The “C” word: Crash
The old fear of “wrecking your car” is certainly a scary one. First: are you covered? Probably not. Car insurance companies have wizened up to track days and have rewritten policies to make sure they exclude even educational HPDE days. There are companies out there that offer “track day” insurance, but policies can cost in the hundreds of dollars for a single event (not keeping in line with my budget) HOWEVER, DO NOT FEAR, while wrecking is a possibility, it is SIGNIFICANTLY LESS COMMON than it is made out to be. While any sort of damage is rare, it usually occurs in the faster groups where people are generally carrying way more speed and really pushing their cars to the limits. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of more than one incident I’ve seen involving a HPDE1 driver (Novice run group) in the past 5 years of events I’ve done (maybe 60 track days or so?). In a Novice run group you will have both self-preservation instincts and an instructor to help keep you in check.
Want insurance? There is a saying “Never bring a car on track that you can’t afford to walk away from” This is may be your best insurance. It may not be a great idea to do 10 track weekends a year in your $35k bank owned car. While it would have certainly been a issue if I wrecked my $5,000 miata daily driver, it wouldn’t have ruined me financially either.
If crash-fests aren’t the reality, why does the whole internet seem to make it look like people are always crashing their cars? Simple: carnage sells. You are way more likely to see, share, and save an image or video of some track car carnage than a photo of a car gliding gracefully around a turn. There are countless photos and videos of nothing happening, its the wrecks that get posted and shared.
The “R” word: Rain
One more thing that initially scared me away from signing up for a track day was risk of rain. People are very afraid of rain on the track. I vividly remember one forum post about someone’s first day in the rain, ending with pics of his wrecked (and totaled) car on a flatbed. I was afraid this would happen to me, or that I wouldn’t really learn anything, or at least that I wouldn’t have fun. I didn’t want to shell out good money on the risk that when the actual day came (several weeks after signing up) it would be ruined by some water.
I want this to be clear, RAIN IS A GOOD THING. The things you should be doing all the time like looking ahead become especially important in a slippery scenario. Your driving speeds will go down quite a bit, but its just as fun (if not more fun), the track went from having “the line” to a ton of options. You will most likely get your car sideways at some point, and you will probably spin at some point… you will get better and FASTER by doing. You only need to drive to your own skill and comfort threshold, so if it scares you, go slower. Rain doesn’t automatically mean someone is going to wreck their car.
For many people, driving in the rain speeds them up in the dry. The lessons they learn in the rain about being smooth, keeping eyes up, and trying different lines are also important skills for going faster on a dry track.
Even with a dreary forecast, a “rainy day” at the track doesn’t always rain the entire day. Many “rain” days have a mix of dry damp, and wet conditions so you can get some of everything in one day. Once you stop seeing rain as intimidating it can become incredibly fun, so don’t let it hold you back from signing up.
Don’t be afraid of wrecking or rain (Or wrecking in the rain). It’s a LOT less likely than the internet makes it seem. Just sign up and SHOW UP!
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