Get Out on Track: SCCA’s Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack

by Vince Illi

Going to a High Performance Driving Event (HPDE) or “Track Day” sure sounds like a lot of fun, but it also seems a bit intimidating and demanding, doesn’t it?  First of all, you’ve got to commit to almost an entire weekend, between leaving early for the track, setting up, waiting around for your driving session, actually driving, and then the journey home.  Plus you’ve got all those hardcore guys talking about suspension setups, lap times, and apexes.  And what if you’re slow?

Well, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has fixed all that with their new Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack program.  Track Night is aimed at getting anybody and everybody out on a real race track.  Unlike Time Trials or HPDEs, the focus of a Track Night isn’t about lap times.  It’s about having fun—safely—on a race track with your car.   Everything about Track Night is geared towards accessibility.  Instead of taking an entire Saturday, Sunday, or weekend, Track Nights occur on weekday nights from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM.  So you can work through lunch or maybe take a couple hours off to have some fun with your car instead of committing to an entire weekend.  And the events are open to anyone, not just SCCA members.


Getting out on track is easy, thanks to SCCA’s new Track Night program.

We’ve been hearing a lot about Track Nights and how wildly fun, popular, and successful they’ve been (think “Paint Nite” for gearheads!), so I recently took Project Mustang to a Track Night held at the newly-renovated Pittsburgh International Race Complex (formerly Beave Run).

Registering for the event is easy; you simply sign up on SCCA’s Track Night website, www.tracknightinamerica.com.  Their site is packed full of info on what to expect, what to bring, and what to do.  They even have online drivers’ meetings for more experienced drivers running in the Intermediate and Advanced run groups, to save you time and get you out on the track that much quicker.  Since I spend most of my time dodging cones in parking lots, I signed up for the Novice group. 

SCCA’s aim to make Track Nights super-accessible starts with their website.  They even have a list of things to bring to the event.  Registration is about as easy as can be, and consists of putting your contact info, vehicle type, and payment info in.  SCCA even has the option to purchase a helmet at a big discount as part of the registration!  Did I mention how inexpensive SCCA has managed to make Track Nights?  All the events are only $150 (or less), and get you an entire hour of track time!


The paddock area had plenty of room to spread out and work on prepping your car for the event.  Unfortunately, the sky began to look quite ominous…

I got to Pitt Race right at 3:00, signed in at the gate, and was directed to the Novice paddock area.  Once there, I was directed into a nearby garage to complete my registration and perform a tech inspection.  In the interest of saving time and getting participants out on track sooner, the tech inspection was actually a checklist that each driver performed himself and then signed off on.


Tech inspection for Track Night is about what you’d expect at any motorsports event, and maybe even a little more thorough.
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Thursday, July 23, 2015 6:27 AM
So they have guys with no track experience tech their own car without anyone else looking at it? Not that I view tech as the most essential thing, but people will bring some pretty stupid stuff that they're intending to go out on course with.

Pitt Race does look nice, I've always wanted to drive the track, but it's a drive from the Philly area. Glad you enjoyed your first track day! You certainly got thrown in the deep end with the heavy rain.
Thursday, July 23, 2015 12:22 PM
while the 150 is pretty cheap, its value for track time actually isn't that great. I've done both full track days (for 300) and the SCCA track nights, I get more than double with the full track days. That being said I'll still prolly do ever track night event locally.
And at least at my local track, intermediate is more like novice and advanced is more like intermediate. So for anyone that actually belongs in an advanced run group, you'll prolly be hitting lots of traffic. But for my skill level it works out fine.
Thursday, July 23, 2015 2:45 PM
I went to two Track nights, and compared to other events, the atmosphere was completely different !
Way more friendly than some other track day where you don't feel welcome at all !
I decided that I will do my first track day in Florida with them just for that reason.
Thursday, July 23, 2015 3:11 PM
yeah, you're right about that, it is much more friendly and easy going... till you get an rsx trying to get a point by from a challenger...
Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:17 PM
is Project Mustang an auto?
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:58 PM

I was in a car accident a while ago that screwed up my neck rather badly and causes me to randomly lose feeling below my right elbow. This is why you'll notice that I always have a "helper" working with me on my installs: so I don't do something dumb while trying to loosen a stubborn bolt and injure myself further. I also wear one of those goofy padded neck collar things below my helmet for the same reason. It makes it quite difficult to shift through gears when you can't feel where the dang shifter is. So, yes, the grey Project Mustang is an auto, because I didn't want to buy a car I couldn't drive. However, I have been very fortunate and have had fewer and fewer problems, so I am researching a Tremec Magnum swap...


That's what I was trying to convey; the atmosphere at Track Nights is very laid back and friendly! It's more of a "fun thing to do with your car" as opposed to a timed competition. It's like a bunch of dudes just getting together to drive their cars around a racetrack. Like I said: "Paint Nite" for gearheads!
Thursday, July 23, 2015 6:47 PM
Yep, I can't wait to be more than just a spectator !
Thursday, July 23, 2015 8:35 PM
Sorry to hear about your accident. I just kinda assumed it was a manual till I saw that vid, so I was a bit surprised. But you have a very legit reason to go auto... I prolly would have went with something dual clutch flappy paddle in your book, but then again there really isn't anything with a V8 like the coyote with a DSG..
Friday, July 24, 2015 10:06 PM
The event is not timed? That honestly cannot be called a racing event. Even if it's just for fun, I'd like to know if I'm improving and how I relate to the other drivers. They really should time it, they should just not make it a competition.
Saturday, July 25, 2015 9:02 AM

To all non-enthusiasts and those that are new, anything on a track is "racing". Ever have to explain a track day?

Track Nights are for folks new to the track and should be learning car control as well as etiquette (dealing with other cars). Lap times are the last thing they need to think about.
Saturday, July 25, 2015 10:53 AM
besides, you can always get a timer app for your phone and time yourself. but i'd recommend putting your phone in a spot where you cant see it and not look at the times till after the session, at least when starting out... thats what i do
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Saturday, July 25, 2015 2:44 PM
Well, it's not a racing event. The point is to have fun, learn to drive in a controlled environment, and meet people. In fact, I doubt you could even find the word "racing" anywhere in SCCA's Track Night homepage.
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