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If you’ve taken part in any activity, particularly if it includes an element of risk, you’ve almost certainly been asked to sign an indemnity form before you could take part.  So what were you signing and why?

Indemnity forms are the legal agreements by which an organisation clarifies its liability to a customer if something goes wrong during the associated activity.  Therefore, before you can take part in a track day, you will be required to sign an indemnity form that formalises the understanding between you and the track day organiser about the risks and consequences of taking part, and defines the limits of liability of the organiser.

So what’s on the track day form?

Our BHP TrackDays form is based on the standard indemnity developed by the ATDO for use by its members.  Certainly most ATDO member indemnity forms are likely to be very similar in content.

Firstly, participants, by signing the indemnity form, make a declaration that they understand that –

  • Track days are a form of motorsport and that all forms of motorsport can be hazardous activities.  By taking part the participant is voluntarily exposing him or herself to the risk of personal injury or damage and in extremis even death.
  • The insurance carried by the track day company or the circuit operator will be limited and unlikely to cover a participant for losses in the event of injury or damage howsoever caused unless shown to be as a result of negligence on the part of the organiser or operator.
  • Likewise normal road going car insurance will be invalid for track day activities.
  • Importantly, the track day activity is controlled by rules designed to minimise risk.  But any enforcement of the rules, by the very nature of the event in most cases can only be done in retrospect.  That is to say enforcement, except for a few exceptions, will be after an infringement has taken place (black flag).  The driver is therefore asked to acknowledge that he or she is entirely responsible for their conduct on the circuit and that if there is an accident because they infringed the rules then it’s their fault entirely.  The track day operator and the circuit operator of course both retain the right to exclude a participant if they infringe any of the rules or even otherwise appear to be driving dangerously and this is also covered on the form.

Secondly, participants must self-certify that they will comply with a number of important criteria –

  • At the start of activities sighting laps are offered to participants.  Drivers follow a pace car driven at modest speed along the “racing line” thus giving them an idea of the correct position of the car on the track as they travel around the circuit.  Of greater importance than this, sighting laps are intended to enable drivers to assess circuit conditions, identify the location of marshal’s posts which is where flag signals will be shown, traffic light locations, run-off areas, places of safety, and points of egress through crash barriers for drivers and passengers.    By signing the form, drivers acknowledge that they will use sighting laps to satisfy themselves of these things and that the venue is acceptable to them.  If they do not take part in the sighting laps then they acknowledge they will have satisfied themselves in another way before taking part.

Late arrivals at the circuit inevitably miss out on sighting laps.  If in doubt I would suggest you ask for an instructor to accompany you for the first few laps on the live circuit – we insist that this happens for inexperienced drivers arriving late.

  • Particularly on open pit lane track days there will be a mix of driver abilities and car performance on the circuit.  Drivers confirm that they are aware of this including the fact that some drivers will be undergoing driver training with an instructor.
  • Drivers and passengers must be healthy enough to take part and drivers certify that they will wear corrective lenses if necessary to ensure that their eyesight is adequate.  If they are taking any medication at all it must not impair their driving ability.
  • There is a zero alcohol policy – and that includes residual alcohol from the night before.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink the night before – just make sure you are fit to drive the following morning, and no alcohol to be consumed at the circuit.

  • Joining instructions and other information concerning the running of the day and the track day rules in force will have been sent to participants before the event; usually by email.  On the day a safety briefing will be given to all drivers to reiterate the rules and give any additional information of relevance for that particular day.  Drivers declare that they will comply with all of these rules and any supplementary information given.
  • Drivers will also confirm they are competent to take part.  The holding of a full UK driving licence or equivalent is generally recognised as constituting a minimum level of competence.  In essence the holder of such a licence has basic car control skills, can drive a car on the road legally, use the gears and brakes, knows how to use the mirrors and when, can signal intentions to manoeuvre and has an awareness of other cars around him or her travelling at different speeds.

This does not imply the ability to drive well on-circuit.  If you are new to track days I can’t emphasise enough the value in getting some qualified instruction (possibly better called driver training).

  • Track day operators do not normally subject cars to mechanical inspection to confirm they are in a suitable mechanical condition to go on-circuit.  The driver, even if it’s not his or her car, is responsible for this and confirms this on the indemnity form.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the signing of the indemnity form may restrict your ability to claim against other participants for damages.  Track days, historically have always been run on the understanding that it’s knock for knock and I hope they continue to do so, but please bear in mind that although the form may restrict what you can and can’t claim for, negligence leading to injury or death most likely would not be one of the exclusions.

I hope you found this short article useful.  Please note that it’s not a legal review, just the personal observations of this track day operator.