It can get kind of loud on track day, which is why most professional drivers use some sort of ear protection. The 140 decibels of a full-throttle NASCAR cockpit is about as loud as fireworks or gunfire. That’s pretty loud, so it makes sense the pro drivers protect their hearing. But what about you and your HPDE driving?
- If you’ve got a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, expect the 6.2-liter V-8 to hit 95 decibels.
- With a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6, the 2017 Ford GT can hit 100 decibels.
- The 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS’s 4.0-liter flat-six? It can hit 108 decibels!
- Even the humble 2009 Honda Civic Si’s Inline-4 can hit 85 decibels at full throttle.
Your HPDE street car isn’t quite as loud as a NASCAR stock car, but it still falls somewhere between a snowblower (85 decibels) and a jackhammer (110 decibels).
Just two hours of exposure to sound above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage, so you need ear plugs for HDPE events.
Use Ear Protection
It may seem that you could have trouble hearing your engine by using ear protection, which could hurt your performance. After all, your engine may be loud, but it isn’t as loud as a professional racecar. However, the truth is that ear plugs may actually help your performance by filtering out non-essential noise and cutting down on the overall sound level.
In his book, The Brain’s Way of Healing, Dr. Norman Doidge wrote:
If a sensory stimulus is very great (say, very loud music), we can notice a change in the level of that stimulus only if the change is quite significant. If the stimulus is small to begin with, then we can detect very small changes.
This is an important tip for HPDE drivers—wearing ear protection can help you hear better, as you will be listening for very small changes. Plus, over time, you’ll keep your ears healthy.
Along with knowing how to protect your hearing, it is also important to know how to protect your car. For track day, Time Trial and HPDE events, you need coverage from Lockton Motorsports.