How to Take Part in an Open Track Day

Post by Mark

Until our local race track opens up end of 2018, our next best option for racing our cars is to take them to an open track day at the Bahrain International Circuit. You don’t need previous experience or a special car to race during open track days, anyone can take part, but the better the car and the better the driver you are, the more enjoyable the experience will be. Hopefully with the information below you’ll find the Bahrain International Circuit a lot more accessible.

What is an open track day?
Around twice a month, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) allows people to come in and race on their Formula 1 track. The day is split between motorbikes and cars, 30 minutes for the cars, then 30 minutes for the bikes and repeat until the day is over. You don’t actually race against other cars during open track day, in fact you’re not even allowed to over take other cars except in designated areas (the long straights) for safety reasons. What most people do is race against the clock. For example using the app Harry’s GPS Laptimer, I was able to monitor my lap and sector timings so I know if I’m doing better or worse after every lap. You can then compare lap times with friends or against other peoples lap times online.

Can you go alone?
Yes you can, but it would obviously be more fun with a friend, even if that friend isn’t racing, they could still ride passenger with you and during the 30 minute breaks you’ll have someone to chill with. I guess if you’re alone you could read a book but you could also be social and meet other people. On this trip for example in my group we were four guys, when we got to the track we found six other guys also from Kuwait who we knew so we all hung out in the pits together during the breaks. So you could find and interact with other drivers from Kuwait or mingle with drivers from other places like Saudi and Bahrain.

If you’re a female reader and are interested in racing your car, I want to point out that there are usually plenty of other girls during track day either racing or just hanging out with friends. So you can interact and hang out with other women if you want to.

Do you need to have a sports car?
Technically you don’t, as long as your car runs properly they’ll let you race it on the track. There was a Grand Cherokee and an old Caprice during the last open track day, but both of them didn’t stay on the track for long. Also keep in mind there is a reason why there are track versions of sports cars. The Porsche Cayman GT4 is not the same as a regular Cayman, one is made for normal street use the other was created with track racing in mind. Track focused cars will usually have better and stiffer suspension, larger brakes, better tires, better cooling, more power and a bunch of other things.

Do you need previous track experience?
No you don’t. Before you go onto the track it is mandatory you take part in a safety briefing where they will take you through all the rules involved. You can also request to have a professional driver get in your car with you to show you the braking points on the track as well as give you tips on when to turn and other track advice.

Since you live in Kuwait, the first thing you need to do is get your car to Bahrain. There are a number of ways of doing that, here are three:

Cheapest Way: You drive your car all the way from Kuwait to Bahrain. The journey would take around 4 to 5 hours depending on how busy the borders are.

Second Cheapest Way: This second option is a popular one, you drive your car to the Saudi border, once you cross the border and you’ll find car trailers waiting on the other side. You put your car on a trailer and have them drive to the Bahrain border. Once the trailer arrives at the Bahraini border, you dismount your car and drive into Bahrain. This way you avoid driving on the Saudi road. The trailer cost is KD40 per direction so going and coming would cost you KD80.

Expensive but Easiest Way: You have a trailer come pick up your car from Kuwait, and then drop it off for you in Bahrain. You get to Bahrain by plane. This is what I did and it’s kinda fine if you do it every now and then, but very expensive to do for every open track day since it costs KD120 per direction (so KD240 in total). There are ways to make this a bit more economical like for example instead of staying at a hotel, I ended up staying at my friends place in Bahrain. The money I saved on the hotel offsets the cost of the shipping by half at least. When the weather gets better in the fall, I might end up shipping my car to Bahrain for a track day, and then leave my car parked at my friends place until the next track day. That way I could do two track days but ship my car once. To transport my car I used a Bahraini company called “Phantom Transportation in the GCC”. The guy to get in touch with is called Saleh and his phone number is +973-66622216. He doesn’t speak English. All you need to ship your car to Bahrain is a power of attorney (tawkeel) and nothing else.

Other Costs

Bahrain International Circuit: The cost of a full open track day at the circuit is KD70. A full track day is from 4PM to 11PM with an hour and half break in between. For more details click [Here]

Helmet: You need one or else they won’t let you race. If you don’t have one thats fine, you can rent one from the track.

Fuel: I filled up like 4 times during the open track day. BIC have a gas station but only provide 95 octane fuel for some reason. If you want 98 octane fuel there is a gas station down the street from BIC after Starbucks that sell it. [Map]

Tires and Brake Pads: Depending on the condition and durability of the tires and how hard you drive, you might need a new set after a track day. I definitely did as you can see in the picture above. Same with the brake pads, they’re a consumable and you’ll be consuming a lot if you’re hard on the brakes.

Plane Ticket and Hotel: Gulf Air and Kuwait Airways fly direct to Bahrain, expect to pay around KD70. Hotel prices vary greatly obviously.

I think thats all there is to it. If you’re into cars and love going fast then I highly recommend you try this at least once in your life. In case you have any questions which I didn’t answer above, let me know in the comments.

Update: When I first published this post I stated that expats can’t get a transit visa from Saudi based on what I was told by the visa office I contacted. But, I was just made aware by a friend that they were able to get transit visa multiple times for Saudi. So I’ve edited the post and I will now be contacting this other visa office for more details on how to get a Saudi transit visa.

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14 comments, add your own...

  1. vampire says:

    Great post..
    Lets go together and beat ur A$$

  2. F H says:

    My understanding is that if you are an expat they would only issue you a visa to pass through Saudi to your homeland depending on what passport you are holding.

    So in other words if you are Jordanian or Egyptian traveling by car through Saudi, you will be issued a visa and be allowed to enter and exit Saudi only from the borders that leads you to Jordan or Egypt. Obviously the visa issued to you will not specify which borders you are allowed to exit from but it is controlled by the security working there.

    Last time I checked was over a year ago. I hope that has changed.

    • Mark says:

      Yeah from what the office had told me, I can’t get a transit visa to bahrain unless I had a Bahraini residency. But my friend who’s American was able to get transit visa to Jordan, Dubai and Oman, and he was also able to get a multiple entry transit visa valid for 6 month. So I’ll find out more and then post my finding.

      • F H says:

        That would be great. Thanks.

        • BraveArc says:

          I’m pretty sure there’s a way for to expats or atleast there was. My dad, mom and I drove down to Bahrain from here back in 2004. Unless the rules have changed since then(wouldn’t be too surprising), it’s possible.

      • Burhan says:

        The trick to this is to get a multiple entry visa to Bahrain; which is now an option for expats with GCC residency. Then you can use that to get a transit from Saudi.

      • Nissam Ahmed says:

        I would like to know which is agency Can arrange a saudi transit visa? Im kuwait resident and i would like drive down to bahrain.

    • Maged says:

      but Mark how did you manage to transport your car to Bahrain if this rule really applies , been looking to do the same till I knew that expats are only allowed to drive to their homeland from Kuwait.

  3. Dun says:

    Can you rent a track car there? That might work out to be the same price as shipping your car. It would also be really cool for people who don’t own track cars.

    • Mark says:

      Well I bought a track car so I can track it, even if its cheaper to rent a track car there I wouldn’t since the aim is to track my own track car. I don’t think they do have any track cars for rent anyway, but I remember someone rented a cayman from a rental agency and then tracked it.

      • Burhan says:

        I’m quite sure that’s against the rules (use a rental for a track day) unless its a company specializing in that. For example, there are some companies in Germany that will rent you a car to go blasting on the autobahn, but they are regulated and they provide cars with the right equipment (tires, brakes, etc.)

  4. Ipsom says:

    Thanks for the informative post

    Small question on the second cheapest option: are those trailers old and almost broken down, or are they in good condition and can take a low sports car?
    Also if they tow your car u need to ride with them in the trailer…?

    • Mark says:

      Well my friends all have sports cars so they can take a low sports car.

      Regarding riding with the trailer I’m assuming thats fine, it would just be a boring ride. In my case one of my friends has his car parked in Bahrain so he drives in an SUV. After the border we’d put the cars on trailers and then hop into his car.

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