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      02-04-2014, 10:53 PM   #1
Hujan
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Track-readiness checklist (esp. for beginners)

So I'm getting set to start hitting the track in my M3 and am trying to figure out all the things I need to do/buy to get ready for the track. I figured others (especially other newbies) might be in the same boat, so I thought it would be useful to have a thread dedicated to the things that are must haves and those that are recommended for the track. I figured I could update this post with a running list based on contributions from others in this thread.

So with that said, here's what I've come up with so far:

Mandatory
  1. Tow hook or strap: Is it mandatory to run with a tow hook or strap attached to your front bumper? Rear bumper? If so, will either work or do most tracks only allow straps?
    .
  2. Helmet: I believe wearing a helmet is mandatory (not to mention a really good idea) but do most tracks have some to rent or do you have to bring your own?
    .
  3. Something for power-steering fluid leaks: It seems that power steering fluid leaks are par for the course with the M3 and that something (be it a rag, the expander that iND/3D Design sells, or the DIY with the motorcycle brake reservoir) is a must do

Recommended
  1. Protection from paint chips: Whether it's a leather bra, a clear bra, or just good old blue masking tape, something to prevent paint chips from debris on the track.
    .
  2. Studs: Studs are a relatively inexpensive way to make frequet wheel changes easier and improve safety at the track.
    .
  3. Pads/fluids/brake lines: If you are going to run the stock brakes, using high-temp fluid, performance pads, and possibly stainless steel lines will help get the most out of your brakes.

What am I missing? What are your thoughts on the questions I posed?
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      02-04-2014, 11:05 PM   #2
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I can't find the thread, but there's an old thread here that was excellent and hot a lot of response... didn't hurt a woman started it.

You need a chair, 17mm deep socket with at least a 3" extension, and a torque wrench good for 90 ft-lbs, decent tire gauge.
Check your lugs and tire pressure after each session. Sit in the chair when not in class or checking your pressure/lugs. Drink lots of water/gatorade while sitting.

No need for studs. The tow hook depends on the organization running it.

It should be in the sticky above if the mods here are paying attention and can find it.
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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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      02-05-2014, 12:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aus View Post
I can't find the thread, but there's an old thread here that was excellent and hot a lot of response... didn't hurt a woman started it.

You need a chair, 17mm deep socket with at least a 3" extension, and a torque wrench good for 90 ft-lbs, decent tire gauge.
Check your lugs and tire pressure after each session. Sit in the chair when not in class or checking your pressure/lugs. Drink lots of water/gatorade while sitting.

No need for studs. The tow hook depends on the organization running it.

It should be in the sticky above if the mods here are paying attention and can find it.
Thanks for the reply. I searched but didn't see anything, which was strange because I vaguely recalled seeing something like what you describe. Good thoughts on the things you posted.

That actually raises a question: Do most tracks have a safe place to store, for example, a torque wrench and sockets? Or is it just one of those things where people just have to trust each other not to jack their tools? Can't imagine it would be good to be driving around with tools in the car.
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      02-05-2014, 01:09 AM   #4
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Tire pressure gauge and torque wrench are also must haves at the track.
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      02-05-2014, 01:13 AM   #5
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You take EVERYHING out of the car, even the floor mats unless they're attached to the car. No dash cam, no radar detectors, or fuzzy dice.

There's RARELY any theft at the track. It's just not cool. I think you're going to a CCA event, and the people there are really cool. Some peole will bring an easyUp if it's a hot event, but then you need to bring something to tie it down too.
Get one of those storage bins with a lid to put your stuff in, then just keep it in there when you get home. I have my helmet, gloves and spacers in there.
SoCal CCA always has water. NorCal CCA... not so much so bring your own.

Here you go bud.

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=407557

Mods may want to add it to lucid's track FAQ.
.
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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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      02-05-2014, 07:23 AM   #6
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I was new to the track this past season and I way overpacked my first time out.

I'd suggest the following items:
Car
Helmet
Tow Hook
Torque Wrench + 17mm deep socket
Tire Gauge
Oil
Brake Fluid
Window Cleaner
Towels
Water (to drink)
Gatorade
Snacks
Chair
Sunscreen
Sunglasses and/or Hat

Beyond that if you get in a jam and need a jack or more tools you'll find plenty of people more than happy to help.

There's no need for studs. They in no way improve safety and really aren't going to do any good until you start swapping wheels. And as a first timer you aren't really ready for track wheels; a good set of summer tires is more than enough grip for you.

You'll want to have your brake fluid flushed and replaced with something DOT4 or better. Don't waste your money on Motul R600. Get yourself the ATE200 Gold. Boiling point wise it's just as good as Motul. I think the Motul resists fade a tad bit better in personal experience, but for the first time out save your cash. When you get hooked you're going to need it.

Lastly, if you have any of your credit card numbers memorized, request new ones. Then take all of said credit cards and place them in the freezer. Once they are frozen mail them to that research station on the South Pole. Trust me...this is for your own good
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      02-05-2014, 08:43 AM   #7
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The car comes with one tow hook in the trunk, and typically that's only required by organizers in conditions where going off-track is more likely, i.e. wet and very cold. Of course it can't hurt to be safe, but on the other hand if you'll want pictures of the event, a tow hook really messes up the look of your car.

I actually wrote two full-length articles for my local CCA chapter's newsletter about what I've observed and learned tracking my M3 that I'd be happy to email if you want to PM me, but here's the gist:

For your very first event or two, you can track this car bone stock and be just fine because it will be able to give far more than you'll be able to get out of it at that stage -- as will become painfully obvious to you if you ask your instructor to drive your car while you ride along, which I absolutely encourage you to do. It gives you something to aspire to and quells the "I would be so much faster if I installed this mod" syndrome. Don't worry about mods at this point. Now, if you'll be doing some maintenance anyway and/or want a preview of what's to come, here goes:

Insurance: Not really a mod, but before you do ANYTHING else, either confirm that your regular insurance carrier covers non-timed, non-competitive track events (most don't anymore, unfortunately) or buy track insurance.

Brake fluid: Use ATE Type 200 or Motul if you're ok bleeding brakes every few months or after every 3-4 track days, or spend a lot more on Castrol SRF if you want to skip the bleeds and just do annual flushes instead. I do the latter. But whichever you do, perform a full flush annually.

Brake pads: You can start with StopTech Street Performance pads, and I'd do them sooner rather than later because the stock pads left either uneven pad deposits or warped rotors after an event in the intermediate group that didn't go away for weeks. BMW took care of me on that one, but I knew they wouldn't keep doing that. The StopTech pads are just like OEM on the road and resist fade for much longer on the track. You can hold off on race pads until you hit an advanced group.

Camber plates: If you'll be going more than maybe 4 days per year, buy them now and set the camber for -2.5, otherwise you'll start throwing out front tires prematurely due to cording/chunking on the outside edges. Ask me how I know. The camber plates will pay for themselves in tires savings alone, and the extra grip on the track is just a bonus. I have Vorshlag's and love them because (when properly installed) they don't alter stock ride height or make any noise -- and if you set them to their minimum setting you're essentially back to stock alignment, so it's a mod that can be totally nullified without removal if desired.

Larger front tires: I just mounted 255/35/19 fronts on the stock 220Ms (after premature wear on one of my front tires from not enough camber with my plates...) and while I won't be on the track with them until March, they feel great on the road, look great on the wheels themselves, and don't affect the ride height or rake noticeably.

Big brake kit: Can be useful especially if you start running race pads because pad swaps become easier, and it also deals with brake fade that our heavy cars can experience once you're in an advanced run group and/or running tracks that are hard on the brakes. But don't worry about it unless you experience brake fade, and if at that point you're still not sure you want to drop the coin, just be aware of it and adjust your driving accordingly when brake fade sets in. Some people even in advanced run groups simply run race pads in the stock calipers and have no fade issues. I only added a BBK to the front axle and even keep my StopTech pads in the rear for the track, only installing race pads in the front. Works fine.

Notice what's not on this list? Things like springs/coilovers, sway bars, engine tunes and other power mods, etc -- the things that you usually find discussed by armchair racers who have never been to the track. Why? Because unless you get into club racing or above, this car has plenty of suspension and power in stock form even for advanced HPDE drivers, which is why people who actually DO go to the track tend not to mess with them or do them after the above mods. It's odd but true that the best way to go faster is to improve your brakes -- well, other than investing heavily in the driver mod.

PM me if you're interested in those articles I wrote for more information. Enjoy your upcoming addiction!
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Last edited by jphughan; 02-05-2014 at 11:12 AM.
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      02-05-2014, 08:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmw16 View Post
I was new to the track this past season and I way overpacked my first time out.

I'd suggest the following items:
Car
Helmet
Tow Hook
Torque Wrench + 17mm deep socket
Tire Gauge
Oil
Brake Fluid
Window Cleaner
Towels
Water (to drink)
Gatorade
Snacks
Chair
Sunscreen
Sunglasses and/or Hat
This is a good packing list, but don't feel that you have to go out and buy all of these things before your first event. Helmets can usually be rented, and chances are someone else at the track will have a torque wrench and socket as well as a pressure gauge and will be happy to let you borrow them, which is what I did initially. If you get addicted you will of course want your own helmet and tools (which I now have ), but that's not mandatory.

I personally don't bother with window cleaner, towels, or food/drink because my I've never needed window cleaner or towels (and I'd just borrow some if needed) and the tracks I go to actually have pretty good, reasonably priced food. The chair I didn't used to bring, but I went to Academy Outdoor and bought one of those folding outdoor chairs. I use it sometimes.

But yes, torquing your wheels to 88 lb-ft immediately before your session (NOT after you've just come off the track and have hot wheels!!) and checking your tire pressure immediately AFTER your session while they're still hot is a good idea. On street tires you should be running 38-40 PSI if you check right when you come off track.

For oil, I check after each day of the event by driving 5 miles on the road and then stopping on a level surface and letting the engine idle while I tell the electronic dipstick to measure TWICE, because sometimes it doesn't update the first time. I used to lose 1/4 quart each day at the track, but that doesn't seem to be happening as badly anymore. Whatever happens with your car though, add 1/4 quart LESS than the car says it wants, which in turn means DO NOT ADD ANY IF IT SHOWS 3/4 FULL. That's just a recipe for an overfill situation.
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Last edited by jphughan; 02-05-2014 at 11:14 AM.
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      02-05-2014, 08:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hujan View Post
Thanks for the reply. I searched but didn't see anything, which was strange because I vaguely recalled seeing something like what you describe. Good thoughts on the things you posted.

That actually raises a question: Do most tracks have a safe place to store, for example, a torque wrench and sockets? Or is it just one of those things where people just have to trust each other not to jack their tools? Can't imagine it would be good to be driving around with tools in the car.
Most tracks do not have protected storage areas, but it's also not an issue from my experience. I run with a group called The Driver's Edge, and since they opened in 1994 running various tracks around Texas, they have NEVER had a theft incident. Every time something has gone missing, it's been because someone took another person's weather-sensitive item because it had been left in the open at the end of the day and it was about to rain, and every time that person brought it back to the owner the following morning at the driver's meeting. I've seen people leave entire sets of 220Ms with mounted tires overnight at the track with no worries. Obviously YMMV, but people leave all kinds of stuff sitting around. Everyone is having too much fun to be douchebag thieves.

In terms of the other stuff you asked about that I didn't specifically address:

- I've never done anything about power steering fluid except change it now at 26K miles. Yeah it spews out, but I've just never bothered with the shop rag and rubber band mod.

- Don't worry about studs yet because you shouldn't be worried about dedicated track wheels or spacers yet.

- I have clear bra on my car so that helps. If you're worried about chips, I'd do that because it's a lot easier than masking your whole front end in blue tape (and obviously looks a lot better) and then you've got permanent protection for the highway too. Doing my front bumper, mirrors, and headlights (none of the hood) cost me $540, fwiw.

- Don't worry about stainless steel brake lines at this point. They're certainly not necessary even in an advanced group, and you'd get them with a BBK anyway. Your braking won't be anywhere near consistent enough early on for those lines to make a difference, and even if you can detect it, it's a fairly subtle change.
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      02-05-2014, 09:05 AM   #10
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I just read over this and realized that this has probably led you to think of going to the track as some huge overwhelming ordeal. It's really not. It will definitely get more involved if you get really into it, but my first couple weekends I literally only packed my insurance card, tech inspection form, and a backpack with clothes for the weekend since I was driving 100 miles for an all-weekend event at a track with a good concession stand and staying at a motel; I rented a helmet from the organizer. I didn't have ANYTHING else at all. In retrospect, a spare bottle of oil and possibly brake fluid would have been a good idea just in case, but otherwise you can definitely get by without the rest as long as you have a source of food and water at your track.

A lot of the stuff discussed above is accumulated over time if you decide you want to do this regularly (kind of like how you don't just buy every decoration or piece of furniture in your home in one shot), so for your first event or two, don't overthink it and have a good time.
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      02-05-2014, 10:41 AM   #11
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Dont need anything. Just go and bum from an experienced guy there!!
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      02-05-2014, 11:07 AM   #12
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Pretty much nothing is required for a new driver. Tow straps and hooks are definitely not required, and frankly the chances of a beginner going off track are a lot lower than an advanced driver pushing the limits. I'm not saying it is impossible, but nearly all offs involve drivers that think they're good.

My advice would be to take the car completely as is, and upgrade as necessary as you gain track experience. Your extra $$$ would be better spent on more track time.

Helmet is mandatory, but many track day orgs provide rentals to people that don't have them.
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      02-05-2014, 11:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hujan View Post
Thanks for the reply. I searched but didn't see anything, which was strange because I vaguely recalled seeing something like what you describe. Good thoughts on the things you posted.

That actually raises a question: Do most tracks have a safe place to store, for example, a torque wrench and sockets? Or is it just one of those things where people just have to trust each other not to jack their tools? Can't imagine it would be good to be driving around with tools in the car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aus View Post
I can't find the thread, but there's an old thread here that was excellent and hot a lot of response... didn't hurt a woman started it.

You need a chair, 17mm deep socket with at least a 3" extension, and a torque wrench good for 90 ft-lbs, decent tire gauge.
Check your lugs and tire pressure after each session. Sit in the chair when not in class or checking your pressure/lugs. Drink lots of water/gatorade while sitting.

No need for studs. The tow hook depends on the organization running it.

It should be in the sticky above if the mods here are paying attention and can find it.
Here's the thread...

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=407557
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      02-05-2014, 11:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Porschefile View Post
Pretty much nothing is required for a new driver. Tow straps and hooks are definitely not required, and frankly the chances of a beginner going off track are a lot lower than an advanced driver pushing the limits. I'm not saying it is impossible, but nearly all offs involve drivers that think they're good.

My advice would be to take the car completely as is, and upgrade as necessary as you gain track experience. Your extra $$$ would be better spent on more track time.

Helmet is mandatory, but many track day orgs provide rentals to people that don't have them.
^This.

Did my first 3 track days in completely stock form. Only thing I brought was a helmet, a folding chair and water. Borrowed someone's torque wrench during that time, eventually bought mine.
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      02-05-2014, 11:59 PM   #15
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I would mooch, borrow & rent as much as you can initially. You may decide afterwards that HPDE's don't float your boat.
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      02-06-2014, 12:42 AM   #16
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Dont need anything. Just go and bum from an experienced guy there!!
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      02-06-2014, 08:28 PM   #17
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Studs: Studs are a relatively inexpensive way to make frequet wheel changes easier and improve safety at the track.
Studs?



Seriously...I'd move brake pads/fluids (all fresh) to the required. Don't need the p/s fluid happy sock.
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      02-06-2014, 11:32 PM   #18
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For your first day, don't overthink it because there is a lot to learn. These cars are great right out of the box, so you don't need much. Here are my suggestions:

Helmet (check the clubs requirements)
Brake fluid flush (ATE is fine)
Glass cleaner and towel
Long sleeve shirt and pants
Chair
Tarp (to put you stuff on when you empty the car)
Sunblock
Drinks
Snacks
Pen and paper for notes

That's it. Listen to your instructor, be safe, and have fun!

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      02-15-2014, 01:02 AM   #19
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Thanks for all the replies, everyone.

Some of the stuff that I mentioned (stainless lines, brake fluid, studs) I already have on the car. (I did the studs mostly because I've been working on the car a lot and it is so much easier to take the wheels off and put them on with studs; any safety/convenience for track purposes was a bonus.)

Mostly, I was worried about the safety accessories (helmet, tow hook, etc.) and whether they were required, and if so, how likely I'd be able to rent. I'm glad to hear that I can pretty much go without.

Probably the only thing I'll do between now and then is clear bra since, as was said above, it is useful for daily driving as well. What are the areas I should target? Obviously the front bumper and headlights. I was also going to do the rocker panels. I'd like to do the whole hood as I get a LOT of rock chips on my hood on this car, but might be too much $$$.
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      02-15-2014, 01:37 AM   #20
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Tire pressure gauge!
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      02-15-2014, 10:01 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Hujan View Post
Probably the only thing I'll do between now and then is clear bra since, as was said above, it is useful for daily driving as well. What are the areas I should target? Obviously the front bumper and headlights. I was also going to do the rocker panels. I'd like to do the whole hood as I get a LOT of rock chips on my hood on this car, but might be too much $$$.
I started with my front bumper, entire hood, headlights, and entire front fenders. I got a few scratches on my rocker panels and regretted not doing them. I just added my rocker panels and the area behind the rear wheels. The best guy in San Diego is Evan Rowe with Auto Armour.
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      02-15-2014, 05:24 PM   #22
Hujan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slicer View Post
I started with my front bumper, entire hood, headlights, and entire front fenders. I got a few scratches on my rocker panels and regretted not doing them. I just added my rocker panels and the area behind the rear wheels. The best guy in San Diego is Evan Rowe with Auto Armour.
Thanks. I'll have to give him a call. Is he mobile?
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