How To Avoid The Biggest Track Day Mistakes

Illustration for article titled How To Avoid The Biggest Track Day Mistakes
Screenshot: Driver61 (YouTube)

There are few shames deep enough to compete with that of showing up at a track day and proving yourself to be woefully, incompetently unprepared. While we all have to learn somehow, it’s still possible to identify all those silly mistakes and figure out how to prevent them before you look like a fool out there.


Today’s lesson comes from Scott Mansell, founder of Driver61 and driver coach for enough folks for fifteen years to realize that there are some pretty common trends out there when it comes to making mistakes. You can check ‘em out below:

We’ll quickly summarize his points for you, but if you want to know more about the whys of screwing up and the hows of fixing your errors, you’ll have to check out what Mansell has to say:

  1. Drivers don’t feel in control of their car
  2. Drivers aren’t even near the limit
  3. Drivers aren’t pushing through corners
  4. Drivers lose tens of seconds of lap time making silly mistakes
  5. Drivers aren’t setting up their car to optimize performance
  6. Drivers aren’t utilizing track time to their advantage
  7. Drivers are making lackluster overtaking attempts

Those seem like some pretty tough mistakes to overcome, but there’s still hope. With practice comes perfection (or, at the very least, improvement), and you can get that through plenty of places nowadays. Racing sims like iRacing are great for learning the basics of car handling and track day etiquette, giving you at least some practice before you get behind the wheel.

But nothing compares to practice in your own car. Your car is like your partner in crime—you have to know everything about it in order to function like one entity. At some point, you’re just going to have to get over your fears and just drive.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.


Yeah this seems a little aggressive for a track day. Track days are for driving fast around a track and experimenting with your car. Lap times shouldn’t the be the end all be all. You shouldn’t feel pressured to push through every corner and be on the limit all of the time. Passes should only be when safe to do so and with minimal risk. Racing practice? Sure. Racing? Of course.

People that do all of the above during track days often end up also being the ones who get impatient around everyone who doesn’t and end up ruining it for everyone else when they take someone out. The best thing anyone can do at a track day is make sure they are running in the correct skill level. Everyone’s track day manta should be NO ONE WINS TRACK DAY.