Get Out on Track: SCCA’s Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack
Going to a High Performance Driving Event (HPDE) or “Track Day” sure sounds like a lot of fun, but it also seems a bit intimidating and demanding, doesn’t it? First of all, you’ve got to commit to almost an entire weekend, between leaving early for the track, setting up, waiting around for your driving session, actually driving, and then the journey home. Plus you’ve got all those hardcore guys talking about suspension setups, lap times, and apexes. And what if you’re slow?
Well, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has fixed all that with their new Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack program. Track Night is aimed at getting anybody and everybody out on a real race track. Unlike Time Trials or HPDEs, the focus of a Track Night isn’t about lap times. It’s about having fun—safely—on a race track with your car. Everything about Track Night is geared towards accessibility. Instead of taking an entire Saturday, Sunday, or weekend, Track Nights occur on weekday nights from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM. So you can work through lunch or maybe take a couple hours off to have some fun with your car instead of committing to an entire weekend. And the events are open to anyone, not just SCCA members.
We’ve been hearing a lot about Track Nights and how wildly fun, popular, and successful they’ve been (think “Paint Nite” for gearheads!), so I recently took Project Mustang to a Track Night held at the newly-renovated Pittsburgh International Race Complex (formerly Beave Run).
Registering for the event is easy; you simply sign up on SCCA’s Track Night website, www.tracknightinamerica.com. Their site is packed full of info on what to expect, what to bring, and what to do. They even have online drivers’ meetings for more experienced drivers running in the Intermediate and Advanced run groups, to save you time and get you out on the track that much quicker. Since I spend most of my time dodging cones in parking lots, I signed up for the Novice group.
SCCA’s aim to make Track Nights super-accessible starts with their website. They even have a list of things to bring to the event. Registration is about as easy as can be, and consists of putting your contact info, vehicle type, and payment info in. SCCA even has the option to purchase a helmet at a big discount as part of the registration! Did I mention how inexpensive SCCA has managed to make Track Nights? All the events are only $150 (or less), and get you an entire hour of track time!
I got to Pitt Race right at 3:00, signed in at the gate, and was directed to the Novice paddock area. Once there, I was directed into a nearby garage to complete my registration and perform a tech inspection. In the interest of saving time and getting participants out on track sooner, the tech inspection was actually a checklist that each driver performed himself and then signed off on.