It’s the thrill behind the wheel that draws out most race fans to track day events, but even the most experienced driver knows that each event is a learning opportunity. Education is important in HPDE driving and one of the best ways to learn is walking the track. Read on for helpful track walk tips.
How Pro Drivers Use a Track Walk
For professional drivers, a track walk is a must before any kind of race. Pro drivers don’t just do it the first time they drive a track, either. There’s always something new to learn from a walk that will improve performance on race day.
“Inevitably when you are doing the track walk it spurs memories,” professional driver Bryan Sellers told Road and Track during a walk before the Long Beach Grand Prix. “You’re out on track and you remember ‘we were terrible here,’ and maybe it’s something that didn’t come up in our pre-race meeting, and maybe it’s something we haven’t addressed that we need to address.”
What You Can Gain from a Track Walk
You don’t need to be a professional race car driver to benefit from a track walk. Walking the track gives insight you can’t get any other way. You’ll get a new perspective on the camber and radius of turns and the texture and grip of the track. You can also check elevation, blind spots and run-off areas.
Here are 8 track walk tips for your next track day:
- Keep your walking group small and the small talk to a minimum so you can focus completely on the track.
- Crouch or sit on the track to get a real driver’s eye view. A track from 6′ up looks completely different from the view you get seated behind the wheel.
- Look behind you. In a walk you can examine the radius and camber of a turn in a completely new way, even walking back through the turn if needed.
- Feel the grip of the track with your shoe. Slide your foot along different surfaces and note the bumps, cracks, banking and elevation changes. They all affect how your car will grip the tarmac.
- Notice where there is rubber built up. This is where other drivers are scrubbing their tires, and it’s usually just off the ideal line you want to set.
- Make a note of where it will be okay to drop a wheel off the edge of the track and where it won’t be.
- Identify some landmarks in the distance you can use as references for any blind areas on the track.
- Make a mental note of the location of turnworker stations.
A track walk has two key benefits. It helps you drive faster and it helps you drive safer. It’s all about education. To drive faster, you need to know more about the track and how your car performs on a specific part of the track. You can use what you learn in a track walk to adjust your technique until your performance and speed increases.
But a track walk also makes driving safer. It’s important to know where it’s safe to run off, where safety workers are located and where the track isn’t going to give you the grip you wish you could have.
As you complete your track walk, consider one more thing—Is your car covered on the track? Most auto insurance policies limit coverage for HPDE and track day events.
If your policy has exclusions for your car on the track, don’t worry. We offer HPDE Insurance to protect your car from damage when you’re participating in HPDE, track day, or time trial events.