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I serve as Vice Chair on a racegroup that organizes SCCA club races at Heartland Park Topeka. We are exploring the addtion Track Day weekends to our clubracing schedule in 2012. This would be a stand alone weekend just for PDX (Performance Driiving Experience) participants - no clubracing.

When you are planning your personal Track Day schedule what causes you to choose one event over another? Please comment with the the top three attributes from the list below:

Cost

Track Time

Instruction Opportunity

The club/event organizer

The track/track configuration

Socal Aspects - party, dinner, etc

Safety aspects - corner coverage, insurance, etc

Thanks for your help
 

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Me personally, it's like this:

Cost

Track Time

Safety aspects - corner coverage, insurance, etc

Instruction Opportunity

The club/event organizer

The track/track configuration

Socal Aspects - party, dinner, etc


Look at two ends of a spectrum: PCA and BMWCCA events, vs Touring Club. The first two are amazing for the instruction and learning opportunity, the latter is just cheap track time with little emphasis given to instruction. The irony is, novices will be tempted by the last one, when they need the former....and that's the kind of thing you'll be up against: Novices can fill the ranks, but they don't know what they don't know, so they rarely understand the cost benefit of high-instruction events. Whereas advanced students will often gladly pay the higher fees for a better event because they know they're mostly going to be sharing track with a higher caliber driver.

Makes me wonder if there's a way to put on a high-caliber event, but with a hook 'em discount for newer drivers. It may appear counter-intuitive for the investment the organizer has to make in their tutelage and insurance, but it could pay off in return visits as they advance.
 

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1:Cost

2: The Track

3: Social Aspect


Reason for my choices.

Cost: I have the pleasure of being able to chose from 7 clubs here in south Florida. That being because we have 5 tracks within 4 hours drive with 4 being under 2 hours drive and 3 of them are major famous tracks. Because there are so many clubs and tracks to chose from, price is a major determination for me. Most clubs are run with the up most regard to safety so that's never been a determining factor for me.

The Track: Since PBIR (formally known as Moroso) is the closest, I've been to that track more then 15 times since I began running in high performance driving events back in 08. Homestead coming in second and Sebring third.

Social Aspect: I belong to big group of track enthusiast. Most of the members are here in South Florida but there are a few all over the state and some out of state. There are 2 events a year that most of use gather for in numbers. During those events I get to run and hang out with these guys from the site that I only see during those events.
 

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The club/event organizer
Track time
Cost


As part of "club/event organizer" I look at the club rules for the event. In particular, passing rules for the run groups. I also try to get some indication whether you would do something about either out of control drivers or people who are in the wrong run group.

After attending a club's event for the first time, I do ask myself would I want to run with these guys again?
 

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Cost

Track Time

The track/track configuration
-----------------------------------------------

I would've selected cost on all 3 options, but i'm pretty sure it will be at the top of most(sensible) people's choices.

I don't care about food/overpriced track food. I can bring my own.

I can watch other cars that are faster than me and watch their line. That's all the instructing I need. I'm not trying to beat Schumacher(or whoever is big $$$$ paid driver). I'm really just at the event to relax and have fun.

Don't care about who runs it all. I don't mind being the only Mustang at a Porsche/BMW/Viper/Ferrari event. I'm just a dumb hillbilly from Tennessee anyways, so i'm good there. ;)

As for Safety, I generally use 2 or 3 sessions figuring out who the idiots/ego-maniacs are on track. Once I discover that, I generally keep ahead of them or avoid them.
 

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I'll tell you what will keep my from attending a second event and that is a lack of organization and not following the published schedule.
 

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When I was new to this it was:

Availability of Instruction
Cost
Track Time

Now that I have a few events under my belt it's

Track/Track Configuration
Cost
Track Time

I guess I always took for granted that there was insurance at these events (no, I am not dumb enough to think someone's gonna pay for my car if I put it into a tire barrier, but you'd have to expect the track won't rent to an organization that doesn't buy some liability insurance).

Corner workers are nice but I don't drive like I'm Mario Andretti at track days. I'd only care if there are corner workers on corners that are blind, any corner you can see at through at the turn in don't need corner workers for an open track day.

I also don't care what organization puts it on. I guess if I'd been subject to poorly run events, I'd care more but the various groups I've run with have always put on good events. It's one of the minimum things you need to get repeat business.

I really don't care about parties or dinners after the event. I've been to them before but usually, even if there is one, I just skip it and head home.
 

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1) Cost, which for me is the oportunity to trade my instructor time for track time.
2) Attendance and who or what is attending. I hate low turn out events where it seems I'm the only one on the track, or cars/drivers are mismatched.
3) Track
 

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1. Cost; basic cost for the event and factoring in hotel, gas, food, local amenities.

2. Track time; weather may play a part but if you sign up months before, no luck.

3. The Track; distance from me is a big factor here. Being in Northeast Texas and Central Arkansas makes everything a pretty good drive.

Following that would be event organization, and safety, which would basically depend on who the event organizer is. I can always trust that the PCA group is going to put on a well ran event.
 

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1. Club / event organizer. After doing several driving schools I got the hang of who puts on the better events. It's not hard to see when an event is run smoothly, between keeping to session schedules and quality in-class instruction.

2. Instruction Opportunity. I would consider myself an intermediate level student right now, so although I'm not a sponge soaking up all the info I can, I still get a lot out of different opinions on what I do right and wrong on the track. This goes hand in hand with a good club or organizer. The better clubs get good instructors that know how to convey helpful tips to the student.

3. Cost. You have to pay to play no matter what for road course events, but I have to draw the line somewhere so that I can pea more money down the drain on my car.
 

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I'll tell you what will keep my from attending a second event and that is a lack of organization and not following the published schedule.
Absolutely ... keep it on schedule!! Otherwise the participants may end up feeling a bit ripped off at the end of the day about missing some of their seat time. Make sure the students know where they need to be and when. Many of them will be newbies, and don't know what the routine is ... us "veterans" of the track days can lose sight of that.


cheers
Ed N.
 

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Quality Track Time

If every session is a train of cars, that is a real turn off. Over filling a track will gaurantee I won't return. Also make sure that like drivers are running in the same session. If the session allows passing anywhere, it is nice having drivers that are comfortable allowing passes in a turn. I have been behind instructors that have a hard time grasping that concept and wait until the next straight for a point bye.
 

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When I did track/lapping days, organization was more important than cost or track time.
Managing run groups effectively (matching driver skill levels, passing permission, numbers on track etc) and being willing to be proactive with the black flag (with some actual bite behind warnings to serial jackwagons) are really important to a safe and fun event, I think.
Cost, as long as it is in the ballpark, isn't a big deal. You're already spending time, wear/tear on equipment etc, saving $50-100 to run at a crap event makes no sense.
Track time needs to be quality. Sure, you could have 75-85 cars on track at the same time and run an event with hours of "track time"...what does that mean?
 

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I've been really impressed with the way N.A.S.A runs events here in AZ.

1) They have a tight schedule packed with several different race classes and 4 levels of HPDE, and dammit, they stick to it. Each HPDE class gets 4 20-minute sessions a day for about $150 and the racers get long sessions too. Nobody's hurting for track time and nobody's sitting around for more than 1.5 hours between sessions.

2) They have mandatory download sessions after every HPDE run group. If you miss your session, you don't get a download card. Can't produce a download card at pit entry next time? You don't get on track.

3) They encourage open and honest communication between drivers at the download sessions. Asshat won't point people by? Say so, and we'll talk about it. Somebody can't find the line with both hands? Bring it up, and we'll talk about it. It's not a beat-down, it's an adult discussion and a learning opportunity for all.

4) HPDE'ers get a logbook. You have your instructor and/or group leader sign you off with commentary after every track day.

5) Natural progression through the ranks is strongly encouraged, but it's structured. You don't get bumped up to the next higher group until group leader signs off on you and the and the next higher group's leader approves.
 

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An organization alone ASKING the racers what they want? Brilliant!

Hope you guys have fun.
 

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  1. Safety aspects - corner coverage, insurance, etc
  2. The track/track configuration
  3. Instruction Opportunity
  4. Track Time
  5. Cost
  6. Socal Aspects - party, dinner, etc
  7. The club/event organizer
 

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As a newbie I will second some of what fast ed said. I want to know exactly what I am supposed to do. I don't like having to approach strangers to figure out what I am supposed to be doing.
 

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As a newbie I will second some of what fast ed said. I want to know exactly what I am supposed to do. I don't like having to approach strangers to figure out what I am supposed to be doing.
First off -- I agree with FastEd and CSG. But having been on the other side of the coin for a long time, it can be difficult to stay on schedule. Schedule slip has to happen to take care of interruptions like towing in dead cars, cleaning up fluid spills, putting out grass fires, etc...

So always take the published schedule with a BIG grain of salt and pay attention. Learn what cars are in what run group so you can look at the track and tell who is out there. (If you think keeping track of your run group is hard, try keeping track of THREE -- I have to pay attention the beginner and novice groups because of my students, and the instructor group, assuming I have enough time to take my own car out.)

The best mechanism I ever saw was used by the PCA at TWS -- they have a flagpole and fly two flags. The top flag is the group on track at the moment (red, white, yellow, blue, or green.) and the flag below it is the run group on grid. Works very well.

The public address system at most tracks is nearly worthless.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you very much for your feedback, it is greatly appreciated.

As a followup question, would a competitive aspect to an event be an addtional inducement to you?

The SCCA Time Trials ruleset allows for PDX events are competitive.
 
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