By Gil Winningham – QuickTrick Media Manager & Amateur Racer
In 2016, I started to attend more grassroots motorsports events on behalf of QuickTrick. This started with the GridLife Track Battle series. Though we’ve been running our 2003 Honda Accord with GridLife, and a couple other organizations (NASA, SCCA, FM3). We’re starting anew with a 1998 Honda Civic. Before we get to that, I would like to preface this series with past experience, and knowledge from our travels over the last few years.
My motorsports journey began not too long ago, with Lucky Dog Racing League at Portland International Raceway in 2017. Now, I would not advise stepping on track for the first time in a wheel to wheel race, though I was not turning down the opportunity to get behind the wheel of Erik Torgeson’ s EF Honda Civic. Prior to this, I popped into a few drivers’ meetings while partnered with GridLife and started to investigate driving on track. The flags, the procedures, what you may need, so I was aware of what needed to be done before I took the wheel and pulled out of pits for the first time. Being that I was driving someone else’s car for the first time, I didn’t have to worry about prepping the car, so we’ll start with the gear.
Every motorsports organization will require a certain level of safety gear, most times this will include a SA2015 helmet, pants, and closed toe shoes. Some may opt to purchase an open face helmet; I would recommend a closed face helmet. Debris, rain, bugs and other flying objects become quite painful while traveling 60 mph and over for an extended amount of time. The last thing you need is to be itching at your eye as you enter a turn. Things change drastically when you’re planning to get into a car with a cage. You’ll need to be dressed head to toe in fire-retardant gear. I hesitate to say “fireproof” because this gear will just slow the act of the fire burning your skin. To add on to the helmet, you will need a multi-layer suit, under-garments, gloves, socks, and some of those fancy driving shoes. These items can be found at reasonable costs through many different sources and should be easy to find. Make sure to check with your event organizer to confirm you’re getting the correct safety equipment.
While driver equipment, and safety is key. You’ll want to leave the ego at the door.
You will be slow your first few times out, there is no changing this. Very few of us will hop in a car for the first time and have it on the limit within a few minutes. Keep your head up and pay attention to who’s behind you on the straights. This isn’t a game of move out of the lane, you’ll want to stay where you are, and let the faster car by. Occasionally this will need to be done by lifting off the throttle for a few seconds. Those Miata’s may not have the power, but they’ll catch you by maintaining speed through the corners. Typically, we would make a big stink about the flags, but we’ll leave this helpful picture here for those who don’t know.
Now that you’re aware of the flags, got your equipment, and know that you’re not Niki Lauda (if you know who that is at all). We can go over the checks you should be doing on your car before hitting the track in the next blog. On a parting note, this is a prime example on why you don’t skimp on safety gear! WARNING it is painful to watch. Just click the play icon.
The guilty party seen here (Don’t skimp)
We’ll see you next time with some of the journey and what’s to come. In the meantime, if you have a story to share on safety, email us and we will add it to this post.
Hit me up here: firstname.lastname@example.org