getting there + expended racing, factor in wear and tear on at least the tires, and you're realistically looking at $1000 to spend a Saturday driving like a loon. Unless you're filthy rich - and I get that some of you are - it's hard to legitmize this level of expense on, e.g., a monthly habit as unproductive as this one (haha). I guess that some of these expenses (i.e. the need for an instructor) would come down with experience; still, I can't envision attending a track event without insurance, experienced driver or otherwise. Seems like a monumental risk.

On the flipside, you dished the extra $ for the M, so why not enjoy it. Get the money together, find a good track with reputable instructors, and make sure you have your insurance for the day. Do it at least once - the experience will be exhilirating, terrifying, and educational all at the same time. Furthermore, you'll never look at your car the same way after - I know that I certainly don't.

Last edited by Talk2meg00se; 07-26-2012 at 04:27 PM.
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      07-26-2012, 04:33 PM   #70
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you mean you can't use your cell phone while driving on the track
Haha you can... you won't be hearing much though

As the poster above me said, if you have a M3, it is absolutely worth it to take out on the track. You actually get to experience the car's all out nature. Thrilling and frightening at the same time.
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      07-26-2012, 04:39 PM   #71
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I certainly don't think everyone should go to the track. If you aren't interested then you aren't. No need to force yourself to go. But if you are interested in performance driving, you should go. It is definitely a lot safer than driving fast on the street.

No way can you safely drive at track speed on the street. You can however go street speed on track if you don't feel comfortable going fast. I instruct at some track days and I always encourage the driver to drive at a pace they are comfortable with. The first couple of laps I let the driver drive and I observe what he is doing without saying anything. Then I'll comment and give tips and pointers based on what I see. If you are gripping the wheel hard, nervous and sweating, chances are you are driving over the your limit. I had a driver that didn't feel comfortable going faster than 80mph in his Porsche 911. I told him no problem... just remember to point the guys behind you by ASAP.
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      07-26-2012, 06:49 PM   #72
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Thank you all for the input gentlemen...Which track in SoCal is the safest(has the most run offs)
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      07-26-2012, 06:55 PM   #73
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I agree with what most people have already mentioned. Tracking is a lot of fun, but again, check your ego at the door and go at your own pace. I believe taking your car to the limit on the track is a lot safer than canyon driving. Unless you're an adrenaline junkie and enjoy the fear of possible death on the canyon, I'd recommend heading to the tracks. Streets of Willow at Willow Springs International Raceway is a great beginner course close to the LA area.

In my experience, the cars that end up in the walls or off the track are generally the drivers in the more advanced groups who are trying to push their cars to the limit and break their own personal track records. Beginners tend to drive much slower and safer, so just make sure you sign up with the group that matches your skill level, and gradually work your way up to higher skill levels when you're more comfortable.
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      07-26-2012, 07:07 PM   #74
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The main things I can think possibly accounting for these differences are either "safer" tracks (more runoff, so you can go off and not hit anything), better weather, or maybe the SoCal people just get out to the track more, vs us upper midwest folks have the regular winter/early spring/late fall gaps of bad weather.
While it is a combination of all three, the biggest answer is safer tracks. Go look up a video for Chuckwalla. Or Buttonwillow. It is not impossible to wreck (there are still walls on the start/finish straight and you can flip if you go off sideways), but it is very rare. SoCal is blessed with tracks out in the desert with a lot of runoff.

Even the tracks that I consider more dangerous here are still more safe (relatively) than many tracks around the country. It tends to be the older tracks as well that are less safe. But even NorCal has it's share of tracks that I would be hesitant to track at without insurance (such as Infineon) due to the sheer number of walls.

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Thank you all for the input gentlemen...Which track in SoCal is the safest(has the most run offs)
Chuckwalla, followed by Buttonwillow.
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      07-26-2012, 07:16 PM   #75
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With the insurance, you're looking at an expensive day. For example, the track day that I attended was $350 through BMWCCA. Add the cost of insurance, ~$400, plus cost of gas getting there + expended racing, factor in wear and tear on at least the tires, and you're realistically looking at $1000 to spend a Saturday driving like a loon. Unless you're filthy rich - and I get that some of you are - it's hard to legitmize this level of expense on, e.g., a monthly habit as unproductive as this one (haha).
FYI:
1) Plenty of track days from $100-150 (in SoCal)
2) If you go regularly, you can buy multi-event packages and save significantly (e.g., Lockton with $65k declared value is $418 for one event but $241 if you do 15).

It's still not cheap (and wear and tear definitely adds up...), but seems hard to legitimize buying an M3 only to putz around on the street
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      07-26-2012, 08:43 PM   #76
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Willow springs and buttonwillow are very safe. Tons of runoff and the runoff is dirt so the worst, or hopefully the worst you will have is a popped tire. I am scheduled to go to CA speedway on the 12th of August and will let you know how that goes. That will be the first time I have been there.
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      07-26-2012, 08:46 PM   #77
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Willow springs and buttonwillow are very safe. Tons of runoff and the runoff is dirt so the worst, or hopefully the worst you will have is a popped tire. I am scheduled to go to CA speedway on the 12th of August and will let you know how that goes. That will be the first time I have been there.
thanks for the info!
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      07-26-2012, 09:05 PM   #78
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Willow springs and buttonwillow are very safe. Tons of runoff and the runoff is dirt so the worst, or hopefully the worst you will have is a popped tire.
Unless you screw up Turn 8



or Turn 9

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      07-26-2012, 09:09 PM   #79
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RE: Track a bad idea?

Not at all - track days are some of the most fun you can have anywhere. I've been to most of the Southern California tracks a number of times and as has been said they are overall pretty safe with lots of run-off.

The one exception is actually the new-ish Horse Thief Mile at Willow Springs. It's neat with lots of elevation change but it also has one off-camber turn coming down a hill that is just above a straight such that if you lose it you'll drop directly into on-coming traffic - and likely upside down. I've never seen a car get hurt nor have I hurt my car even with my fair share of off-track excursions but if any SoCal tracks were to have a problem then Horse Thief would be it.

Go try it and be safe.
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      07-26-2012, 10:15 PM   #80
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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.
Hell, I think I stopped buying new clothes and just wear track shirts when I got hooked. I stopped caring about my cosmetic appeal!
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      07-26-2012, 10:25 PM   #81
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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.
I think one significant wreck per weekend is average for what I've experienced with NASA, BMWCCA, Chin, PCA, Trackdaze, Mercedes, Audi, SVT, PBOC (80-90 or so track days)
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      07-27-2012, 11:11 AM   #82
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Unless you screw up Turn 8



or Turn 9

Both of those are on Big Willow if I'm not mistaken. I would start on Streets of Willow anyways as it isn't as high speed of a track for beginners.

Of course with any track, there is some risk involved. I like to think in general that the tracks in socal are safer than ones in other areas. And as others have stated, if you can't walk away from your vehicle if it is totaled, then this activity/sport/pastime may not be the right one for you. It is more or less a time to bond with your car, get to know its limitations and to "have the most fun a man can have with his clothes still on" as another M enthusiast once said.
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      07-27-2012, 11:23 AM   #83
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Hell, I think I stopped buying new clothes and just wear track shirts when I got hooked. I stopped caring about my cosmetic appeal!
Btw-you have any pics of your beautiful M coupe?
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      07-27-2012, 11:32 AM   #84
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Didn't read the whole thread here but here's my 02..

I used to have a twin turbo G35 that I used to track. I never tracked it when it was N/A so I started tracking with a 350whp car. It was so much fun, and to be honest I never even worried about the thread of crashing my car. I was always concentrating on my driving and only 1 time out of 5 or 6 track days did I go off track, and it was only onto some dirt. Nothing major.

If you have the chance to go to the track, do it. You will not regret it. But as others have said make sure you go with an established group like speed ventures, redline time attack HPDE (you don't need to compete), porsche club, etc. They will have instructors and you will have a blast. Just don't act like you're actually racing other cars, because you're not. You're there to have fun and drive your car fast around corners legally.

I can't wait to get my M3 and take it out..it'll be a blast.
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      07-27-2012, 12:20 PM   #85
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Thank you all for the input gentlemen...Which track in SoCal is the safest(has the most run offs)
The infield course is pretty safe at California Speedway. The CCA may run a school there later this year. You really need 2 days to get going.
I don't think Willow Springs big track is that safe. It has a lot of ditches and drop offs with big rocks if you go off.

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Originally Posted by bwoon View Post
I agree with what most people have already mentioned. Tracking is a lot of fun, but again, check your ego at the door and go at your own pace. I believe taking your car to the limit on the track is a lot safer than canyon driving. Unless you're an adrenaline junkie and enjoy the fear of possible death on the canyon, I'd recommend heading to the tracks. Streets of Willow at Willow Springs International Raceway is a great beginner course close to the LA area.

In my experience, the cars that end up in the walls or off the track are generally the drivers in the more advanced groups who are trying to push their cars to the limit and break their own personal track records. Beginners tend to drive much slower and safer, so just make sure you sign up with the group that matches your skill level, and gradually work your way up to higher skill levels when you're more comfortable.
Agreed. All true.

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Willow springs and buttonwillow are very safe. Tons of runoff and the runoff is dirt so the worst, or hopefully the worst you will have is a popped tire. I am scheduled to go to CA speedway on the 12th of August and will let you know how that goes. That will be the first time I have been there.
CA speedway is pretty damn FAST coming out of the infield. I can't say I enjoy Nascar I/II anymore. It was cool initially.

.

.
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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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      07-27-2012, 10:21 PM   #86
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Btw-you have any pics of your beautiful M coupe?
I have a couple, but nothing like photoshoot like.

Sorry OP:

A couple days after I bought it in 1/08.


Then on to track life!




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      08-16-2012, 04:27 PM   #87
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You crash your car on public roads and insurance has your back......you crash it on the track and ur screwed....?
Why not buy a track car Mr. $Mrkhanna? Track insurance is cheap, especially if you only go a few times. It's really not such an issue to be worried about. Life is full of risk, you know the saying, you got to pay to play...
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      08-16-2012, 06:10 PM   #88
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Just don't go to a public track day..sign up as a novice and get an instructor. The last thing you want to do is kill someone just because you somehow think it's safer and cheaper to speed on public roads.
Perhaps you can even find out if your local track rents out cars for the day.
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