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      11-10-2014, 12:35 AM   #1
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Cost of tracking

I'd like to start taking my car to the track. Could someone give me a break down of the cost to track the car (e.g., mods, maintenance, track time)?

I am guessing that to track the car safely I need to buy track brake pads and rotors at the minimum. Any other mods required?

Thanks!
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      11-10-2014, 09:03 AM   #2
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As you said, brake pads and rotors, plus high temp brake fluid.

The next mod would be to take off your tune or anything else that gives you more power. The last mod you do is add HP.

First mod is brakes, second is seat time, third is seat time, fourth is seat time.
Then, after you've been comfortable and are able to hold your own, start with suspension mods. Then more and more seat time.
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      11-10-2014, 11:51 AM   #3
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I'd skip rotors and pads and just go with racing brake fluid for the first time out to avoid brake fade but seat time is all that matters for a long time, mods aren't going to make the driver faster.

Learning to threshold brake runs the risk of getting into the ABS enough to end up with "warped" rotors (that aren't warped but feel like it) and generally they'll need to be replaced if they don't recover. Best to learn not to overbrake keeping this in mind, you'll be faster in the end.

You might also have to pay for a tech inspection depending on who's running the trackday/HPDE.

To avoid having to buy new tires if you get the tire pressure wrong and shred them get a tire crayon and mark over the last inch or more at the edge of the tread and down onto the sidewall an inch or so on both the front and back tires. They work best when the tires are hot, like when you first arrive at the track and when you get back to the paddock after each session.

Check after each run to see if the mark is still there but only up the sidewall to the edge of the tread area. Raise the pressure to keep the tires from rolling onto the sidewalls or lower it to make full use of the tread width. You might need to pull into the hot pit and make a quick check to begin with.

Keep track of the tire pressure used, front and back, and the ambient temp for future reference. Doesn't matter what tire pressure gauge you use just as long as it's the same one each time and that it doesn't get banged around when not in use. And ambient temp is always available via accuweather on your phone once it knows your location.

Bring a torque wrench to check the wheel bolts before each session when they're cold, especially if running in warm or hot weather. Might not be necessary but it's good practice.

It'd be a good idea to bleed the brakes after a trackday/DE event so there's another cost if only for the fluid if you do it yourself.
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      11-10-2014, 05:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwarg View Post
I'd like to start taking my car to the track. Could someone give me a break down of the cost to track the car (e.g., mods, maintenance, track time)?

I am guessing that to track the car safely I need to buy track brake pads and rotors at the minimum. Any other mods required?

Thanks!
I'll try to keep it simple. The first 2-3 times keep your car stock except the brake fluid. You will need to bring engine oil, spare pads (f+r) and tools. A spare tire is a good idea also if you are not bringing dedicated track wheels. Once you get to know your car and your driving style you will have a better idea what to mod. The power is the last thing you need to worry about.

The cost is:
1. HPDE 350+
2. Lodging 100+/day
3. Insurance 200+
4. Gas ~100
5. Inspection ~100 (if needed)

A rough est. is around ~500-600/day excluding complex mods (suspension, lsd, bbk, etc.)

P.S.
Another good mod is a few lbs of belly/ass lard delete (if applicable).
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      11-10-2014, 07:44 PM   #5
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great info, thanks everyone!
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      11-10-2014, 08:06 PM   #6
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FYI, run on stock tune if you don't have have an upgraded intercooler. And be mentally prepare for some wastegate rattles that will show up after a few events if you are running stock turbos.

If you want to a cheap track days, look for SCCA track events at your region. At my region, those events barely cost over $100 for a 3-4 20 mins sessions run and offer free instructors for newbies. Also check if there is any open track days at some of your local tracks.

Start with a "safe" track with plenty of run off. As much as I hate to admit, our cars don't worth that much these days, so paying $2-300 for insurance for each events doesn't make much financial sense to me if you plan on doing it regularly (just remember that insurance companies are there to make money too). Just pay attention to the track, keep your distance, and don't drive like an idiot, you should be ok.

I would recommend getting a set of real track pads (performance friction, paige, etc.), which runs around $500-600 for all corners. Depending on the compounds, but a good one should last you at least 5-8 events once you pick up speed. Don't listen to those guys with weak N52 engines

FYI, for a N54 engine car, you gonna cook through your regular street pads on your first day once you are comfortable with the track. And those hybrid street/track pads just aren't good enough in most cases. You will likely end up saving some money in the long run if you run real track pad and do your own pad change.

Tires cost around $800-1500 depending on the size, and a typical trackable street tires (hankook rs-3, etc.) should last you a season (8-15 events) if you have enough negative cambers.

If you are interested in saving some money, start learning some DIY such as engine, trans fluid change. You gonna want to replace those a lot more frequently once you start pushing the car. As others have mentioned, it is wise to invest in some basic tools (jack, stand, tool kits, scan cable for our tricky ecu), to budge $300-600 for that.
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      11-10-2014, 09:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cloud9blue View Post
I would recommend getting a set of real track pads (performance friction, paige, etc.), which runs around $500-600 for all corners. Depending on the compounds, but a good one should last you at least 5-8 events once you pick up speed. Don't listen to those guys with weak N52 engines
Hey! I resemble that remark...

My 328 has the same hp to weight ratio as a 335, but less torque at lower revs and it needs Carbotech XP10 pads front and rear, titanium shims up front, and solid guide rod bushings in the rear calipers. Front calipers are 135i parts with Stoptech pistons, seals, and boots. F30 shield plates added for cooling. Running Stoptech lines and Torque RT700 fluid. All with OE rotors and Toyo 255/35ZR18 R1R tires on all corners.

If you don't overbrake stock brakes are fine, it's the tires that provide the traction to stop the car so race pads generally aren't much help with street tires. They are a way to avoid pad fade though but I've seen too many 335i and M3 cars go off track or nearly so as they go straight with the wheels turned having carried too much speed into the corner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloud9blue,16912682
FYI, for a N54 engine car, you gonna cook through your regular street pads on your first day once you are comfortable with the track. And those hybrid street/track pads just aren't good enough in most cases. You will likely end up saving some money in the long run if you run real track pad and do your own pad change.
If you're cooking through street pads you're likely overbraking. Should be practicing minimizing braking to carry increasingly more speed through turns so familiarization leads to less braking until max corner speed or minimum sector time is found. Then start delaying braking while increasing brake force and decreasing brake duration until minimum brake time is achieved. This will be pretty much limited by tires and rotor cooling. Mostly. Get fast enough and brakes will have to upgraded for cooling since the thermal load increases with the square of the speed.

Doesn't really matter if yer having fun tho...
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      11-10-2014, 10:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Hey! I resemble that remark...

My 328 has the same hp to weight ratio as a 335, but less torque at lower revs and it needs Carbotech XP10 pads front and rear, titanium shims up front, and solid guide rod bushings in the rear calipers. Front calipers are 135i parts with Stoptech pistons, seals, and boots. F30 shield plates added for cooling. Running Stoptech lines and Torque RT700 fluid. All with OE rotors and Toyo 255/35ZR18 R1R tires on all corners.

If you don't overbrake stock brakes are fine, it's the tires that provide the traction to stop the car so race pads generally aren't much help with street tires. They are a way to avoid pad fade though but I've seen too many 335i and M3 cars go off track or nearly so as they go straight with the wheels turned having carried too much speed into the corner.



If you're cooking through street pads you're likely overbraking. Should be practicing minimizing braking to carry increasingly more speed through turns so familiarization leads to less braking until max corner speed or minimum sector time is found. Then start delaying braking while increasing brake force and decreasing brake duration until minimum brake time is achieved. This will be pretty much limited by tires and rotor cooling. Mostly. Get fast enough and brakes will have to upgraded for cooling since the thermal load increases with the square of the speed.

Doesn't really matter if yer having fun tho...
It all depends on the track, but if it anything like the one I was on the first time out, there is no way the stock pads will hold if you have brake from 120 to 40-50 miles twice every other minute. Consider N54 with auto transmission like mine and OP, the whole chassis is probably 200l-300bs heavier than a manual 328/330i with super light Mg engine block, while probably carrying 10-20 more mph at the straights. So why skimp on the only thing is stopping this +3600lbs to metal?
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      11-10-2014, 10:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Cloud9blue View Post
It all depends on the track, but if it anything like the one I was on the first time out, there is no way the stock pads will hold if you have brake from 120 to 40-50 miles twice every other minute. Consider N54 with auto transmission like mine and OP, the whole chassis is probably 200l-300bs heavier than a manual 328/330i with super light Mg engine block, while probably carrying 10-20 more mph at the straights. So why skimp on the only thing is stopping this +3600lbs to metal?
No argument there. Last weekend at ECR braking from 105 to 45 or so wouldn't have been particularly good on the OE brakes. OTOH, it was the first time at that track and the datalogger shows clearly I was overbraking. Running with the advanced guys at the end of the weekend demonstrated they were running faster but also not braking nearly as much, taking every corner a lot faster than I could manage, easily braking only to 60-65, if that. Nobody was dropping any lower except in one of the hairpins and not by much. Was impressive to watch on-track.

The previous weekend saw the tires being overheated quite a bit since that track was more technical with more turns and tire pressure had to be dropped from 32psi to 28psi cold. Braking ability increased considerably as traction increased but the tires and brakes ran cooler as less braking input was required given the increased traction made cornering faster.

Punching it and parking it is fun but it isn't really fast. Was kinda funny at ECR catching and passing a new 550i, an M3, a Carrera S, and I don't remember what all else only to be passed by a Texas Track Works Civic CRX at the end of the weekend. And an M3. And a spec Miata. Datalogging shows clearly why along with the video, overbraking. I gotta run that track some more...

Easy to find out how hot your brakes are getting, some Alcon stickers and some Genesis rotor temp paint. A memory tire pyrometer is really handy too.

I guess it all depends on what your goals are, progressing to a racing license or just hammering it on trackdays. Hammering it is actually more fun I think.
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      11-10-2014, 11:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Easy to find out how hot your brakes are getting, some Alcon stickers and some Genesis rotor temp paint. A memory tire pyrometer is really handy too.
Good idea, gotta look into to this more for the next season.

OP, get a data log app for your smart phone at least (Harry's lap timer is a good one). It will really shows how you can improve your driving. Even more than helpful than a instructor in my opinion.
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      11-13-2014, 01:38 AM   #11
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Good condition rotors, race brake pads, fresh oil, a good DOT4 brake fluid, and sticky tires should be the minimum before a track day imo.

The cost is variable as it can be as cheap, or as expensive as you want the experience to be...
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      11-20-2014, 02:32 PM   #12
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Will echo some with track it stock. To start you should have no problem for your very first event. Then do brake upgrades(pads/fluid). You will learn a lot in the beginning as speeds increase.

Do not need coilovers, BBK, tunes and the like to track your car. Learning is more important which comes from seat time.
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      11-21-2014, 10:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justpete View Post
Hey! I resemble that remark...

My 328 has the same hp to weight ratio as a 335, but less torque at lower revs and it needs Carbotech XP10 pads front and rear, titanium shims up front, and solid guide rod bushings in the rear calipers. Front calipers are 135i parts with Stoptech pistons, seals, and boots. F30 shield plates added for cooling. Running Stoptech lines and Torque RT700 fluid. All with OE rotors and Toyo 255/35ZR18 R1R tires on all corners.

If you don't overbrake stock brakes are fine, it's the tires that provide the traction to stop the car so race pads generally aren't much help with street tires. They are a way to avoid pad fade though but I've seen too many 335i and M3 cars go off track or nearly so as they go straight with the wheels turned having carried too much speed into the corner.



If you're cooking through street pads you're likely overbraking. Should be practicing minimizing braking to carry increasingly more speed through turns so familiarization leads to less braking until max corner speed or minimum sector time is found. Then start delaying braking while increasing brake force and decreasing brake duration until minimum brake time is achieved. This will be pretty much limited by tires and rotor cooling. Mostly. Get fast enough and brakes will have to upgraded for cooling since the thermal load increases with the square of the speed.

Doesn't really matter if yer having fun tho...
I agree about if you're cooking through street pads that you're likely overbraking, but this is his first event. The only way he's going to be able to work on this is on the track. More than likely, he's going to be overcooking his brakes and therefore I'd suggest at least a set of pads and fluid. This way it'll be one less thing he has to worry about.

In his first event, he's going to be braking earlier and longer than an experienced driver will. In the end, a set of track pads alone will more than likely end up costing him less than a set of street pads and rotors. The 335 has really good acceleration, so he'll be able to at least get moving pretty easily. Stopping is the most important thing on the track. Speed without being able to stop does you no good.

A buddy of mine tracked his 328xi wagon last year for the first time ever. In two days, he ate his front brakes and rotors.

Don't scare your instructor, drive smooth and have fun!
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      11-21-2014, 11:19 AM   #14
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I agree about if you're cooking through street pads that you're likely overbraking, but this is his first event. The only way he's going to be able to work on this is on the track. More than likely, he's going to be overcooking his brakes and therefore I'd suggest at least a set of pads and fluid. This way it'll be one less thing he has to worry about.

In his first event, he's going to be braking earlier and longer than an experienced driver will. In the end, a set of track pads alone will more than likely end up costing him less than a set of street pads and rotors. The 335 has really good acceleration, so he'll be able to at least get moving pretty easily. Stopping is the most important thing on the track. Speed without being able to stop does you no good.

A buddy of mine tracked his 328xi wagon last year for the first time ever. In two days, he ate his front brakes and rotors.

Don't scare your instructor, drive smooth and have fun!
Agreed and that's a good point about having one less thing to worry about. I managed to glaze the brakes and nearly ruin the rotors on the track the first time. If I'd been running track pads, etc. I probably wouldn't have learned about overbraking or progressed away from it nearly as quickly without incurring further damage. I was running Motul at the time so things could've been worse.

I was thinking it might be helpful to actually have the street pads fade a bit first time out as it would tend to constrain punching it out of every corner where it got parked. In the end it'd make a driver faster by forcing him to go slower. That's what I was getting at mentioning the high powered cars that went straight off track understeering or barely managing to get through the turn at all. With better brakes they would've never learned how poorly they were really driving. Like having R-Comps but not the skill to handle the car when they let go at much higher speeds. Best to learn how to drive the car and not the tires, or brakes.

None of this does any good if it isn't explained up front and noted by the instructor in real time. And there's the risk this won't happen in which case track pads would be cheap insurance and safer for the instructor who's putting his life in the student's hands. But it's really really tough to learn how to be truly smooth if the car will encourage you not to be, better maybe if it forces one to be smooth. Same reason to keep the street suspension as it exacerbates lack of smoothness which many misinterpret as the car's fault and rush to change dampers, springs, bushings, roll bars, etc.

Regardless, if the reason to go to the track is to have fun instead of learning to drive well enough to acquire a racing license then what's fun is what counts, as long as everybody's safe.
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      02-20-2015, 11:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSM330i View Post
I agree about if you're cooking through street pads that you're likely overbraking, but this is his first event. The only way he's going to be able to work on this is on the track. More than likely, he's going to be overcooking his brakes and therefore I'd suggest at least a set of pads and fluid. This way it'll be one less thing he has to worry about.

In his first event, he's going to be braking earlier and longer than an experienced driver will. In the end, a set of track pads alone will more than likely end up costing him less than a set of street pads and rotors. The 335 has really good acceleration, so he'll be able to at least get moving pretty easily. Stopping is the most important thing on the track. Speed without being able to stop does you no good.

A buddy of mine tracked his 328xi wagon last year for the first time ever. In two days, he ate his front brakes and rotors.

Don't scare your instructor, drive smooth and have fun!
Was your buddy with the 328xi wagon at Thompson Speedway for the PCA event by any chance?
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      02-20-2015, 01:07 PM   #16
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The math is pretty simple. Set aside $500 per day for single day events, $1,000 per weekend for 2 day events. So if you're doing 5 weekends per year, it'll cost roughly $5,000 a year in various consumables, fuel, lodging, and cost of entry. Add 20% if you want to attend events where you can actually get SOME coaching and get better. Add another 10% if you don't know how to do some of the most basic maintenance yourself.
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      02-20-2015, 04:37 PM   #17
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Was your buddy with the 328xi wagon at Thompson Speedway for the PCA event by any chance?
Nope, he only ever did one event and NJMP.
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      02-20-2015, 11:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
The math is pretty simple. Set aside $500 per day for single day events, $1,000 per weekend for 2 day events. So if you're doing 5 weekends per year, it'll cost roughly $5,000 a year in various consumables, fuel, lodging, and cost of entry. Add 20% if you want to attend events where you can actually get SOME coaching and get better. Add another 10% if you don't know how to do some of the most basic maintenance yourself.
That's too much! It should cost roughly 1/2 of that including keeping up with the car tear and wear from the events.
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      02-21-2015, 12:27 AM   #19
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      02-21-2015, 03:25 AM   #20
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The math is pretty simple. Set aside $500 per day for single day events, $1,000 per weekend for 2 day events. So if you're doing 5 weekends per year, it'll cost roughly $5,000 a year in various consumables, fuel, lodging, and cost of entry. Add 20% if you want to attend events where you can actually get SOME coaching and get better. Add another 10% if you don't know how to do some of the most basic maintenance yourself.
Damn, $500 a day? Not even big GP quality tracks like Road America costs that much over here at midwest, and the smaller club tracks are much much cheaper than that. However, $5000 sounds reasonable if you can't control the urge to constantly upgrading your car. Driver upgrade is often a much better investment though.
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      02-21-2015, 02:30 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Cloud9blue View Post
Damn, $500 a day? Not even big GP quality tracks like Road America costs that much over here at midwest, and the smaller club tracks are much much cheaper than that. However, $5000 sounds reasonable if you can't control the urge to constantly upgrading your car. Driver upgrade is often a much better investment though.
Gotta take into account fuel, tire and brake wear, brake fluid, and in some cases the closer each trackday puts the shocks toward their rebuild date. For some cars this can easily hit five hundred a day when added to the cost of the track and maybe an instructor, even here in north Texas.

A couple of pints of brake fluid could be $70 to $100 for a flush before each track weekend. Fuel could be near a hundred bucks a day for Sunoco 260 GT for example at nine bucks a gallon and seven or so miles per gallon on-track. Brake pads at $500 for all four axles over maybe ten weekends? Another fifty bucks for gas to and from, meals, water, whatever.

Maybe $250 done on the cheap with street tires and brakes, track close by, street gas on and off the track, not enough track days to significantly impact maintenance costs, etc. Closer to $500 if not. Both assuming $150-$225 a day for track time per day.
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      02-21-2015, 03:27 PM   #22
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When you get hooked just consider it to be about half of your paycheck. Doesn't matter how big your paycheck is, the bigger the paycheck, the more go-go juice you burn and the more you wear out the round black sticky things on your wheels and the toys get more and more expensive. The rest of the money is for race entry fees, shelter, and food like stuff. If you are lucky, a divorce doesn't keep you off the track too much.
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Last edited by IN54NITY; 02-21-2015 at 03:33 PM.
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