Preparing for Your First NASA HPDE event

So you are going to your first NASA HPDE event and you're wondering what you should do to prepare your car. As a beginner you most likely have not been on the track and will take it easy on your first HPDE event. In HPDE 1 most people take a bit easy on the car, you know, trying to learn the track. So you really don’t need to go crazy and spend a bunch of money to mod the car to be a full-fledged race car. I have complied a list of bare minimum items to prep your car for the big day:

  • Change your brake fluid to DOT 4. Its boiling point is a lot higher than DOT 3 making the fluid less likely to boil. The downside is you have to change it more frequently, once water moisture gets in the fluid its boiling point drops tremendously, faster than DOT 3. I use ATE Type 200 it can cost anywhere from $15-$20. It’s been good to me and I have no complaints.
  • Check all Fluids.  In addition to break fluid, make sure you are not leaking any fluids as it ruins the track for others. If you need to replace old fluids or top off some fluids I would do so. You don’t want to run out of brake fluid in the middle of the session. That would be scary! The ones I would replace would be engine oil and coolant.
  • Full Tank of Gas. If your local track offers gas, it often is ridiculously priced like $6/gallon! Yikes!
  • Torque bar. At times your lug nuts can come loose; I would tighten them after the first session of the day when the car has cooled down a bit. If you torque the lug nuts when the wheels are hot, it becomes difficult to take them off later when cooled.
  • Jack Lift, jack stands, tools.  Just in case something goes wrong with your car you definitely want to come prepared.
  • Camping chair, snacks, water, lunch, sunscreen. These are really important items to have at a race track. Granted you might have food and water at your local race track, but you never know.  I don’t know about you but I can’t race a car if I’m starving and thirsty.
  • Tires. Make sure you have good tires. They don’t have to be the top of the line tires, but, they do have to be safe for you and the instructor. Make sure you don’t have any nails, sidewall bulges, tread under 2/32nd, cracking, cords, or anything else that could cause you to crash.
  • Helmet. Bring a helmet that is AT LEAST M2010 or newer. Be aware these requirements change throughout the years. Check the NASA rule book for the latest info.
  • Brakes. Again you don’t have to spend a butt load of money to get the best brake pads but I would make sure you at least have ½ of the original thickness. Also check that your rotors don’t have cracks.
Again these are just the bare minimum items to prep your car for your first HPDE event. NASA does require for your car to undergo a rigorous inspection. There are other items in addition to the ones mentioned about they look for.  You can check it out here: