GP Academy #3: Behavior During A Track Day

As an addition to our Track Day FAQ, we will have a closer look at how to behave during a GP Days Track Day in the third part of our GP Academy. If you have already participated in one of our Track Days, many of the following points may not be big news, I still highly recommend reading through them though - in the end, it is about all our safety!

GENERAL

Most important of all is that everyone stays safe during our Track Days. Staying safe begins in the paddock and ends with you overtaking and being overtaken on track.

A successful Track Day means you, your car and all the other participants get home in one piece and with nothing but epic memories!

To get started, we will look at how to behave off track (in the paddock and pitlane) before we talk about the rules on track!

OFF TRACK

IN THE PADDOCK

In the paddock, participants gather to have petrol-fuelled chats, tweak their cars or take a break after some fast laps on track. There is lots of activity, people walking around and potentially not being as attentive as they should be. That is why we have a STRICT 20km/h Paddock speed limit during all our Track Days.

Paddock No-Gos:

  1. Warming up your car (and tyres) by exceeding the speed limit
  2. Going over the speed limit while entering or exiting the pitlane
  3. "Showing Off" in front of other participants (burnouts, etc.)
  4. And anything related to the above. We urge you to use common sense and take it easy in the Paddock

The points may sound obvious to you, but you cannot imagine the things we have already seen people doing in the Paddock!

IN THE PITLANE

The pitlane is your entry and exit point to the track. It is also the spot where you may adjust your tyre pressures or do a quick visual inspection of your car (such as brakes, tyres, etc.). Similar to the Paddock, it is definitely not the place to go fast!

During all our Track Days, the maximum speed in the pitlane is 50km/h. If you see people on the side checking their tyre pressures, etc., it would be great if you go even a bit slower than that!

In order to keep “foot-traffic” to a minimum, please change drivers and/or passengers in the Paddock only.

You should always remember that visibility with a helmet is much worse than normal – so if you are “on foot” in the pitlane, please be extra careful of cars entering and leaving the track as they might not see you straight away!

ON TRACK

General

It may sound completely generic, but I am convinced that if everyone stays considerate and respectful towards each other, 95% of all potential problems on track can be avoided. It may help to really take the following to heart: What is there to gain if you take unnecessary risks during a Track Day?

It all starts with your car being fit for track use. Please take extra care that you are not losing any fluids or the likes as this can put other participants in extreme danger. Also make sure that everything is tightened - anything that seems loose will fall off and wear significantly faster due to the higher stress put through the components on track (Bodywork etc.)

If you want to find out how to optimally prepare for your day on track, check out our GP Academy #2: How to prepare for a Track Day?

Overtaking generally poses the biggest risk. That is why we are going to look at in more detail in the next section of this article.

OVERTAKING

If we make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of how to overtake and apply what is said above  – be considerate and respectful – there is not much that can go wrong!

During a GP Days Track Day, you are allowed to overtake on the left and right. That is not because we absolutely do not have any rules but because we noticed that during Track Days which only permit overtaking on the left, many awkward situations occur. Especially as being forced to overtake on one side only can put you into an awkward track position, making the following corners more difficult than they should be.

Use the possibility of overtaking on the entire track and give all participants enough space while overtaking and being overtaken to ensure maximum safety!

While I completely understand that it can be extremely frustrating getting stuck behind an inattentive driver or group of several cars, make use of the fact that we are organising Open Pitlane Track Days exclusively. This means, that every day offers you much more track time than you can possibly use.

My tip:

If you catch up with a driver that seems to be difficult to overtake or you get stuck behind a group of cars, take a little detour through the pitlane to create some distance between you and the others. There is no point in trying some “do or die” manoeuvre just to get past someone – the risk to potentially cause an accident is just too high.

A situation like this should not happen to begin with though. While the faster car generally has the responsibility to ensure a safe pass, it always helps if the slower car is “cooperative”. No matter how fast you think you are, check your mirrors frequently. If you see a faster car approaching, you can use your indicators to help the driver behind you understand where you want him to pass:

  • Indicator left: I will stay on the left, it is safe to overtake on the right
  • Indicator right: I will stay on the right, it is safe to overtake on the left

Using the indicators will make your actions more predictable and shows the driver behind you that you have seen them and ensures easy and safe overtaking.

Remember: You have much more track time than you can actually use (between 6:30h to 8:00h), there is no stress or time pressure!

BREAKDOWN, SPIN OR ELSE

Stopping on track can be extremely dangerous. As there a different reason why you may have to do so, I will briefly touch on the most important ones: Technical Issues and Spinning i.e. going Off-Track.

TECHNICAL ISSUE

If you have a technical issue and you cannot get back to the pitlane, always try to do so in a safe spot away from the track.

Never stop on the outside of a corner (especially corner exit). If another driver goes off the track, that is usually where it happens. If possible, try to find a gap in the barrier or stop on the inside after a corner to get out of the danger zone as much as possible.

Stay in the car and give the marshals time to get out the yellow flags and make all other cars on the track slow down. Once you get out of the car (quickly!) and behind the barrier, wait for further instructions from the marshals.

This is exactly what should not happen under any circumstances! The "broken down" car is stopped right after a crest (other drivers cannot see it standing there) exactly in the spot where cars go off if they enter the corner to fast. 

To make matters worse, the driver is kneeling in front of the car. This can end extremely badly. If you need to get out of your vehicle, please make sure that you are stopped in a safe place - that is for your own safety only!

Special Case: Losing fluids

In case you are losing fluids, get off the racing line immediately and try to stop on a paved section next to the track in order to avoid contaminating the soil (especially if you are losing oil).

If you are losing oil, tell the marshals immediately so they can abort the session. Worst case is that several cars start to spin-out due to oil or other kinds of fluid on the circuit!

GOING OFF TRACK

Going off track can happen during a Track Day. While it is not that much of a big deal when you do not hit anything, I highly advise that if you have an off, go to back to the paddock (make sure you are not spreading the gravel across the racing line.), check your car and take a break.

Please remember that any kind of contact with the tyre wall, barriers, fixed cones on the inside of the corner (especially at Bilster Berg) need to be reported to us immediately.

MAIN TAKEAWAYS

I think you might have noticed that our main priority is to keep you all safe on track and ensure that everyone can go home with nothing but epic memories. You can be sure that we constantly have an eye on the circuit and will speak to drivers that endanger others immediately

If you feel that someone drives too aggressively, do not hesitate to speak to them in the paddock. Normally, a friendly chat can resolve almost any issue. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to them directly, feel free to approach one of our Team Members and we will take over from there!

Please let us know anytime if there are any open questions that need answering!

  • Falk