Calendar 2019 – Castle Combe
Noise limit: 100dBA static noise test
Note that track days take place on Mondays except as noted above.
You may recall some time back that the EU were considering requiring all motorised vehicles to carry 3rd party insurance even if they were never used on the road. This followed on from a legal case involving a man injured when a ladder he was working on was struck by a tractor and trailer. Insurers refused to cover the claim because the accident was on private property and the vehicle being used was classed as an agricultural machine. You can read more about it by Googling “The Vnuk Judgment”.
Well, the Department for Transport has been considering a new EU Directive, driven by this judgment, that would require all “vehicles” including mobility scooters, golf buggies, ride on lawn mowers, and potentially vehicles off road under a SORN to carry full insurance. They issued a consultation document on Tuesday and have expressed concerns about reforms and all the cost implications. The consultation runs until March next year and the documents can be viewed by clicking on this link – Vnuk Judgment .
The DfT said it would have to abide by the new rules until the UK leaves the EU. That would probably mean until 2019. Apparently, some vehicles that might have to come under the new legislation would include electric pedal cycles, Segways, ride-on lawnmowers, mobility scooters, golf buggies, ride-on children’s toys, and motor sports vehicles. The latter would of course include all track day cars.
In a letter, today to the Times, Steve Kenward (CEO of the Motor Cycle Industry Association) and Chris Aylett (CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association) have strongly criticised the “ill-considered” EU directive. The issue is that the change in the law would mean that 3rd party insurance would be compulsory for all vehicles involved in motor sport, and that would include all our track day cars. The insurance would be additional to any cover provided for the road, and the bottom line is that insurers have already made it clear that third party risks for motor sport activities are uninsurable.
To quote from the letter to the Times, “Implementing the ruling would, at a stroke, wipe out legal motor sport activity.” And of course that would include track days.
22 December 2016
A customer had a fairly heavy “off” at Castle Combe last Saturday. The car became unsettled as it crested Avon Rise, ended up sideways and careered at high speed head-on into the Armco on the outside of the circuit. The car rebounded violently and the front passenger seat broke free of its floor mounts leaving the passenger to be thrown around inside the car. His helmet made heavy contact with the unpadded roll cage directly behind him.
What this highlighted to me was that even though a safety cage may be well out of the normal contact zone, other factors like the seat coming free from its mountings, or the car body distorting significantly, can result in the occupants of the car getting fairly rough treatment, bruising, cuts or worse from contact with things like the cage and any other potentially damaging items in the car.
I think the message is clear.
- If you have a roll cage then fit it with roll cage padding.
- If you stripped the inside of the car to reduce weight, cover all the welded seams and other sharp edges with padding. You might also consider sheet padding material for hard surfaces in the cockpit area.
- If you’ve taken out the door linings fit padding to the side intrusion tubing.
Demon Tweeks stocks suitable roll cage and sheet padding here – Demon Tweeks .
I also came across this site that looks like it caters for all needs – Safety Devices .
Googling “Roll cage padding” throws up a whole heap of other suppliers. Now that the 2015 is getting well underway why not get out there and cover that bare metal now. It’s lightweight, easy to fit and pretty cheap so well worth it.
As an aside, if you are also looking for track training you might find an instructor reluctant to ride with you if the car is all bare metal and sharp edges.
I feel sure that one of the first jobs you will want to complete on your track day car is upgrade the road-going brake pads for a higher performance type. The choice of competition brake pads is huge and I’ll leave any discussion on that, including other subjects, to future articles because it’s such a big subject with so many variables. However, one important task, once you’ve decided on an upgrade, is to bed the new pads to the discs properly.
This article outlines typically what’s required, but always check the manufacturer’s information for any specific recommendations as well.
Preliminary Jobs First
Before fitting new pads you might like to check out the condition of the rest of the braking system first. Use a proprietary brake cleaning spray to clean off accumulated brake dust and ensure that the brake callipers are working properly.
Some manufacturers require you to fit new discs if the previously used brake pads were of different material to the new ones. This is because the efficiency of their pad material can be compromised by incompatible pad material on the surface of the used disc. Check the manufacturer’s literature before you start. Some manufacturers also advise against the use of pre-bedded discs.
If you are able to use the old discs but they are badly scored or showing significant wear ridges near their service limit it’ll be worthwhile replacing these anyway, but some wear in the discs can often be preferable to a brand new disc surface. Again a check with the manufacturer will clarify the situation for you.
If you do fit new discs they may need bedding first using a different technique before you fit the new pads. I’ve covered this below.
Change the brake fluid if this hasn’t been done recently and perhaps upgrade to a higher performance Dot 5 fluid, but check that your system is compatible first. Not all braking systems are suitable for Dot 5 fluid if it is silicone based.
Competition cars and advanced driver pure track cars only: Before bedding new pads on old discs you can consider chamfering the edges of the pad at an angle of about 45 degrees so that the pad material is clear of the wear ridges on the non-braking surfaces of the disc.
Why do the discs need bedding?
All discs, whether for road, track day or competition use need to be bedded in to stress relieve the castings. You can purchase discs that have already been pre-bedded, but if this is not done and then if the discs aren’t bedded there is a risk that cracks develop in the disc or even of disc failure resulting in wheel lock-up with all the consequences that might lead into. Check with the brake pad manufacturer’s instructions first about the use of pre-bedded discs as mentioned above.
Disc bedding procedure
Many track day cars are also road legal, so it’s possible to bed the discs on the road, or to start the process on the road and complete it on the track. If the car is a pure track day car then everything is carried out on-circuit and the process on-track is very similar to bedding competition discs.
It’s preferable to use serviceable but used brake pads for this process, but do check about pad compatibility issues first and make sure that any deposited material from the “bedding” pads will not compromise the efficiency of the new pads. On the road for the first 5 – 10 miles try to carry out repeat gentle braking from around 60 mph down to around 30 mph having due regard for other road users, speed limits and the law. Try to do multiple braking applications in succession. Groups of 5 with a gap is generally considered an ideal.
Over the next 100 – 150 miles or so avoid abrupt full stops where possible, but gradually increase braking pressure from the normal braking you would apply in moving traffic up to maximum braking effort by the time you have completed the full distance. During the process, if you examine the discs you may see, depending on the materials, a gradual transition in colour across the disc until it is a uniform light blue tempered colour.
On-circuit it’s all very much easier. Over the first 5 – 10 miles (3 – 6 laps of Castle Combe Circuit) from an initial low speed with light application of the brakes gradually increase speed to full track speed but continuing to only apply a light braking application. That is, apply light braking over a longer than normal distance. Complete the bedding process over a final lap with moderately heavy application of the brakes.
You should then complete a cool down lap trying to avoid using the brakes and return to the paddock.
Again the colour transition should be observable, and for increased sophistication, you could apply thermal paint to the outside rim of the disc to confirm that sufficient temperature had been achieved for the process in the range 400 – 500C.
Note: When you are back to the paddock do not put on the handbrake or sit with your foot on the brake with the car stationary. This can lead to warped discs caused by the uneven cooling where the hot pad is in contact with the hot disc.
Why do the pads need to be bedded?
Particularly if you are bedding new pads to old discs, full contact of the pad surface with the disc won’t be achieved until the new pad conforms to the contours of the worn disc surface.
The new pads are likely to have various volatile chemicals embedded in them left over from the manufacturing process. It’s necessary to boil or burn these off in a controlled manner before the brakes can be used to maximum efficiency. If the brakes are used too hard initially, the very rapid boiling off of these volatile substances can cause the brake pad surface to crack and break up, sometimes catastrophically. Also too hard application immediately can cause these residual resins etc to glaze on the pad and disc surfaces leading to poor performance and brake shudder.
The materials of the pad will have some compressibility when new and the aim should be to stabilise this so that consistent braking and a firm pedal results.
Lastly properly bedded pads will give improved braking performance and last longer.
The initial bedding process
The idea is to get some initial heat into the pads. Approximately 4 – 6 retardations using a moderate brake pressure from a speed of about 90 mph down to around 50 mph should be about right, accelerating back to 90 mph and allowing around 400 yds or so between each brake application.
The idea is to get heat into the brakes without exceeding around 400C. Difficult to judge without fancy equipment or the application of thermal paint to the discs, but following the above procedure should be fine for most applications.
Don’t be tempted to use higher speeds at this stage because the energy being dissipated in the brakes increases exponentially with speed.
It’s also important not to brake and apply power at the same time (dragging the brakes), so no left foot braking for example.
The high speed bedding process
Immediately after the initial bedding process is complete apply medium to high pedal pressure and brake from around 100 mph (some sources recommend 110 mph) to around 50 mph. Do not lock the wheels or induce the ABS, if fitted, to operate.
Regain speed and allow around 4 or 5 light pedal pressure recovery braking periods, then repeat the high speed, high pedal pressure braking allowing a minimum of 500 yds between the high speed braking points.
Repeat this process another 4 or 5 times.
It may be that after the initial and high speed processes the brake pad bedding is not complete ie the full pad surface is not yet in contact with the disc and pad material has not transferred to the disc. If this is the case repeat the whole process from the initial bedding process.
The distance between corners and thus braking points on most racing circuits will naturally allow the above procedures to be carried out without causing any significant inconvenience to other circuit users if a bit of common sense is applied.
Track day cars – good practice for each session once brakes are bedded and in use
On entering the circuit, the brakes (and the tyres for that matter) are cold and need to be brought to their operating temperature such that good brake performance is achieved and warping of the discs is avoided. At the same time as you are increasing speed and warming the tyres, bring the brakes up to temperature by gradually increasing the brake application pressure over at least one lap.
Before leaving the circuit, likewise allow the braking system at least one cooling down lap with minimal or zero braking as far as possible.
When you get back to your spot in the paddock, don’t sit with your foot on the brake or you’ll likely warp the discs.
Similarly don’t apply the handbrake – some handbrake systems work on the rear pads leading again to warped discs.
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.
An exciting development in motor sport starting in September this year.
Have you been following the press releases about the new Formula E series? This new all electric race series kicks off this year with pre-season testing in July at Donington Park race circuit. The inaugural series takes place over a total of 10 rounds and they are all staged in major cities around the world, kicking off in Beijing on 13th September. All 10 rounds will be street races, and the whole event; practice, qualifying and the race itself will be completed on the same day in order to minimise disruption in the cities involved, and to keep costs down. The final round will be in London on 27 June 2015.
This is without any doubt going to be an exciting race series to watch from a number of aspects. Concerning the cars and drivers, the formula has been designed with plenty of overtaking possible so plenty of action. Concerning the technology, generally what develops in racing eventually finds its way into road cars. Power trains, energy recovery, and battery technology are sure to be candidates in this respect, and I would hope that a truly viable electric road car may soon be able to benefit from developments in electric racing technology. One only has to look at ABS, traction control, electronic stability programmes, lubricant technology, suspensions systems …. the list goes on, to see that this spin off must happen if this race series is successful.
The Formula-E website is here and has full details of the specifications, race venues etc.
For the inaugural season, all teams will be using the same base car. It’s the Spark-Renault SRT_01E and you can view photographs of it here together with more facts and figures. The car is built by French company, Spark Racing Technology with components provided by a consortium of manufacturers including chassis by Dallara, drive train and electronics by McLaren, and batteries by Williams F1. For future seasons, the teams will be able to develop their own cars and technologies within the FIA specifications.
The drive train is limited to a maximum of 200kW/270hp. The full amount is available for practice and qualifying, but the output is limited to 133kW/180hp during the race, except for a limited number of short time boosts to full output to facilitate overtaking. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but full torque is available to the driver from standstill to full speed.
Each team has two drivers and a total of 4 cars; two per driver.
Drivers get a one hour practice session and can use both cars if they wish. Practice is followed by a 90 minute qualifying session with drivers going out in groups of 5 cars. Only one car is available to each driver during qualifying. The fastest driver in qualifying gets 3 points. Full power of 200kW is available for both practice and qualifying.
The race is run for approximately one hour. Drivers must make a mandatory pit stop and change cars. Power output is limited to 133kW, but the boost button is enabled to provide short burst of full power of 200kW.
Points are awarded per the FIA points system, but the driver posting the fastest lap during the race is awarded an additional 2 points.
UK – Virgin Racing, Drayson Racing
USA – Andretti Autosport, Dragon Racing
China – China Racing
France – e.dams
Japan – Super Aguri
Germany – Audi Sport ABT
India – Mahindra Racing
Monaco – Venturi Grand Prix
As of the date of this blog, only 2 drivers have been signed so far. Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt for the Audi Sport Abt team.