Track days are unique in that they have their own set of rules and regulations, which are completely different from any other form of Motorsport or on-track activity, so we thought we’d write a quick post about track day etiquette and in-particular the rules around overtaking.
A track day is a bit of a balancing act, while we want the day to be as enjoyable as possible with as few restrictions as possible we also need to ensure it’s as safe as possible and to do that a few rules are required. The other thing to remember is that a track day is not a race, it’s not a qualifying session, it’s not a time trial and there are no winners or losers. A track day is an opportunity for everyone to drive their car on track and enjoy the experience in a safe environment without breaking any laws.
Some of the issues arise because by the very name and nature of driving on a race track, some drivers find it hard to comprehend that a track day is not a race, or that you don’t have to be flat out 100% of the time! and we get it, we really do! But if you want to race you need to go and get your race licence – we can help you with that too if you like!
Why do we need overtaking rules:
For safety, plain and simple. We’ll come back to racing again for minute to illustrate this point. In a race everybody is out to win, they’re there to go 100% flat out as fast as they can to cross the finish line ahead of everyone else and they’re willing to put quite a lot on the line to do that, sometimes their car or even their own safety, but they’re fully aware of that and accept all of the risks that come with it.
This is everything a track day is not! Some people come along to a track day with their brand new supercar because they can’t use it’s performance on the open road, some people come along in the car they commute to work in, some people come in classic cars or weekend cars, their pride and joy, some come to test out a new race or rally car, some come to try driving on track for the very first time and all of these people have to co-exist on the same track at the same time and because you have such a wide variety of ability, experience and machinery it’s essential that we have some rules in place and it’s essential that you, the drivers stick to them.
In a race it’s up to the car behind to get past the car in front. At a track day it’s completely the opposite. If a faster car comes up behind a slower car it is the job of the slower car in front to let the faster car past. As a rule of thumb, if a car is behind you for 3 or 4 corners, he’s quicker and you need to let him past. This means you need to keep a very close eye on your mirrors and be fully aware of what’s around you at all times. For newcomers in particular this can be quite difficult as they are generally focusing extremely hard on the road ahead.
Overtaking on the straights:
At Trackdays.ie events we only allow overtaking on the straights. Not in the corners and not in the braking zones.
Overtaking on the left.
At Mondello Park and most circuits which run in a clockwise direction, overtaking at track days is only allowed on the left hand side.
OK But Why?
Only allowing overtaking on the left makes it safer for everyone and brings consistency, it makes it easier for newcomers and slower cars so that they’re not being passed on all sides which limits the chance of a collision. Only allowing passing on the straights limits the chance of cars turning in when they haven’t seen each other in the corners, again limiting the chance of a collision.
Coming back to racing yet again, the most common move to pass another car is to be later on the brakes and to take a dive up the inside of the corner. A lot of the time this works, but sometimes it doesn’t and the car that took the dive up this inside locks up and runs wide into the car he’s trying to pass on his outside. The track day rules are designed to prevent all of this happening. On a clockwise circuit where most of the bends are right-handers at least if you stick to the ‘pass on the left’ rule and you do lock up coming into a corner you’ll just end up in the gravel and won’t wipe anyone out in the process!
The video clip below from a track day we were at recently is a good illustration of the type of driving that annoys fellow track-dayer’s and breaks the rules of most track days. The car we’re riding on-board with is following the rules and overtakes the slower car on the left hand side on the straight. The Fiesta, having being passed leaves his braking to the last minute and dives back up the inside. This puts both cars at much greater risk of making contact and is annoying for the driver of the quicker car who now has to sit behind until the next straight. If this continues to happen it’s easy to see why the driver of the quicker car might ignore the rules himself and pass on any side at the next opportunity.
Whilst we completely understand the frustration, what we’d ask you to do is not take the rules into your own hands but rather back right off, let the car go, give yourself space and don’t get into a spat. If you like, report the car breaking the rules to the control tower or any of the Trackdays.ie team and we will keep an eye on them and have a word if necessary.
The main thing to take away is that if you keep a close eye on your mirrors, get out of the way of faster cars and remember you’re not taking part in a race, all of the stuff we’ve mentioned above shouldn’t be an issue. By not holding up a faster car, they should have no reason to pass on the wrong side or in the corners. If you hold up a faster car you will more than likely frustrate them into breaking the rules.
People driving the faster cars need to remember that the slower guys have just as much right to be there as they do and as such need to exercise patience if they are being held up a little and wait for the straights to get past.
Basically what it boils down to is a bit of common sense and courtesy to your fellow track-dayer’s!
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