Project Racer – Part 4: Hotlapping For Beginners


To get a better feel for the course, some people prefer to “walk the course” at a road racing event, but unlike auto crossing, it will be difficult and time consuming to walk a 2-3 mile course to learn the turns. Driving Concepts suggests bringing a bicycle or a scooter to the track. If you arrive when the gates open, the track officials will usually let you take your bicycle around the track in the morning – if you ask nicely.  Maps of the course are usually available at the registration desk or online at the respective track’s website such as Willow Springs Raceway’s Big Willow map.

7:45 AM SHARP!

The HPDE 1 driver’s meeting holds invaluable information that teaches you what you need to know to survive on the racetrack. They will also teach you the very basic line to drive, and proper HPDE passing etiquette. If you have never learned a line before, your instructor will teach you, or the officials will show you in the drivers meeting. In this run group, passing is limited, and it is important to learn what all of the flags mean.

Flag Guide

After your initial drivers meeting, you are allowed to go back to your car to prep it for the track. Hopefully, you pit your car on a level surface as mentioned in the previous article. Try to make it a habit to park in the same exact spot. Parking your car in one consistent place will help better indicate to you whether your car is leaking any fluids.

Flag Guide

As with any track event, you have to remember to adjust your tires pressure accordingly.  Remember that tire pressure is essential for optimal handling and safety, since they are the only part of the vehicle making contact with the road surface. All the suspension modifications in the world can’t save you if your tires are bald, over inflated, or flat.  Incorrect tire pressure can cause a tire to come off the rim, chunk and/or suffer from tread separation. So critical is having the proper tire pressure for safety at speed, we’ll devote our next article on how to correctly set pressure for your car for optimal handling and safety.

Tire Pressures are Crucial


Let’s get back to what will happen to you when you’re up for your session. You will usually hear an announcement calling your run group to pre-grid. If not, check your schedule. You should be lined up for pre-grid about 15 minutes before your scheduled run time.  HPDE 1 and HPDE 2 usually run at the same time. The only difference between the two is that HPDE 2 allows drivers to run without an instructor. When at pre-grid, HPDE 1 and HPDE 2 are split into 2 lines. Make sure you are in the correct line. If you are in an HPDE 1 line, an instructor will automatically come to your vehicle. If not, ask an official to provide you with one.

When you’re lining up at pre-grid, there is an official with a whistle. This official will blow the whistle when the time to run is drawing near, usually at 5 minutes, and every minute thereafter until the 1-minute whistle. He will also raise his hand up signaling the number of minutes remaining until your run group is up. As a courtesy to those behind you in line, you should also raise your hand with the number of minutes remaining. This is to notify others who are too far back in the line to see the hand of the official. This is good practice, because the person in the back of the line may be you.

On Pre-Grid


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