A Precipitous Track Night in America @ Dominion Raceway

First off – I’m really not going to write up Every. Single. Track. Event. I. Do.

Okay, maybe I will… I am planning to target unique experiences, especially when there is something to be learned from them. This one definitely counts!

First and foremost – if you don’t know what a “Track Night in America” is – I recommend you go read my prior post (Track Night in America). The best part about this particular event is that Koni, a company dedicated to improving the experience of performance, street, and race car drivers through high quality suspension parts, provided a 25.00 discount code for quite literally anybody who managed to find the code. It wasn’t hard to find. They might as well have put it right to every registration link on facebook… (which they pretty much did!) – So special thanks to them!

This particular evening was filled with water-based liquid precipitation aka, rain. And a lot of it. The track was flooded. I called ahead and asked if the event was being ‘Rain-Checked’, to which I got a very slow “no, why would we do that?”… Apparently unless there is ice or a tree across the track, they run! To those of you who would think that driving fast in the rain is somehow bad, or you shouldn’t do it, I respectfully disagree. No, you’re not going to be running 150mph down the front straight, and you may not be at the cars edge as though it was dry, but this can actually make you a much better, and smoother driver… more importantly, it can still be quite a lot of fun.

My fastest lap was a 1:56. This is a far cry from my fastest dry lap, of a 1:39, but given that the front stretch did have a few channels of water that resembled the Potomac River, I was cruising the front stretch at a brisk 75mph, and had no problems. I’ll get to some lessons learned about the track experience momentarily.

What if things go horribly wrong?! 

First, this can happen in the dry. Do not let your guard down just because it’s dry, and don’t put up a false one just because it’s wet. One gentlemen did end up spinning at that particular place, and put his car into the wall. He was fine, rescue was dispatched, but he drove the car into the pits under his own power and sound mind. Now that we know he’s safe, his car was not so fortunate. So what happens next? Well, he (as well as myself, and several other people in attendance) purchased “Track Day Insurance” from Hagerty Insurance (http://hagerty.com) – The interesting thing about your “daily” insurance, is that it stops working when you get to the track. In speaking with an insurance agent from Hagerty, your local insurance limits of liability either stop at the paddock (where you park and leave your stuff), or at the grid (where you line up to enter the track). Mine, stops at the Paddock, but only if I’m registered for the event (ie: my vehicle intends to compete). If I’m only there visiting, and something hits me/I hit somebody, then I’m still covered. With Hagerty’s track day coverage, you pick your limit, purchase online, and have your policy instantly. My coverage for today was $203.00 for my 2018 Audi RS3. I have about 12453 miles on it, and in the used market, that shows up for around 58k value. Based on what I owe, the value, and a few other factors, I decided to cover 55k of car, with a 15% deductible (Ie: worst case scenario, I pay 15% of the 55k, and they cover the rest…. not too bad of a deal!). Now, if your car has just competed in the 24 hours of Lemons, or Chump-Car, you may not need insurance… but this is a personal decision that each person should make on their own. I frankly won’t run my car on the track without it. It’s just not worth the risk.

It’s really, really wet outside… how do I prepare for this?! 

So – Let’s talk about what to do:

  • Bring a waterproof jacket that zips up well – You’re in a car where the drivers window is down. You’re going to get wet. Keep yourself as dry as possible.
  • Bring a pop-up canopy – If you have a 10×10 pop up tent, you’ll become very popular, and make LOTS of friends. Don’t worry about having to set it up alone, I had more hands helping than I could count just because they wanted to be dry, too!
  • Bring a tarp – Even if you’re bringing the canopy, you can put your stuff on the tarp and tie up the ends, this keeps everything (including the floor mats that you removed to be on the track) nice and dry!
  • Wear waterproof shoes – Gore Tex is the most well known in this space. Your driving shoes will not be waterproof… you won’t want your feet to be wet. (see what not to do)
  • For your car – don’t worry too much about your tire pressure – you’ll not be running the same pressures in the dry. I actually found that my factory pressures were acceptable. I ended up running 2psi low, as the tires simply weren’t getting as much heat with the water cooling them down.

And what not to do:

  • Don’t wear jeans that scrape the ground around your shoes! I was soaked up to my knees!
  • Don’t bring a soft-sided cooler – Again, it’s soaked
  • Don’t wear shoes that are small soled and mesh sided (are you seeing the trend, yet?!)
  • Don’t forget weights to tie the pop up tent down to! Fortunately others were quick to offer heavy things in exchange for standing in the dry.
  • Don’t tense up on the track. Stay relaxed. Take your time. Nobody is rushing you. If you feel off-pace, pull off for a bit, let the race control person know you’re running a bit slow, and he can move you to some open space to let you get some confidence back.

Overall – this was (once again) a safe, well run, and fun event where I’ve made a few new friends, and will absolutely be back to drive again.

Next Track Night in America is June 21 @ 3pm. Who’s coming with me this time?!

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