SINGAPORE – More drivers from Singapore are making a 3½-hour road journey to Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia for track days.
Through bookings made by Singapore-based motor workshops or motoring clubs, the drivers get to use the racetrack with their own vehicles. Each session lasts between four and eight hours.
Demand for track sessions from Singapore has been growing since border crossings with Malaysia reopened on April 1, 2022.
According to some organisers, there are now as many as five Sepang track days booked by Singapore groups in a given month, compared with an average of one or two sessions before the borders were closed in March 2020.
Track days cost a driver anything from $300 to $800 a session. The number of cars at each event can be 80 or more. The most exclusive and priciest track days have as few as 10 cars participating.
The 5.5km Sepang circuit was a regular fixture on the Formula One (F1) World Championship calendar from 1999 to 2017. Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen was the last F1 driver to take the chequered flag there.
Mr Andre Tang from motor workshop Garage R, which hosts two to three track days a year, says there has been a rush for track days since the border reopened.
Drivers are a mix of experienced trackgoers and first-timers.
The types of vehicles participating are also evolving, according to Mr Tang. Besides performance Japanese cars, European sports cars are becoming more popular.
Mr Tang says there have also been Tesla electric vehicles on the track, along with mass market cars such as the Honda Vezel and Mitsubishi Lancer.
Mr Arthur Wong from ACM Automobiles, a used car dealership which organised its first track day in Sepang in 2019, says such events are getting better organised than before.
In addition to the use of the circuit, organisers now include catered meals and event T-shirts.
Traction Circle Club, founded in 2002 to organise car track days, has more than 300 members now. In 2023, the club hosted seven track days, with the last one on Oct 28 running from 9am to 5pm.
Mr Daniel Yong, 53, who has enjoyed track driving for more than 20 years and is a member of Traction Circle Club, says: “Driving on a track is safer than being on the road. This is a safe environment to learn about cars and about driving.”
The club has a partnership with Grip Academy, a network of experienced race drivers, to train new drivers looking to hone their track driving skills.
The Sepang International Circuit also has open-track days. Drivers can just buy a ticket online in advance and turn up. A ticket costs RM300 (S$86) for an hour on the track.