How Much Does a Track Day Cost?

White bmw m3 #513 on the front straight at watkins glen

Track days…the pursuit of speed, precision, and a ton of fun. But before you book your track day it’s important to know what you’re getting into and the full scope of track day costs. Spoiler alert: it’s not a cheap hobby! However, there are ways to manage costs. In this article, we’ll take a look at the various factors that contribute to the overall expense of a track day. From registration fees to necessary car prep, we’ll break down the potential expenses so you can start to prepare your budget.

How much does a car tech inspection for a track day cost? #

Expect to pay anywhere between $60 to $300+ for a mandatory pre-event car inspection before participating in an HPDE track day. This cost varies based on factors like the type of car you own and the location of the inspection. Having a pre-event inspection is crucial not just for your safety but for everyone participating.

Often, local independent shops are your best bet for cost-effective, thorough inspections. Dealerships, although they may sometimes offer free inspections, are generally pricier. Honestly, we’d be wary of clubs that don’t require a tech inspection, as they may not prioritize safety.

Additionally, check the website of the club hosting the HPDE event. They frequently have sponsorships with local shops that may offer free inspections, helping you to potentially save a little cash.

Will you need to buy anything for your car before the event? #

Top of a toyo tire standing upright
Toyo tire

Possibly, you may need to buy certain items depending on the current condition of your car before an HPDE event. Common consumables that might require replacement include tires, brake pads and rotors, as well as oil and brake fluid. Inspections usually involve a comprehensive look at these items, ensuring pad thickness is above 50%, brake fluid meets specified criteria, and tires have a minimum tread depth of 3/32″.

You should be prepared to invest in quality brake fluid that will continue to function when hot at the track. Typical clubs look for DOT 4 brake fluid that’s been changed within the last 6 or 12 months for optimal performance and safety.

Budget accordingly, as these purchases can add up quickly and make up a sizable portion of your track day cost. Especially if you’re a novice, remember that these investments are not just about complying with the club rules but also that they’ll contribute to your overall driving experience and safety on the track.

How much does a track day event registration typically cost? #

The cost for HPDE event or club registration varies widely, ranging from $200 to $600. In more exclusive settings with fewer drivers, the fee can exceed $1000 for a single day. Costs depend on the club, the track, and whether an instructor is included in the package—which is fairly common and highly recommended if you’re just starting out.

While it might be tempting to opt for cheaper events, remember that lower cost doesn’t always mean better value. It’s crucial to research the club you’re interested in to ensure it offers a safe and enjoyable track day experience. Fees will naturally be higher for multi-day events.

Do HPDE Clubs have membership fees? #

Yes, many HPDE clubs require an annual membership fee, which is typically around $50 for most organizations. These fees are separate from the cost of the event itself. Events can be hosted either by the track operator or more commonly, by a local car club chapter. The fee details are usually outlined in the event registration form, and payment of the fee can typically be made online.

If you’re a beginner or new to HPDE, keep in mind that the membership fee is a nominal cost compared to other expenses you’ll encounter. However, it opens doors to exclusive events, offers a sense of community, and often provides additional perks like discounts and priority registration.

What are accommodation options and costs for an HPDE Event? #

Villa track accommodation at vir
Villa accommodation at VIR

Most participants will opt to stay locally the night before a track day (unless they’re lucky enough to be close to the track!). Depending on how far you’re traveling after the event, you may well want to stay an extra night and leave the following morning – don’t underestimate how tired you’ll likely be at the end of the day. For us, 2hrs drive at the end of an event is about our limit.

Accommodation costs for a track day can vary widely based on your preferences and the available local amenities. Budget options often include camping at the track for around $10 a day, or you might opt to sleep in your own trailer for a similar cost. RV spaces can go for about $25 a day.

For those seeking more comfort, many tracks offer on-site rooms, suites, or villas starting at $100-ish per night. Nearby, you can typically find a range of motels, bed and breakfasts, and hotels with prices ranging from $50 to $150+.

We lean towards hotels because we want a good nights sleep before the event. They tend to have more comfortable beds and be quieter (though you should always pack earplugs). Airbnb is another viable option, especially if you’re attending with a group.

How much does track insurance cost? #

Heavily damaged bmw m3 sitting in the paddock at watkins glen international owner's track day cost included insurance
Source: jfritz27

The cost of track insurance is influenced by a multitude of factors, making it essential to carefully evaluate your specific situation. Factors that affect the premium include the value of your car, the deductible you choose, the track you’ll be driving on, and even the specific club hosting the event. The length of the event and your personal driving experience further contribute to the overall cost. With that, it’s challenging to predict the exact premium you’ll face.

To provide a very rough guide, costs for track insurance can range significantly based on your vehicle’s value. For a car valued at around $35,000, you might expect to pay between $200 and $250 per event. For a $70,000 vehicle, premiums might fall between $450 and $550. And for those driving a $100,000 car, costs might be in the region of $700 and $800 per event. These figures are very much ‘back of a napkin’ and based on our region (east coast) and tracks.

You can find more info on track insurance providers here.

Is gas/fuel at a race track expensive? #

Estimating the cost of fuel for a track day, especially for newcomers, can be a tricky due to multiple variables. Your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, the distance to and from the track, the track’s size, and the number of driving sessions all play a role. Even off-track activities like getting lunch can affect your fuel consumption. It’s also worth noting that your speed and thus fuel consumption may increase as the day progresses and you become more comfortable on the track.

A very rough rule of thumb; you might use a quarter to a third of a tank for every 25-minute session. This gives you a starting point, but remember that it’s a super rough estimate! For instance, our 2018 Audi RS3 averages 28 mpg on highways, but this plunges to just 6.5 mpg during track sessions at NJMP Thunderbolt, where one tank only lasts two and a half 30-minute sessions.

The availability and type of gasoline at racetracks can vary considerably, making it crucial to plan your fuel needs in advance. Some tracks offer on-site gas stations, but others don’t, necessitating a look at nearby fueling options. Given such extreme fuel consumption, consider carrying extra fuel in racing jugs, depending on your car’s specific needs.

Trackside fuel is often more expensive than what you’ll find at public gas stations. While you may find the octane level you require (usually ranging from 91-94), be prepared for the possibility that the fuel might be sold out, especially during large events. Moreover, many tracks offer specialized race gas with octane ratings that can be between 100-120. While tempting, be cautious; not only is this fuel typically hellishly expensive, but your vehicle might not even perform optimally with it.

Incidentals (meals, drinks, snacks etc.) #

Eating right at a track day. Close up of a slamon wrap burito with rice beans and flour tortilla cut in half
Protein loaded salmon wrap

When planning your budget for a track day, don’t overlook money for meals, drinks, and snacks. The physical and mental exertion involved on track can be demanding, making it crucial to fuel your body with quality food. Skimping on the quality could lead to decreased energy levels, impaired focus, or even physical discomfort—all undesirable outcomes when you’re trying to improve your driving skills.

Choose foods that will sustain you throughout the day, opting for balanced meals with a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated by bringing enough water or electrolyte drinks, and consider packing healthy snacks to keep your energy up between sessions. Treating your food and drink as an integral part of your track day experience is super important!

So how much does a track day cost then? #

As you can see from the above, there’s no one size fits all answer. There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration that it’ll vary from one individual to another. If we had to give you a cost it would be somewhere in the realm of $700 for a day. This would include event entry, membership, cost of consumables, camping, food etc. and possibly track insurance depending on the car you’re insuring, though that might be pushing it.

Updated on October 14, 2023
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