Top 5 Track Day Upgrades for your Corvette
So you’ve done your first track day with your ‘Vette and now you’re hooked? We’re not surprised, it’s an addictive hobby. Also addictive is figuring out how to go faster and make your Corvette feel more at home on the race track.
1. Driving Instruction
This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but in order to go faster at the track, you have set your ego aside and be willing to learn. The best mod for the track is the “Driver mod”. Your Corvette is a very capable sports car in stock form, and chances are the squishy bit behind the wheel is the biggest hindrance to fast lap times, not the car itself. Track Day organizers like the SCCA and NASA offer in-car and technical classroom instruction to teach you the in’s and out’s of handling your car on track.
When it comes to rookie mistakes, this is one of the most commonly overlooked upgrades for the car. People tend to get fixated on the shinier go-fast bits like cool suspension, and adding a ton of power. All of that is for naught without the right rubber for your ride. Many tire manufacturers make special tires specifically designed for track use, they are soft, grippy race tires that have life spans measured in heat cycles, not miles. These tires will seriously drop those lap times like nothing else. If that’s a bit too extreme for you, the increasingly popular “Extreme Performance Summer Tire” category might be the ticket for you. These street able tires offer the same levels of grip as the racing tires of yesteryear, with the ability to drive them to work, to the track and back again.
3. Brake Pads
Much like tires, novice driver’s tend to think about their brake systems in too shallow manor, or worse, not at all. On track, you’re subjecting your car to high speed stopping activity repeatedly, lap after lap, often hitting triple digit speeds. As a result your brakes take a beating, especially the brake pads. It’s not enough to simply check and make sure that there is enough brake pad “meat” left, street brake pads just don’t cut it on track. Much like track day tires, there are also track day brakes, designed to deal with the heat and repeated abuse of track driving. Masters of the track day become accustomed to swapping brakes from street to track in the days before their next event.
4. Brake Fluid
While we’re on the subject of brakes, your brakes are only as good as their weakest link. If you have upgraded your brake pads and are still experiencing a fading brake pedal on track, you’re experiencing brake fluid fade. Your brakes work via hydraulic pressure, which means your brake fluid gets a workout on the track as much as your brake rotors and pads get hot. Thus transferring the heat into the calipers, and the fluid as a result. Much like the brake pads, consider this a safety item, as if the brake fluid degrades too far, you will have insufficient braking pressure. Resulting that your ‘Vette isn’t going to slow down predictably, or as much as you need it to. Racing brake fluid a la Castrol SRF and Torque RT700 are excellent, albeit pricey, racing brake fluid suitable for demanding the high speeds your Corvette can achieve.
5. Wheel Alignment
Those who are in the know will tell you that a good alignment is crucial for on-track performance. A good alignment will help reduce tire wear, and make your car handle better and be more predictable on track. A race shop can perform a specialty alignment beyond what the tires changers at your local Firestone are doing. They will optimize the camber, toe and caster on your ride for the best performance. If your Corvette has an adjustable suspension, a corner balance alignment can do well for your track toy. Corner balancing is when your ride is put on scales, which each wheel having its own scale. The ride height is adjusted at each corner of the car until the same amount of weight is being handled with each corner. A reputable shop will have you set in the car to account for your weight.
For more information on maintenance and repairs, please check out our do-it-yourself technical articles at https://www.corvetteforum.com/how-tos.