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How to: Prepare Yourself for a Track Day 101

Helmet in bmw m sport colors on roof of car in garage at njmp thunderbolt

Preparing yourself for an HPDE or Track Day goes beyond just getting your vehicle ready (we’ll address that next). Here’s some suggestions on how you can prepare yourself:

Prepare Yourself: Safety First and Foremost #

  • Clothing: Opt for clothing made of natural fibers like cotton or merino wool, as these materials are less flammable than synthetic materials. Most clubs require you to wear cotton or similar – you don’t want to be wearing a polyester t-shirt in the unfortunate event there’s a fire. Shoes must be closed toed.
  • Helmet: We recommend purchasing a helmet with a Snell SA2020 rating. They start around $200. Some clubs also rent helmets ($30-$50) but they can be uncomfortable and distracting if they don’t fit you properly. Best to go to a shop, get the right size and be done with it- it’ll last you for a while.
  • HANS Device: If you’re serious about track days and money isn’t an issue, a HANS (Head and Neck Support) device is an excellent safety investment. You’ll probably need a Hybrid S as it’ll have to work with a standard seatbelt (3-point harness)
Image of a simpson hybrid s frontal head restraint for track racing and hpde
Credit: Simpson – Hybrid S Frontal Head Restraint

Learn the Track #

  • Online Resources: Utilize online videos of seasoned HPDE drivers or professionals navigating the track.
    Flame icon for hot tips Tip: Our track pages link to these videos and turn-by-turn walkthroughs (which are super useful!) For example, Willow Springs International Raceway
  • Simulators: If you have a racing simulator, take advantage of it to familiarize yourself with the track layout, turns, pit entry, and exit points etc.

Take Notes on a Track Map #

Example of a track day insider track map used to prepare yourself for hpde at laguna seca by annotating it
Laguna Seca Track Map
  • Annotate: While learning the track, jot down useful pointers, like braking points or specific markers, on a track map for review. Track maps can be found on individual track pages.

Food & Hydration Planning #

Grilled food including kebabs roast potatoes and red peppers
Grilled, high protein track food
  • Meals: Stick to light, nutritious meals to keep your energy up but avoid feeling sluggish. Here’s some recommendations for track day foods.
  • Snacks: Avoid snacks high in sugar as these will cause spikes in your blood sugar level leaving you feeling tired after the sugar wears off. Here’s a few snack suggestions.
  • Electrolytes and Water: Bring plenty of water and some electrolyte packets to stay hydrated, especially crucial in hot conditions.

Sleep #

  • Rest: Prioritize getting a good night’s sleep not only the night before but also in the days leading up to the event if possible.

Mental Preparation #

  • Attitude: Come with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Check your ego at the door and be prepared to absorb as much information as possible.

Learn the Flags #

A variety of different colored race track flags
Track Flags
  • Study: Familiarize yourself with all the flags you will encounter on track day, as they are crucial for both your safety and that of other drivers. You don’t want to be trying to remember them on track.
Updated on November 2, 2023
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