Calabogie Motorsports Park... should I go or not?
Here is the deal,
I've been a car nut for ever and had my share of fast cars.
I've been drag racing since 1994. I've always wanted to try out a lapping event but never made it to one.
Well, this year, my wife decided to register me for a lapping day @ Calabogie Motorsports Park so I can my racing fix!
This is a fairly new track (3 years I think) and is very close to home.
I was very excited when she gave me the news but now I'm a bit hesitant.
I'm sure I can handle my Focus ST on that track, but it mught be overwhelming.
I have not done much to my car except Steeda SRI and Focus Sport upper front stress bar.
I will be getting the "Track Orientation" which is an extra 50$. They also suggest I get an instructor since I have very limited experience, but at an extra 150$!!!
This is starting to be quite expensive. I'm just not sure anymore. I know I won't be going nuts, but don't want to hold back other attendees on the track.
Any suggestions for a first timer? My car has about 37K miles on its brakes... should I change them before track day? Do I run with full tank of gas, half, 1/4?
Thanks for all your input
Just do it! And you should check to see how much brake pad life is left before going.
Most clubs will cater to first timers to make sure you get proper instruction and guidance at the event so everything will be fun and safe with minimum risk. [clap]
Although every club and track will have specific rules to be followed, below would be a "typical" checklist for a track day.
Checklist: (OP - FYI these are generic details for all readers, some of these points may not apply in your case, if you car is new and in decent repair.)
Clothes: Usually they want long sleeves and full socks etc, no bare skin on track. Helmets usually need to be "modern vintage" SNELL 2005 or later. You can check these requirements with the club before the track day so you have it all ready in advance.
Seats/Belts: Stock 3pt lap/shoulder belts minimum. Custom "Racing" belts need to be installed as per the sanctioning club rules.
Tires: - no safety related issues like tire plugs, low tread, or sidewall damage from previous low pressure situations etc. Proper lugnuts and studs etc. Make sure you get a torque wrench and torque them down before AND after the first session. (not too unusual to have them settle and loosen up 1/8- 1/4 turn after a hard run on the track)
Brakes: - Usually they like to see 50% or more pad life remaining, and definitely at least as much pad as backing plate. Rotors must look good.
Also, it's a good idea to have fresh brake fluid, DOT 4 helps avoid boiling and pedal problems, but you can survive with DOT 3 in most cases. If DOT 3 then I suggest it MUST be freshly bled out with completely new fluid, just before the event for the best margin of safety. Any mositure will be a problem.
I understand that Calabogie is a nice big track with lots of turns, this can be hard on the brakes as opposed to let's say an oval like Indy where you get time for brakes to cool off between turns.
I would not worry about it excessively, just go there with fresh fluid. If it does goet hot, and boils the fluid, having a spongy pedal is not the end of the world.
It's happened to me a few times, and you just have to mash your foot to the floor, you go into the turn a little fast and you just scrub off alot of speed as the front end pushes alot due to higher entry speeds. Just dont panic and you's be OK. (really)
MISC: No loose body work or items to come loose on track, no fluid leaks, battery must be secure and a quick underhood inspection should not reveal anything "unusual" like a coat hanger where a motor mount should be!
The interior and cargo areas must be emptied of loose items, if it's not bolted down it comes out. Some tech inspectors are more strict than others, so they may or may not care about some "clip-on" or "velcro" items, others have a "0 tolerance" policy.
Now the WARNING: [deviltail]
I did my first track event with my fully loaded 05 ZX3 SES in MArch of 2007 with 20K miles on her at the East infeld course @ Pocono International.
With 65K miles on her, It's now been comepltely gutted with approx 10K in mods. I'm on my second motor, a custom roll cage is welded in and I am now racing her in SCCA club races wheel to wheel.
It's addicitive and expensive, so don't blame me if you get hooked!
BTW - I have had some drivers from Canada give me flyers to come to Calabogie when they were running with me at Watkins Glen. Now that I have towing arrangements for my racer, I might come to this track some time in the future.
It looks like a great european style road course right in your backyard, so go have FUN!
Be honest, are you familiar with basic "car control"?
Do you understand understeer/oversteer and how your throttle and brake inputs affect these?
Are you familair with basic cornering skills, and terms. Turn-in/Apex/Track Out?
If you have any idea what I'm talking about above, then you can probably figure the rest out on track, if not there is still hope.
If you are comfortable handling a car at high speeds, even if it's drag racing, then a track event in a 150HP Focus should not be a big problem. In most cases you will be put in a beginniner group since most tracks try not to mix real advanced drivers with first timers.
IF you can afford the extra $150, I highly advise it. Spending the extra $$ just means you will get more out of your time there and work up to higher speeds quicker. But if you are used to drag racing etc with bigger HP cars, then you should be OK with this if you just take your time at first. The faster guys will just find thier way around you. (happens to me all the time!)
Did anyone have to teach you how to drag race?
Anyway, the "track orientation" should be enough to keep you out of trouble unless you are a complete hack behind the wheel. Just don't get carrried away, and stay within your own limits.[thumb]
Is there any way to cancel or postpone the date?
I instruct with Track Guys and we will be on the Gran Prix course at Mosport at the end of August. For $315 you would get two days of classroom and in car instruction.
That way the wife can come as well and make a holiday of it. We even offer a taste of the track where she could partake in the classroom instruction with you and get to drive one session on track with an instructor for only $40. We started this for the folks who want to see what being on track is like without making a large investment. We also have a limited number of loaner helmets available.
Track Guys are the folks who put on the SVTOA On Track events for the past five or six years and we travel all over the US and sometimes Canada infecting drivers with the on track sickness.
As for the car a Focus ST will do fine at the track. I had student in one a couple of years ago at Putnam Park and he was nearly as quick as the SVT Focusís but the ST just didnít have the top end the SVTís do.
As was stated in a post above, fresh brake fluid is a must, nothing fancy or expensive, just fresh. For your first time the existing pads may work fine depending on the amount of pad left. However, the second half of the pad wears more quickly than the first half.
For a one day event you may want to swap in a new set before arriving as you will not have a whole lot of time to do it at the event. It will also keep you from bringing a lot of tools, jacks etc. You will want to drive while at the track, not work on the car at the track. Besides most schools keep the novices pretty busy between classroom and the track.
For events when need to rent a car, I will pick up a set of inexpensive pads at the local parts store before arriving at the track just in case, then return them if not needed. Hertz has received a number of free brake jobs from me over the years.
that helps me too I'm want to go to hallett in Tulsa ok the 18th in my 04 svt
Wow boys, nice info.
My wife can actually be a passenger for a session. I'm not sure if she'll be wanting to do it, but it would be fun for her to see what she gave me :)
She paid 400$ for the whole day (350 + 50 (track orientation).
Track orientation means I will be getting an instructor for my first 25 minutes session.
It is 3 x 25 minutes in the morning and 4 x 25 minutes in the afternoon.
As far as brakes are concerned, I probably will get myself a fresh set of pads and bring in the car on Friday for a quick brake fluid change.
I might also have to change my tires as they are close to the wear bar (about 1-2 mm), and they are the OEM tires (Pirelli P06's). I've been looking at the Falken FK-452 tires as I need them to last longer than 10K Km's.
anyhoo, we'll see how things go and will post my comments / pictures afterwords :)
I'm not sure about exchange rates but I typically pay about $300-$350 USD for a full day at a premium track like Watkins Glen, or $200-$250 for an "add-on" infield track at a superspeedway like Pocono. It also depends on the club, and total seat time. If the times above are accurate and you don't have to pull out any disabled cars, you'll be getting about 3 hours on track, so that's a great value. Typically I'll only get an Hour or 1 1/4 hours for those prices. 4 X20 min. or so, but never more than 2 hours.
Please send updates and pics, and have fun![thumb]
So, is the brake flush/bleed absolutely necessary?
Just called up my regular auto service garage and does not have time to do it before Saturday.
Also, if someone can tell me if my tires will handle 300Km's of track time?
Like I said, they are OEM tires (P06's) and are close to the wear bar, about 1 to 2mm max.
I don't want to arrive at the track and not able to pass tech inspection and / or have problems at the track.
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