Modifying your car
This page will contain a bunch of content to guide the novice on upgrading their basic car all the way to the expert setting up their car for the track.
Basic car modification for the track
Please consider waiting until you've been out on the track a few times before you make any changes to your car. You may find that racing isn't for you, and it's better to figure that out before you've spent any time or money!
When you're ready - or if you prefer to throw advice to the wind - read on.
On sports cars the stock brakes are usually just fine for starting drivers education events. However, if your pads are worn then putting a new set of pads on won't hurt. We've seen worn stock pads shatter under heavy braking and it isn't pretty. Changing the pads to some form of high performance pad will likely give you three problems but will probably offer better braking performance and less fade than stock:
Brake fluid is another easy upgrade. Most people using ATE Gold brake fluid which is a high boiling point brake fluid. Your brakes will get hot whilst on the track. This heat is transferred to the brake fluid and raises its temperature. Brake fluid is rated with two boiling temperatures. Wet and dry. The dry boiling point is the boiling point when it arrives from the factory. There is no water mixed in, hence dry. Your brake fluid will absorb water once it's in the car. The longer it's in the car the more water it will absorb. The wet boiling point indicates the boiling temperature once at certain % of water is present. ATE brake fluid has much higher boiling points than stock fluid. If the brake fluid reaches boiling point then the brakes will start to become squishy and fade and won't stop the car as expected.
Switching the brake fluid should be done before every track event normally just to be on the safe side. Using an ATE fluid instead of stock doesn't cost a lot more.
Brakes are a weak point on most street racers. We've seen cars such as Nissan 350Z's brakes almost fail completely when pushed hard on the track. The problem is usually they just aren't designed for such a harsh environment. Brakes on sports cars such as Porsche or Ferrari etc usually hold up much better as a lot of attention has been given to their design for exactly this kind of environment, cooling, rotor diameter, etc.
Some people also switch to steel braided brake lines. The following article at StopTech explains the benefits of stainless steel lines versus OEM ones. However, unless you're already pretty fast, they likely won't make you any faster.
We don't recommend any changes for the first few drivers education sessions. Unless you've done racing on tracks in the past, the problem is likely not going to be the suspension of the car.
Here is a very good article explaining castor, toe in and camber.
Again, the stock tires are not likely to be a problem for beginners so we recommend sticking with stock tires. Tires will wear fast on the track. It's hard to say how long a set of tires will last if they are tracked but they will wear at an accelerated rate if used on the track. Make sure your tire pressures are consistent with the recommendations of the manufacturer and check the tire pressures after each session.
Stick with stock and make sure the lugs are at the correct torque settings after each run.
No modifications are needed as again, it's likely the driver that has all the issues. A lot of 'performance modifications' will also likely cause problems on the track unless they have been tested in a high performance rather than street environment. We've seen quite a few modded cars (turbos, super chargers, etc) fail during track days.
Intermediate car modification for the track
I guess here, arguably you're still likely to be the main issue with how fast you go but we'd only recommend modifications related to safety at this point. A roll bar, racing seats, a neck restraint and a 5/6pt harness should be top of your shopping list before you spend any money on the car. Once you're as safe as you can afford then we can worry about the car.
Non sports cars, i.e. street racers, a brake upgrade mightn't be a bad idea. The brakes are usually a weak point on these cars.
We reckon stick with non type R tires as long as possible. Type R tires (Michelin Sport Cups etc) are stickier but this extra grip can mask flaws in your driving and there will be flaws. Sticking with non R rubber means you'll get better faster as you're mistakes will be more obvious.
Stick with stock. A new set of rims with a track only set of street tires might be a good investment though. Or if you live in a snowy climate, put snow tires on your stock rims and buy some lightweight wheels for track/summer tires.
Stick with stock.
Advanced car modification for the track
At this point, you should be running in the faster groups of drivers when at these events. The skys the limit from a modification point of view. But, beware, once you start optimising a car for the track it becomes less and less of a daily driver. A good street car is not a good track car. Also, modifications that cannot be easily reversed can drop your resale value significantly so be careful, those modifications aren't just costing you money to put in, you may be losing resale dollars as well and may have to pay to reverse them when you want to sell the car.
A better route is likely to just buy a dedicated track car, it's a lot cheaper that way. A Porsche 944 track car new is about 50-60k. A really good used one is likely around 30k. Decent ones are from 12k up. A used Ferrari 348 challenge car is around 50k bucks also. Porsche 996 cup cars seem to be around 70k and up. This will give you a safer car and one where someone else has spent the money on modifications. The car will also probably blow away your normal car around a track even if it has less horse power and it'll be lighter and the suspension will be optimised for the track so it will corner a lot faster.