Track Days: an accessible, enjoyable experience for car enthusiasts. As road safety measures, autonomous vehicles, and a crackdown on speeding continue to grow and evolve, track days will take on a new role in the future of car enthusiasts.
Car enthusiasts naturally need an outlet to showcase their cars. For some, car shows, organized either in parking lots or proper venues, is all they need. For the more performance-oriented crowd, street racing, canyon roads, night drags, autocross, track days, and organized racing series, from amateur to professional, are the outlets of choice.
Of these performance outlets, track days are the most accessible of the legal options, save for autocross. Track days are also my favorite outlet. As track days begin to open again with the lifting of pandemic measures, I wanted to take the time to discuss my predictions for the future of track days and how companies can take advantage of the opportunity to win in their evolution.
Here’s why track days are my favorite outlet:
A rich driver in a GT3, a new racer in a Z06, a father-daughter team with an Evo 8 and an Evo X, and a group of 20-somethings in old 3-series BMWs and turbo civics. All cars and all people can come together to blast around a racetrack with very little regulation and organization.
Track days attract them all. I have found myself neck-and-neck with an old 3rd Gen Camaro in my E46 track car. Purpose-built, lower power racecars go up against a brand new Porsche. The variety of competition is fantastic and feeds my love of cars to no end.
Track day culture makes an easygoing, respectful, and fun environment. There is just enough regulation to keep the most novice driver safe, while allowing for unrestricted fun. The events are cheap to enter and located at everything from modest country tracks to big-name road courses. The community at every event is strong.
You are allowed to experiment. Your car is always a work in progress, especially when you’re shooting for high performance. For the newer car builder, track days are an excellent way to test your latest modifications under maximum stress.
The budget for track day cars can be low. Slap some coilovers and a wheel & tire package on a $1,000 civic, you have yourself a $3,000 racecar. You’ll be able to keep up with cars worth 10x as much, if you’re a good driver.
The Future of Track Days
Do you think each of these traits will persist in track days with the evolution of cars?
Track days will become more popular. Street racing and canyon runs will get harder and harder to pull off as populations continue to grow, increasing traffic, and speeding law enforcement becomes more automated and widespread.
My question is this: will the variety, competition, budget-friendliness, culture, and opportunity remain?
A key driver of the future of track days is this: Base model cars of today contain a massive amount of technology that is uncomparable to the cars of one or two decades ago and represent a big jump in price, complexity, and move towards safety and amenities over performance. Cars from the 90s and 2000s remain popular with all ages, even though they aren’t associated with a TV show and may not have any sentimental value. They are popular for three reasons: they are strong, performance-oriented chassis, they are cheap, and they are easy to work on.
Variety will likely remain. New, purpose-built cars will continue to be released, though potentially in smaller numbers. Older cars can continue to be used as long as the chassis survive. The mid-range cars, from 2010-2020, may not fare so well for track day longevity.
Competition will split further into categories. Power and handling are packaged together much more cleanly today compared to 20 years ago. Driver aides help make new cars easy to drive fast. Older, modified cars will work to keep up but may form a new level of not-so-vintage racing.
Culture could get more elitist. If the two available profiles are new cars and vintage cars, there isn’t as much room for humility or cooperation in the struggle of low-budget, aspirational cars.
Opportunity will remain. Cars will always remain a work in progress. Lap times can always go lower.
Budgets will likely grow. New cars are more expensive. Old cars will require more maintenance and investment to get track worthy. This point worries me. Accessibility is a very important aspect of track days for the young, cash-strapped car enthusiast looking to experience their passion.
How to Win the Future of Track Days
I have dedicated my career to empowering businesses that serve car enthusiasts to dream big. We have never been a modest group. Car enthusiasts love to push the boundaries of what is possible. It’s a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work culture.
The engineering is there to create incredible cars and aftermarket support to serve the car enthusiast for decades to come. Teslas are already beginning to appear at track days with coilovers and lightweight wheels. The price of aftermarket parts can be kept low while quality increases. New or incumbent manufacturers can create more BRZ/FR-S/GT86 sort of cars that remain extremely popular with younger crowds. I believe more of these sort of platforms can continue to feed the car enthusiast. Products like these can maintain accessibility to track days.
Engineering is not a solution in itself. The loss-making tech companies of Silicon Valley show us that while innovation and growth at the expense of profits can be helpful temporarily, it is not a permanent solution.
History teaches us that business execution must keep up with engineering innovation in order for pioneering companies to succeed. Bankruptcy and sale to private equity are two common paths for newer and established specialty aftermarket brands, and neither option has commonly led to successful business transformation.
Managing the business side of your specialty aftermarket company as a founder begins with a three-step process.
1) Establish a clear strategic vision for your business. Where are you trying to take the company, and what role do you want to have in it? Are you looking to build its value and prepare the company for a sale, or are you looking to evolve your business model or products and continue growing or sustaining business long into the future? The vision of the company and your role within it will dictate its strategy. How does your company fit into the future of track days?
2) Design a company operating model or new project to align your business with the strategic vision. This could take many forms – a simple operating model write up, or a new step-by-step product development project, for example. How is your company going to accomplish fitting in to the future of track days?
3) Bring in management with business education and experience to structure, restructure, or improve operations, sales, marketing, and finance to work towards a clear strategy. As a founder, you are likely an accomplished designer and/or engineer. Are you confident in your finance management, legal compliance, and business operations? How are you going to execute on your new strategic initiative? Who do you need to make it happen? You need someone with knowledge of the nuts and bolts of your business.
Driven Performance Advisors can help. We specialize in designing and executing on the clear strategic vision of specialty aftermarket and motorsports companies, providing business solutions to empower you to serve car enthusiasts for decades into the future.
Interested in learning more about our services? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you think?
Do you agree with my evaluation of future track days? How about the solution? If you found this article helpful, please feel free to share.
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