Is tracking your car expensive?

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We all have dreams or ambitions to go to a track day at least once but sometimes the cost is a big issue. Soo, is track day expensive? Well, it depends… It depends on what car you want to track, what track day events you go to, and how much are you willing to spend. Anybody can go to a track day with a budget, you don’t have to be rich or wealthy to be in this sport. We all start off somewhere.

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Let start with what car you want to track: people want to track with a track oriented car but sometimes it isn’t the case. With track days, there isn’t really any requirements except for safety and stock cars passes those safety requirements. So who cares if the person next to you has a Porsche GT3, Corvette Z06, or some other fast super car. Just bring whatever car you have becuase its about the joy of being at the track and gaining experience. On the track I’ve seen people drive their base model automatic Mini Cooper around the track and have a blast. Learn with what you got, don’t make excuses “my car isn’t fast”, or my car needs this or that. You’re only limiting yourself when you make excuses.

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Now what kind of car you are going to track will also be dependent on maintenance. If you have a more expensive car, then the maintenance and parts will also be expensive. The oil change on my M3, it is around $150ish just for the oil and filter. When I had the Miata I would pay $50 for the oil and filter. As you start tracking more often, the maintenance intervals will be more frequent. Whatever car you decide to take out to the track, also think about maintenance cost. Because a car that isn’t maintained wont run well anywhere.

5 years ago at @maydaygarage wekfest premeet. Ready for this year! đŸ» #wekfest #gti #stancenation #natsukashigarage

Next is deciding what track day events to go to. Some tracks cost more than others and some events doesn’t give you as much seat time. Some events offers instructors and others don’t. I usually go to several websites to check out track days. Ill post the links in the bottom of the page. Most track days are around the $355 range like MSR Houston and Texas World Speedway for 4 sessions. Others tracks like Harris Hill and MSR Cresson can cost $150 for 3 sessions. At Circuit of the Americas you’ll pay $545 for 4 sessions. If you stay with an organization and move up to a more advance group then there are usually discounts. In order to move up though, you have to go to several track events so your skill levels will improve to an advance run group. Then if you are good enough to be an instructor, most track events are free or pay a very small amount.

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Last factor is budget…Once you factor in the maintenance cost, then you can kinda decide how much you are willing to pay for track events and how ofter you want to go. For me, and thankfully I can afford to tack my M3 once a month. I don’t always go to the $355 track events, most cases I pay the $150 events. Only once I’ve been to COTA. If I did have the money, then I would go there more often. But with the heavy price tag, its a track I could go once a year. To keep my cost down, I buy a lot of used parts. As a matter of fact, most of my mods on my M3 are used. I go on the forums and most people sell their parts at least 50% less than retail. By doing that, I have extra money to attend track days. When Im looking for parts Im very patient, if the budget doesn’t allow it then I’ll pass. Took me over a year before I found a really good deal on seat mounts. Finds ways to save in order for you attend track days. Why have coffee when you have the sound of race cars to wake you up? #trackday #msrh #teamvolk #e92m3 #hawkpads #hankooktires #abrhouston #natsukashigarage

Of course track days has some dangers like crashing and the possibly totaling your car. Yes most insurance companies will not cover the damage if it happened at the track. But with that danger in mind, do you limit yourself and say no its too risky. Some people do, because of that fear. For me I know about that danger, so the track demands respect. I don’t let the fear control me but Im not YOLO and attack the course balls out. Track days is all about having fun, learning car control and pushing yourself mentally to take your car to the limit in a safe way. This is my golfing. I push myself mentally to go a bit faster each lap, learn the lines, and feel the behavior of the my car.

This what I love to do.

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http://www.motorsportreg.com/

https://www.tracknightinamerica.com/

https://www.nasaproracing.com/

https://www.thedriversedge.net/index.html

http://www.edgeaddicts.com/

https://clubregistration.net/login.cfm?CFID=3965862&CFTOKEN=30ea6b22219748fb-8C803F2F-155D-65DD-342863EB5E563CA1

http://www.abrhouston.com/

 

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Track Day at MSR Houston

MSRH Sept 24-25 2016-01 Technically its not a “track day.” More of a HPDE (High Performance Driving Education), well that is what it is officially called. I’ve been to these HPDE events and its basically racing school… You get classroom time with track time. You start off as novice if you don’t have much experience or new to the organization. Then as the sessions go by the instructors will grade you on your driving at the track and will give recommendations on what to do. If you do really well, then the instructor can bump you up a group. The top two run groups actually get a track discount. So hard work does pay off.

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I’ve been going to track and drift events once a month for one year but since it was my first time with this organization (the drivers edge) I was placed in novice. I have nothing against that, I kinda wanted to be in novice becuase I wanted an instructor to help me improve at the track. I managed to get my other friends Dykon, and David to come on their first track day!

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This was a two day event and nothing better than having back to back track days! Since I’ve kept up with the maintenance I knew my car will survive.

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This Integra looks like has seen a lot of track miles.

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You had full blown race cars to compete stock cars.

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This GT3 is all ready tracked prep already from the factory.

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MSRH Sept 24-25 2016-14 Unfortunately sometime things do break unexpectedly… This E46 M3 had a broken wheel bearing. The driver was actually my instructor in the novice group. Later I got bumped up a group on my first day, becuase “I was too fast for the group.” I’ll take that as a compliment. MSRH Sept 24-25 2016-16

MSRH Sept 24-25 2016-17 This Audi A5 was sporting some serious meat, Advan Neovas! MSRH Sept 24-25 2016-21

When I was bumped up to the blue run group this GTR was behind me and was all over the place! I noticed the neo chrome tow hook in my rear view mirror.

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E92 M3 was in full force! These owners had track focused mods. M3 on the left had Nitto NT01 tires, and DCT tune. The M3 on the right had Stoptech BBK and Nitto NT05 tires, with 4pt harness too. The owners where really chill and nice talking about cars and track tips.

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At the end of the 2nd day I was able to go with the yellow run group and join my fellow M3 friends! Too bad it started to rain in the last two sessions of the day.

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All white M3s with all different mods. This particular white M3 on Apex wheels had some track oriented mods. Coilovers, striped rear seat and trunk, 4 pt harness, gts wing, Stoptech bbk, stud conversion, with RS-3, Eisenmann exhaust. The 2nd day I was in his run group and I did try to follow his line and he carried more speed than I did. The owner was very nice and also got bit with the track bug…. Started tracking 6 months ago!

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The V8 was the motor of choice for most cars!

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Superchaged Lotus Evora S. The owner got bit with the track bug. He started tracking last last year with a Lotus Evora then later traded it in for a Lotus Evora S.

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This black GTR is pinoy owned and was in the Blue group. Had a very nice Armytrix exhaust, sounded nice chasing the GTR at the track.

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No point of buying track tires if you don't track it 🙇 #hankook #trackrat #te37rt #abrhouston #natsukashigarage

Hankook RS-3 proving their worth. Very sticky tires once they are heat cycled. Usually a couple of laps warms them up pretty well.

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During the the 2 days, the last two sessions ended in rain… I don’t like tracking in the rain because Im not too comfortable with it but at least the sessions wasn’t canceled. Eventually I’ll get the hang of tracking in the the rain.

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The calm before the storm.

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It was great weekend. My friends got hooked and already trying to see the next track day hahaha.

I do happen to have some video of me tracking that I will post up later. Thanks for reading!

https://www.thedriversedge.net/

http://www.abrhouston.com/

 

 

Track maintenance…. and some track mods

It has been one year since I went to my first track day, and ever since then I’ve been hooked. Some cars you just have more fun at the track then on the street. Especially with performance oriented cars like the Porsche GT3, Corvette Z06, Cadillac CTS-V, Nissan GTR, and the BMW M3. These types of cars are more appreciated the track because you can’t feel the full potential on the street… at least legally and safely.  Auto manufactures do see this niche in this market and glad they continue to make cars like these.

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My M3 has been very good and reliable after 10 track/drift days, BMW build a great car that you could daily and more than capable at the track. Sometimes I go to track days and see other cars break down, or have some kind of issue but not the M3. I think that is becuase it was made for the track. Yes owning an M3 is expensive to maintain compared to other cars but a little maintenance goes a long way.

Simplicity is the key to perfection #m3 #bmw #te37rt #modecarbon #v8 #e92 #trackrat #abrhouston #natsukashigarage

Last month I was lucky to go drifting on TX86 Day at the Houston Police Academy and was great fun. But after several runs and Texas summer heat, my differential started to get too hot and make a whining noise. I knew I had to take a break and let the diff cool. Last thing I want is a busted differential. Realizing the diff fluid hasn’t been flush after 60k miles and several track days it was due for a flush. Since I was doing a diff flush I went ahead and included a transmission flush. Thats when I called the guys at ABR Houston and scheduled an appointment.

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ABR Houston is an independent BMW shop. I take my M3 there for more BMW oriented installs or maintenance. They have great customer service and they do know to how to work on BMWs. They did my engine bearing replacement on my M3 and its still running strong. For the flush, I went with factory BMW differential fluid and Motul fluid for the tranny. Why not just use the same brand? Well, I’ve gotten lots of recommendations to use the factory BMW diff fluid because of the friction modulator additive. With the transmission fluid I went with Motul because it was cheaper then OEM and with the tranny fluid you can use any brand. I also bought ECS Tuning magnetic differential drain plug to pick up any contaminants.

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The following week, I went to Backyard Auto, which is owned by Fernando. He is very good guy that knows how to work on cars. Its not a BMW specialty shop like ABR Houston but I go to him for bolt on stuff, small maintenance and alignments. On the M3 forums I managed to get a set of floor mounts and Hawk race brake pads for really cheap. Most of the modifications on the M3 are used, hahaha. It helps keep the cost down, so its something to think about if you are on a budget. I was eyeing a set of used rotors but I backed off becuase the rotors didn’t look too great and was almost expensive as a new OEM rotors. Plus I track the M3 once a month and I wanted try something better than OEM but not pay for a big brake kit. I ended up going to with ECS Tuning 2 pc rotors because the price difference for the OEM rotor wasn’t much and has a better cooling efficiency than OEM. I only replaced the front rotors because the OEM rotor was below minimum thickness and most of the braking is done by the front brakes.

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The ECS rotor is a two piece rotor with the additions of slots and more holes and this allows for better cooling then the OEM version. At the track Im pretty sure I will feel improved braking performance compared to OEM.

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The ECS rotors have more vanes then the OEM version. Already glad with my purchase and a nice upgrade to a more track oriented set up

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Then onto the the brake pads. I went with Hawk DTC-70 brake pads, which is a track pad and not really intended for the street. You can still drive on the street but I wouldn’t recommend that. I bought it from a guy that used it for two track days in Circuit of the Americas, obviously it can do track duty.

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On the left is my Akebono street pads after one year of track use and Im happy to say it’s still useable and I do intend to switch back to Akebono pads after track days because the Hawk pads are soo abrasive that I don’t want to go through rotors frequently. The Hawk pad (right) has a lot of meat left compared to the Akebono pad (right). Interested to see how long the Hawk pads last during track days.

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Untitled Hawks pads and ECS rotors installed!

Next we worked on to replace the stock driver seat to a bucket seat. I still had my old Status seat from the GTI, and the only hardware I needed was a floor mount. I picked up a set of used Macht Schnell floor mounts and the install was fairly straight forward. I didn’t get sliders because I wanted to keep cost down, sit low, and I like the fix seating. If you can’t fit then you can’t drive it.I did cut some good weight with the Status seat, because the stock seats are very heavy.

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After the install, I did get an airbag waring light but I’ll code that out before the next track day. The waring light doesn’t disable the iDrive or make noises so it is livable. I kept the stock passenger seat mainly becuase I still wanted the functionality of back seat. The problem with the M3 coupes is once you have two bucket seats, then there isn’t any room to the get into the back seat, at that point you might as well remove the rear seat.

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After the initial drive, I didn’t feel any difference in the shifting and wasn’t any noises from the differential. The didn’t feel any noticeable gains from the flush but least I got fresh fluid. I have yet to take to take it to the track to see if the differential would make noise. The noise I did notice was the brakes haha. Sounded like the bus stop squeals. The common problem with race pads is they do make a squealing noise, and very abrasive to the the rotors. You sacrifice comfort for better stopping at the track. I also noticed after two days of city driving they produce a lot of brake dust, worst than OEM. It is annoying to have to clean your wheels more frequently. Thats why I kept my street pads so i can switch them out between track days. The Status bucket seat fit snugly to my body and holds me in place in the corners. I feel the road more, and lower seating position has a s2000 ergonomics feel with more helmet clearance. This weekend I have a two day track weekend and excited to see how they perform.

http://www.ecstuning.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Backyard-Auto/1098057443561688

http://www.abrhouston.com/