What to bring to track day

Track day supplies tend to follow a very predictable progression as a driver begins, and then plunges deeper and deeper into the hobby.

Most show up to their first track day with the very basics – helmet, maybe some driving gloves, extra oil and a tire pressure gauge if they’re ahead of the curve, and of course a GoPro to capture the driving excellence. (How else would one apply for a drive with Penske?) As needs are determined with more track days, the supply list grows. When supplies become numerous, a detailed vehicle packing protocol is developed, and then eventually nights are spent researching trailers. That’s when you know you’ve lost it.

But long before you’re addicted to high performance driving and pondering trailers like the rest of us, there are many basic items that will be of guaranteed utility for any track day, regardless of your experience level. In fact, if you show up for a track day without these supplies, you’ll probably regret it.

So here are the supplies we consider indispensable, and would highly recommend you put on your track day list, too.

(Spoiler alert: The GoPro didn’t make the list, but let’s be honest, you weren’t going to forget that anyway.)

Tire pressure gauge

Tire pressure rises and fluctuates during a track day more so than in any other driving environment. The difference between “cold” starting tire pressure, and “hot” pressure out on track can be 10 psi or more.

This means if you start your track session with tire pressure at or above OE specification, it’s probable that significant over-inflation will occur on track, and accelerated tire wear (damage) is likely. Not to mention, sub-optimum tire grip and performance.

If your tires are inflated to vehicle specification, initial tire pressure adjustment (before the first session) is required, and then tire pressure monitoring continues throughout the track day. To accomplish this, you’ll need a quality tire pressure gauge.

A tire gauge can keep your psi on track
A tire gauge can keep your psi on track

Tip: Check and adjust tire pressures immediately after your track sessions are complete until the optimum “hot” psi is dialed in.

Air compressor for tires (auxiliary powered)

Many tracks have air pumps on site, but some don’t. After adjusting tire pressure downward to hit the optimum psi during the track sessions, your tires will be low once the track day is complete and tires cool off. If travelling home on the same set of wheels and tires, you’ll need to re-adjust (inflate), or tire pressures could become hazardously low on the drive home.

This little monster hasn’t let us down yet.

Air compressor gets your pressure back to street level
Air compressor gets your pressure back to street level

Torque wrench for wheels

For peace of mind and safety, verify that your wheel lugs are torqued to spec.

Check initially before the first session, then at least one more time mid-way through the day when components are cool. (Don’t re-torque lugs immediately after a track session when wheel components are hot.)

Torque your lugs to spec
Torque your lugs to spec

Mechanics gloves, towels & rags

I almost always find some purpose for these items. Slight overflow of an engine reservoir, wiping some rubber marks off the windshield, etc. Grandma’s old dish towels do the trick, and let everyone in the paddock know that you bring both capability and style.

And if you need to get anywhere near hot components for some reason, mechanics gloves are must-have.

Comfy chair, umbrella

Yep. You’d be surprised how many tracks lack good places to just sit down. Shelter from sun and rain isn’t necessarily easy to come by either. And no, you won’t want to sit in your car between sessions.

In Florida I once saw a chair-less man sit down in a grassy area and promptly get attacked by a colony of fire ants. Don’t let that happen to you, bring a chair. (It looked like rapid vine growth up the body, by the way. Fascinating and terrifying. Luckily, he survived.)

Extra oil & coolant

Even if your vehicle doesn’t have a history of burning oil, the high engine loads experienced during a track day can put a dent in your oil level. Take an extra quart and keep an eye on your oil levels throughout the day.

Throw in some extra coolant too as a “just in case” precaution.

Painter’s tape

If vehicle paint protection is a concern, painter’s tape will help protect particularly prone areas, including headlights.

Tape protects your paint
Tape protects your paint

If you’re the OCD detailer type, take a couple of rolls. There’s no shortage of rubber, pebbles, and various debris on well-used race tracks and pit lanes.

If you’re not sure of all the areas where wheels tend to fling debris onto the body of your car, keep an eye out for the telltale rubber marks, then get to work frantically taping.

Rubber marks show where your car is vulnerable
Rubber marks show where your car is vulnerable

Tools

Hopefully your track day goes down without a mechanical hitch, but if not, a basic collection of tools might help you get back out on track, or safely home. Even if you don’t consider yourself the mechanical type, just about every track day includes helpful, mechanically inclined participants. Some high performance driving organizations even have mechanical support staff on site.

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Breaker bar
  • Allen wrenches
  • Torx key wrench set (especially for German makes)
  • Zip ties
  • Basic compact “home” tool kit that includes drivers, ratchet, socket, hammer, pliers, etc.
  • JackToolkit.jpg
  • Caption Jack toolkit just in case
  • Water & snacks
  • I take at least one gallon no matter the season, and more if it’s a hot day. Track driving is deceptively taxing, and dehydration can creep up on you.

Track days are full of distractions, but force yourself to drink water between sessions. Dehydration affects mental acuity. For safety and fun, you need to be at your sharpest when driving on track.

Change of clothes

Going to be driving in hot temperatures? You’ll make the trip home in your sweat-drenched, grimy track clothes only once. Learn from my mistake and skip that unpleasantness.

This reasonable collection of supplies should allow you to focus on the event, not what you’re missing. That’s key to maximizing the fun and enjoyment of any track.

Good luck getting underway with your performance driving hobby!

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