Currently reading: Matt Prior's tester's notes - are track days for wimps?
Track cars are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, and our man thinks he knows why - contrary to other opinions

We’ve got a contributor who thinks track days are for wimps, for those who don’t have, if you’ll pardon the expression, the balls to go racing properly.

I sort of agree. Sort of. But I mostly side with those who quite like the odd track day now and again. Mostly because I don’t have the balls to go motor racing beyond what this magazine asks me to do, or racing karts. Karts cost less and hurt less. I like racing a car, but only after the event. I like racing a kart all the time.

I enjoy a car on a track with no pressure around, no stopwatch, no people standing there, in your employ, waiting for the moment that you bin it or finish near the back, then nodding and giving you platitudes before admitting to their mates that, truth be told, you’re a bit slow.

I figured I couldn’t be alone in thinking that way. So it was no surprise that when I was talking to a bloke from a race/track day car maker the other day, he said the market for seriously expensive track day toys was going tremendously well.

I’ve had a pet theory about this for a long time. Yes, you could use a supercar on a track day if you wanted, and it’d be a lot of fun, but no matter how well you drive it, it’ll always weigh a tonne and a half and it’ll always get through consumables at a frightening rate. The running costs of supercars or hypercars are high, even for those who can afford it.

Granted, track days cost a lot, too, but if you can make a set of brakes and tyres on a lightweight track car last for three or four days, that’s better than a new set of Eagle F1s and some main dealer servicing every few hours.

And? And you get to have a bit of a play with, in effect, a race car. Something light, something immediate, something that you can spend hour after hour in, chipping away at a line here or there and knowing that, deep down, you’re learning and you’re getting faster.

Okay, you might not be doing that alongside 20 other hooligans, all testing yourselves against each other and the clock, but I really don’t mind that. In fact, I quite like the idea. And if that implies a lack of testicular dimension, I’m afraid I’m guilty as charged.

- Is there a better-driven vehicle on the road than a fuel tanker? Always in the correct lane. Always at the right speed. Always courteous and clear of intent, and never rushed. This makes a lot of sense, really, given the implications of things going wrong. Maybe we should all tow a few tonnes of explosive liquid fuel around with us.


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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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5wheels 1 June 2015

Point in question

For many many years I rallied as a total private entry. It cost me every penny I could scrape up and almost cost me a marriage. The point is, yes I was competing ( against the likes of my dear departed friend Richard Burns) and whilst in a much lower (Group N) class - I was winning it. There are factors here. Without these private enthusiasts where would have of these events be? In the bin!!! It costs a lot of money to have any form of event. If it isnt supported by amateurs, enthusiasts etc then you wouldnt have any event. So dont ever be snide about these guys - they are terribly important to the existence of any motoring event. And for those reading who do wallet warping - good on ya mates - the adrenaline rush is almost worth a wife or two !!
Paul Dalgarno 29 May 2015

Nope, racing is about 100% pure competitive spirit

Sorry AHA1 I disagree - I get a huge buzz from doing something absolutely to the maximum directly against someone else doing exactly the same. I've had a cr*p year in karts with engine blow ups this year, but those few laps where I was absolutely at my limits and trying as hard as I could keep me coming back. Karting in northern Scotland is held in front a handful of spectators and in no way a vanity project.

I'm also a fan of track days where you're pushing the bike in my case as far as your talent allows (I'm under no illusions of how far away I am from being even good on a bike too)

Come on Autocrat, let's have a two page spread on karting!

AHA1 29 May 2015

Racing is vanity publishing?

Anyone who makes the sacrifices to enter and complete a season-long race series is either seriously talented (at the front of the field) or reality-challenged (everyone else.) And if you're self-financing as most are to a greater or lesser degree, it's the motoring equivalent of vanity publishing isn't it?

Track days by contrast are surely the enthusiast's way of enjoying themselves without endangering the public. To be encouraged surely?

A warning: Motorbike track days are increasingly taken over by wannabe racer nutters. Stick to 4 wheels is my advice.

And a big shout out to most (not all) HGV drivers who are Knights of the Road IMHO.