If you have friends in the Lexus or Porsche Club, better be nice to them, because they have track days at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca every year
(jk jk). That was how we got invited, by a friend who was in the Porsche Club which happened to have open slots for their track day.
Invitation was the happy part of this news, trying to make me go with him probably was his most daunting task ever. He somehow managed to put me in a good mood that day, then finally at night he asked in his most magnetic voice ever if I want to come to a track day. I have no idea what he was asking me, and just said “Yes.” Immediately after my answer, he jumped to his chair, quickly got on his computer, and began typing the good news to his buddies….Our first time going to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a track day was happening, and suddenly I felt like “O~oh, what did I sign up for?”
Track days are not free (I wish…), admission fee depends on 1. How the club divides up the cost. or 2. How many people joined for that weekend’s activity. Usually the more people join, the lower the price. We decided to not eat out for a month, pulled our car into a shop to make sure it is in good standing condition, then began our journey to Monterey. Oh, we also thought we will be fine doing a same day round trip from San Francisco area to Monterey
(hohoho, we’ll see how that went).
We came at the tender 6:30am, when the sun is barely looking out from the clouds. Honestly with my half sleepy eyes and a brain feeling half drained, I kept asking myself why did I sign up to torture my soul. At the gate we signed our life away, got a wrist band so police won’t arrest us for trespassing, and upon arrival, we saw lines of cars with trailers already there at the paddock area.
First Step – Not knowing if people are nice, mean, or snobbish, we took a deep breath in our seats before opening the door. The first sign that we are still tracking noobs showed as soon as we realized we did not have any tapes to number our car with. We talked to the guy next to us with the modified Honda Civic Si (& carbon fiber hood), and there the conversation goes on. “Okay, this is not bad as we thought” we looked at each other with some comfort.
Live Show – Walking around the paddock area was like visiting a museum of current sports cars. People gathered here and there, woo and aaahs on particular automobiles, clicking and shuttering sounds came from all cameras, and all eyes were on the cars. For me, seeing the cars is like seeing some artwork, I definitely appreciate cars designed with a soul and good technology.
Then the bell rang, signifying the first meeting of the day was about to happen. Everyone gathered in front of the staff, and listened to the announcement. Things like classroom sessions, tech inspection, instructor sit ins, are some of what one will experience at the track day. While he went on the track to have fun, I became the camera-woman…..walking around aimlessly for hours, trying to find a good spot. Thought I will be hiking around all day alone without someone to rant to, but my loneliness did not last!
Friendship Happens – A lady in her 50s deliberately started walking with me. She was also trying to find a good spot to take photos for her husband. “We have been going to different tracking events for years now” she said “If its a two day event, usually I get to drive the car on the track first on Saturday, and then Sunday he gets to have the fun. It’s things like that we really enjoy as family.” My eyes widened “You mean you bring your kids too? “ I asked, since my initial perception of a track day consists of a bunch brash, young lads, coming with their best cars and showing off their skills on the track. “Yes, we use to bring our kids when they were little. We would camp overnight in some cases, and enjoy the early mornings cooking breakfast outdoors” she smiled while looking ahead with glittering eyes.
At that point, I knew track days has changed its meaning in my heart. It is not only a place for people to do something they love together, it is also a part of some families’ tradition: A lifestyle, a passion, and a culture in our society.
*(Oh, after a whole day driving since 5am, it was a rather painful trip returning home…on and off muscle spasms with busted tires and squeaky brake, we thought we would never make it. Take it from the former noobs, either let the other person drive home, or book a nice, clean hotel room for the night)
For people who likes driving, track days are worth it! You get to drive on the track you always dream about, you get to see cars that you drool about in your fantasy, you meet people with the same interest, and you even make new friends. If you consider to being your significant other or family along, make sure you treat them to a nice dinner at the end of the day!
Basic Packing List for Track Day
- Bottles of Water/in a Cooler
- Folding Chair
- Spare Tires (and any tools you’ll need)
- Driving Shoes
- Change of Clothes (it gets hot out here during summer!)
- And last but not least, a smile.
How was your first track day like? Anything you would like to add on to the packing list?