Sound Ideas Recording at The Track

The Sound of Speed – Recording at a Race Track

For some, a day at the race track usually includes either spectating, or driving a fast car. For the Sound Ideas field recording team, our day at the track is a little bit different. Instead of bringing race gear, we loaded up the car with sound recording equipment and off we went to the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park located in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.

The Gear

Here’s a breakdown of the sound gear we brought with us:

  • Sanken CUW-180 Mic x 2
  • Sound Devices 722 Recorder
  • AKG Headphones x 2
  • Rycote Modular Windshield Kit x 2
  • DPA 5100 Mobile Surround Mic
  • Sound Devices 788T Recorder
  • Pressure-zone Mic
  • Tripod
  • Boom Pole

Lugging all this gear around the track could have been a nightmare, luckily we were able to drive out to most of the locations we had mapped out the day prior.

Recording from a Bridge Over the Track
Recording from a Bridge Over the Track

The Cars

The day that we were at the track was a Run What You Own event, so there was a wide array of cars. From high end expensive track built cars, to daily driven mid-class modified cars and everything in between. It was nothing short of impressive.

Here’s a list of just a few of the cars:

  • Dodge Viper
  • Nissian GTR
  • Porsche 911
  • BMW M3
  • Mercedes AMG Sedan
  • Ford Mustang
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Honda S2000
  • Hyundai Genesis Coupe
  • Subaru BRZ & WRX STI
Recording A Porsche Driving By
Recording A Porsche Driving By

The Game Plan

We wanted to hit the ground running as soon as we got on location at the track, so we spent the day prior printing out maps of the track and selecting locations that we felt would be the best to capture the sounds we wanted to get. We also made a list of the sounds we wanted to focus on capturing as well.

Map of the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
Map of the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

The morning plan consisted of us going from location to location. We would spend about an hour at each location. We would record in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound, to get a variety of different sounds at each location.

In the afternoon, the plan was to meet up with one of the instructors, set up the pressure-zone mics in his car and go out for a couple laps to record interior sounds. This was the part of the day we were most excited for! We made sure to have a bunch of duct tape, painters tape, and zip ties to secure all our gear within the car. The last thing we wanted was to enter into a fast corner and have the recorder fly out and hit someone or something in the car!

Recording at Turn 2
Recording at Turn 2

The Experience

As soon as we got there, we were invited into the drivers meeting where we learned all the safety aspects of driving on a track. Once the meeting was over, we immediately went over to the bridge by turn 2 and started setting up. The first two sessions were warm ups, where the drivers take it easy and get to know the track. Once the drivers were more confident and ready to do hot laps, the sound intensified tenfold!

We were able to record a lot of different variations of passbys, from cars gearing down into a corner to flat out in the straights. Spending roughly an hour at each predetermined location on the track, we were able to get most done by mid-day.

Lunch time almost snuck up on us, the track suddenly went dead quiet which was such a contrast to the loud roaring of the cars engines. The track gets shut down so all the drivers can eat together and discuss their sessions so far. We had the opportunity to join them and get to know them a bit more.

Setting up the pressure-zone mic in a race car.
Setting up the pressure-zone mic in a race car.

After lunch, one of the driving instructors invited us to get out on track with him to record some interior sounds. We mounted recorder in the door panel of the car with zip-ties, the pressure-zone mic got mounted underneath the driver’s seat with duct tape, facing towards the pedals, and the handheld mic got duct taped to the passengers’ hand. Safety first is the key here! The laps were so incredibly fast and loud, but it was such an exhilarating experience! It is almost like being on a rollercoaster, with the track elevation changes.

Ready To Hit The Track
Ready To Hit The Track

We finished up the day by going out to a couple more track location to record more passbys.

The day at the track seemed to just zoom by (pun intended). We didn’t get to record every single sound that we had planned to, but that’s how it goes when you are on location. Sometimes you just have to adapt to the situation and change your plans to fit. Where ever you are recording, just make the best of it because the unplanned sounds can turn out to be the best ones you record!

Check out Sound Ideas’ great car racing sound effects collection!

Written by: Erin Dunt (@ErinAmber_D)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *