I finally made it to a track this weekend., and had an amazing time! Â There are a bunch of things I learned in general about track racing through this experience, as far as logistics of how to actually do it.
- Tracks rent out in time intervals, at the rate of thousands of dollars per hour.
- “Groups” (aka BMW Club, Porsche Club, SSCA, EMRA) rent out the track for a few hours or a whole weekend.
- Every group runs the day differently, and some are much more serious and competitive than others.
- I went with EMRA, which is not super competitive and whose rules are a bit more relaxed. Â They allow stock cars, stock seatbelts to race. Â You need to tape up any glass (sunroofs, headlights), and have a proper racing helmet (snell rated), but that’s about it!
- SSCA is much stricter about cars — everybody needs a rollcage etc. Â Don’t expect to bring a stock M3 here generally.
- No matter what you’ll pay several hundred $ for a track day.
- HPDE — High performance Driver Education Event.
- HPDE Insurance is a great idea — usually you can get this either at the track or buy it online ahead of time. Â I paid about $115 for insurance for the day.
- There are several tracks within 3-4 hours of NYC — to find a track day you can either pick a car club and look at their schedule, or pick a track and look at the track’s schedule.
- Lime Rock Park
- Watkin’s Glen
- Pocinos Raceway
- New Jersey Motorstate Park (NJMSP)
- Summit Point Circuit
- Unlike Autocross you usually get a LOT of time on the track at an event like this. Â Anywhere from 1.5 -> 3 hours!
Bring to the track:
- Your own Snell 2005 or 2010 rated FULL FACE helmet! Â (Expect to pay $300+ for a good one)
- Blue masking tape — the stuff that doesn’t leave residue
- Zip Ties (to tie on a timing transponder)
- A Razor / Sizzor (to cut the zip ties at the end of the day)
- An EMPTY car — nothing in the trunk, etc.
- Fresh break pads! Â (You eat these guys up at the track!)
So I’ve done a handful of research lately on halogen and Xenon lights. Â Below is a basic summary of my findings when investigating (and eventually buying) replacements for my stock Halogen headlamps in my 2006 Mercedes C55 AMG.
Disclaimer: I pulled this together from bits and pieces here and there. Â I do not claim to be an authority on lighting, but I think most of this is reasonably accurate.
Info about Xenons
- HID = High-Intensity Discharge (for purposes of this doc, HID == Xenons)
- HID Kit == Xenon Bulb (mine are size ‘D2S’ for low beam, H7 for high beam) + Ballast + Wiring.
- If you already have headlamps with HIDs or are replacing the bulbs in an existing HID with a different color / temperature you do NOT need a whole new kit, just new bulbs.
- Higher temperature == more color and less light
- Stock color / temp is 4300Kelvin. Â 5000Kelvin is a brighter white, 6000K starts to look a bit blue and 8000K is getting fairly blue. Â I went with 8000K 🙂
- HID kits are generally a bit flaky, but are very cheap
- Stock halogens are 35W, and to avoid complications its not a bad idea to stick with 35W if your upgrading to Xenon. Â If the ECU notices a different power draw from the headlights it might throw errors.
- Mercedes should be coded from Xenons (via STAR / ODBII computer systems) to avoid error codes.
Info about upgrading from Halogens to Xenons
- If you have halogen lamps you can take out the halogens, buy an HID kit and be good to go, total cost of upgrade on the order of a couple hundred bucks (2-300) TOPS.
- HOWEVER — You could also replace the whole headlamp assembly, which has several advantages:
- Stock halogen headlamps do not use projector lenses. Â Projector lenses look significantly better with Xenons than the traditional ones.
- OEM Xenon headlamp kits come with their own ballast etc. which is generally more reliable than a HID Kit.
- Mercedes OEM Xenon lamps have leveling motors etc, which is a nice to have but a bit gimmicky.
- Â I bought a used OEM Xenon assembly from a friend on mbworld.org — going to install them later this week. Â Hoping for the best!