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Hey Guys,

I always see people on PW talking about track days and fun amateur events when everyone brings there car and you know.. drives around a race track haha. However I'm a complete noob to the autocross world and haven't been able to find much in CT in terms of if I wanted to just drive my DD to a track and really give it the boot. That pretty much sums it up, thanks!

:driving:
 

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Assuming you're talking about hitting an actual road course, then you should look up HPDE or DE (high performance driving event or driver education). HPDE events are typically split between different run (skill) groups with the beginner groups requiring an instructor in the car. In between sessions you typically receive classroom training, which will go over the basic physics/dynamics of the car, learning the school line (fastest/safest way around the track), and general driving etiquette (rules on passing, what different flags mean, etc.)

There are some car clubs that offer DE, few that come to mind are BMW CCA and PCA (Porsche Club of America). Although you may not be a member, often times you can register as a non-member and pay slightly more. NASA is a motorsport club that's not specific to any car make. It's open to everyone and you have to pay annual membership.

Other clubs include: Chin Motorsports, SCCA, Trackdaze, and Hooked on Driving. In order to actually register for an event, look up the local website to see how they handle registration. Some do it directly on their website, others will direct you to www.motorsportreg.com, where you will have to create a new profile and add the club to your account.

Tracks closest to you are Lime Rock, CT and Watkins Glen, NY. There's also NJMP in Southern NJ and Poconos Int'l Raceway in PA. Typically these events are for the entire weekend so you'll have to book a motel in advance. Check the respective club website or forum to see what members' suggestions are. Sometimes clubs will even have special discount codes for that weekend/event.

Lastly in terms of what's needed... really nothing besides a good HUMBLE attitude and a full faced helmet (open face is permitted at some tracks but not all so better off going full). Motorcycle helmets are fine as well, as long as the SNELL rating is 2010 (2005 will most likely be phased out this year). Humility is key, can't tell you the number of guys who thought they were Schumacher and felt instruction was a waste of time. These are the guys who find themselves in hairy situations on track and pose a danger to other drives. 99% of your experience on the street means SQUAT on the track. In terms of your car, as long as it's in good running shape with no leaks you are good to go. It doesn't need any modifications b/c truth is until you get really competitive, the car in STOCK form will be more than adequate for your SKILL. At the very least, I would do a full brake flush with high temp fluids. Prior to any event, they will email you a tech inspection form to be completed either by yourself (assuming you are qualified) or a local independent shop. Things they will check for are rotors, pads, tires, bushings, etc.
 

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I realized there really isn't much info here on how to start getting into track days so figured I'd just add a little more to what I already have above.

1) NASA is a national organization so although you might be part of the Northeast region, you are welcome to register for events in any region. Their website has all the registration info you need in order to become a member and how to sign up for individual events. Should you decide to go with a car club, you can register at MotorsportReg.com : Online registration management tools for driving and social events, and get a feel for which local clubs are doing which events. Best way would to screen by checking off on "Driver School" and selecting a distance of say 200 miles from you. I typically drive up to 4-5 hours for certain events but you should definitely be able to find something within 2-3 hours.

2) Once you decide which event/club you're doing, most times you should be able to download the "tech form" from their website. It's basically a checklist of items you need to go through to make sure your car is in good running condition. If your car is relatively new or you're mechanically inclined, you don't need to worry about it so much (and can check off everything yourself). However, if your car is a few years old or you're not a DIY guy, I'd spend the few bucks to get the car professionally inspected by a local indy shop. While you might assume your car is 'fine'... keep in mind the car is under more stress on the track. You don't want to find out once you're there you have an issue which isn't a quick fix. Then you just blew a couple hundred dollars to see other people drive for a weekend. Or even worse off, you were 'that guy' who leaked fluids and caused an accident to yourself or others

3) Pack light! Bring only what you need b/c prior to getting on track, tech inspection will require you empty out your car. That includes floor mats, radar dectectors, owner's manual, ipod, sunglasses, spare tire - you get the drift. Assuming your car got checked out prior to the event, the only 'must' things on my list to bring are:

a) torque wrench - make sure your lugs are nice and tight
b) tire pressure gauge - in case you want to adjust your air pressure
c) foldout chair - something to park your butt on when you're not on track or in class
d) coilpacks - for you 1.8T guys lol, j/k
e) plenty of fluids, you need to stay hydrated during the day b/c these events can really tire you out

4) Apparel - unless it's extremely hot, most tracks require drivers to wear both long sleeve shirts and pants. And no open shoes (ie sandals, flip flops, etc) allowed. In terms of helmet, if you don't have one don't go crazy buying a super expensive one. As I mentioned above, any full faced motorcycle helmet is fine, and you can easily find helmets for pretty cheap online (ie less than $100).

5) In terms of car preparation, as I mentioned before, no modifications are necessary. But more for safety measure, I would do a full brake flush prior to the event in order to avoid fade issues. And this doesn't need to be done for each event. As long as you have fresh fluids not older than 6 mos, you should be fine for future events. ATE Blue is cheap and pretty good, but if you don't mind spending a few extra bucks, I'd go Motul RBF 600 which has a higher boiling point. And while on the topic of brakes, it wouldn't hurt to switch to 'track' pad, ie something more resistant to fade. But in the beginning, fresh fluids + stock pads should be fine... just something to keep in mind as you progress and start doing more threshold braking. If you find yourself doing multiple events during the season, then you might just bleed the brakes in between events.

That's all I can think of for now but I'll edit this thread if I remember anything later. In the meantime, feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
 

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Just thought I would add my .02 here since I'm from CT as well, for autocross check out CartCT and FCSCC--both CT local auto x clubs that run in various places in CT with occasional track days. For local tracks Thompson is probably your best bet. The track was just totally repaved and is much safer than Lime Rock (the other CT track). Lots of walls and very little run off room. Not a good beginner track. Thompson is in the top right corner of the state--not far from where you are.
 
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