A Successful First Practice Day
The first day at the track is stressful, but with these tips you’ll stay on top of the game.
- Sign in.
- Insurance companies and lawyers are hard to please, but we’d sure like to try. Make sure you sign the Pit Pass sheet in the Shop Office every day. You’ll be given a wristband to wear so we can be sure that everyone in the Hot Grid has done this. Please don’t forget.
- Understand the flags.
- We don’t usually need to use the full set on a practice day, but you should be ready for them. Green, checkered, yellow, red and black are most common. Make sure you and your driver at least knows those, and read the flag article for a full list of flags and meanings.
- Don’t skimp on safety gear.
- The article on safety gear goes into more depth, but at minimum you must have a full face helmet with shield, neck collar, gloves, closed toe shoes, and either long pants & jacket or a full suit. Drivers 12 and under require a SFI approved chest protector. Adult drivers should consider a good rib vest – we don’t require it, but your ribs may.
- Lube the chain every session.
- The life of your chain is very dependent on the lubrication that you give it. Give it a quality lube every time you come in the pits, whether the session was 5 laps or 50. We recommend Xeramic because it is sticky enough to stay on the chain, and thin enough to work into the links. Without lube, a chain may not last a full day.
- Set the tire pressure.
- Uniform tire pressure is a foundation of consistent handling. For 2 cycle karts, we run 14psi hot. For Spec Racers, we run 30psi hot. Check pressures regularly.
Tires will build air pressure when they get hot on the track, so you’ll need to start a little low when the tires are cold. All four may not build exactly the same, but 2 psi is a good guess to start. When the kart comes back in from practice, measure all tires before they cool. You will then know how good your guess was and adjust cold pressures to match.
- Don’t run out of fuel.
- In a Spec Racer, this is embarrassing and gets you some exercise pushing the kart to the pits.
In a 2 cycle the results are far more serious. Because two cycle engines use the oil in the fuel, running out has a high chance of engine seizure. With a repair bill likely exceeding $1000, this is something you’ll want to avoid. Do not let the tank run below ¼.
- Go on-track with the right group.
- We have several track configurations that may be used, and need to be sure they don’t get mixed in the same session. All karts must run the same configuration during a session. Having multiple karts running different tracks is a recipe for disaster. Here are the three most common to watch for before you enter the track:
- KID KART – Kid karts are 50cc, and have 5-7 year old drivers. They run the ‘inner loop’ and cut from turn 3 to turn 9 in the back. This allows a shorter track that crew can see well. Kid Karts should not be on the track with older racers. Kid Karts should not be allowed to run other configurations as it adds a lot of confusion.
- CLASSIC TRACK – This utilizes the ‘inner loop’ and cuts out the ‘monza’ turn in the back. This is the normal configuration for Spec Racers, and we will run it occasionally for Pro Racers. All drivers except Kid Karts may run this track, as long as everyone is doing the same thing on track.
- PRO RACE – This is the ‘full’ track, with the long front straight and the ‘monza’ in the back. If you are not a Kid Kart, Spec Racer, or Rental kart – this is what you’ll normally race. Spec Racers are allowed on it, but they will race the Classic Track.
- Keep track of your best lap time.
- One of the best indicators of progress is the lap time that shows on your My-Chron. You should watch this each session to help learn the best way to drive. On your first day, you will understandably start slow. That’s normal, and it shouldn’t discourage you. By watching your times, you’ll see that you are getting better – likely every session on the track! Keep track of your best time and try to better it every session. I’ll likely ask you what it is before you leave.
- Know when you are ready for racing.
- One of the best parts of karting is the competition. We have Pro Race events 15 Saturdays per season, with a few regional events hosted here as well. Before you jump into that arena, you want to get comfortable with open practice days. This whole list should be very familiar, your times should be reasonably quick, your driving should be safe and in control. This usually takes a few practice days to accomplish. As you get better you will see your times get faster and consistent. When you are consistent within a few tenths of a second, you are likely ready to try your first race.