Budding petrolhead, Jodi Smith (daughter of SA motor racing champion, Robbi “Smurf” Smith), recently had her first track day outing, she shares her experiences here.
By: Jodi Smith
I’ve always wanted to attend one of Killarney Raceway’s open track days. The problem was, how to convince my dad to be a part of it. He has always been a little reluctant to let me near a track as he knows I have the same appetite for speed as him. I mean, what was he thinking when he named me after (SA’s only F1 champ – Ed) Jody Scheckter?
Recently, I twisted his arm into sharing his wisdom with me and showing me how to drive fast and safe on a track.
Open to all
The public event took place at Cape Town’s Killarney Raceway on Saturday, May 26. After a simple registration and payment process, each participant is assigned to a group depending on their driving experience.
Group 1: Novice (“I’ve never done this before, s***, what have I signed up for?” or “I’m keen to learn and have a good time”)
Group 2: Intermediate (“I’ve been here before, can’t you tell by my semi-slicks?”)
Group 3: Advanced (“Wanna race?”)
A simple check
We then proceed to ‘scrutineering’ for a full car assessment where our vehicle’s water/oil levels, tyre pressure and depth, brake pads and any leaks are checked for. Whilst your car is being scrutinised, you can meet fellow speed freaks. My adrenaline begins pumping as I hear engines revving. We’re all getting excited now #EndorphinCentral
There was an interesting array of vehicles lined-up, including an Audi TT RS, a few Porsche 911s, BMW M2s and old Chevy racecar, an Audi R8 Spyder, a Merc-AMG C63 and plenty of VW Golfs and Polos.
The most important rules are: no loud exhausts, Killarney Raceway has been struggling with noise pollution complaints and keen to keep its neighbours happy, no oil leaks, no drinking alcohol in the pits, watch and obey the race signal flags and lastly stick to the rules of the group you’re driving in.
Click here to read up on our first track day with Project MX-5.
The day begins with Group 1’s introduction to track safety and layout. Driving tips/techniques and racetrack flag descriptions are presented by racing driver Peet Van Der Walt.
After everyone is confident and ready for their first session, we prepare to head out. There are all kinds of people here: mums, dads, couples, ex-wives, hunky bachelors… the one thing we all have in common is that we’re all petrolheads.
A mighty mouse
I have a Fiat 500 Abarth. It’s front wheel drive with a 1,4-litre turbocharged engine. Tyre pressure plays a crucial part in your performance. We set my car’s tyres to 2,2 bars. I learnt a heck of a lot about over and understeering through the day.
Group 3 warmed the track up and thereafter each group rotates for the rest of the day in 15-minute sessions. Each track corner is marked with traffic cones, showing drivers the perfect lines.
Once you’ve got the hang of your racing lines, you begin focusing on your braking and gear changing. With every new lap comes greater confidence. You become one with the road, using it more each time.
As the day progresses, a 1-in-50 McLaren 650S Le Mans anniversary edition arrives and the driver is not pussyfooting on the track.
Later, we enjoyed a boerie roll as you have to at a local racetrack and swapped stories with other drivers who were still there.
The Killarney open track day is for all kinds of folks, and all kinds of machines. I’d love to see more ladies there. Come on gals. I can’t wait for the next event in June.