The Reassurance Mod


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Story by JG Pasterjak • Photo by ABI Photo

I’d like to tell you about this incredible new mod I found for our C5 Corvette Z06 project. It’s one we added to the car just days before the SCCA’s inaugural Time Trials Nationals at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky–so close to the event, in fact, that we didn’t even have time to test it. It arrived more quickly than expected, so we got it on the car just in time to load our trailer and head north to the Bluegrass State.

This amazing modification needed zero adjustment throughout the weekend (although I could have easily tweaked it at any time from an app on my iPhone). I think seeing my success with it convinced more than a few other drivers to order one, too.

Yes, I mentioned success, although we don’t necessarily build our project cars to go hunt trophies. Sure, these cars are frequently built around specific competition classes or venues, but “winning” as such is rarely a primary goal when developing an editorial project car. There are a million reasons for this: sometimes we have to sacrifice those last gnarly edges of performance to produce proper editorial on parts that appeal to a wider segment of our readership, or hit a certain price point, or simply answer a question that is other than “what’s the fastest way around this track?” But I’m a competitive dude. When the clock stops, my eyes immediately go to that display showing my time and my ranking.

At NCM Motorsports Park, it was exceptionally surprising to see my name at the top of the batting order in the Unlimited 2 class, where the rules amount to “be a sentient, carbon-based life-form in a four-wheeled conveyance.” By the middle of the weekend, as I became more comfortable on this track I had never driven in this car I had never run in anger beyond autocross speeds, I even snuck up to the very pointy end of the most gnarly run group. Our “Advanced A” group would hit the track with a 700+hp Viper ACR, Andy Hollis’s bright-orange McLaren supercar, and li’l old me in our C5Z project car that could still be duplicated for under $30K (and you might even get some change back).

Heading out on track at the front of that pack, which ran as the last of the weekend, was pretty exciting. Fans and other drivers streamed into the spectator areas as announcer Larry “Lefty” McCloud shoveled coal into the hype hopper up in race control. It was pretty cool knowing I had a semi-secret weapon, although by that point my secret was fairly public and other drivers had already adopted the same mod, since it could actually be delivered to the track the same day.

All-in, I figure my “secret” weapon was probably worth between 1.5 and 2 seconds of lap time over what I might have turned without it. And when I go back to that track for the second time ever, I think it will be worth another two seconds after I’ve had time to decompress, study data, and look at video.

So what is it? What’s the magic bullet that lets me go deeper into braking areas, get on the throttle earlier in corners, and take corners flat that I wasn’t able to before? And what’s something like that worth? $5000? $10,000? Plenty of racers have paid far more for far less.

What if I told you I spent just $225, and yours could be even cheaper? And what if I told you this isn’t even a mechanical product at all?

Yeah, you’ve probably figured it out already: It’s the track insurance policy we purchased from Hagerty just before the event.

The Hagerty track policy can be purchased in seconds from their app, and you can buy it anytime up until your car actually impacts the wall. Our policy was based on a $30,000 declared value for the car and a 10 percent deductible. There are 15 percent deductible policies available at even lower cost, as are policies for non-competitive track events like DEs or Track Nights in America.

Look, I don’t want this overly precious setup to come off as glib. I’m 100 percent sincere about this thing helping me go faster. So much of speed is mental. Physical, intellectual, and emotional comfort in the car all contribute to a driver extracting maximum performance from a chassis. The ability to leave behind that heavy baggage of fear was a remarkable lightening of my load, allowing me to push harder sooner and learn the complex track faster.

Of course I still experienced some fear going into an unfamiliar corner faster than I had on the previous lap-there’s not an underwriter alive who can guarantee against butthole pucker-but that’s just simple self-preservation. Gone was the irrational “If I stuff this thing it’s generic Ramen until I can afford a bus pass” fear that probably causes more on-track danger due to tight shoulders, clamped hands, and tears of terror and dread than anything else.

So my friends, I am now a believer. When speeds go up, I open my Hagerty app. I spoke with several other competitors at 2018 TT events who were taking the same route. Some expressed excitement that they now had the comfort level to get back into a car they hadn’t run on track for years, fearing it had become too valuable to risk. So not only does track insurance help you go faster, it’s like a restoration in an iPhone!

Look, this is an editorial column, not an ad, so you’ll have to look through the book to find the Hagerty ad on your own. Once you do, though, I hope you enjoy the same peace-of-mind speed increase that I did.

Editor’s Note: Here’s the link to Hagerty Track Insurance.


This article is from a past issue of the magazine. Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it’s published, and get access to our full digital archive, by subscribing to Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

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Comments
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te72
te72 Reader
12/10/18 11:38 p.m.

Heh, funny. You're right though, once you accept that the car is expendable, then it really frees up your sense of bravado. This is part of why I am hesitant to make my car pretty. If it's pretty, I might be afraid to push it, for fear that I might take out a half dozen cones in one ill perceived corner entry, compounded by sudden onset of boost at the worst possible time. Have done just that, and apart from the mark of shame of +6 on your time, and a bit of cone residue, no worries!

 

On a pretty car though? Oof.

 

This does seem reasonably priced for those in more expensive cars, and I carry a similar policy on my car for when I'm out in the wild, unpredictable, real world with you know, traffic, but it's kinda hard to justify when you're traveling to events, sleeping on borrowed floor of someone gracious enough to host you for the night, etc.

 

All that said, I find it completely absurd that track insurance is even a thing. For wheel to wheel, sure, that makes sense, that is high risk. However, for just about any other kind of track event, the odds of car damage are infinitely less than your average commute. Seriously, mile for mile, how many accidents are there, public roads versus race and autocross tracks? I'd guess it's something like 10,000 to one.

StuntmanMike
StuntmanMike New Reader
12/11/18 8:10 a.m.

My insurance policy is driving a 4th gen Camaro that is worth more in parts than whole! Also it is daily driver, but I have other vehicles I can drive to work. I'd love to get a C5Z but I think my attitude on track might change, and track days cost enough with entry, tires and brakes, one more expense might make for less track days.

RJStanford
RJStanford New Reader
12/11/18 8:18 a.m.

I used to pay ~$300 per weekend for coverage myself, then I relaxed, bought and modded a Miata, and have been enjoying hooning it around the track with the knowledge that even if things went completely pear shaped I could probably salvage 80% of the money I've put into it by buying another shell and moving over anything that wasn't damaged.  Silly?  Perhaps, but its been working well for me.

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
12/11/18 8:31 a.m.

I've never put track coverage on any of my cars but I will on my current 996 Turbo.  If something happens I want to be covered and get a fat check back so I can buy another one!

bcp2011
bcp2011 Reader
12/11/18 9:18 a.m.

In reply to RJStanford :

I'm of same mentality.  Unless one's skill level is so high that a slower car just won't do, why not just get something cheap so that it could be written off?  I think normal C5s are getting into 4 digit range - a clean one with brake fluid and tires can still be a ton of fun without bankrupting oneself if things were to go sideways.  And of course The Answer is much cheaper.  This very advice was given to me like a decade ago on this forum prompted me to buy a Miata and that's where I started.  

Robbie
Robbie UltimaDork
12/11/18 10:08 a.m.
bcp2011 said:

In reply to RJStanford :

I'm of same mentality.  Unless one's skill level is so high that a slower car just won't do, why not just get something cheap so that it could be written off?  I think normal C5s are getting into 4 digit range - a clean one with brake fluid and tires can still be a ton of fun without bankrupting oneself if things were to go sideways.  And of course The Answer is much cheaper.  This very advice was given to me like a decade ago on this forum prompted me to buy a Miata and that's where I started.  

You can carry the same ideas to the street - and only carry liability and uninsured coverage. 

but fast isn't the only reason awesome cars are awesome, and sometimes we pay a bit more than we should for our hobby!

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
12/11/18 10:11 a.m.
bcp2011 said:

In reply to RJStanford :

I'm of same mentality.  Unless one's skill level is so high that a slower car just won't do, why not just get something cheap so that it could be written off?  I think normal C5s are getting into 4 digit range - a clean one with brake fluid and tires can still be a ton of fun without bankrupting oneself if things were to go sideways.  And of course The Answer is much cheaper.  This very advice was given to me like a decade ago on this forum prompted me to buy a Miata and that's where I started.  

Because miata's are boring.  Also I don't fit in a miata.  Because a truly track prepped car shouldn't be driven on the street, which means also having a truck and a trailer.  Then needing someplace to store the track car, trailer and truck.  Then paying for all that, plus storage fees,maintenance, insurance, etc.

Plus sometimes it's just fun to have an awesome car that you can drive around and have fun in.  I just went down the rabbit hole of having a truck/trailer/track car.  I realized I was driving the track car less than 1 week out of the entire year.  That's a waste.  Plus going to get the trailer, loading the track car, towing to the event, then doing all of that in reverse was a huge time suck.  I'm much happier with my 911 right now.

bcp2011
bcp2011 Reader
12/11/18 11:24 a.m.

In reply to docwyte :

I'm in a similar camp in the sense that I live in the city so even if I did want the truck/trailer/racecar it's just not going to happen, so I got a FRS that's fun enough for date nights and plenty fast (for me and my skill level) on track.  And if it gets totalled, oh well it's a bad day.  But you and I are very fortunate in that we can afford a hobby (to a certain amount) that many cannot, so if one is trying to access track days on a tight budget without having to worry about financial ruin, there are other ways to start in a much cheaper manner (whether it's Miata or E36 or whatever).  That's why I mentioned a solid, regular C5 can be a ton of fun without breaking the bank and may not need the insurance. 

And of course if one can afford a nice car and carry insurance, then I'm glad they're able to do so (it's the internet, so I want to make it clear there's no sarcastic tone read from this whatsoever).  

bcp2011
bcp2011 Reader
12/11/18 11:27 a.m.

In reply to Robbie :

Agreed, and I don't have full insurance for that reason.  I wouldn't if I had a nicer car, but for what I have it's fine.  

Everyone's risk tolerance is different, and there's no one answer that'll fit everyone.  My response wasn't meant to suggest that to do it in the way that I did was THE answer, but to agree with the prior poster and that it was a viable alternative to what was proposed by the original article.  

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
12/11/18 11:52 a.m.

I might consider track insurance to be worthwhile on a track that has a shortage of runoff room. The track where I do track days only has one corner that wouldn't give you room to spin off into some grass, and I've seen a guy lock up all four wheels and ramp off the outside of that corner at almost full speed, and there wasn't enough damage to stop him from continuing the track day. Lots of flattened sugar cane stalks though. Mind you there wasn't a chainlink fence between that corner and the cane field back then, so there would probably be more damage to the nose of the car these days...

I actually wish I could get a better street insurance policy for my Corolla because that's where it's really at risk, and it's a car I absolutely couldn't afford to replace. Of course the value on paper is too low to qualify it for any agreed value policy including the one local classics policy. Last year I had a painful lesson in how utterly worthless other people's insurance can be so I'm even more worried now.

bentwrench
bentwrench SuperDork
12/11/18 11:59 a.m.

This is a canoe for Hagerty!

_
_ Reader
12/11/18 12:10 p.m.

“and you can buy it anytime up until your car actually impacts the wall.” 

So set up a cell phone in car that only needs one more buttons push to make it legally binding. Then when you go off track, hit button before you hit wall! 

Even better would be someone on your phone, ready to hit the “agree” button as they watch you lap. 

More even better! What about an app that detects offs and automatically completes the contract anytime you have an off! 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
12/11/18 2:59 p.m.
_ said:

 

More even better! What about an app that detects offs and automatically completes the contract anytime you have an off! 

App Store link please

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
12/11/18 3:02 p.m.
bentwrench said:

This is a canoe for Hagerty!

Well, replace Hagerty with RLI then. Or Lockton. Or anyone else that sells track insurance. We just happened to get our from Hagerty because they were sponsoring the event we were attending and that seemed a polite thing to do, to support the people who were supporting the event I was enjoying.

I also know that I went faster with insurance than I would have without it. Not sure what else you can spend $200 on and pick up a few tenths, but this seemed like a bargain. 

te72
te72 Reader
12/11/18 8:45 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:

I also know that I went faster with insurance than I would have without it. Not sure what else you can spend $200 on and pick up a few tenths, but this seemed like a bargain. 

There's a cocaine joke in there somewhere, I just know it.

 

I get what you're saying JG, but in the circles I run in, the pointy end of the field always seems to be dominated by cars that the owners clearly don't mind the risk of damage. Perhaps there's something to be said about that too. My Supra would be a royal pain to try to replace, due to a vast majority of replacement parts being NLA, finding a solid, rust free shell that isn't a bucket, or just finding one at a reasonable price to replace it with in the first place. I shudder to think what would happen if it were to be totaled, on or off track. I'll probably consider track insurance if I ever find myself on a track I'm not comfortable with the layout of, but otherwise I'll rest easy knowing my car is worth far more in parts than it is as a whole, running car.

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
12/12/18 8:49 a.m.

In reply to bcp2011 :

If people are worried about engaging in this hobby without financial ruin I'm not sure why they'd go out and buy another complete car.  It's cheaper to just keep the car they currently have and get the track insurance. 

bcp2011
bcp2011 Reader
12/12/18 2:03 p.m.

In reply to docwyte :

That ignores what they currently have, and whether that car is suited on track.  I had an M3 previously, but the thought of potentially blowing up the car (not wrecking it), plus the consumables, made it prohibitive to take it on track with my financial situation even with insurance.  So I got a cheap Miata for $5k that was already track prepped, had a ton of fun with it, and then sold it for pretty much what I paid for it.  When we had to consolidate cars due to a move into the city, I got a car that was good enough for daily driving but still plenty of fun on track.  

Not suggesting it's the answer to every situation, but buying insurance isn't either.  

BonzoHansen
BonzoHansen New Reader
12/12/18 10:06 p.m.

I'll agree that good insurance does offer some peace of mind.   my old z28 has great coverage and I drive it more or less where ever I want.   it also covers me everywhere but the track itself,  including the paddock.  hagerty policy,  because I've only heard great things about their claim process .

I can't see the need for track coverage at auto x, but I do for an occasional track day. But I don't have proper safety for real track speed, so I won't do it anymore.  my kids need me to come home in one piece.

Hagerty won't insure a car with a cage. So I found this article a bit odd.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
12/12/18 10:16 p.m.
BonzoHansen said:

 

Hagerty won't insure a car with a cage. So I found this article a bit odd.

Not as an every-day all-the-tme sort of thing, but we've had no issues buying one-weekend-at-a-tim policies for events with our Corvette, which has a 4pt bar.

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