At Turn8 we put on fun, safe, track day events that let you take your own car out on iconic racetracks so you can explore the limits of both you and your car in a controlled environment. This page will go over how our track days run, what you need, and what to expect on the day.
"Track days", also known as High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) days, are events where you spend the day at a race track, and are allowed to drive your vehicle in high speed situations. These days are considered NON-COMPETITIVE events, and as such there is no "racing" allowed. Everyone moves at their own pace with specific track etiquette around passing, etc.
On a typical day, participants are divided in to "run groups" by experience. Most days will have 4 different classes of driver as follows:
- Beginner - Complete novice (zero experience), up to 5 previous track days.
- Low Intermediate - Typically 5-10 previous track days.
- High Intermediate - Typically 10-15 previous track days.
- Advanced - Typically over 15 previous track days.
Note that while we typically use number of previous track days as a gauge for which group you should be in, you can choose to be in a lower group if that is more comfortable for you. If on the day we observe that you are in the wrong group (either because you appear uncomfortable and should be in a lower group, or appear to be held up and should be in a higher group), we will move you around as needed.
Before arriving to the track, there are several things you should do:
- Make sure the car you're bringing meets technical requirements (see "Tech Inspections" below).
- Make sure you have numbers on your car. All cars on track need numbers on the side of the car, 10-inches high. Try to avoid repeating numbers (like "111"), and keep the number between 1 and 999. Usually drivers will use pre-cut vinyl numbers, or in a pinch blue painters tape can be used to fashion the numbers on the side of your car.
- Make sure you have your personal safety equipment (see "Safety equipment" below).
Try to make sure you have a tow hook installed on your car. A factory tow hook works well, and for those of you with modified and/or full track vehicles without a factory tow point, there are several aftermarket options. The tow hook will be used to pull you off track if you have an issue (e.g. mechanical failure, run out of gas, etc).
The towing company is employed by the facilities, and are instructed to remove disabled cars as quickly as possible to ensure minimal disruption to the schedule. This means that if you do not have a tow hook, they may "hook on" to any structural/solid part of your vehicle, which may lead to damage to your vehicle - which the facility, tow truck or Turn8 are not liable for.
Note that we will not deny you access to the track without one, but the you assume all risks as detailed above without one. We also highly recommend marking (using a sticker, or just blue masking tape), the location of your tow point. If you do not have a real tow hook, we recommend finding a good structural point to tow your vehicle, and marking that instead.
- Learn the flag system. On track we use the international standard flag system to communicate with drivers, so try to learn and commit to memory all of the flags. See "What to Expect On Track" below for more details!
- Get some sleep! We know it can be quite exciting the night before, but we highly recommend getting a good nights sleep before. Driving on track is extremely fun, but will also be tiring!
At our events safety is paramount, and as such, we have some requirements around personal safety equipment.
Anyone in a car on track requires a helmet that is certified, including both drivers and passengers. The organization that certifies helmets is called Snell, and they have two general types of certification. "M" rated helmets for street motorbikes, and "SA" rated helmets for track/competition. We, like most other organizations, require the SA-rated helmet (the main difference is that SA helmets are fire proof, which we think is a good thing for your head)!
When looking for the certification, you'll notice a number too - for example "SA2010" or "SA2015". The number is the year that certification was valid from in 5 year increments, and all certifications are valid for 10 years. Right now we accept SA2010 helmets, but as of next season you'll need to have at least an SA2015 helmet as the SA2010 ones will expire after the year 2020.
Head and Neck Restraint
The head and neck restraint is a device that prevents injury from high speed impacts. You can only use these on cars with racing harness-style seatbelts, and we highly recommend it if your car is a race car with a roll cage. 99% of drivers do not use one of these as they are in normal passenger cars without racing harnesses, but it's recommended if you can get it, and beginners especially are typically not usually fast enough to need one.
Other than the cool-factor, racing suits are not typically worn at track days. If you're in a purpose built race car it can make sense for a number of reasons, but we do not require it. Most drivers wear jeans and a T-shirt while driving.
Close-toed shoes are required (e.g. tennis shoes), so no sandals or other open-style shoes. We do highly recommend getting racing shoes (e.g. Sparco) as they really help improve pedal feel, are lightweight, and purpose built.
Tech inspections are to make sure your car is fit for the event, and safe to drive. You can typically drive any car you like on track, but cars with high centers of gravity (SUV's, trucks, pickups, etc) are not allowed. Almost anything else is fine though as long as it's road legal OR properly track prepared. People come to our events in every day cars like Camry's, Accord's, or even Prius's - so don't think you need a sports car to drive on track!
Our tech inspections are known as "self-tech", and is the standard way track day organizers handle inspections today. Essentially you follow a checklist of items to ensure that all requirements are met, and during registration you will certify that your car meets all the requirements. You can choose to have your vehicle inspected by a local mechanic if you wish, or you can inspect it yourself. We do perform random spot checks for vehicles at our event, so make sure you've checked every item or you could risk being denied access to the track!
Note that if you have upgraded your seatbelts for some racing harnesses, please make sure they meet the following requirements:
- Aftermarket seatbelts must be either SFI or FIA certified.
- If not OEM 3-point, they must be either 5 or 6 point.
- 4-point belts are NOT allowed UNLESS they are the Schroth ASM-style belts. These belts have a breakaway belt that allows your body to rotate and prevent "submarining".
- Unless specified by the belt manufacturer to be designed for use with OEM seats, the belts MUST be used with an SFI/FIA certified racing seat designed with the shoulder belt path and bottom "anti-sub" belt must route through the seat as designed.
- If using the belts with a head-and-neck restraint, make sure your shoulder belt width meets the requirements of your restraint (i.e. 2-inch belts vs 3-inch belts).
Not meeting the above requirements is a huge safety risk to you as incorrectly installed seatbelts will not hold you in place in the event of an accident.
For an example of our tech sheet and general waiver, please follow this link:
These documents will be signed electronically during registration, so the above is just for your reference and preparation.
On the day, the typical schedule starts with the gates opening at 7AM. As you drive in, most facilities will require you to sign in, and sometimes pay a $10-$15 "gate fee" that is charged by the facility itself (something organizers have no control over).
Once in the facility, you will meet one of our staff members to get your wrist bands. These color coded security wrist bands are tied to your run group, and ensure our track marshals know which sessions you should be in. This is very important as you don't want to end up in an Advanced session if you're just a Beginner!
At around 7:30AM a mandatory drivers meeting is held where we talk about the track conditions, format for the day, anything to watch out for, and we go over the flags (more about this later). Beginners typically get a dedicated additional drivers meeting after the normal one to go over specific beginner-related items. If being offered at the specific event, we'll also assign instructors at this time (more on that later too).
The track usually "goes hot" at either 8AM or 9AM depending on the venue, and usually will start in a "sessions" format. This means each run group takes turns going out in 20 minute sessions. Some days consist of only sessions all day, where you can expect to get between 4 and 6 20-minute sessions for the day. Believe or not, this is a LOT of driving, and many people leave before their last session!
The track typically goes "cold" at 5PM, with the paddock area closing at 6PM (so must exit by this time).
Turn8 events typically have a slightly different format in the afternoons known as "Open Pit". What this means is that after lunch we essentially have one long session, usually around 3.5 hours long. During this time drivers can go on and off the track at will. Beginners are not allowed during this session (Intermediate and Advanced only), so are usually given extra sessions in the morning to ensure they still get a full days of driving. During the Open Pit session cars are metered so that we don't get too many people out at the same time (depending on the track, typically 25-30 people max at the same time).
Depending on your group, passing rules will vary. In general, when a car is passing you, you must maintain your line. It is the responsibility of the car behind to pass safely. DO NOT move out of the way to let cars pass. Simply perform a "point-by" indicating which side they should pass. Typically the following rules apply by group, though may change on a per-event basis:
- Beginner: Passing only allowed in designated zones, and can only be performed if the driver being passed gives a "point-by" by indicating clearly to the driver behind which side to pass.
- Intermediate: Passing allowed anywhere except corners, with point-by's being optional, but recommended. Be aware that cars may pass you without warning.
- Advanced: Open passing. Pass anywhere you like, including corners, but ensure the pass can be done safely. Point-by's are optional, but always welcome when possible.
Some of our events feature instructors for beginners, and if offered, will be assigned to you during the beginners drivers meeting in the morning. Typically we will assign one instructor per 3 or 4 drivers, and they will help you with any questions you have, pointers, and general coaching. This is provided free-of-charge to our attendees where possible. If you require dedicated one-on-one coaching (for a fee), please contact us and we'll see if we can make that happen! Regardless of instruction though, feel free to ask our staff any questions, and we'll be happy to help. We're all track enthusiasts ourselves with years of experience, and always more than willing to pass on that knowledge to help improve your skills!
We know sometimes you want to bring someone out with you, and we do allow one passenger out with you, as long as you meet the following requirements:
- Passenger is at least 18 years old and has also signed our waiver.
- The car is setup to have a passenger in the seat next to the driver, with all the required safety equipment (seatbelts, etc).
- The passenger CANNOT sit in the back seats!
- You are at least Intermediate level (no passengers are allowed for beginners).
- The passenger cannot use any handheld device (e.g. cellphone or camera) while you're out on track.
- The passenger must obtain a passenger wrist band from us.
So you've done all of your preparations, gotten to the track, and your first session is about to start. Here's what to expect.
- To start with, don't miss your session! It's easy to lose track of time when preparing, so make sure to look at the schedule and keep track of time. We will announce your session around 5 minutes before it starts, so make sure to keep an ear out.
- Make sure you have fuel in your car! Track fuel is available, but is expensive, so some drivers head out of the facility to get it at a local gas station. Driving on track uses a LOT of fuel, so typically you need 2-3 tanks for a full day, depending on your car and how experienced you are (faster you are, typically the more fuel you use).
- Don't forget to put your helmet on, secure it, seatbelts done up, and all of your windows should be rolled down (front and back).
- Approach the pit entrance before your session starts and line up behind the cars waiting to go out, or the track marshal in the pit lane if you're first.
- The marshal will check your wrist band to ensure you should be in this session. They will also check your passengers wrist band to make sure they are approved to go out too.
- When indicated, drive on to the track. Maintain pit-lane speeds (5MPH) until you pass the marshal, at which point you can accelerate up to track joining speeds (varies, but typically around 40MPH).
- The first session of the day will start with a "Full Track Yellow". This means no passing, driving slower and controlled, and is designed to let you "see" the track. Each flag station will have a waiving yellow flag, so be sure to look out for them. This lets you know where they are so when driving normally you can look out for any warning flags.
- After the "Full Track Yellow" (usually just 1 lap), you'll get the Green flag at the Start/Finish line. At that point the track is hot and you should drive accordingly! Subsequent sessions will not have a full track yellow lap.
- Some things to remember:
- In your first session of the day, the track is cold and your tires are cold. Don't push too hard else you might end up off the track in the gravel!
- Watch the flag stations - yellow, red and black flags are especially important.
- At the end of your session, you'll see the checkered flag. Sometimes this will be at two stations (start/finish and about half way around the track). When you see it, exit the track as soon as you get to the pit entrance (don't do another lap). This is important to make sure the next group doesn't lose time in their session.
- While on track, NEVER get out of your car unless for some reason your car is on fire, or in other imminent fire-related danger. It's the ONLY reason to exit the car. If you exit the car without good reason, you will not be allowed back on track for the day.
- While on track, NEVER remove your helmet. If you do, you will not be allowed back on track for the day.
- The above two rules apply to any passengers as well!
- Don't ignore a black flag. If a black flag is pointed at you, you must come off the track and see the marshal in the pit lane (don't go hide in the paddock either!)
- Have fun!
Flags are very important for communicating with drivers, so here are the ones we use. Try to memorize these, and their meanings:
|Track is hot. Full track speed OK.|
|Static: Proceed with caution and do not overtake. Reduce pace to half track speed.|
|Immediately slow down and stop OFF THE RACING LINE. Maintain line of sight with a flag station and await instructions to proceed. Do not overtake, get out of your car, or remove any safety equipment (including seatbelts or helmets).|
|Exit the track at next pit exit and drive TO THE PIT LANE for instructions. May be pointed at you for an individual infraction or waving at all stations for track shutdown.|
|Mechanical issue with your car. Exit the track and drive TO THE PIT LANE for instructions. If leaking oil, drive OFF THE RACING LINE at reduced pace. Do not stop unless on fire or unable to proceed.|
|Slippery surface ahead (e.g. oil). Drive carefully.|
|Faster car approaching behind – allow to pass at next passing zone.|
|Session has ended normally. Return to the PADDOCK at next pit exit. DO NOT do a cool down lap – exit at earliest possibility.|
At some of our events we will have professional grade timing available to drivers. Simply attach one of our transponders (using supplied zip ties) to the front of your car, and we'll provide you accurate timing down to the millisecond!
Alternatively you can use one of the many popular GPS-based timing apps or devices. For example, Harry's Lap Timer is a popular phone app for accurate timing, or dash-mounted devices such as RaceLogic VBox or AiM Solo can also be used. They tend to be less accurate and reliable than transponder-based timing, but very portable and easy. If you decide to go this route, please make sure your device is SECURE using a stable, high quality mount. If your device flies off it will be a safety hazard by distracting you on track!
At some of our events we also offer entry in to our Turn8 Time Attack Battle time trial series. Depending on your car, you will be classified against others with similar cars, and can win trophies, medals and/or prizes - as well as bragging rights! You simply need to have the fastest time in your group in the designated session to win. This is not a wheel-to-wheel competition. You compete only on lap time, so please remember that there is no racing between participants allowed whatsoever.