Randy Young's 01 S8 Exiting Turn 6 at Road America
Except that our heavy and high HP cars are hard on brakes, expect zero problems with the A8/S8 on the track. It's obviously not a race car, but it's certainly designed well enough that, with reasonable precautions and some common sense, the A8/S8 will perform admirably on the track in every way.
What to Bring
Helmet -- with a Snell SA 1995 or later rating. Helmets currently being sold have an SA 2000 rating. And it should be comfortable!
Torque wrench for wheels -- Torque lug nuts to 90 ft-lb.
Good tire gauge -- I ran front/rear 42/42 psi hot with SP8000's, and 47/47 the last time out on S-03's.
Spare set of front pads -- It's not likely, but not impossible, that you'll totally trash your front pads (been there, done that). Having a spare set of pads will let you drive home safely. Better yet, install track only pads that can take the heat. You can't go far wrong with the Pagid 4-4 Orange or the Ferodo 3000R compound (both front and rear to maintain brake bias).
A full tank of gas -- You don't get very good gas mileage running at full throttle all day; I average less than 7 mpg on the track.
Lots of drinking water -- You're going to get thirsty!
Check before First Session
Top up levels of coolant, brake fluid, and engine oil. [I use Mobil 1 0w-40.] And stating the obvious ... to top up the fluids, you'll need to bring these along also.
Check that the radiator is free of leaves or trash. Running at full throttle 90+% of the time for 30 minutes is a severe test of your cooling system, and you don't need leaves blocking air flow.
Check that you have at least 50% remaining brake pad thickness both front and rear.
Consider bleeding the brakes. You'll usually eliminate an air bubble or two and firm up the brake pedel.
Consider replacing OE brake fluid with a high boiling fluid. I use Castrol SRF, a very high performance DOT 4 fluid suitable for both street and racing, Motul 600 is another excellent choice. If you do bleed the brakes, you might as well take the opportunity to replace the fluid at the same time.
If you use Rain-X on your windshield, thoroughly clean (using alcohol, soap & water, or Windex etc) the area where you'll be sticking any car number. If you don't, expect it to blow off on the track, assuming you can get it to stick to the windshield in the first place.
Empty trunk and glove box, and remove everything from the car that's not tied down.
Car Care Tips
Recheck fluid levels before every session.
Check the condition of your tires before every session.
Re-torque lug nuts to 90 ft-lb before every session. I haven't had any problems, but I've heard reports that the lug nuts on aluminum wheels can loosen under track conditions.
Run a warm up lap every session to bring the motor and tires up to temperature. Don't push the motor to high rpm until water temperature is "normal".
Put A/C in "Econ" mode, turning the A/C compressor off. You don't want the additional heat load on the cooling system, or the hp loss.
Keep your eye on the temperature guage. If necessary, you can run with the passenger compartment heater on max to add a little capacity to the cooling system. [Been there, done that too; and my apologies to the instructor in the passenger seat.]
Make the last lap of every session a cool down lap, with minimum braking to let air flow cool your red hot rotors.
Park your car on a level spot at the end of the session and do NOT engage the emergency brake. If you clamp the rear brake pads on scorching hot rotors, you'll likely either deposit pad material on your rotors or warp them.
After every session, raise hood to let the motor cool without cooking other under-the-hood components. [Maybe this is just a macho thing.]
Remove the plastic center caps from your wheels. The brakes will get hot enough to melt the plastic, and they'll roll off into the weeds alongside the track somewhere, lost forever. The same applies if you have plastic covers over the lug nuts -- remove them.
If you do feel you're losing the brakes on the track, either the pedal going soft (boiling brake fluid) or reduced stopping power with a firm pedal (overheated pads), immediately back off. Either run a cool down lap and resume, or run a cool down lap and come in.
First Timers – Listen to and trust your instructor. He's there to insure that you can safely have fun learning about performance driving with your Audi.
Turn off ESP -- In the "heat of the moment", more than once I've forgotten to do this and could smell my brake pads burning by the 3rd lap. Next time, I'm going to make an arrow out of yellow tape and stick it on the dash pointing at the ESP switch.
You're going to be using maximum braking, but try to be smooth both on and off the brakes. Even the S8 has a suspension that dives quite a bit under hard braking, and just jumping on and off the brakes will upset the car rather badly. Try to think "squeeze on", and make the release very deliberate (both still done quickly, though).
If you get a chance, get a copy of "Speed Secrets" by Ross Bentley. It's a great book explaining the how and why of the racing line, braking, accelerating, etc. etc. You can get a copy overnight from amazon.com.
Last but not least: The standard auto insurance policy normally does cover you and your car at driving schools, but not at races, timed events, or competitive events. I would recommend reading the fine print of your policy though; recently a few insurance companies have begun excluding driving schools.
You're going to have a ball; and the performance of this rather large 4-door sedan is going to surprise more than a few.