SoCal HPDE and Track Day Guide

If you are ready to take the plunge and drive your own car on one of Southern California’s race tracks, this will cover who runs events and where to sign up.  Some tracks allow members to perform testing or open lapping on the track on a weekday for a fee.  However, the most common way to get on track is through a third party organization on a weekend.  This article is your one stop shop to all the organizations that run track days or High Performance Driver’s Education (HPDE) events in SoCal. Most of these organizers run on the weekend and you can chose to sign up for just one or both days.

This is part 2 of a 5 part series covering everything from the new aspiring track day enthusiast to track day veteran looking for more competition.

  • Part 1: How to drive your own car on a Racetrack
  • You are here -> Part 2: SoCal HPDE and Track Day Guide
  • Part 3: SoCal Racetracks (Road Courses) Guide (coming soon)
  • Part 4: SoCal Time Trials Guide (coming soon)
  • Part 5: SoCal Wheel to Wheel Racing Guide (coming soon)

Disclaimer

A note about deciding who to sign up with.  In general, the cheapest and easiest way on track is with an open track day type organizer.  Almost all on track sessions are dedicated to street driven cars that are there for lapping sessions with maybe 1 or two time trails sessions mixed in.  Open track day organizers tend to be the most laid back and have the easiest sign ups.  While, the race series based organizations tend to cost more and be tougher on things like tech inspections and suspect driving behavior.

For what its worth, I’ve never had a bad experience with any of the organizations listed below and have personally run with most of them.  However, I do feel like you need to have more awareness on track and understand that some organizations focus more on safety than others.

Does My Car Qualify for HPDE Track Day use?

One of the most common questions I’ve heard from would be track drivers have to do with either their car’s eligibility or wear and tear.  Generally, a well maintained car that is legal for use on the street will qualify for driving on the track.  The main exception to this are convertible models with no rollover protection which are almost always prohibited.  You will also need an approved helmet and typically long pants and long sleeved clothing with closed toe shoes.  Most track day organizations require a 10 year or newer Snell SA rated helmet.

Each organizer will have a tech form that must be completed before driving on track.  If you are mechanically inclined you can do the checks yourself, otherwise you will want to have a mechanic do the checks for you.

I’ve seen everything from a stock Toyota Camry to a Ferrari and everything in between at SoCal track days.  You don’t need a supercar to start having fun!

One last thing, regular automotive insurance policies all have exclusions to driving your car on a racetrack.  In almost all cases if you crash on a racetrack or someone hits you insurance will not cover the damage.

SoCal HPDE Track Day Organizations

(listed alphabetically)Extreme Speed Track Events Logo

Extreme Speed Track Events

  • Track day frequency: Multiple weekends a month
  • Example single day pricing
    • Typical Willow Springs price – $120
    • Typical Buttonwillow price – $150

Extreme Speed Track Events hosts events an average of two weekends a month and rotates through all of the Southern California tracks.  Extreme Speed started out as hosting only HPDE / Track Days.  Though, in recent years they also include some time trials competitions for specific car types and makes within their track day events.  Examples of the time trials events include: Vtec Club, TRD Cup for Toyotas, Roadster Cup for Miatas, and an American Muscle Cup.  Learn more or sign up online at: http://www.extremespeedtrackevents.com/

National Auto Sport Association NASA logo

National Auto Sport Association (“NASA”)

  • Track day frequency: HDPE days are monthly
  • Example single day pricing
    • Typical Willow Springs price – $189
    • Typical Buttonwillow price – $189

NASA has a host of popular racing series, time trials classes and of course HPDE classes.  Typical weekends see a mix of races, time trials and HPDE taking turns on the track.  NASA rotates through most of the Southern California tracks.  Given that most NASA events are hosting highly competitive wheel to wheel racing on down I feel like their events carry a little more structure and safety than a typical open track day.  Their HPDE program is split into levels 1-4 with classroom and in car instruction provided to beginners and intermediates.  Check out rides or lead follows may be required before being allowed into the next level.  Learn more or sign up here: https://nasasocal.com/

NCRC logo

NorCal Racing Club (“NCRC”)

  • Track day frequency: typically 1-2 weekends in SoCal
  • Example single day pricing
    • Typical Willow Springs price – $189
    • Typical Buttonwillow price – $189

Somewhat counter intuitive to include an organizer called NorCal Racing club in a guide to SoCal Track Days but NCRC occasionally runs at Buttonwillow.  Most of NCRC’s events are track days but they also host driver school events.  As of the writing of this guide there are no further Buttonwillow events listed for 2017.  Learn more or sign up with NCRC at: http://www.ncracing.org/events.php

Speed Ventures Logo

Speed Ventures

  • Track day frequency:  Most weekends
  • Example single day pricing
    • Typical Willow Springs price – $149-179
    • Typical Buttonwillow price – $189

Speed Ventures hosts events 2-4 weekends per month and rotates through all of the Southern California tracks.  Speed Ventures primarily hosts track days though they due have some time trails sessions for specific car types.  Examples include Corvette Challenge, S2K Challenge, Bimmer Challenge, Subura Challenge, Nissan Challenge etc.  Fairly recently Speed Ventures has also introduced a Mazda Miata race series.  Speed Ventures is another organization that offers a cheap way to get your car on track.  Learn more or sign up here: http://www.speedventures.com/

Specialty Organizations or Events

LA Shelby Club Logo

LA Shelby Club

  • Track day frequency:  once a year
  • Example single day pricing
    • Typical Willow Springs price – TBD

Though the LA Shelby Club typically only hosts one track day a year at Streets of Willow Springs I’ve included them on this list.  This is a very safety conscious organizer with great attendance from classic american muscle cars and it’s open to more than just Fords or Shelby cars.  Drivers here tend to be less aggressive and more laid back.  Learn more at: https://www.lashelbyclub.com/

Porsche Club of America Track Days

Porsche Owners Club

  • Track day frequency:  ~several per year
  • Example single day pricing – $250

There are multiple Porsche Owners Club regions in SoCal.  For example, the San Diego region and Orange Coast region.  These clubs host open track days and racing at various SoCal racetracks.  The events are geared towards Porsche cars non Porsche cars are welcome as well.  Most events have beginner groups with free instruction on a first come first serve basis so sign up early!  The Orange County Porsche Club website is here: http://www.pcaocr.com/  and the San Diego Porsche Club region here: http://www.pcasdr.org/

SCCA Logo

Sports Car Club of America (“SCCA”)

  • Track day frequency:  ~2 events a year
  • Example single day pricing – $150

The SCCA is the biggest race series organization in the country.  However, for purposes of this guide the only track events available to regular street cars, that I’m aware of, in SoCal are the Track Night in America.  The Track Night events are held in the evenings (3pm to 9pm) at tracks around the country and designed to be as beginner friendly as possible.  They are held at SoCal racetracks a few times per year.

SCCA’s home page is here: https://www.scca.com/
Track Night page is here: https://www.tracknightinamerica.com/

VARA Logo

Vintage Auto Racing Association (“VARA”)

In addition to their normal wheel to wheel race events, VARA offers a very popular and inexpensive multiple day school at Buttonwillow once a year (usually in January).  The school is a great way to get personal instruction with an instructor in your car in a safe environment that include lapping sessions on the track and car control clinics on a skid pad.  Learn more and sign up here: https://www.vararacing.com/

 

Continue to part 3: SoCal Racetracks (Road Courses) Guide (coming soon)

2 thoughts on “SoCal HPDE and Track Day Guide

  • October 13, 2017 at 10:28 am
    Permalink

    Hi,

    Cal Club which is a region of SCCA in Southern California has track events on selected race weekends where folks can bring a street car and run on the track. There are SCCA instructors there to watch and help or critique. How may we add our events to your site??
    The rules for Cal Club Time Trials may be found here http://www.calclub.com/html/html2/rules/NewRules/Time_Trial_Rules.pdf

    All events are run at Buttonwillow raceway the 2018 schedule is as follows

    February 17-18, 2018
    June 9-10, 2018
    September 1-2, 2018
    November 3-4, 2018

    My contact info is Ceci Smith
    Calclubhq@calclub.com
    661-304-9382

    Reply
    • October 13, 2017 at 12:04 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Ceci,

      I emailed that same Cal Club email address earlier this week asking about the SCCA PDX events. I wasn’t sure if Cal Club hosts any PDX events?

      I found the dates and info for the SCCA Cal Club time trials events easily enough and have included it in the draft of part 4 of this series which will be focused on time trials events.

      Thanks
      – Chad

      Reply

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