Six Tips To Have A Smooth Day At The Track

By: Bill Snow

Getting ready for a track day or a race can be frustrating and cause anxiety, but it doesn’t have to.  These six tips will help you stay focused and organized when getting ready for your event.

1. Document Everything & Keep It Together

The best way to stay organized is to document everything and have a central place to keep it.  We live in a digital world, but if paper works better for you – print everything out.

I actually find that a mix of digital and paper works best for me.  I use digital for spreadsheets that will help with scheduling and communication with other teammates.  Then I use paper for everything at the track.

For example, I have a binder for each car and in that binder I have all my checklists (see below) and data sheets for the vehicle.  The binder also has track maps and previous session notes.  It’s also a place where I can make lists of things I didn’t think of or may have forgotten.  However, I have friends that record and document everything on their phone and that seems to work best for them.  Point is, find a system that works for you and stick to it.

2. Use Checklists

When my daughter started racing go karts, I created a checklist for everything.  We had checklists for prepping the kart, packing for the track, and we had a printed menu for the weekend.  These were created in Evernote and were updated and printed for each event.  When I started endurance racing I found that checklists were a great way to make sure that we did not forget a single item.

Atomic Autosports has a few downloadable checklists that you can use for your track events.

3. Don’t Wait To The Last Minute

How many times did you wait until the near last minute to either check something or order something you need only to have now created a bigger issue?  

Do you know why my podcast is called, Late To Grid?  I was always late getting to the track.  As a small business owner I had limited time to get ready and usually thrashed on many a late night to prep the car and pack.  Everything was last minute…learn from my mistakes!

Have a goal in mind such as, have the car ready to go ten days before the event.  This gives you a buffer should you need it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help either.  Invite a buddy over to help or include a family member in your planning.  This helps lighten the workload and will keep you on track.

Lastly, make sure that all of your electronic devices are charged and software has been updated.  Waiting until the night before is too late.  I know from experience.

4. Read The Event Rules And Registration Details

Not only should you read them, you should read them twice and think about printing them out and reading them again.

Here’s why.

The event details are published for a reason.  There are important details in there that participants need to know.  Not knowing the details could impact your day at the track.

I was recently at a track day and the driver that paddocked next to me had no idea the event was cash only, no credit cards.  Talk about having a panic attack even before the car is unloaded.  

I recommend printing out the event schedule as well.  Sometimes PA systems can’t be heard and having a visual reference is helpful. 

5. Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Many times you are leaving very early in the morning to get to your event.  Being well rested will not only improve your on-track performance, but will make your morning smoother too.

This includes getting as much as possible packed and ready before you go to bed.  Limit your alcohol consumption as well.  You need to be 100% ready to go and even the slightest of hangovers is the wrong way to start the day.  Plus, you don’t want to be dehydrated.

Plan to wake up early enough to have a relaxed breakfast with enough time to review your checklists one last time.

6. Enjoy The Day

Sure, we are in this to compete and push ourselves, but we are also here to have fun.  So enjoy the day.

Unless you are having big issues, being at the track should be fun.  Meeting other drivers and crew members is part of the fun.  Learning from others is important too.  Take time to walk around the facility and maybe watch another group run.  Watch their lines and look for ideas you might be able to try during your next session or race.

Drink plenty of fluids, eat nutritious food, wear sunscreen, and bring clothes to change into.  Be sure to use your checklist to include chairs and other items that will help you stay comfortable during the day.

There are certainly many other factors that will ensure a smooth track day, but these six are at the top of the list for me.

Good luck and I hope these tips will help you not be Late To Grid.