Ah, late afternoon: a time for all the half-priced queso you can
drink eat. There's one problem with most happy hours, though: driving afterwards tends to be a bad idea. That is, unless driving is the happy hour. Behold, the Sports Car Club of America's "Track Night In America" program.
Finally, someone thought to do something other than cheap nachos and drink specials in the afternoon. Once a month during the warmer, longer days of the year, participating tracks open up at 4:00 p.m. or so for track time. Participants can get three twenty-minute sessions for $150 and are broken into groups by experience level, like any other high performance driver's education event (read: track day, bro).
No prior track experience is needed to participate. All you need is a street car in good condition, a helmet and a driver's license. Less experienced drivers get an instructor to show them the ropes. It's like an after-work track day. If you live near one of the participating race tracks, this is one easy way to get on said track without having to spend a whole weekend away to do it.
SCCA members can opt to work and run for a discounted rate on the run time, an idea the SCCA says they took from autocross.
Alternately, if you just want to show up, hang out and get some paced laps in to see the track, that's free.
No post-happy-hour nacho bloat. No feelings of regret as to why you singlehandedly decimated three bowls of queso in one sitting. None of that. Just some sweet, sweet track time.
The SCCA says it's all about making track time more accessible to everyday folks who might not otherwise know that they can get on track, or have time to do it. SCCA Director of Experiential Programs Heyward Wagner explains:
Track Night in America is, simply, about fun with cars. Traditional road courses have always been a bit of a secret society. This program is all about removing the mystery, eliminating hurdles and opening the doors so everyone can come play. Whether you're a driver, friend or just hanging out, there is an experience for you at Track Night.
Hanging out is dangerous, though. How do you think I ended up in this hobby?
The program starts in April, and twenty tracks around the country will open their doors in the evening for one night a month. Find out if there's one near you at their page for the events here.