Taking your Corvette on the Track - Getting On Track

Life Is Good At 150 Mph

Richard F. Newton Dec 11, 2008 0 Comment(s)
Corp_0812_01_z Taking_your_corvette_on_the_track Left_side_view 1/12

Once you start down the long slippery slope, you need to watch your budget as closely as you do your tachometer. If you can charge your track days off to your company, you can claim at least part of the total as a tax deduction.

It started with the C5, and it exploded with the introduction of the Z06. Today's track-day events are crowded with Corvettes. When I started running track events sometime in the last century, I was usually the only Corvette. Last month at Sebring, I looked down the tech line behind me and there must have been over a dozen Corvettes. Every last one of them was a stinking C5 or C6. One driver even complimented me for bringing a vintage Corvette out to the track. Hey, it's a C4, for god's sake.

A track event is where a group of people gather together and rent a racetrack for the day. Sure, it's a little more complicated than that, but that's the basic idea. It's not racing, and no times are taken. The emphasis is on driving fast and not wrecking your car. If you're new (and at one time we were all new), the event organizers will provide you with an instructor who will ride around in the car with you and help with the finer points of driving your Corvette. In fact, they will do that until the organization has developed a certain amount of confidence in your ability to handle your Corvette without hurting someone.

The Car
The best car you can have for a track day is a stock Corvette. They run all day and never break. Remember, the goal is seat time, not to see how quickly you can break your Corvette. I see stock Corvettes that run flawlessly for the whole weekend. Then the helmet comes off and they're driven back home on the highway. That's the way it should be. Most modified cars seem to break at some point during the weekend. They get loaded back on the trailer and hauled home with the owner facing another week of work. It's interesting that most of the cars that fail to complete the weekend are the modified ones. The stock ones keep running like an old clock. I don't think I need to elaborate on this point. I'm sure you get the idea.

The Helmet
You're going to need a helmet. This will be one purchase you can't escape. The prices vary widely. So will the fit. This is why I suggest you buy your helmet at a local store. It's sort of like buying clothes. You can save money purchasing them online, but they may not fit as well as they could. The best way to find a good-fitting helmet is to try several of them on. The front of the helmet should be just above your eyebrows when you tighten the chinstrap.

You're going to notice that there are two types of helmets: the SA (Special Application) and the M (Motorcycle). Both types must pass the same series of impact tests, but the SA helmets include an additional rollbar impact test. Also, the SA helmets have a Nomex liner and are more fire resistant.

Most track event organizers will allow you to wear an M helmet, but racing groups will insist on an SA certification. The price difference is significant, so make sure you check with the people who run the track events near you before you show up at the track.

The Checklist
The secret to having fun during the weekend is to spend a little time going over your Corvette the week before. You need to spend at least a day looking over your car to identify potential problems and then eliminate them before you get to the track. I usually spend two days going over my car before a track day. Then again, my car is a modified Corvette, so it takes a little more effort to get it ready.

Here's a list of some things to check before you head to the track.

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