Welcome aboard, my brothers!
Typical requirements are
-Snell 95 or SA2000 helmet. Open or closed faced.
-A safe vehicle, determined either on your own, or in some cases by a technician. In either case you will have a checklist that is completed and approved on track day by officials.
-For SCDA a long sleeve shirt is in order. They did nix that on very hot days in the summer.
-Money and time off.
-If you have a harness and are a novice it is nice to have one for your instructor.
-A willingness to push your car and yourself further than you've legally pushed before.
You will ABSOLUTELY love driving your MINI on a road course! It's what the MINI was meant to do!
By joining the BMWCCA, you've accessed all the driving schools hosted by the chapters nationwide, generally at a discounted price. If a member of the White Mountain chapter, for instance, you can participate in not only the schools the chapter hosts at NHIS (Loudon) but also the ones hosted by other chapters (Boston, for instance, hosts days at Lime Rock).
Some organizations or businesses, such as but not necessarily only the SCDA, enable drivers to take a school without any prior instruction. BWMCCA chapters require the "Car Control Clinic" first. White Mountain's clinic includes a half day of wet skid pad work (circles and figure 8's, both directions, using the ebrake to induce understeer); a half day of accident avoidance (quick acceleration and hard braking, as if you had to change lanes quickly on the interstate or swerve to avoid a bouncing ball chased by a child) and, the ultimate, IMHO, an autocross at the end that pulls everything together. The best $85 bucks you'll ever spend on your MINI!
(Side note: The Clinic is great for ANY driver of ANY age . . . the skills you learn were not taught in HS drivers' ed!)
With the Clinic under your belt, you can sign up for the schools. I took the Clinic in October 03 and then did 4 track days at NHIS this year. Each time except the last, I had an instructor in the passenger seat for every run. With a headset that you stick up under the helmet, you and the instructor talk through the course. Myself, I let a couple of instructors drive a few laps of the first run. It's a great way to see how the course can be driven by someone who knows what he/she is doing. (Plus, most instructors haven't driven a MINI and they get a big kick out of what it can do on a road course.)
The White Mountain Chapter days consist of 4 runs of 20 minutes each, 2 classroom sessions of 20 minutes each and a "flagging" session of about an hour to an hour and a quarter. (The latter is what sets SCDA and others apart ~ they hire flaggers, contributing to the higher cost, I presume.) Each experience is an incredible learning opportunity: You and your MINI going real fast in a reasonably safe environment; classroom instruction amplifying and explaining what you're sensing on the track; and corner work where you can see how everyone from rookies to instructors with years of racing experience tackle the corners.
Spend some time this winter looking for the helmet. I bought mine from HMS (Andover MA) just a couple of days before the first event. Perfectly fine helmet, but I might have found a better deal if I'd checked around more.
P.S. ~ I had an instructor in every run this year except the last. I was "signed off" to solo . . . What an absolute blast! Trying to pull it all together, remembering all the advice, experiencing the acceleration and hard braking, trying, trying, trying to find and follow the best line through each curve.
The run was thrilling until I ran out of gas with about 2 minutes left! I coasted down pit row, a bit sheepishly, yes, but I couldn't wipe the grin off my face, the run was that good!
BTW, I found another driver in the garage with some spare gas, which he gave to me, and stopped at the gas station on the way home. As he said to me when refusing payment, "I know you'll be there if I need help some day." And I will.
onasled, aren't you at newyorkmini.org? Or maybe I've seen you on NAM....Anyway, CCM (Cape Cod MINI) gave you a link to some of the threads of some of the track days that have been done by local message board participants.
I recently joined the BMWCCA and was assigned to my local chapter. I have yet to do a HPDE (High Performance Driver's Ed) with them. However, I have done 19 track days with 6 different groups. I sometimes came across and/or was instructed by instructors who also instructed for their own BMWCCA region as well as that of whichever club's event I was attending. I have met some of the Boston and White Mountain chapter instructors (among others) while they were instructing for SCDA at New Hampshire International Speedway(NHIS). They were all excellent. BMWCCAs in general, have an excellent reputation for their HPDEs.
CCM gave a couple of groups that I second. SCDA, www.scda1.com is excellent. I ran one event with COMSCC at the end of the season and was impressed with their organization, as well. Most of the participants had excellent track manners. I would definitely run with them again. www.comscc.org
Another excellent group is NASA-VA. Very consistent and high quality instruction on track and in the classroom. www.nasaracing.net I've done Summit Point and VIR with them.
If you've never done any "performance" driving in the past, I wouldn't worry about doing anything to your car. Learn the car as it is. Then you can make changes. Many, myself included, have even done a number of track days on run-flats. In the beginning it doesn't matter as much.
A helmet, as mentioned, would be about the only thing required. Snell M or SA 95 is usually what's required. If you're buying new, you'll end up with a Snell 2000. Helmets fit differently, just like shoes, so I'd try to get an opportunity to try some on before purchasing. I purchased mine at the pro shop at Lime Rock. I later looked online and may have been able to save $50, but at least I had help in getting the right fit.
Every event that I've been to except one, I already knew that there was going to be at least one of my MINI buddies in attendance. A couple of events that I attended last spring and summer, we had close to 20 MINIs, many of the drivers already knew each other. We've been having a blast.
We've shared food, beverages, rooms, tarps, shelters, tools and lots of laughs! CCM let me use his wheels one time (he was on dedicated track tires). I've given away an extra set of partially used front brake pads so that someone could get home. It all works out, like the fellow with the gasoline explained.
You'll have a blast, hope to see you out there next year!!
Thanks guys! Now you have me real excited about this. I was actually looking on the internet today to see what's out there these days with helmets. Think I'll stick with Simpson as I used to motoX with one, way back in the olden days.
I hope you all will keep posting here and help keep me updated on when the '04-05 schedules come out.
Yes, having to work the flagging stations with the BMWCCA helps to keep costs down. Though I think that some tracks require professional flaggers as part of the track rental contract. I've never flagged, but I understand that it is a great learning experience.
Hey onasled, in what part of NE CT are you located? I spend a lot of time in the casino area.
How far you both have progressed in the last 18 months!
'Ive never run at a COMSCC event but have watched them a few times. They were at NHIS today. Inexpensive entry fee ($150 I think) but there were a lot of cars; I'd bet most groups only got 3 runs. Hordes of Spec Miatas and a wide mix of other marques. Looked like there were SCCA or other quasi-paid / professional track workers, so drivers did not have to stand out in the cold flagging, at least.