20 Key HPDE Rules and Regulations to Know

20 key hpde rules and regulations to know

On Track HPDE Rules & Regs. #

Adhering to on-track HPDE rules and regulations is essential for ensuring a safe and enjoyable track day for all involved. Here are some of the more common rules and regs. you’ll come across:

Entering the Track #

Always follow the instructions of the Pit Marshal when entering the track. Ensure there’s adequate spacing between you and the car in front and behind. It’s good practice to check your brakes are working before going out on track by testing them in the pit lane. Do not slam them on if there’s a car close behind you, but do try and make sure they’re working.

As you’re entering the track you’ll be faced with the blend line. Each club and track has slightly different rules about what you do once the blend line is finished, so pay attention in the drivers meeting. The cardinal sin though, is crossing the blend line before it finishes. There are likely other cars on track and you’ll need to get up to speed and safely merge AFTER the blend line has ended.

Understand and Obey Track Flags #

Track flags are displayed at the various flagging stations positioned around the track. These flagging stations are strategically located to offer maximum visibility, often at points just before critical turns, straightaways, or complex track sections. It’s important that you know the locations of these flagging stations and to keep them in your peripheral vision when on track. Ignoring or failing to comply with flag signals is a serious offense and will usually result in you being shown the black flag, requiring you to immediately return to the pits for a ‘chat’ with event officials. Flags are there for your safety, make sure you know them!

Exiting Your Vehicle When On Track #

Never, repeat, never get out of your vehicle while on track unless you are instructed to by track officials or if the car is on fire. You should stay inside with your seatbelt or harness still on and wait for instructions from a track official.

Corvette and bmw on track at njmp with windows down

Windows Down #

Unfortunately, here in the US, you’re typically required to have both driver’s side and passenger’s side windows fully down. This is quite the bone of contention in the HPDE world as there are more safety reasons for keeping them up than down. But for now, most clubs run them down rain or shine. With windows down, whatever you do, keep the visor of your helmet DOWN. You don’t want debris to take an eye out (we know a driver who lost an eye to exactly this scenario).

Driving Safely #

Always adhere to the line you’re taught by your instructor to begin with and be hyper aware of your surroundings. Use your mirrors and look for other cars as things on track change fast. Maintain a safe distance from other drivers, this is not a race and you don’t need to be on their bumper. Always make your intentions clear and avoid sudden, unpredictable movements that could confuse or endanger other drivers.

Accidental Spin or 2+ Wheels Off Track #

In case of a spin or going off-track, the priority is to safely re-enter without endangering others. Look for the nearest flagging station and wait for them to give you the all clear to get back on track. If for some reason you don’t have corner workers, use your best judgement, merge back on track and stay off-line until you get back up to speed.

There are different HPDE rules for different clubs but you’ll likely have to go into the pits and get a once over. You want to make sure your car isn’t damaged or worse still leaking fluids. Some clubs will ‘park’ you for the remainder of the day/event if you violate their ‘off rule’. e.g. if you go off track more than ‘X’ times in an uncontrolled manner, you’re not allowed back on track.

If you’re made aware you’re leaking fluid before returning to the pits, don’t drive to the pits, wait to be recovered. It’s not only incredibly dangerous to leak e.g. coolant on track, you’ll also have to pay for all that leaked coolant to be cleaned up. Get on or stay on the grass!

Passing / Point-Bys #

Overtaking is performed in designated areas and typically requires a ‘point-by’ from the driver being overtaken. This is either a hand signal out the window or the use of your indicators telling the car behind you which side you want them to pass you on. Be clear with your point-by, you stay on your line and the overtaking car goes around you. Also, be prepared to lift off the gas a little if you have a higher horsepower than the overtaking car.

Point-bys are important and getting faster cars behind you to pass quickly and safely should be a priority. It means you can carry on focusing on your drive. There will always be someone faster than you, try learning from them, look at the line they’re taking, is it perhaps more efficient than yours?

Helmets, Visors, and Eye Protection #

Snell-rated helmets are pretty much mandatory now, and visors down and/or eye protection are required when the vehicle’s windows are down.

Reckless or Dangerous Driving #

Any form of dangerous driving is taken extremely seriously and a club’s HPDE rules contain clauses that allow organizers to expel a participant from the event. This can include, but is not limited to, ignoring flags, aggressive driving, drifting, passing without a point-by etc. We’ve been to events where individuals haven’t been able to contain themselves- they’re gone by lunchtime.

Garmin catalyst mounted to dashboard turned on and showing a braking opportunity

Data Logging & Telemetry #

Use these tools responsibly if you have them. Don’t get distracted by real-time data when you should be focusing on driving. Most club’s HPDE rules prohibit the use of lap timing, particularly if it’s visible to you from the driver’s seat. We use our Garmin Catalyst to gather lap data but choose to have the screen off when on track. All we can see is the Mph until we get back into the paddock and the session is over. When you start chasing lap times is when things start to go sideways (pun intended).

Driver Fatigue, not a rule but… #

Be mindful of your physical and mental state. Fatigue can slow reaction times and impair judgment especially towards the end of the day. You might hear the term “Red Mist”. This refers to a situation where a driver becomes emotionally overwhelmed and starts driving irresponsibly. More often than not, this occurs later in the day when drivers are tired and lose focus on what they’re doing and fixate on something else.

E.g. I’m going to catch the car in front of me, or I’m not going to let the car behind me past as I know I’m faster than them. This emotional shift leads to dangerous driving behavior, compromising both your safety and that of other drivers. Keep yourself in check and come off track early if you’re not feeling yourself. We often choose not to run in the last session simply because we’re beat at that point and have to still get home!

Lime rock park paddock with a variety of cars and trailers at a hpde event

Off-track HPDE Rules & Regs. #

Off-track HPDE rules and regulations for track days vary depending on the organizing club and the track itself. However, there are some common guidelines and protocols that you can likely be expected to follow.

Age Restrictions #

Most HPDE rules require drivers to be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driver’s license. However, there are some clubs that allow younger drivers who have experience. Check with you club of choice to see what options they have for younger, up and coming drivers.

Drivers Meetings #

HPDE rules dictate that attendance at the morning drivers’ meetings is mandatory (at least there are no clubs we’ve come across where it isn’t!). These briefings discuss the schedule, track conditions, passing rules, and safety protocols. Failure to attend (without an exception) may well disqualify you from participating in the event. We’ve been at events where they hand out tickets that must be given to the Pit Marshal in order to get on track.

Classroom Attendance #

For novice and often intermediate drivers, classroom sessions are a mandatory part of the days’ schedule. Even experienced drivers can benefit from these educational components, which usually cover techniques, safety, and track etiquette.

Waivers and Release Forms #

HPDE rules almost always require participants to sign liability waivers and often additional documents like tech inspection forms for your car. Have these ready and filled out prior to arriving at the track to expedite the registration process.

Paddock Safety & Cleanliness #

The paddock is a shared space, and HPDE rules for its use are generally strict. The paddock has strict speed limits, usually no more than 5-10 mph, to protect everyone – track days are often a family affair so don’t be surprised to find kids and dogs in the paddock.

This is a big one and we see it happen all too often. The paddock is NOT a space for testing vehicle capabilities like brakes or acceleration after an adjustment has been made. Conducting tests that involve rapid acceleration, braking, or other dynamic maneuvers not only poses a safety risk but is usually explicitly against the rules set by the event organizers. Please don’t be that person. If you need to check or try something out, talk to your instructor or event master, they’ll be able to recommend the safest approach.

All fluids must be properly contained, and spills should be cleaned immediately. Clean up your trash and used the provided garbage cans (some tracks may require you to take it with you). Tools and spare parts should be organized and we suggest bringing a tarpaulin to put everything down on. The tarp allows you to also cover things in the event of rain or very dusty conditions.

Drivers meeting at njmp thunderbolt audi northeast chapter
Credit: Audi NEQ – Northeast Chapter of Audi Club drivers meeting

Paddock mobility #

Bicycles are generally allowed in the paddock and camping areas but are not permitted in pit lanes or on the track itself (unless you’re lucky enough to do a track walk!). They are convenient for getting around large venues but must be ridden responsibly, observing speed limits and right-of-way rules. The same goes for electric scooters: These can be more regulated due to being motorized but are often seen in the paddock. Again, they need to be ridden responsibly and with due care and attention for others – yes, folks have been hurt by scooters while in the paddock.

Alcohol & Drug Policy #

Events have zero-tolerance policies for alcohol and marijuana (and obviously other drugs!) use by participants. These rules don’t only apply on track but also in the paddock. Having a beer with fellow track enthusiasts at the end of the day when you’re done is obviously ok, and many clubs encourage hanging out afterwards. Most tracks (in states where legal) have a no marijuana policy regardless of whether you’re done for the day or not.

Guests #

Guests are almost always welcome but will likely need to sign a liability waiver. Some events may have age restrictions for guests, especially those allowed near the track or in ride-alongs. Check with the individual event organizer (might be in their policy) if you’re wanting to bring a guest(s) -there might be limits on numbers, a small guest fee or age restriction.

Ride-along / Passenger Policy #

HPDE Rules regarding passengers often vary, but at the clubs we’ve run with, only instructors are allowed to take other drivers or guests out on track. They usually need to sign waivers, and some events have age restrictions or require that an individual in the passenger seat must have the same level of safety equipment as the driver. i.e the driver can’t take a passenger or even an instructor out if they have a 6-point harness and the passenger only has a 3-point seatbelt.

Photography and Video #

There may be guidelines about where you can use cameras, both for personal use and for capturing external and in-car footage. Some clubs like to provide a degree of privacy for their attendees and opt for hiring event photographers. If you don’t want your number plate photographed, take it off or have some fun and get a vanity plate for the track. We mount external GoPros front and rear on the tow hooks. They are bolted to the tow hook and also tethered via a small steel cable to the car itself. Tether redundancy is often required for external cameras – if a GoPro detaches from the car at 100+ mph and hits the car behind…you get the idea. If you’re not sure, ask.

Remember, always check the specific guidelines provided by the event organizer or race track, as there may be other nuanced or additional requirements.

Updated on April 3, 2024
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