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Josh Herbert

Spec13 Knowledge Drop: Track Time – Part 1

By | Josh Herbert, Spec13 Knowledge Drop | No Comments

We have been getting A LOT of questions about track time and how to get involved. And that’s great! Informing people about the “track life” is a huge reason why Spec13 Motorsports exists! Most people come to us severely overthinking idea of track time. Often to the point to where they have almost talked themselves out of the idea all together. So we decided to make this Knowledge Drop all about what is needed to get into track days.

The Spec13 team drives with NASA (National Autosport Association). The race people, not the space people. We have driven with MANY organizations; SCCA, BMWCCA, Porsche Club, Track Masters, Hooked on Driving, SCDA Etc. and NASA is by far the best in terms of structure, track time and value. Their site https://www.nasaproracing.com/ has all the information we’re about to discuss and more!

Why do you want to get into track days and what is your goal? There are a lot of answers to this question. It’s okay to not know yet. When you first start out in this sport, there’s so much that you don’t even know you don’t know. In fact, you may end up wanting to do something you never even knew existed before your first track day. The goals of your first several track days should just be to have unimaginable amounts of fun, and to learn as much as humanly possible. Once you start getting a handle on the basics and learn a little bit about the myriad of programs NASA has to offer, you can start asking yourself about your driving future. .

The answer is different for everybody but here are a few example answers to this question.
– I just want to have fun like real life Forza!
– I want to race wheel to wheel like Senna and Prost!
– I want to compete in time attack like Under Suzuki!
– I used to street race but then this buster in an Eclipse turned out to be an undercover cop. Now I am in a bunch of trouble and am stuck working with Ludacris and the Rock in special ops missions. And to be honest, I really miss when I was all about cars instead of dropping out of planes and getting all shot up n’stuff.

If you “just want to have fun like real life Forza” that’s awesome! “You can’t just climb into the ring with Ali and think you box” right!? You have to get started somewhere and earn your stripes. HPDE or High Performance Driving Education is where you get started. It’s where everyone gets started regardless of what you choose to do. This is where you learn proper track etiquette and awareness, basic car control and the fundamental line (which can be modified as you progress)..  All you need to do is perform a brake fluid flush, and make sure you car can pass tech inspection (form found here http://nasane.com/tech-approved-centers/). You will be in HPDE 1, “DE1” for short, your first day at the track. To start the day there is a drivers meeting and short classroom session where instructors will go over the flags and general track rules. You will be provided with an instructor to ride along with you while on track. They will guide you through the track and build your driving skills while you drive throughout the 20-30 minute sessions. That’s it really. No overthinking needed here. The length of time you stay in each group is based on your skills and on-track awareness. You could be in DE1 for a day or many days depending on your instructor’s opinion of your driving. More often than not, students get caught up with advancing quickly. Often times, a student who is moved up too fast will not be able to focus on their driving as they will be getting constantly run over by faster drivers. So, we recommend focusing on improving your driving, instead of focusing on which HPDE group you’re in. As your driving skills progress, you climb the ranks with instructor’s approval all the way to DE4 where you are driving with some of the fastest enthusiasts in the region. If you are still nervous about this, Spec13 is at every NASA Northeast event ready to help, answer any questions, and party with.

If you “want to race wheel to wheel like Senna and Prost” NASA has a racing program for you! NASA offers many racing series such as Honda challenge, spec miata, spec e30, spec e46, spec 944, Performance touring, Super touring, American Iron Racing, Camaro Mustang Challenge, the exciting new NASA Prototype Series (droooooool) etc. etc. The Super touring and Performance touring classes are a great option for many because they allow you to race the car YOU want to build. Feel passionate about racing a Toyota Tercel or Ferrari 308? These are the classes for you! The classes above are only a few options and your limits are only chosen by you and your budget.

If you “want to compete in time attack like Under Suzuki” NASA has a program for this too! In our world, time attack is called Time Trials (“TT” for short). There are a bunch of classes to choose from. Spec13 driver Mike Smith was competing in a class called TT4 in the 2017 season with his Evo 10 and Chris Graham was competing is TTE in his Miata.  The TT classes are heavily based on power to weight ratio. Then there are additional “points” you can use to further outfit your car to be competitive.  Points are driven by the TT rule set and include tire size, engine/suspension modifications, ect. The more you do to your car, the more points you use up. This is one of the reasons why we recommend keeping your car as stock as possible for your first few track days. But that topic is for another time.

There isn’t much we can help with on the last option on the list. It seems as though you are just too far gone down the road of studio profits and mainstream media to ever get back to what your true fans want to see. Which is cars, btw, because it seems as though you have forgotten………

NASA’s site https://www.nasaproracing.com/ has all the information I just said and more on how to get on the race track. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article coming soon. As always, feel free to ask us any questions you may have. See you at the track!