1 2
ClearWaterMS
ClearWaterMS New Reader
8/10/21 7:31 p.m.

How far from home/garage are you willing to drive a car you intend to take on the track?  Do you have a contingency plan should something happen?  

Back story; this past weekend I drove to Grattan raceway for a 2 day event from my home in the suburbs of Chicago.  To put it nicely the drive home was less than pleasant.  The tires must have rotated on the wheels and were no longer balanced causing a nice vibration at 80mph, the pop up tent, tool bag, and hydraulic jack all took turns making vibrating noises for the entire 4+ hour drive home.  Combined with the complete lack of padding in the drivers seat and Next year I am hoping to travel to more weekend long events and potentially at tracks further away (thinking Mid-Ohio, Putnam, and MAYBE NCM).  

So I'm curious; for those that don't own a tow vehicle what are you driving, how do you get to the track (what do you bring with you), and do you have a plan should something happen while you're there?

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/10/21 7:49 p.m.

120 miles one way, 8-12 runs a trip depending on one or two drivers plus guest runs, 120 miles home and one tank of gas.  Consistent top 5 out of 15 cars many of which take a trailer.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
8/10/21 7:54 p.m.

I've driven 5 hours each way several times.

Once drove 1000 miles home from Laguna Seca on worn RA1s, through snow, in a race prepped Miata with no heater or interior because another car blowed up. But I don't want to do it again. 

PMRacing
PMRacing UltraDork
8/10/21 8:03 p.m.

I live 2 hours from Grattan.  In my no-heat, no A/C, loud, stiff Miata, I'm now limited at two hours. I feel beat up after a day at the track in that car, and two hours home is now brutal. For the next event at Nelson Ledges, I've rented an RV and trailer off of the app Outdoorsy (from no other than our own Kendall-Jones!). Of course my Miata engine decided it didn't want to do any more track days, so I'll be towing my Dad's Cayman S, but that's not the question...

The cost of the RV rental split between two people is going to be slightly more than the hotel room was for the weekend. But having "home" at the track and saving on eating out since we'll be bringing our own food, it will be worth it!  

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
8/10/21 8:12 p.m.

I've done 500 mile round trip in a caged car with no interior in 100 degree heat. I wouldn't do it now but it wasn't that bad.

If I had a near stocking car I'd have no problem doing 1000 miles round trip.  I have a trailer so worst case I could make arrangements to store the car then come back and get it.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia Reader
8/10/21 8:28 p.m.

I did 4.5 hours to VIR once a year for a couple of years, in a 944 stuffed to the gills with tires and other gear. Super fun track so it was worth it, but definitely a schlep.

Thinkkker
Thinkkker UltraDork
8/10/21 8:28 p.m.

 

I've done 450 miles one way.  Actual track event.

I've driven over 800 one way for an autox.

ClearWaterMS
ClearWaterMS New Reader
8/10/21 8:44 p.m.
paddygarcia said:

I did 4.5 hours to VIR once a year for a couple of years, in a 944 stuffed to the gills with tires and other gear. Super fun track so it was worth it, but definitely a schlep.

Since I don't have a spare set of wheels for the car I have to arrive and drive on the same set of wheels that I participate on.  I think the car causes the tire to rotate out of balance on the wheel and this makes the 4+ hour drive home after a long day unpleasant.  

johndej
johndej Dork
8/10/21 8:45 p.m.

Richmond VA here, have done Summit Point (120 miles), VIR (120 miles), and Dominion (40 miles) camping out of a relatively stock NA Miata (no AC) for weekends. Drove home to sleep for one of the Dominion days and down and back to VIR for track night in America.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/10/21 9:06 p.m.

I've driven a thousand miles to Grand Junction for the FM summer camp, doing a mini track day on their local go kart track, and then driven home.  That's not as likely to involve breaking the car as running it on the big track though.

A tow vehicle doesn't necessarily save you from this kind of failure though -- a few years later going to the same FM event I lost the water pump in my Duramax crossing the state line into CO.  Limped it into the Chevy dealer in Grand Junction stopping occasionally to top it up with coolant, dropped the truck there, left the trailer in a corner of their parking lot, and transferred everything into the Miata to drive to the hotel. :)

These days I drive a caged racecar on the track, it has no plates and the trailer is required.  If I were driving a street car though, I think "200 miles" is a reasonable answer, since that's as far as a AAA Premier tow will get you.

 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/10/21 9:11 p.m.

I'm an amateur, but I once drove a car for 147k, sold it to a race team, then joined the race team and flogged the snot out of it.  That particular race, the car was driven 1000 miles to the track, then 1000 miles home.

Again... total amateur, but I tend to not trust a car to get beat on for 3 miles at a track that I can't count on to drive 3000 miles at 65mph.

Fair warning... I'm going to eat these words when I have my own race car.

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
8/10/21 9:48 p.m.

I don't count.  I've been trailering races cars since '73.  And... my racecars are not street legal.

When I autocrossed a basically stock street car I'd go pretty far.    But with purpose built race cars on real tracks, its going to be on or in a trailer.

I have a friend that autocrosses a late model street legal camaro.  He trailers it to anything more than 5 miles away.  He can put the soft tires on in the comfort of his shop and not wear them out driving across state.  Doesn't have to hustle tires on and off on hot pavement.  He doesn't have to call for help if something breaks.

Hey, I understand budgets, etc.  When you are under 25 you do things to tell your grandkids about.  I get it.  You can call your boss and ask for a day off to solve the problem.  But when you are older and running your own business you don't want to be looking at a blown motor in your only wheels 500 miles from home on a Sunday afternoon.

As always YMMV

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
8/10/21 10:21 p.m.

In reply to ClearWaterMS :

3 hours was my limit.  Now I doubt I'd drive across the street. Race cars don't make good street cars. Street cars make lousy race cars. 

akylekoz
akylekoz SuperDork
8/11/21 5:49 a.m.

Funny if you are from a high speed interstate state distance units are in hours not miles.  I think three hours would be my limit.  From GR that's Detroit, Chicago area and local tracks.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
8/11/21 6:30 a.m.

As a back up, I would suggest becoming friends with someone that does trailer that lives reasonably close to you AND also has a streetable car.  While the farthest I went was from Ann Arbor to Kansas City for an event, I also had a pretty significant failure at Gingerman that meant I could not drive the car home.  Thankfully, my friend was able to trial the car back, and his car was driven here.

 

Hopefully, you can save up some money to get a spare set of wheels/tires as well as a way to carry them.  Just doing that will go a LONG way in comfort- as we carried our race tires to KC.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
8/11/21 6:33 a.m.

I think it depends on the car you are driving. A track-prepped car with racing seat, harnesses, gutted interior and no a/c is a much different animal than a street car with soft tires. The age of the driver also matters; I'd drive 8 hours to VIR in a racing bucket when I was in my 30s. Today, I wouldn't want to go further than 2 hours in that seat...and I'd complain about it afterward.

I trailered a race car for several years. That is it's own PITA. Breaking down in a car far from home is one thing; having a truck, trailer and strapped down car on the side of the road is another type of problem you don't want.

With the plethora of inexpensive trailers these days I think I'd just tow a little trailer behind my car. Depending on the car. And will probably do just that after my next build.

KyAllroad
KyAllroad UltimaDork
8/11/21 6:33 a.m.

I took my CSPish Miata 2.5 hours a few times and always hated it.  Wilmington Ohio for a National tour was particularly memorable as the expansion joints in Ohios highway felt like ramps, sending my car (with tire trailer) airborne more than 20 times before I got back to Kentucky.

Since I have a pack of teenagers I needed something big to haul them anyway, so I bought a Suburban.  Tadah: tow pig.

I bought the Zoomboni cheap and wanted to store it out of my garage so I found a cheap enclosed trailer.  It's a moving van/camper/garage space and more when I need it to be.  Highly recommend.

ClearWaterMS
ClearWaterMS New Reader
8/11/21 6:55 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

Again... total amateur, but I tend to not trust a car to get beat on for 3 miles at a track that I can't count on to drive 3000 miles at 65mph.

I agree but I don't think that is what I was asking when I posted the question.  Its more about those of us that drive to the track because we don't have access to a trailer or own a tow vehicle (both can be rented but trailers are cost effective to rent compared to tow vehicles) and what you do to enable that (do you swap tires when you arrive, do you drive to the track on the tires you intend to participate on, etc.).

Cars that are tracked come off the track in worse condition then when they entered the track, tires are out of balance, brakes get soft (or loud and chew up rotors depending on the pad) etc.  I have cracked a rotor on the track and didn't have a spare so I had to drive home with a cracked rotor causing a shimmy when you braked...  

ClearWaterMS
ClearWaterMS New Reader
8/11/21 6:57 a.m.
akylekoz said:

Funny if you are from a high speed interstate state distance units are in hours not miles.  I think three hours would be my limit.  From GR that's Detroit, Chicago area and local tracks.

agreed, the problem is that GR to Chicago with traffic these days is 4.5+ hours.  Traffic through south western Wisconsin and near the IL/IN border is terrible.  It took me 3.3 hours to get from the western suburbs of Chicago to my hotel in Grand Rapids and it took me 4.5 hours to get home from grattan.  

Toyman01 + Sized and
Toyman01 + Sized and MegaDork
8/11/21 7:14 a.m.

200 miles, because that's how far AAA Premier will haul it home if something happens.

 

aw614
aw614 Reader
8/11/21 7:25 a.m.

The FIRM is just a little over 2 hours from me since I'm in Tampa. I've had a few close calls, but have made it home everytime. Still I worry about breaking something more significant as I did have issues the week after at an autocross in Lakeland that did shelf my car from running after I limped it home...

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
8/11/21 7:34 a.m.

2 hours. But that's in an open cockpit Seven with no climate control, no roof or doors, harnesses, aluminum seat, and no dead pedal. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/11/21 8:28 a.m.
ClearWaterMS said:
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

Again... total amateur, but I tend to not trust a car to get beat on for 3 miles at a track that I can't count on to drive 3000 miles at 65mph.

I agree but I don't think that is what I was asking when I posted the question.  Its more about those of us that drive to the track because we don't have access to a trailer or own a tow vehicle (both can be rented but trailers are cost effective to rent compared to tow vehicles) and what you do to enable that (do you swap tires when you arrive, do you drive to the track on the tires you intend to participate on, etc.).

Cars that are tracked come off the track in worse condition then when they entered the track, tires are out of balance, brakes get soft (or loud and chew up rotors depending on the pad) etc.  I have cracked a rotor on the track and didn't have a spare so I had to drive home with a cracked rotor causing a shimmy when you braked...  

Agreed, hence why I said amateur.  I don't drive well enough to have a car that is prepped further than about three steps away from DD.

Toyman01 + Sized and
Toyman01 + Sized and MegaDork
8/11/21 9:32 a.m.

Well, I tried to delete the duplicates but it won't let me. 

The forum is acting a little funky.

infernosg
infernosg Reader
8/11/21 9:57 a.m.

When I was younger my limit was 2-3 hours. I drove my mostly stock FC RX7 from Cincinnati to Mid-Ohio several times. The last time I blew a water seal at the track but was still able to limp home (with the low coolant buzzer going off constantly for 2.5 hours). Now that my RX7 is significantly more modified (stiffer, louder, no heat, no AC, no radio, etc.) the limit is about an hour. Problem is I find myself already somewhat worn out just getting to the track and I'm dead getting home after a day at the track. A couple years back I finally got a full-sized truck so now I rent a U-Haul trailer. It's ~$60 per day and I get a cushy ride with heat, AC, satellite radio, Android Auto, cruise control, plenty of storage space and a contingency plan should something go very wrong. It averages 16-18 mi/gal, which isn't too bad either.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
QfyKrgRxlRHBwOHjHu3JWrMjlwZJYGSBArdUCIB4QS9NwJ0JUXVIkfwI5GItz4JN