You Own a DB9 – Now Act Like It
I think the phrase ‘Track Day’ gets a bad rapp in some of the Aston Martin forums. If you are worried about your depreciation value more than enjoying your car, your reading the wrong blog.
We own beautiful cars that are technical mastery. What’s the point of owning it if you aren’t interested in taking it out for a romp once in a while? Just staring at it in the garage is only 1/3rd of the fun. Sitting in it and fondling it is another third. Taking it for a spirited drive is the last third.
I’ve taken my car to four (4) track day events total – three (3) Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC) organized events and one HPD (high performance driving) event. I can tell you I very much enjoyed the AMOC events, and disliked the generic HPD event (too many testosterone kids with muscle cars not respecting the other drivers).
The AMOC organized events are attended by other Aston Martin owners – with the exact same worries as you. “I am not a professional racer and don’t want to race some other yahoo” and “I don’t want to screw up my car”. The AMOC knows this, and structures the event to address it. My AMOC USA Section West events are awesome (thanks to George Wood and Guy Simpson). About 30 cars turn up, we are split into two groups (novice and experienced) and we run a 3 mile track for 30 minutes on and then 30 minutes off. Organized like this, you rarely are running anywhere near anyone else, and passing is only allowed when you are waived by in safe manner on a long straight. Drive your car within your limits, be safe and have fun.
Imagine a bunch of civilized men and women driving their fast cars swiftly in a well controlled manner (with GIANT grins on their faces).
I would strongly encourage any Aston owner to join the AMOC and participate in at least one AMOC organized track day event. You get to meet other like minded owners, spend a day talking cars with them, you get to see a lot of other pretty Aston’s. Best of all you can experience YOUR Aston at full throttle on a long straight (engine roaring) without risk of a ticket!. Well worth the price of admission.
OK, enough about why to attend a track day. Here’s what I do to prepare for it.
Preparing your car for a Track Day
You basically just want to do a few simple steps to be ready to run on the track. Mostly routine maintenance stuff. Check out my video below as well for a summary.
Check the Tire Pressures
I have to be realistic with you. You will wear your tires a fair bit during a track day. Turning corners at speed wears them. Its very important that you have them set to the correct factory recommended pressures so they wear evenly and handle well. Check out my blog post on checking your tire pressures.
Check the Wheel Nuts are Torqued
Having a wheel come off at speed would be bad (anytime actually). A simple step is to check that all your wheel nuts are properly tight. Just use a torque wrench and go over them once quickly to ensure they are. Check out my blog post on torqueing the wheel nuts for the proper procedure and settings.
Check your Fluid Levels
You should ensure that all the engine fluid levels are properly topped up. Check and top up as necessary according to the proper procedures:
- Engine oil level
- Brake Fluid reservoir
- Power Steering Fluid
- Engine Coolant
Clean your Windscreen
You’ll want to be able to see everything on the track without distraction. Be sure that your windows and windshield are clean. A simple microfiber towel will help get this done.
Remove EVERYTHING from the Cabin
A real danger when driving on the track is to have something break your focus. As you brake, accelerate and turn the G forces can cause anything loose in the cabin to fly about. These can be a distraction at minimum, or worse could end up in the foot well under the pedals. Remove anything loose from the passenger cabin like tissues, water bottles, etc. and leave them in the pit between sessions. During my first track day I had Starbucks napkins floating about the cabin as I reached the end of the front straight at 120+mph – distracting me from the braking and turn in point (you can see them in this video).
Fill up with Fuel Before You Go
My routine is to fill up with premium fuel before I head for the track. When I finally get there (90 min drive) I have about half a tank of fuel in the car. I resist the urge to fill up before the session starts since the car is a little lighter with only half a tank making it a little quicker and taking a little load of the tires and brakes. I know, this won’t make much difference, but it’s my routine. Of course, the car gobbles 1/8th of a tank of fuel each 30 minute session (yikes!), so I end up refueling the car at the lunch break and again as I head for home.
Empty your Trunk
To minimize weight and stuff banging around I’d suggest emptying your trunk completely, leaving whatever you take to the track in the pits while you are on track lapping.
Should you have an unfortunate ‘off’, you may need a tow truck driver to pull you from the weeds. Rather than trashing your car trying to hook onto some understructure, be sure to have your official Aston Martin Tow Hook with you. This is part of the toolkit kept in the trunk.
Take a few things along…
You might consider taking a few things along to the track (and leaving them in the pit when lapping). I usually take:
- a lawn chair (to relax in between sessions)
- Spare microfiber towels (to clean windshield, helmets, check fluids, etc.)
- Extra engine oil (I check the level at the lunch break)
- A favorite beverage to enjoy (bottled water)
The track will require you wear a proper racing helmet. Most tracks have a Pro shop where you can rent one for a very reasonable price ($30 at our events). This year my sweetie Karen bought me one for Christmas, so now I have one with the perfect fit and comfort. A good open face helmet can be had for <$300 if you want to own one.
Aston Martin Dealer Track Day Inspection
Our latest AMOC organized track day was sponsored by a local Aston Martin Dealership. They offered all the attendees a free pre-track day inspection to check your car over from front to back to make sure it’s safe and ready to go. I took advantage of this and was pleased to see my car passed with flying colors. The dealer even turned out with a bevy of new Astons for us to test drive at the event (which can be seen in my video)
Now that your car is ready, go out and have some fun with it. Drive well within your limits. Respect the car and the other drivers. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner, and you’ll be counting down the days until the next event.
Here is a video about preparing the car, and another below of my 2016 AMOC Track Day (in the wet)