Track Days


Track Days at Ruapuna Park Race Way

With the aggressive New Zealand government stance as regards revenue gathering, and the low-tolerance of the NZ Police to speeding on public roads, combined with the rapidly increasing top speed and performance characteristics of modern Porsches, we recommend you “take it to the track”:

  • when you want to learn how your car behaves close to, and at the limit.
  • when you want to blow out the cobwebs & go as fast as your car will carry you.
  • when you want to evaluate other vehicles prior to purchase.
  • when you want to practice braking manoeuvres or polish your slalom technique.
  • when you want to have the most fun possible in a road car, without the possibility of being fined or arrested.

These are the times you want to be on a race track!

Track Days are becoming increasingly popular, and there’s a very good reason for that: track days are the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Here’s a list of things you can expect at any Ruapuna Race Way track day:

  1. Driver Training in classroom environment
  2. Car scrutineering
  3. Safety briefings
  4. Brake testing and practice
  5. Slalom through cones
  6. Short Track (Track “A”) cornering practice, with and without an instructor
  7. Long Track (Track “B”) cornering at speed practice, with and without an instructor
  8. Full track laps with and without an instructor
  9. Camaraderie, education and loads of fun.

Autothority in conjunction with the Porsche Club of New Zealand, and some good friends, are involved in, or help organise several track days throughout the year.

All experience levels are usually catered for, but there are some half-day events, which are exclusively for drivers who have attended full track days in the past.

Whether you are a new owner, a seasoned track day enthusiast, a fledgling race driver, completely new to driving, or just wish to improve your driving skills, there should be a track day in your future.

How Hard Can I Push My Car?

As hard as you like, with a few provisos!

You will have a driving instructor next to you for your first few laps of each track (A, B & Full), and he or she knows just what your car is capable of, and how it will behave under most situations.

It is important to listen carefully to your instructor, and follow their advice at all times. Failure to do so may result in you being asked to leave the track.

The most important rule at any track day is: “Do Not Scare Your Instructors”. This is because our instructors are unpaid volunteers, and you must not place them in any danger by driving beyond your ability, or by being too aggressive.

When you are alone in your car, you are still expected to obey the rules of the track, as regards overtaking (if allowed), obeying speed limits, and ensuring cone-chicanes to limit speed are actually limiting your speed.

However, the track is there to be taken advantage of, and we hope you will push your car harder and harder as the day progresses, and that you will learn a great deal in just a short time.

The idea is to have fun, and we’re confident, if you follow the rules, you’ll be back again, at the very next event.

How About Some Driving Tips?

Just head on over to the “Driving Tips” page, and get the low down.

Spanner Checks

Before taking any car on to the race track, where forces and stresses on the car are far greater than on the road, it is necessary to ensure the car will remain safe throughout the day. Whilst all cars are put through scrutineering on the day, it is best to know your car will pass easily, as cars that fail scrutineering are not permitted to run, and no refund is offered to owners of failed cars.

To this end, Autothority offers a range of “Spanner Check” options prior to a track day. These involve thoroughly checking a vehicle for track readiness. We recommend that you have your car inspected thoroughly before venturing onto the track.

Problems and component failure are best detected ahead of time, for your sake, and your car’s.

Insurance

In general, your car will not be covered by normal road insurance while it is on the racetrack. It’s best remembered that cars have been wrecked at racetracks, and you want to avoid this at all costs. The spanner check helps, but driving within yourself is called for at all times.

Some insurers may offer you insurance cover provided you are at an approved instructional event such as those held by the Porsche Club of New Zealand. Please make enquiries with your own insurer.

What Equipment Do I Need?

You’ll need plain cotton overalls, taped at the ankle and wrist. An approved crash helmet (MotorSport 2) and we recommend an open-face style helmet as these provide lots of air flow, and keep your face cooler.

Don’t be under any illusions: the inside of your car will be hot. You will be hot, and you will sweat.

What do I do to Prepare The Car?

Apart from a Spanner Check you will need to remove any item from the car that could come loose; empty the pockets, and take all loose items from the car, including radar detectors.

Do not remove the spare wheel or other items to reduce weight, as the weight is integral to the vehicle, and removing weight will change the weight distribution of the car, even if only in a small way.

Clean the windows, inside and out.

Check the tyre pressures, and run them at road-standard pressures. Do NOT inflate your tyres harder than normal, as the tyres will heat up substantially on the circuit. It is likely the tyres will reach 6-7 lbs higher pressure than what you filled them to.

Neither should you under-inflate the tyres in anticipation of heating raising the pressure.

Check the tyres themselves. Inspect them to ensure there are no visible defects, and no nails or other items embedded in them. Slow leaks, or sharp objects in the tyre can cause catastrophic failure, and at track speeds this would be … undesirable.

Finally, fill the tank with petrol.

Help - My Tyres are almost bald!

Please consult us before arriving at the track if your tyres are below warrantable standard. Some tyres will perform quite well when worn to “semi-slick” levels, but others may be dangerous, depending on their construction and materials.

You may get dispensation from the “warrantable” standard if you consult with us prior. It will be more difficult for you if you wait until the morning of the event.

How should I drive?

Good question!

We recommend you take a logical approach to your first track day.

Your first day should be spent getting to know your brakes, tyres and car. It’s not necessary to go as fast as you can, or to brake as hard as you can at every corner – but neither do you have to hang around, either! A good strategy for a first-timer is to investigate maximum cornering speeds without pushing top speed, and braking to the limits.

This means backing off before you have to on the straight, and beginning braking early. This will allow you to “protect” the brakes and yet you will have plenty to time and space to try and figure out the best place to turn, and the top speed you can begin turning at.

Once you have found these places and speeds, you may begin pushing your top speed and braking points.

How Will My Brakes Last?

Relax, you own a Porsche! As a brand, Porsche have always been a little anal about being able to stop, and all Porsches are fitted with the best brakes in the business. They vary between Best, Bloody Amazing, and Simply Unbelievable!

While other road cars will suffer from some form of brake fade after as little as 5 laps, your Porsche will run trouble free in a track day situation. Even after 20 laps, your Porsche will still be stopping as easily and as quickly as it did on Lap 2.

The brakes may get very hot however, and this is yet another reason why you need to do at least one cool-down lap before finishing a session.

If you notice a softening of the brake pedal during your hot laps on the track, this may indicate brake fluid that has passed its use-by date.

The brake pedal softens when the brake fluid begins to boil in the brake lines due to excessive heating of the brake lines by conduction through the brake pads and disks. This releases tiny bubbles into the fluid. The tiny gas bubbles can be compressed (unlike the brake fluid) and therefore to exert the same amount of braking force, you need to push through the bubbles by pushing the brake pedal further and harder.

It is not a pleasant feeling, but you will quickly discover if the pedal is continuing to soften (too much boiling of the fluid) or if the pedal softens a little and then stabilises (The fluid reaches a stable state with a certain amount of boiling and cooling in balance.)

If you don’t know how old your brake fluid is, before a track day is the perfect time to have the fluid drained and replaced. Oh, and there’s no need to go mental with brake fluid either. Despite the fact it’s possible to pay $1000 a litre for fluid, we recommend the factory standard DOT3 fluid, and then we bleed the brakes properly to ensure you have a solid brake pedal the whole day.

As part of our brake inspection in your Spanner Check, we will measure the thickness of your disks, and also the amount of wear remaining in the pads. If either are close to being out of spec, we will inform you and suggest a course of action. We will also inspect any brake cooling ducts fitted to your car, and ensure they are properly fitted, and working correctly.

You mentioned Braking Practice?

You’re right – we did!

The first part of the day, after the morning briefing, is devoted to testing and practicing braking. Despite most cars having ABS these days, ABS still cannot change the laws of physics!

Your tyres can only stop you if conditions and distance allow.

Commonly, ABS brakes are misused on the road: The driver sees the crash coming, puts their foot on the brake, and they progress in a straight line directly to the scene of the accident. This is not what ABS was designed to do.

ABS systems give users the ability to brake as hard as possible while continuing to steer the car. Not turning – that would imply “cornering” which we already established a tyre can not do while braking, but steering, which implies “changing direction to avoid the crash”.

To train you in this ability, you will begin by accelerating to 80 km/h and then braking in a straight-line beginning at two marker cones. This is dead simple if the car is fitted with ABS, but requires some skills if no ABS is fitted.

Then you’ll repeat the test but this time from 100 km/h.

Then a Y-shaped set of cones will be setup. You will accelerate to 100 km/h towards the base of the Y. An instructor will be holding up a flag, and when you pass the entrance to the Y, he will drop the flag either left or right, and you will be required to brake as firmly as possible, while steering down the correct arm of the Y.

After only a few of these exercises, you will be getting a good feeling for your ability to brake and steer, something completely lost to you if your wheels lock up.

But My Brakes Aren’t ABS!

This simply means you are going to have to work harder to ensure you are braking correctly. You’ll learn how hard you can brake before the wheels lock, and you’ll have to learn to pump the brakes to release them from locking. Pumping at 2 to 3 times per second will permit very short stopping distances while allowing you to continue steering your car.

How Can I Trust My Brakes?

We’ve got news for you; even the best drivers in the world don’t always trust their brakes! In-car cameras often show drivers dabbing the brakes while still some way from their braking marker. This is a safety measure designed to make sure the brake system has pressure, and that when the driver puts their foot firmly on the pedal, the car will slow as expected.


Phone (03) 3774-911
Design and Code by Chris 'Mobius' Davies. ©2007-2013 by Autothority