Track Day Guide For Noobs

Aiden Chong
23 Jul 2019

So, with the annual Singapore Grand Prix right around the corner, you too feel an itch in your nether regions to unleash your inner Lewis Hamilton. Sadly, other than some karting tracks, there isn’t anywhere to push the limits of your car here in Singapore. 

That’s where track days come in, our neighbour up North is home to several racetracks that regularly host track days for everyday folk like us to have a whirl at spirited driving in a controlled environment. 

The most common racetracks that host these track days are Sepang International Circuit and Melaka International Motorsports Circuit (MIMC). Sepang is located about an hour from Kuala Lumpur and is Malaysia’s biggest track at 5.543km in length. A former Formula 1 circuit, it’s also an FIA Grade 1 rated racetrack with plenty of high speed turns, long straights, and some tighter technical sections. The circuit hosts everything from the Malaysian Championship Series to MotoGP, so if it’s good enough for world class professionals, it’ll serve us nicely.

MIMC on the other hand is a much smaller circuit at only 1.6km in length and is much tighter and more technical than a big track like Sepang. As such, some may find driving at MIMC less daunting and more accessible to newbies.

How Do I Sign Up for These Track Days?

There are a few companies that regularly organise track days at both MIMC and Sepang, one of the most common at the moment is Traction Circle Club but there are loads of others that organise them from time to time. Registering for a slot at one of these track days will set you back anywhere between $150 and $450 depending on the slot and organisation you’re registering with. This entry fee usually includes everything you need to simply turn up and get on track.

What Do I Need To Participate In a Track Day?

Track day preparation can be split into 2 main categories, car and driver. Let’s start with preparing the car. 

It’s always good practice to do a service on your car just before setting off for a track day. An engine and gearbox oil change is cheap insurance against potential issues when you’re pushing your car on track. If your budget allows, a fresh set of tyres will also help in your hunt for laptime, failing which, making sure your current set has at least a decent amount of life left will suffice. Another good idea is a fresh set of brake pads and brake fluid, braking is pretty important when on track and having a working brake system is not only good for laptimes, it’s much safer as well.

Tracking your car is pretty much the most gruelling test you can put your car through so by ensuring your car is in good condition, you’ll be able to make the most of your track day and still have a car to drive home after. Of course, you can track any car you’d like but a car built for spirited driving will usually help you get the most out of your track day. That being said, you don’t need a million dollar supercar for a fun, good-handling, reliable track toy. Cars such as the Suzuki Swift Sport and the Honda Integra are much more affordable and are still great track weapons.

Now, on to how to prepare yourself, the budding race car driver. Nobody wants to look like a floundering fool at the track so here’s how you can get yourself a little readier for that on track experience.

Get Familiar With The Track Layout
Being aware of which way the track is going and what corner is coming up next is a huge help for when you finally set off. Knowing the track’s layout will make it easier for you to get up to speed faster and it’ll be safer as you won’t go barrelling full steam into a hairpin. An easy way to learn the track’s layout is by watching onboard videos on YouTube. There are plenty to be found and all just a click away.

Practice On A Simulator If You Have One
Going for a virtual whirl on the track is another great way to prepare. Familiarising yourself with the various braking and turning points on the track ahead of time means you’ll have a better idea of what to do in real life. Simulators also offer the obvious benefit of being able to crash without any consequences, which sadly isn’t always the case in real life.

Getting The Right Safety Gear

All track days will require you to wear at least a proper helmet and covered shoes. Full-face motorcycle helmets are a great option as they’re usually cheaper than auto racing helmets and you can find them on sale often. However, motorcycle helmets are not rated for fire resistance or HANS device usage but unless you’re driving a proper track car, they should work just fine. Driving shoes and gloves are also a cheap and easy way to feel more in tune with your car. Both are high in grip to make sure your hands and feet don’t fly around where you don’t want them and the thin soles of driving shoes give you better pedal feel than your New Balances.

Once you’re on track, drive to a pace you’re comfortable with and most importantly, have fun. Pushing your car’s and indeed, your own limits is one of the greatest feelings out there and you’ll almost certainly be poisoned to come back again.

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