|What exactly is a Track Day?|
Track days are about just you, your car and the track, driving with like-minded enthusiasts, all in the same direction and using the full width of the road on a challenging length of twisty tarmac.
They are an opportunity to take your car away from the public road, and drive your MG quickly and in the relative safety of a racing circuit or airfield track. There are no speed cameras or hidden police officers. There are no caravan-induced traffic jams, and there is no oncoming traffic, cyclists or pedestrians to worry about.
MGs on track members enjoy a good social repartee in the paddock between sessions and often, when travelling to more distant circuits, an enjoyable get together for meal and just a couple of drinks the evening before.
Track days are in no way, shape or form, a competitive event. If you want to do this, get a motorsport licence, and compete in a speed trial or race championship! On a trackday, organisers take a predictably dim view of any participants obviously racing each other, or timing their laps.
We enforce a strict rule of only overtaking on track only by consent between both drivers to minimise the risk of contact. Please see the FAQ below to see how this operates.
Remember, this is a fun event! It's about driving quickly, but with due care and consideration for those around you. As the old MG motto goes: Safety Fast!
|How are Track Days organised?|
Typically, track days are organised into one of two formats: sessions or open-pitlanes. In both cases, only a limited number of cars are allowed on the track at any given time. This is to avoid excessive traffic.
In a sessioned track day, all the participants are divided into 3 or 4 large groups - so usually you'll be with people with similar performance vehicles and with similar levels of experience. Each group will go out, one by one for a 'session', usually between 15 and 30 mins, and then you'll all return to the pits together. Then the next group will go out. This is a good, sociable format, as it allows everyone in the same session to get together and compare driving notes!
The majority of MGs on Track days are sessioned. If we have the full circuit throughout the day, we will arrange members into groups according to driver and car ability. In this way we aim that all cars are lapping at similar speeds, keeping the track clear and minimising the need for overtaking.
An open-pit lane has no sessions. You can go out when ever you like, and stay out for as long as you like. The marshals will only allow a certain number of cars on the track at any given time, so you may have to queue to get back onto the track. This format is good fun - but remember, the longer you stay out on the track, the hotter your tyres will get, the more wear your brakes will receive and the more of a roasting your engine will get - so don't plan to spend the whole day out on track - there's no 'in-flight re-fuelling'!
|Are Track Days safe?|
Track days are a form of motorsport and like anything to do with cars, there can be an element of risk. We minimise this with strict overtaking rules. The best bit of advice is to drive within your limits, start out cautiously and gradually explore both your's and your car's limits during the course of the day. Because there is no competition, do not feel as though you need to go as fast as the next man! Take it at your own pace.
If you are new to track days or driving an unfamiliar circuit, you might want to take a session with one of our trained ARDS instructors. He will show you the best and safest way around and also point out a few tips to improve your driving.
Track days are held on a circuit or an airfield designed for motorsport. They allow run off onto grass or gravel should you get overambitious. Of course there are some hard bits such as the pit lane wall or a bit of Armco barrier and you might want to be a bit less brave in these areas.
All track days are well marshalled, and have full medical and emergency services support. So if the worst were to happen, there are trained experts at hand.
|What is the etiquette and overtaking rules?|
MGs on Track is well known for the courtesy that fellow drivers show each other on track. Most of us drive our cars to the event and we want all to be able to drive home again without accident.
There are basically two possibilities for accident damage; contact between cars or simply driving beyond your ability and coming off the track. There's not much we can do about the second, that's up to you, but contact between cars is most likely through bends and when the car in front hasn't seen you.
Our policy is that overtaking must be by consent between both drivers, only along the straights (not in corners or braking zones) and always on the same side of the track, which will be defined on the day during the driver's briefing. We expect slower cars to let faster ones past, equally we expect faster cars not to tailgate, weave or worry slower cars which may be in front of them. That way everyone can drive at their own safe speed without getting in each other's way.
So how is this done?
* NEVER overtake in a corner or in braking zones.
* Pay attention to what is behind you - use your mirrors.
* If you notice a faster car behind you, let them past; don't try to out drag them on the straight. If they've come up behind you, they are faster
* Take care to let them past only when it is safe for you to make room for them.
* NEVER overtake unless the car in front has seen you and given you their consent to pass.
Be aware of the marshals and of the flag system. You must attend a driver's briefing at the start of the track day, and these will be explained to you. The basics are (note that the details may vary):
Red Flag: Danger ahead. The session has been stopped and you must return to the pits. Slow down such that you are in full control of your vehicle, able to manoeuvre and stop quickly. However, don't drive so slow that it takes the next 10 minutes to get back to the pits. Be aware of the possibility of personnel and safety/recovery vehicles on track. You should not overtake any vehicle unless directed to do so by a marshal.
Yellow Flag: Caution - be aware that there is a problem or obstruction ahead. Slow down slightly and be ready to manoeuvre or stop. Do not overtake.
Blue Flag: A faster car is behind you, and you are holding them up - let them through as soon as it is safe to do so.
Chequered Flag: Game over - it's the end of the session. Slow down for your cooling lap, and re-enter the pits at the end of the lap.
Black flag: You've done something wrong or something is dropping off your car! You need to go back to the pits and see the chief marshal.
|So how do I know a car is lapping faster than me - and why is it important.|
|Well the first clue is that he is behind you - so presumably he's caught you up.
Our MGs have different characteristics, as do the drivers, but we are all on track to enjoy the experience and want to drive to the maximum of our abilities. Courtesy on track is essential if we are to do this.
Some cars are clearly more powerful than others and will pull away on the straights. Less powerful cars can often be more nimble and make up ground on the corners. This can lead to a classic track day problem.
The problem is where one car is constantly catching up with another through the corners only to find that the car in front powers away at the next straight. This builds up frustration and frustration can lead to someone overtaking when they shouldn’t i.e. in the braking zone of a bend or on the bend itself.
The car in front can often be unaware of the frustration caused, as they see their ability to pull away on the straight as vindication of being in front of the ‘slower’ car.
If it turns out that you are able to keep up, then he should return your courtesy and let you back in front. It can be fun to swap places, by consent, in this way and learn from each other’s lines. No two drivers will lap quite the same way even if their overall lap times are similar.
If you find that you are the faster car behind a more powerful car please do two things:
1. back off for half a lap and avoid the problem. The chances are you’ll complete your session without the problem recurring and will enjoy your track time all the more for it.
Remember, we are all on track to enjoy the experience and courtesy is the key.
|Should I book Instruction|
|Well, it's up to you; we do charge extra for instruction. Unless our contract with the circuit requires it we do not insist that people take instruction although we do encourage it.
Firstly we run our instruction sessions at or below cost. We believe that competent and predictable driving promotes on track safety for the benefit of all. We also believe that the best and certainly the cheapest nut to adjust to get more speed out of your car is the one behind the wheel.
Please note that instruction is only available in cars fitted with seatbelts. Quite naturally, our instructors feel a little uncomfortable hurtling round a track without one.
So what form does it take ??
|Is my classic MG suitable for track days?|
Yes, your classic MG is absolutely perfect for track days - and many MGAs, Midgets and Bs are seen harassing more modern machinery on tracks up and down the country! On a sessioned track day, you will be running with similar performance cars anyway, so there should be little worry about holding up faster cars.
Whilst we recomment that your car is fitted with seatbelts, if your car does not require them for MOT then it is not mandatory. We regret that instruction is not available in cars which are not equipped. Quite naturally, our instructors feel uncomfortable on track without a seatbelt.
Given the age of these MGs, additional care and attention needs to be invested in their preparation, and checks on engine health, brake performance and safety areas, but apart from that - have fun!
If you are aware of your car suffering from severe oil leaks, you'd be advised to get this attended to: circuit owners and your fellow drivers take a predictably dim view of oil (or indeed any other fluid) on the track!
|What do I need in the way of equipment or clothing?|
The only requirement for every track day is a suitable helmet. Please read the FAQ section about helmet specifications.
There are a number of on line companies that will sell you one of these (Racewear, Demon Tweeks, Grand Prix etc), but sometimes helmets are available for hire at the track day. Please reserve your helmet when you book for an event.
If you get 'into' track days, you'll want to invest in your own equipment. Note that if you want to drive a convertible car with the top down, you should have a closed face helmet. Open faced helmets can be used with the soft top up or in 'tintops'.
Other 'safety' clothing and equipment are optional, although most circuits require you to cover your arms and legs. If you want to wear the full Hamilton battle dress - no problem!
Having a AFFF fire extinguisher - ideally with a capacity of 1.5litres - securely fastened in the car and within reach of the driver is a good idea, but not necessary.
Other equipment that you may find helpful are a tyre pressure gauge, a foot pump and a wheel brace to check the tightness of your wheels.
|What Specification Helmet do I need.|
|All circuits require that occupants wear “suitable” helmets – ie properly fitting and secured – that are approved for car, motorcycle or karting, are undamaged, and which meet BS requirements or are Kite-marked.
It is your head you are protecting so it does not make sense to cut corners. The choice is yours, but MGoT recommends helmets meeting at least BS6658-85 or Snell 2000 specifications; if you are buying a new helmet you should consider Snell 2010.
Some circuits now specify closed face helmets for soft top cars, irrespective of whether the hood is up or down. Others allow open face in all cars.
Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton, Cadwell Park, Bedford and Hethel specify that:
Croft specifies that:
Goodwood requires that:
Donington, Castle Combe and Blyton Park:
MGs on Track do not scrutineer; we require our members to self check that both their car and safety equipment is to the required standard. You will sign an indemnity for the day which has clauses confirming that you are conforming.
|How do I know what size helmet I need?|
Measure around your head just above the ears;
small = 55-56cms
|Do I need any special licence?|
No special licence is needed.
You will need a full RTA (your normal road driving licence) for the class of vehicle you are driving. You will not be allowed on track unless you are able to show this at the event's sign-on.
|Is my car insured on track?|
Your road going insurance policy may not cover you for a track day. Please check with your insurance company and emphasise that track days are non-competitive and no racing or timing is allowed. Some companies will cover you, for a small additional premium (£25-£50), although they will typically increase the damage excess for the day (say £1000).
Some insurers can include free unlimited track day cover for MGoT members. If you wish to insure on track and intend to do a number of events during the year, this can be an economical solution.
So, what do people do if their insurance company won’t insure them? An increasing number of specialist companies have developed policies to suit. You can buy as much cover as you feel is sensible, just for the day.
If you are not insured, then clearly you take the risk that you will have to pay for anything that happens. A majority of people are happy to take this risk. It isn't quite as bad as it sounds, since driving around a track is actually a great deal safer than driving on the road. No oncoming traffic, no junctions or distractions etc. The etiquette and rules of track days are well laid out and policed by marshals. Anyone not obeying our overtaking by consent rules, driving discourteously or dangerously will be black flagged and taken off the track.
The objective of 'MGs on Track' is for the majority of our events to be exclusive to MGs, and to group participants according to car performance and driver ability. This means the variation in track speed is minimised, and with it the risk.
|What do I need to do to my car to prepare for a track day?|
Preparing your car for a track day is not as daunting as perhaps it may sound. The main principle that you need to bear in mind is that your car is going to undergo some very heavy use - much more than the equivalent mileage on the road for example. Therefore there are 3 areas you need to look at:
Beyond this, it is a question of having a car in good condition, paying particular attention to the suspension. But most of all, what we are talking about is common sense!
|Any vehicle checks I need to perform on the day?|
Checks are pretty much as for any road car really: