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ebonyandivory PowerDork
3/11/20 5:27 a.m.

My 17 year old son's interest in all things cars is snowballing (YES!).

So the topic of getting in some track time in your daily driver has come up. 

As I understand it, good pads, fluids, cooling system and tires is the minimum. Does anyone have experience with this? If so, was it successful ie: fun and not wallet-draining? What vehicle did you drive etc.

The thinking is track days and possibly AutoX while RallyX would be extremely doubtful.


Edit: I just found this (my own thread) but I guess it couldn't hurt to get more real-world stories from those who've lived it.


sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
3/11/20 5:51 a.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

I have I done it?

Yes, yes I have...

Gen1 Fit - Definitely
NA2 Miata - meh
Gen3 Acura TL - Definitely... although a bit fast/heavy for a n00b, and you'd want camber arms to not abuse the sidewalls
NF Sonata - jury's out, because I didn't take/have the time to get the suspension right.  but it's double wishbone, and there's plenty to be had for under $4k

also, I've watched Fr3AkAzOiD romp around a bunch of mustangs in intermediate, having a ball:

Fun?  Yes!
Wallet Draining?  Not really... as long as you stick to the basics above.  It can get expensive if you're charging off into new territory (since you're going to have to figure out your own parts/solutions).  But, as long as you keep the eye on 'getting time', and not 'winning hpde'... consumables should be reasonable.

most of the time cooling systems are ok, outside of tracking an auto... where are transcooler is sensible.  afaik, ymmv.

edit: and now to go back and read your old thread

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
3/11/20 6:45 a.m.

Tracked and One Lapped my CTSV Wagon. That car needed nothing, but it was fast and expensive to really play with. 

Rallycrossed, tracked and One Lapped my friend's Civic. It was his only car when we won the rallycross national Championship and for the first One Lap. By the second One Lap he had a truck too which let us do a fixed bucket and half cage without thinking too much. We had a few issues with the stock brakes over the course of a week but with the right pads we could get a weekend out of them. 

I had a Miata that was in the daily rotation that was a rallycross and track car. That car just needed brake pads and tires. Easiest car on consumables I've had. 

The Accord that I built for 2019 One Lap is my current daily. That car was right on the edge brake wise with where I am as a driver so I spent some money on brakes. Still drive it to work and drop the kids off at school with it every day. 

I have personal limits for cars that are track/daily cars. I want cars without some sort of cage/bar to aero out at about 120mph. The Miata and Accord both do this. This keeps speeds and braking needs reasonable. I also need them to be in the $2-5k range so I can walk away from them if something bad happens. I did hit a wall in my buddies Civic. Luckily it was a tire wall at not too fast so we were able to repair track side and continue on. It's still just a little wrinkly, but for a few seconds I though I had just bought a car that I didn't own. That'll change how you think of things. 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
3/11/20 6:56 a.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :  from the previous thread...

mazdeuce - Seth said:

I have a couple of thoughts on this which should surprise nobody. 

1. Getting a car ready is expensive. Getting a car with bigger tires and brakes ready is more expensive. I did a quick run down of a 2000 C5 Corvette vs. a 2000 Miata, both intentionally off your list but both very popular track cars. I put new Cetric blank rotors and G-log R10 pads on both and the Miata got RS4 tires and the Corvette got slightly less track focused Continentals. The Miata was $775 and the Corvette was $1215. Doing this kind of math is important when comparing cars because of point 2. 

2. Most people that I know decide to either get a different track car or leave track driving behind by their 3rd to 5th event. Unless you can find someone to value what you put on the car, and you haven't worn them out yet when you sell it, prep costs are a complete write off. If you do three events in that Corvette it just cost you $400 a weekend in consumables. The point of this isn't to scare anyone away, but rather to really really really consider consumable costs when they start looking at cars. The faster you go and the bigger tires you run, the more consumables cost and there is a reason they're called consumables. 

3. The closer a car is to being ready to drive HARD from the factory, the better off you are. You want a brakes/tires car if you can. Upgrading oiling and cooling and brakes and suspension from factory spec is expensive especially when your car buy in is at GRM levels. And remember, we're probably going to abandon this idea as we advance/quit this whole track thing. 

4. Since the ideal is to daily the car in between events, the better the car is as a car, the better it is. Low/stiff/loud sounds cool in theory, but passing the car off to your wife to pick up the kids in something set up for the track can get old fast unless your wife is particularily awesome. The criteria for a track car and the criteria for a family car are different, they can overlap, but it's a small sliver of overlap. 

Where does that leave us? With a billion options that have already been suggested. I can tell you my history of track cars as a cautionary tale. I started with my CTS-V wagon. It was expensive enough to make me nervous and capable enough to make me really nervous. I did four events and One Lap in it before deciding it was dumb and moving on. I spent about $700 in brakes, $1200 in wheels and $2k in tires. It was a great family car. My second track car was a 1990 Civic Si that I bought fully set up. I did four track weekends and a half dozen autocross events in it. I HATED driving in on the street and couldn't drive my kids around in it because my wife said no. I had to wear hearing protection while driving. That car cost me one $400 set of tires and no brake money at all. My current track car is a 2003 Accord coupe. I've done two track days, two autocrosses and 6k miles so far. $1200 in wheels and tires and $800 in brakes. The car is an exceptional daily aside from the kids complaing about the coupe part. Doesn't bother me, they're all big enough to sort it out themselves and I sit in front. The car has been great on track/autocross so far. It's not fast but it's in the same ballpark as a NA/NB Miata at the same prep level on track and about mid pack raw time autocross in my region. It's fun so far, but that may fade after the 3-5 weekends that seems to affect a lot of cars. The plan is to be at about 5 weekends and some rallycross by this time next year, so we'll see. 

I don't think there is an obvious answer to this question. Some people would be happy with my Accord, others don't have the arm strength to give 10 point by's a lap on track while trying to concentrate on shifting and braking points. laugh
If you're going to use the car as a car, then get something that you like as a car that will work with just tires/brakes and pay attention to those costs. When it's time to upgrade you'll have a better idea which direction to go, if you don't need to upgrade, we may have a new answer. 

Nice and consistent, even over 2 years later.  laugh

dps214 Reader
3/11/20 9:24 a.m.

Your experience is going to vary widely based on what vehicle you're trying to use. But if you have something that's up to the task (brakes, mostly), get track day insurance and you'll be good to go.

parker Reader
3/11/20 10:23 a.m.

Used to do it in my 1998 Neon.  Kept a set of dedicated front rotors and pads for track days, treated the calipers as disposable as the phenolic pistons would be falling apart after a track weekend.  Won the Stock FWD Rallycross National Championship in it with 390,000 miles on the thing.


DjGreggieP Reader
3/11/20 11:00 a.m.

I would track (and plan to continue to) my Intrepid over the spring/summer while it was also my daily driver. (I had already purchased a truck to drive in the winter, so the car was no longer a 4 season daily) I mostly kept an eye on my fluids and brake condition.

It did start to get expensive when it came to alignments because the OEM front upper strut mounts do not enjoy more than a season of spirited driving before they begin to fall apart and require being replaced, so I have since opted for the less expensive KYB branded mounts (1 Mopar mount is worth about 3 of the KYB mounts) and have noted it as a regular service item for every spring to just change the upper mounts (this will be its first year on the KYB mounts, so I will be monitoring their condition over the warmer seasons of daily use).

A few of the upgrades the car has are better brakes (powerslot rotors, Hawk HPS pads), lowering springs on new struts (KYB Struts, H&R sport springs), exhaust modifications. Nothing crazy really, the only thing done to the car that wouldn't have been done just to improve the daily driving experience of the car was the RECARO drivers seat. I found it cheap enough long before I was actively trying to track the car (and had debated making it a desk chair), but it offered a HUGE improvement in lateral support over the OEM seat.  

I went out to have fun and enjoy the car and improve on my abilities behind the wheel and get time in the seat. 

paul_s0 Reader
3/11/20 11:27 a.m.

I used to do it, well rallying rather than track.  If you need the car for work during the week you'd better be prepared for some early morning/late night/lunch break wrenching, and annoying the other half, but I basically did it for around 10 years on a shoestring budget.  I did often have more than one car in the drive though that was only a few hours away from working if something did go wrong

lnlds Reader
3/11/20 7:22 p.m.

I'm still new to HPDEs so my perspective is going to be different from some more experienced folk on the board. I did 2 events last fall with my celica. After the first event I concluded that I was stupid for waiting this long and ended up with a greater appreciation for my car. Currently my plan is to do 1-2 HPDEs a year (likely 1 HPDE and hopefully 1 TNIA if my familial obligations allow me to do so).

The car: I ran my 2001 Celica GT-S with 19X,000 miles on a regular summer tire (BFG Comp2s) . The only track prep I did was fresh oil before and after, dot4 fluid, and a slightly more aggressive pad in the front (stoptech street performance). I caught up on very deferred maintenance and changed my radiator hoses and changed the coolant.  I have modded my car over the course of my ownership (7.5 years now) with your typical intake/exhaust/rear sway bar/ and Kyb AGX shocks on stock springs. I did dial in -1.3 degrees of camber on each side with crash bolts previously. I kept the shocks on whats the equivalent to kyb gr2s (2nd softest setting) as thats what I run on the street. I have no cooling modifications, no oiling modifications.

A slower lighter, naturally aspirated car will be less costly to run and less costly to make beginner track reliable. You also dont need to run crazy spring rates to keep it from falling apart on the track. It's also nice to not be one of the slowest cars on the track so something like an older sport compact: integra gsr (sedan if you need more room), celica gt-s, rsx type-s, 8th civic si, b15 sentra se-r, svt focus, cobalt ss could be added to the "what car list" if you guys both fit in it with a helmet.



buzzboy Dork
3/11/20 7:40 p.m.

I've daily driven my track car. BMW was down for a while so I daily drove my gutted, caged, lowered, etc, 1979 300SD. Even in that state it's more comfortable than my BMW.

Use good brake fluid. There's no downside to having good brake fluid on the street and trying to track a car with stock DOT3 sucks. We switched both racecar and racetruck to RBF600 and never looked back.

irish44j MegaDork
3/11/20 7:43 p.m.

I'd say at least half or more of the local rallycrossers use their daily drivers (especially the Subaru and FWD guys....but Nick D. has been rallycrossing his DD BMW M3 for 5 years now in RWD).  For autocross and track days, probably even a higher percentage in my experience.

I personally don't (I used to autocross my DD WRX), but that's mostly because i like racing old cars and have cars specifically to race, and I prefer my DD to be something with modern comfort/reliability/amenities/MPGs. 

But if I lived in an apartment and only had one car (say, my DD GTI)....sure yeah, i'd do that stuff in my DD. Really just depends on what the car is

Knurled. MegaDork
3/11/20 7:53 p.m.

I used to open track my only car...



I also rallycross anything that moves.  Rallycross is way more fun than open track, as there are more corners, more 11/0ths situations, and less boredom sitting on some 1/2 mile long straght with your foot to the floor waiting for another corner to arrive.

Rallycross is harder on cars than track days, which struck me as very low-impact.  OTOH, I also never met a tire wall on a track day.  This either means I never ran out of talent, or I'm not aggressive enough a driver.  (Stage rally rule of thumb is if you don't wreck a car at least once a season, you aren't aggressive enough.  I was born to the wrong parents to afford to do stage rally)

APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/11/20 8:10 p.m.

The downsides of tracking your daily are:

1 If you wad it up you'll have to walk to work (or school) till you replace it.

2 If you break it you'll have to walk to work (or school) till you fix it.

3 Most track specific modifications make a car less friendly for day to day use.

4 You'll either need another set of wheels or you'll have to compromise on tires.

5 Once you get fast you're probably going to have to compromise on brake pads as well.

The upsides of tracking your daily are

1 You probably already have it so you don't need to buy a second car

2 Unless 1 or 2 above happens you wont need to trailer it to

3 You don't have to maintain a race car and a daily

If you're just getting started and you've got some instruction or more self restraint that I do then not only do I think it's OK to track your daily I recommend it.  Get out on the track.  Get comfortable with the car that you spend most of your time in.  It'll make you a better street driver and hopefully it'll help you get the need for speed out of your system on the track.

Once you get faster and have more experience then tracking your daily may make less sense.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/20 8:22 p.m.

If you're going to track your only car, you need a different mindset. Think more like an enduro driver, the #1 goal is to bring the car home. Engage mechanical sympathy. Inspect often. Leave yourself just a bit more margin in the corners so that if something goes not according to plan, you have time/space to deal with it. And of course, stay on top of maintenance.


Tom1200 Dork
3/11/20 8:27 p.m.

In the mid to late 90s I had a Showroom Stock C Miata; I used it for local SCCA regional races, autocross, rallycross and track days. I also used it to drive to work. Note I did have a truck and trailer for my other race car, so when the motor gave up the ghost I just drove my truck to work for two weeks.

Purple Frog
Purple Frog GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/11/20 9:22 p.m.

I gave up tracking my DD in 1970 when i rolled it.  Since then there has been two distinct cars.  One DD, one that trailers to the track.  (Well, maybe three cars, one for pulling the trailer.)

I have found the more serious you get on the track, the less impressive the DD has to be.

Jcamper Reader
3/12/20 2:27 a.m.

I think autox and carts are great venues for your son to gain basic car handling skills and get in over his head with low risk. Track days are super fun but risk goes up with speed. 
If the day comes that you start thinking about HPDE safety and realize how cheaply you can get real race cars, then you figure out how to change your fleet again. 

chada75 Reader
3/12/20 3:35 a.m.

In reply to Jcamper :

Exactly. I was thinking Karts being way cheaper than any street car. 

Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/12/20 5:06 a.m.

I daily drove and tracked 2 of my cars. 

1. 1990 Answer, swapped front pads and rotors and tires for track use. 


2. 2001 Neon ACR did the same thing as above. 


Couple of twist of dampening and we where Golden. Both cars never gave me any issues as track cars and dailys. Both had "high miles" 

ebonyandivory PowerDork
3/12/20 6:12 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

If you're going to track your only car, you need a different mindset. Think more like an enduro driver, the #1 goal is to bring the car home. Engage mechanical sympathy. Inspect often. Leave yourself just a bit more margin in the corners so that if something goes not according to plan, you have time/space to deal with it. And of course, stay on top of maintenance.


I think this answer represents who we are. We're easily impressed and easily entertained. I've had very little in the way of cool stuff, far less than anyone I know personally (sacrificing cool and fun for boring and cheap for my family).

Put it this way: if someone gave me a 2005 Civic and let me hit the track, I'd be smiling for the next month.

Im a cheap date so to speak.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
3/12/20 6:25 a.m.
chada75 said:

In reply to Jcamper :

Exactly. I was thinking Karts being way cheaper than any street car. 

Kind of but not really. Driving karts isn't bad, but racing karts is expensive, even at the local level. After spending a lot of time at kart tracks I highly encourage anyone who wants oodles of seat time to look into a kart and a membership, but top level kart racing costs WAY more than club racing. 

RX8driver Reader
3/12/20 8:04 a.m.

I've tracked every car I've ever owned (4)at the HPDE level and never had any issues. The one time I took my 2005 Forcus was bercause my FC RX-7 wouldn't start, but it handled 2 days on track very, very well for having no prep. The RX7, RX8 and WRX all got track pads and some other minor prep, but as long as the car's somewhat sporty from the factory, chances are you can make it work with minimal effort. If you want to run long sessions in the heat of the summer, you might need more cooling, but fall and spring events are perfect for nearly stock cars.

DirtyBird222 UberDork
3/12/20 10:30 a.m.

Honda Fits of any generation all day, everyday for a 17 year old. Plenty of space to haul friends around in, frugal on the gas consumption, and easy on the pocketbook.

Some type of Hawk or StopTech Street/Track pad. I've had good luck with the StopTechs on my STI and S2000 for track and street use. 

Brake fluid other than just plain old DOT 3. 

Maybe a second set of wheels and tires for track day use. See Honda Fit again for being able to fit all that crap in the back of the car for a track day. 


ebonyandivory PowerDork
3/12/20 1:05 p.m.

In reply to DirtyBird222 :

Yeah, I know you mentioned "for a 17 year old" (because I used him in my post!) but I think that'd make perfect sense for his dad too (me).

Knurled. MegaDork
3/12/20 1:34 p.m.

In reply to DirtyBird222 :

Go on...

I had kind of a mind to do track days with the Volvo, but am a little leery of the possible effects on the wheel bearings and the cooling systems in general.

How well do Fit consumables hold up?

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