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Preparing for your first track day

Track driving typically involves high speeds, heavy braking, hard cornering and a lot more heat than street driving. Most cars, including the 86/BRZ/FR-S, are not ready to be driven on track when they roll off the factory, so it's a good idea to do some extra preparation before going to your first track day.

Here's a list that I personally used to prepare a brand new GR86 owned by an intermediate driver (~30 track days) for the car's first track day:

Must have

This section lists things that I think are absolutely necessary for tracking your 86/BRZ/FR-S, unless you plan to drive 50 mph the whole day.

  • Change the brake fluid
    • The factory brake fluid can boil under heavy use, which at best will mean you need to limp home and at worst you crash into a wall.
    • Get a high-temperature DOT 4 fluid.
    • I personally used ATE Typ 200 (a.k.a. Super Gold), but other commonly used ones are MOTUL RBF 600, Castrol SRF, Motul RBF660.
    • If you don't know how to replace the brake fluid, pay a professional shop to do it for you. It's a safety-critical job with a few things you can mess up, and fixing some of those things can be tricky (e.g. bubbles in the ABS module).
    • Note that high temperature brake fluid requires more frequent changes. Some fluids recommend changing every 12 months, some even every 6 months.
  • Brake pads
    • Factory brake pads are not designed for high temperatures either, even the ones that come in the Performance Package. Ask me how I know...
    • For God's sake, don't listen to Miata people who say you can use Hawk HPS/HP+. Miatas are ligher and slower. "Oh no what has happened to my brake rotors" and "why did the brake pad fall apart" complaints pop up ~weekly in track-oriented Facebook groups.
    • A good pad to start with is Ferodo FDS 1639 or Ferodo DS2500, albeit it has rusty brake dust. Other than the dust, it is ok for street driving. Most beginners go fast enough to start overheating DS2500 in just a few track days, so it's only good for beginners.
  • The **only** pad that I know that is good for street driving and performs reasonably well for light track days is CSG CP. It's pricey but lasts a long time. That being said, some people reported issues overheating these pads.
    • If you're sure that you're going to do more than 5 track days, invest into a set of dedicated track pads. They will last a long time and minimize the risk of rotor-related issues. Put the track pads in before the track day, put the OEM pads in after the track day and you're good. Replacing brake pads is one of the easiest things to learn to do on your car.
  • Which brake pads to pick is a topic of endless debates on forums. Commonly recommended budget-friendly options include:
    • PowerStop Track Day Spec
    • Carbotech XP10, XP12
    • G-LOC R10, R12
    • Another brake pads options: endless me20 и ccrg, ferodo ds uno, ferodo ds 3000, PFC13, PMU 999, TRW, Endless sss brz ep418 back, Endless Ssy EP386 front
    • Please do your research on the forums/etc, about these pads before buying.
  • When replacing the pads, spend a few more minutes to take off the front rotors and remove the dust shields behind the rotors, as they limit the airflow that's important for cooling. Put the dust shield back for winter if you live in a place with snow, salt, etc.
  • Engine oil
    • Which oil brand and viscosity to pick is a topic of endless holy wars on forums, Facebook groups, etc. I'm going to share what I think, it's up to you to follow it or vocally disagree.
    • The OEM oil is 0w-20 is too "thin" at high temperatures, not providing enough oil pressure to reliably lubricate the critical components of the engine.
    • The JDM owners manual recommends 5w-30 for "heavy use".
    • I personally use either Mobil 1 5w-30 or Castrol 0w-30.
    • Some recommend thicker oils, such as 0w-40.
  • Tow hook
    • Many track organizations require two tow hooks, but the car only comes with one.
    • Just buy a second one, you might be able to find a used one for very cheap.
    • If you want to buy a nicer aftermarket tow hook, make sure it's actually designed for towing rather than just for the looks. Bizarrely, the instructions for the Perrin tow hook says something like "only designed for a slow straight pull" -- good luck telling something like that to the tow truck driver!


This section includes things that are strongly recommended for the longevity of the car/components/consumables, but aren't strictily required.

  • Oil cooler
    • Once again, a topic of endless debates on forums, etc.
    • The majority opinion is that these cars don't like oil temperatures over ~250ºF due to oil thinning causing low oil pressures.
    • For gen2 cars (FA24D with a water/oil heat exchanger), there is an opinion that thicker oil + occasional cooldown laps is sufficient. For a complete beginner, another factor that can help is shoft-shifting at say 6000 rpm.
    • For gen1 cars (FA20D), I personally saw ~290ºF oil temperature on my first track day, not going that fast.
    • Jackson Racing is a commonly recommended option, although their customers reported issues with oil lines rubbing against various parts of the car over time -- need periodic inspection/replacement.
  • Alignment
    • These cars come with only ~-0.5º of front camber. Even beginners notice excessive wear on the outside edge of the tires after track driving.
    • There are multiple ways to gain more negative camber in the front.
    • A cost-effective way to get ~-2.5º of front camber is Pedders camber plates and SPC 81305 camber bolts. Make sure to tighten the camber bolts with the weight of the car on the suspension to maximize camber.
    • You will need to get the toe re-aligned after installing camber bolts.
    • A good starting point is 0 toe in the front and 0.07º of toe per side in the rear.
  • Tires
    • Stock Michelin Primacy HP are surprisingly decent as a track tire for a beginner. They squeal a lot near the limit, providing good audio feedback, and have a fairly predictable breakaway past the limit. They can survive 5+ track days.
    • Michelin Pilot Sport 4 don't seem to last as long.
    • A commonly recommended beginner tire is GT Radial SX2. Similar to Primacy HP, but lasts much longer and costs less.


  • Cusco throttle pedal cover [for manual cars only]
    • Makes heel-toe'ing much easier.
  • MT Gearbox fluid
    • The factory one is fine for 5-10 beginner pace track days.
    • For longer/heavier use, a common recommendation is Motul Gear 300.
    • I personally hated Gear 300 and use Red Line MT-90 instead.
  • Differential fluid
    • Same concern as the gearbox fluid.
    • Motul Gear 300 is also recommended for the diff.
    • I personally use Motul Gear Competition 75w-140.
  • Data logging
    • Get a 10+ Hz GPS module and record your driving with RaceChrono.
    • This will give you a lot of insight into your driving over time, and more experienced people will be able to give you advice even without riding in your car.
    • RaceBox Mini is a great GPS.
    • For gen1 cars, OBDLink MX+ can log the accelerator and brake pedals, steering angle, RPM, wheel speed, oil and coolant temperatures.
    • For gen2 cars, you will also need something like an Ansix ASC harness to be able to get the same information using an OBDLink MX+.

At the track

Here are some common suggestions to consider at the track

  • Even with track pads, it's recommended to cool them down for a lap or two at the end of the session, and/or drive a few circles in the paddock.
  • Make sure to cool down the oil before parking the car to about 200ºF or less. Again, find a place around the paddock where you can drive in circles for a few minutes. It is recommended to keep the RPMs above 3000 (15 mph in 1st gear) to let the oil circulate and cool down the engine evenly.
  • Don't use the parking brake between sessions, as it may distort the hot rear brake rotors and/or the parking brake pads can stick to the drum.
  • Check oil level between sessions, make sure it's at max (or higher -- some actually prefer slighlty overfilling).