1. Guest, see the CivicX Forum Rules and User Agreement before posting.  After reading click here to dismiss this notice →

Featured Primer: Hitting the track in your Civic!

Discussion in 'Tracking / Autocross / HPDE' started by JYR, Jun 4, 2017.




  1. JYR Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Posts:
    885
    Featured Threads:
    5
    Thanked:
    1,244
    Location:
    Cornfields
    Car(s):
    8th gen Si
    I understand that some will not track their R, but some may have the desire to do so. This thread series is about how to take the plunge into Auto-x and HPDE (High Performance Driver Event or High Performance Driving Education) and get you and your R on the track. These same principals apply to any car.

    My background for reference is someone who enjoys pushing cars to the limit, on a track. I have attended several world class driving schools, have 50+ track days under my belt, and in several different platforms. I do not consider myself an expert, but I do have a great understanding of what it takes to get on a track and what it takes to enjoy myself while on a track. I also have an extensive background on how to properly set up cars with tires, brakes, and suspension.

    If there are other auto-x and HPDE guru's on the site, please chime in. I am going to break this up into a few different series and will link them all here.

    Series 1:
    There are a few different platforms of track driving but I will focus on Auto-x and circuit/road course type settings, referenced as HPDE. Series 1 isn’t about what to buy or how to outfit your car for maximum use, rather what it takes to get on track.


    Auto-X
    Auto-x is a race against the clock and usually takes place in a large parking lot or smaller track, one car on a track designed by cones, at a time. It's you, your car, and the clock; best time wins. Cars can be in 100% stock form or modified beyond belief and depending on who you auto-x with, will be classed depending on modifications. Generally speaking, outside of small, local club events, auto-x is a competitive event no matter where or how you participate. I've auto-x'd with clubs who auto-x for the fun of it and the fastest time doesn't have to buy beer after the event, and auto-x clubs who compete for trophies and national recognition. Auto-x is a ton of fun and once you are on course, you will quickly learn that auto-x is more about the driver, not the car. Each run will vary in time, anywhere from about 45 seconds on up. Speeds achieved will be about a maximum of 50mph, depending on vehicle and course platform/setup. Most courses won't get past 3rd gear. Generally speaking, auto-x is done in a morning and afternoon session, and you will have a working assignment during the session you aren’t driving in. The cost to participate is about $50/event, depending on where and who you participate with.

    HPDE/Road Course/Circuit
    HPDE typically references High Performance Driver Education or High Performance Driving Event and can vary by context when talking to someone. I will use it in the context of getting on a circuit/road course type setting. This is where a driver and their car will visit circuit/road course and enjoy time on a track, generally as hard as you are willing to push both yourself and your vehicle. You are on track with multiple people at a time, but not in a wheel to wheel race setting. Typically, each driver will give the driver ahead of them space to play and if you are slower than the person behind you, you signal for a pass in a passing zone and they over take you. Each run will last anywhere from 15-25min and speeds are as fast as you want to go. Typically, there are run groups; novice, intermediate, and expert and you should class yourself accordingly. If you have never been on track before, you are a beginner. Expert groups are typically extremely fast, and not for the inexperienced. After all of my schools and track time, I don't play with the experts. The cost can vary drastically but expect to pay at least $100 to get on track.

    Let’s discuss what’s needed before you go to a track
    Preparing yourself is key. I won't discuss normal health guidelines but understand that you will likely be doing things and putting your body through some exercises it likely hasn't experienced yet, if you haven't been on track before. Your mind will work like it hasn't before, your body will experience G force, and the adrenaline is awesome. If you are new to this, you will be mentally exhausted after a few sessions and sore the next day.

    A helmet will be necessary no matter where you decide to play. Most places will offer loaner helmets, but let’s be honest. Wearing someone else's helmet is like wearing someone else's underwear. Not to mention, it may not fit just right, which is critical. Helmets will start around $150- and go up from there, depending on what you decide to use. I would strongly encourage you to visit a place that sells certified helmets and try them on. Vision, comfort, shape, and material all play a part in what a helmet offers and what you may think you want, may not be what you really want. SA2015 is currently the general standard, but check with your local track for any other guidelines. If you wish to go the online route, places like SPS, Safe Racer, Pegasus Racing and Racer Wholesale are a few great places to support. -I would really encourage you to visit a place and try on a helmet, though. Even if that means you have to spend a day driving out of town to buy a helmet, the time spent will be very well worth it to find what is proper, rather than what you may think you need.

    Driving shoes, gloves, jackets, suits, etc. are all up to you but typically not required to get on track. Long pants, socks and shirt are typically required when at driving events, however. I used to drive in worn out sneakers (because the sole was thin and I could feel the pedals) but now own Piloti driving shoes with a rolled heal and a wider sole. They are super thin and fantastic.

    Plan to arrive to the event early. Arriving early will ensure you are set up to be efficient and make the best of your day. You will also get to see what others do and yuk it up a bit. As a newbie, don't talk shit to anyone, rather talk about the day. -this is just common courtesy. Take a thermos of coffee or a box of doughnuts and make friends. Be sure to attend the drivers meeting as it is considered the most important part of the day, often mandated.

    Preparing your car is equally as important. There are a few common-sense items that aren't so common before hitting the track. When you go to an event, regardless of what it is, there will likely be a tech inspection of some sort. The inspectors will look for things like loose battery tie downs, loose lug nuts, a working seat belt, ensuring all of your crap (including floor mats) is out of the car, and checking your helmet. Most places will provide a tech sheet prior to the event, if you ask. You can also find them online with a simple Google search. To prepare your car, you will want to be sure you have fresh fluids, including oil and water, and tires with adequate tread. (I am not talking about a performance tire here, just a tire that has proper tread for safety reasons. Tire talk will come in another series.) Your brakes will experience high temperatures, so you will want to flush your brake system, replacing with high temp brake fluid so it is ready for track duty. ATE, Stoptech, Brembo, Castrol, Motul, and Wilwood are a few manufactures that offer great high temp fluids. Personally, I cycle between ATE and Stoptech because I have never boiled either and ATE is colored so you know when it’s cycled through your system. If you order your fluid online, always buy an extra bottle. Brake pads and rotors are also critical to driving on track. (Not so much auto-x but road course for sure). Hawk, Porterfield, and Brembo are just a few manufactures that offer replacement brake pads suitable for track use. Be aware that track pads are generally loud and produce a lot of dust; it's just the nature of the game. Lastly, a track focused alignment is something that will help when driving at the limit, more times than not. This may require searching for a shop that is okay with an aggressive alignment, rather than a dealership or run of the mill big box store alignment tech. –My local Honda dealer was okay with an aggressive alignment but others may not be so nice.

    Lastly, let’s talk about one more thing. Want to know the worst feeling ever when extensively modifying your car for track use? Getting smoked in a near factory car that is driven by a great driver. My personal experience is that I have dumped tens of thousands of dollars on a car to find out that I was a super shitty driver. If your goal is to drive fast on a track, your money will hand’s down be better spent on driver instruction, tires, and brakes, then the latest fad on a forum or Instagram.

    Where do I go to get on track
    When I started driving, the only way to find out where to drive was what was posted in the latest Grassroots Motorsports magazine, the SCCA magazine, and word of mouth. Today, there are many great formats to find places to drive. The SCCA has recently started Track Night in America which is hands down one of the best ways to get on track. It is more geared to a new person trying to get on track, rather than an experienced veteran, but of course all are welcome. Motorsport Reg is another great source to find out where you can get on track. I will link some sources below.

    Wrapping all of this up
    This probably all sounds very overwhelming and intimidating. It isn't. I have listed what I feel is the very minimum to get on track, the rest is up to you. Again, stay tuned for future posts. Remember that most who visit a track are there for the same reasons you want to be there, and for the most part, other drivers are eager to show someone new the ropes.

    My last warning: Driving at the limit is addictive.

    Here are a few recourses to reference:
    Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

    SCCA Track Night in America
    SCCA What is Auto-x
    SCCA Track Events
    National Auto Sport Association (NASA)
    NASA HPDE
    NASA HPDE Tech Sheet
    SCCA Starting Line Auto-x School
    EVO Driving School
    Great list of high performance driving schools


    Some future posts of mine will include:
    Tire choice
    Brake choice
    Going to the track
    Taking it a step further
    Driving schools
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
    MGZ, Mentoz, Forcino and 21 others thanked this.
  2. TypeRMom

    TypeRMom Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Posts:
    322
    Thanked:
    655
    Occupation:
    Government Employee
    Location:
    St. Louis MO
    First Name:
    Ciaran
    Car(s):
    2017 CTR, 2013 Mazdaspeed 3, 2011 Mazda3, 1979 Datsun 280zx, 2004 honda civic, 1990 ford f150
    Garage Profiles:
    1
    Wow...this was such a great write up! You must write for an auto magazine! Than you so very much for all the hard work. I, for one, have not had any track time and am looking forward to living a little more with my CTR! I appreciate all this info, now I know what to look for!
    I especially like how you added the necessity to listen to the pro's...i look forward to taking some lessons and eating some doughnuts!!!!:love:
     
  3. OP

    JYR Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Posts:
    885
    Featured Threads:
    5
    Thanked:
    1,244
    Location:
    Cornfields
    Car(s):
    8th gen Si
    You are welcome. I am sure there are others out there who are interested in taking the plunge at tracking their new R as well.

    More posts to follow-
     
  4. procivic

    procivic Senior Member Elite Sponsor

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Posts:
    558
    Featured Threads:
    2
    Thanked:
    577
    Location:
    Ventura, California
    Home Page:
    Car(s):
    2017 Civic Si Sedan, 2017 Civic EXT Sedan (manual), 2014 Civic Si Sedan, Others
    Great post. For those of you who are on the fence about whether to take your new Civic to a track event, DO IT! You will never know what you're missing until you try it. The whole experience is exciting, awesome, and sometimes a bit scary. It will give you a new appreciation for your 10th Gen.

    The Vtec Club is a series in particular that we love to participate in : http://vtecclubusa.com/
     
    JYR thanked this.
  5. OP

    JYR Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Posts:
    885
    Featured Threads:
    5
    Thanked:
    1,244
    Location:
    Cornfields
    Car(s):
    8th gen Si
    Awesome group!
     
  6. Hungryhippo96 Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    May 24, 2017
    Posts:
    34
    Thanked:
    31
    Location:
    Indiana
    Car(s):
    E46 M3, E92 M3, 991.2 GT3 (incoming)
    Some other tips :

    After coming off the track for your session, NEVER NEVER use your e brake, put it in gear.
    Check the torque of your lugs, but wait for them to cool down. I usually check mine after lunch.
    Don't worry about being fast. Worry about getting more comfortable with your car and learning the line. Speed will come with practice.

    PS. Nothing against you JYR, but I've never seen a HPDE be even close to $100. All the ones I have been to are $250+
     
    chi town brat thanked this.
  7. SpeedRacerCTR

    SpeedRacerCTR Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2017
    Posts:
    5
    Thanked:
    9
    Location:
    Miami FL
    First Name:
    Jimmy
    Car(s):
    2000 Civic DX HB, 1994 Civic CX HB, 2002 Civic Si HB, 2006 Acura RSX Type, 1996 Civic DX Coupe
    I plan on doing some track days when I finally get my R, I used to be more avidly active but it's been a while, my home track is homestead down here in my Miami, I have driven Sebring, PBIR, with an auto X every now and then, Out of state I got to drive Road Atlanta had a lot of fun there. great info btw, for beginners I would suggest ppl to make it a habit to check your gauges water temp oil pressure and etc, learn what the smell of over worked brake pads smell like so you ease a bit and not crystallize you pads, summer tire suggested you won't have as much fun with all seasons, I have used HPS+ and are ok for lighter cars like the type r
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
    chi town brat thanked this.
  8. OP

    JYR Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Posts:
    885
    Featured Threads:
    5
    Thanked:
    1,244
    Location:
    Cornfields
    Car(s):
    8th gen Si
    Great tips.

    Gingerman has T&T for $105-

    https://gingerman.configio.com/Shop...&iid=873&&returncom=productlist&source=search

    3 run group that start at 5:30 and go until the sunset.
     
  9. totopo Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2016
    Posts:
    238
    Thanked:
    189
    Location:
    CA
    Car(s):
    '17 Civic Ex Hatch, 370z
    also check your insurance policy and then consider track insurance for all those shiny new type R's... Don't want to resort to insurance fraud.
     
    chi town brat thanked this.
  10. VarmintCong Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2016
    Posts:
    752
    Thanked:
    352
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Car(s):
    2017 6MT Sport hatch
    This. It's why I stopped going, Mass passed a law exempting insurance companies from covering driving schools.

    Great thread, btw. And people should know clubs like BMW club don't care what you drive, half the cars are non BMWs, at least in the old days. I highly recommend BMW club especially for noobs, the instructors are great.
     
  11. THE! CrazyKiwi

    THE! CrazyKiwi Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    Posts:
    55
    Thanked:
    66
    Location:
    CA
    Car(s):
    I like trucks coz I'm a truck guy.
    chi town brat thanked this.
  12. chi town brat

    chi town brat Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2017
    Posts:
    117
    Thanked:
    130
    Location:
    FL
    Car(s):
    90 CRX Si. 91 STD Hatch. 92 CX Hatch. 17 CTR.
    Great thread! SCCA Solo (Auto-x) #91 and #55 SMF checking in. LOL

    So looking forward to being out of SMF (Street Mod Front Wheel Drive) and entering a Street class because my Bratz were never a true SMF class car. Hoping to start a JDM class locally. The proposal is in with out Event Chair.

    I've been autocrossing for 10+ years now. So if anyone is in the Central Florida area and wants to come out please PM me or ask on here. I'm a total cheerleader for the sport because its a total addiction. I instruct our Novices as well, do course walk instruction and am willing to take passengers on rides.

    The guess now is that the CTR will be classed in B Street with the S2000, Vette, Focus RS, as well as others. I'm looking forward to starting after I finish my last entry in SMFL at the 2017 Nationals. Anyone hear anything different on the classing?
     
  13. chi town brat

    chi town brat Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2017
    Posts:
    117
    Thanked:
    130
    Location:
    FL
    Car(s):
    90 CRX Si. 91 STD Hatch. 92 CX Hatch. 17 CTR.
    Also CFR SCCA offers a great Performance Driving eXperience (PDX) program and has a Novice class.
     
  14. BarracksSi

    BarracksSi Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2017
    Posts:
    1,042
    Thanked:
    596
    Location:
    DC
    Car(s):
    '17 Civic Sport Touring Hatch; '17 CR-V EX. Formerly '02 EP3.
    Yessssss! :headbang:
     
  15. BarracksSi

    BarracksSi Senior Member

    Rank:
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2017
    Posts:
    1,042
    Thanked:
    596
    Location:
    DC
    Car(s):
    '17 Civic Sport Touring Hatch; '17 CR-V EX. Formerly '02 EP3.
    While I'm thinking about it...

    Is a helmet with a Snell sticker of SA2005 still good for this year, or is it too old?

    Asking for a friend. :confused:
     
Loading...

Share This Page