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Primer: Hitting the track in your Civic!

Anthony FK8

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Anthony
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New York
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91 hatch, 12 civic base, 14 Si, 17 CTR
The season is over for us here in NY (Winter is coming Jon Snow) next season I hope to have new wheels, tires (obvs) and extra pads and rotors! In case anyone thought the front kit wasn't big enough there are a few brembo kits for the new CTR with two piece hat and rotor. Hopefully an OEM sized 2 piece comes out before next season, I would say. Just upgrade pads and tires and 99% of us will be doing great out on track
 

baldheadracing

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Craig
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Canada's capital
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FK8
The season is over for us here in NY (Winter is coming Jon Snow) next season I hope to have new wheels, tires (obvs) and extra pads and rotors! In case anyone thought the front kit wasn't big enough there are a few brembo kits for the new CTR with two piece hat and rotor. Hopefully an OEM sized 2 piece comes out before next season, I would say. Just upgrade pads and tires and 99% of us will be doing great out on track
Already available - $850 (for both sides) http://www.unitedspeedracing.com/index.php?id_product=113&controller=product
 

integraguy04

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Kyle Multz
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Sep 19, 2017
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Illinois
Car(s)
1994 Integra, 2018 Civic 5DR HB Sport
I am just going to throw this out there as well.
Please do not run these cars with the original oil weight in them -> Mainly for road racing.
As your oil temps climb, the thinner oil cannot handle the temperatures and starts to boil, causing bad lubrication and pressure drop.

I would atleast recommend a 10-30 or 10-40 oil, but this is just my 2 cents..
 

Neps18Si

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P-Low
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Nov 11, 2018
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Location
Davie, FL
Car(s)
2018 Civic Si sedan, 2019 Civic Sport Hatch CVT
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1
I will be going to auto x the Si sedan most def. I will be looking for wheels and stocky rubber. Its a lease, but i can put some bolts ons.
 

MR. TwoSix

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Chris
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May 19, 2019
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Location
Miami, FL.
Car(s)
2019 Civic SI Coupe, 2018 Ram 1500
Here's a quick vid of some roll racing(which I suck at). Either way had a good time.
 

BarracksSi

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DC
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'17 Civic Sport Touring Hatch; '17 CR-V EX. Formerly '02 EP3.
Roll racing -- that's new to me. Makes me nervous to see people going through the start line that fast, but I guess it's no worse than a highway speed EZ-Pass toll plaza.
 

TPDxSI

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Tyler
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DFW, Texas
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www.instagram.com
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2018 Civic SI Coupe
I understand that some will not track their R, but some may have the desire to do so. This thread series is about how to take the plunge into Auto-x and HPDE (High Performance Driver Event or High Performance Driving Education) and get you and your R on the track. These same principals apply to any car.

My background for reference is someone who enjoys pushing cars to the limit, on a track. I have attended several world class driving schools, have 50+ track days under my belt, and in several different platforms. I do not consider myself an expert, but I do have a great understanding of what it takes to get on a track and what it takes to enjoy myself while on a track. I also have an extensive background on how to properly set up cars with tires, brakes, and suspension.

If there are other auto-x and HPDE guru's on the site, please chime in. I am going to break this up into a few different series and will link them all here.

Series 1:
There are a few different platforms of track driving but I will focus on Auto-x and circuit/road course type settings, referenced as HPDE. Series 1 isn’t about what to buy or how to outfit your car for maximum use, rather what it takes to get on track.


Auto-X
Auto-x is a race against the clock and usually takes place in a large parking lot or smaller track, one car on a track designed by cones, at a time. It's you, your car, and the clock; best time wins. Cars can be in 100% stock form or modified beyond belief and depending on who you auto-x with, will be classed depending on modifications. Generally speaking, outside of small, local club events, auto-x is a competitive event no matter where or how you participate. I've auto-x'd with clubs who auto-x for the fun of it and the fastest time doesn't have to buy beer after the event, and auto-x clubs who compete for trophies and national recognition. Auto-x is a ton of fun and once you are on course, you will quickly learn that auto-x is more about the driver, not the car. Each run will vary in time, anywhere from about 45 seconds on up. Speeds achieved will be about a maximum of 50mph, depending on vehicle and course platform/setup. Most courses won't get past 3rd gear. Generally speaking, auto-x is done in a morning and afternoon session, and you will have a working assignment during the session you aren’t driving in. The cost to participate is about $50/event, depending on where and who you participate with.

HPDE/Road Course/Circuit
HPDE typically references High Performance Driver Education or High Performance Driving Event and can vary by context when talking to someone. I will use it in the context of getting on a circuit/road course type setting. This is where a driver and their car will visit circuit/road course and enjoy time on a track, generally as hard as you are willing to push both yourself and your vehicle. You are on track with multiple people at a time, but not in a wheel to wheel race setting. Typically, each driver will give the driver ahead of them space to play and if you are slower than the person behind you, you signal for a pass in a passing zone and they over take you. Each run will last anywhere from 15-25min and speeds are as fast as you want to go. Typically, there are run groups; novice, intermediate, and expert and you should class yourself accordingly. If you have never been on track before, you are a beginner. Expert groups are typically extremely fast, and not for the inexperienced. After all of my schools and track time, I don't play with the experts. The cost can vary drastically but expect to pay at least $100 to get on track.

Let’s discuss what’s needed before you go to a track
Preparing yourself is key. I won't discuss normal health guidelines but understand that you will likely be doing things and putting your body through some exercises it likely hasn't experienced yet, if you haven't been on track before. Your mind will work like it hasn't before, your body will experience G force, and the adrenaline is awesome. If you are new to this, you will be mentally exhausted after a few sessions and sore the next day.

A helmet will be necessary no matter where you decide to play. Most places will offer loaner helmets, but let’s be honest. Wearing someone else's helmet is like wearing someone else's underwear. Not to mention, it may not fit just right, which is critical. Helmets will start around $150- and go up from there, depending on what you decide to use. I would strongly encourage you to visit a place that sells certified helmets and try them on. Vision, comfort, shape, and material all play a part in what a helmet offers and what you may think you want, may not be what you really want. SA2015 is currently the general standard, but check with your local track for any other guidelines. If you wish to go the online route, places like SPS, Safe Racer, Pegasus Racing and Racer Wholesale are a few great places to support. -I would really encourage you to visit a place and try on a helmet, though. Even if that means you have to spend a day driving out of town to buy a helmet, the time spent will be very well worth it to find what is proper, rather than what you may think you need.

Driving shoes, gloves, jackets, suits, etc. are all up to you but typically not required to get on track. Long pants, socks and shirt are typically required when at driving events, however. I used to drive in worn out sneakers (because the sole was thin and I could feel the pedals) but now own Piloti driving shoes with a rolled heal and a wider sole. They are super thin and fantastic.

Plan to arrive to the event early. Arriving early will ensure you are set up to be efficient and make the best of your day. You will also get to see what others do and yuk it up a bit. As a newbie, don't talk shit to anyone, rather talk about the day. -this is just common courtesy. Take a thermos of coffee or a box of doughnuts and make friends. Be sure to attend the drivers meeting as it is considered the most important part of the day, often mandated.

Preparing your car is equally as important. There are a few common-sense items that aren't so common before hitting the track. When you go to an event, regardless of what it is, there will likely be a tech inspection of some sort. The inspectors will look for things like loose battery tie downs, loose lug nuts, a working seat belt, ensuring all of your crap (including floor mats) is out of the car, and checking your helmet. Most places will provide a tech sheet prior to the event, if you ask. You can also find them online with a simple Google search. To prepare your car, you will want to be sure you have fresh fluids, including oil and water, and tires with adequate tread. (I am not talking about a performance tire here, just a tire that has proper tread for safety reasons. Tire talk will come in another series.) Your brakes will experience high temperatures, so you will want to flush your brake system, replacing with high temp brake fluid so it is ready for track duty. ATE, Stoptech, Brembo, Castrol, Motul, and Wilwood are a few manufactures that offer great high temp fluids. Personally, I cycle between ATE and Stoptech because I have never boiled either and ATE is colored so you know when it’s cycled through your system. If you order your fluid online, always buy an extra bottle. Brake pads and rotors are also critical to driving on track. (Not so much auto-x but road course for sure). Hawk, Porterfield, and Brembo are just a few manufactures that offer replacement brake pads suitable for track use. Be aware that track pads are generally loud and produce a lot of dust; it's just the nature of the game. Lastly, a track focused alignment is something that will help when driving at the limit, more times than not. This may require searching for a shop that is okay with an aggressive alignment, rather than a dealership or run of the mill big box store alignment tech. –My local Honda dealer was okay with an aggressive alignment but others may not be so nice.

Lastly, let’s talk about one more thing. Want to know the worst feeling ever when extensively modifying your car for track use? Getting smoked in a near factory car that is driven by a great driver. My personal experience is that I have dumped tens of thousands of dollars on a car to find out that I was a super shitty driver. If your goal is to drive fast on a track, your money will hand’s down be better spent on driver instruction, tires, and brakes, then the latest fad on a forum or Instagram.

Where do I go to get on track
When I started driving, the only way to find out where to drive was what was posted in the latest Grassroots Motorsports magazine, the SCCA magazine, and word of mouth. Today, there are many great formats to find places to drive. The SCCA has recently started Track Night in America which is hands down one of the best ways to get on track. It is more geared to a new person trying to get on track, rather than an experienced veteran, but of course all are welcome. Motorsport Reg is another great source to find out where you can get on track. I will link some sources below.

Wrapping all of this up
This probably all sounds very overwhelming and intimidating. It isn't. I have listed what I feel is the very minimum to get on track, the rest is up to you. Again, stay tuned for future posts. Remember that most who visit a track are there for the same reasons you want to be there, and for the most part, other drivers are eager to show someone new the ropes.

My last warning: Driving at the limit is addictive.

Here are a few recourses to reference:
Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

SCCA Track Night in America
SCCA What is Auto-x
SCCA Track Events
National Auto Sport Association (NASA)
NASA HPDE
NASA HPDE Tech Sheet
SCCA Starting Line Auto-x School
EVO Driving School
Great list of high performance driving schools


Some future posts of mine will include:
Tire choice
Brake choice
Going to the track
Taking it a step further
Driving schools
Thanks for this write-up
 

Jun2k20R

New Member
First Name
Jun
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Feb 19, 2020
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2
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Miami
Car(s)
FK8 type R
I loved the post. I’m looking for current events and track dates 2020
 
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