If you love riding motorcycles and are looking to go fast on the track, a motorcycle racing school might be just what you are looking for. Many local motorcycle tracks offer what’s called a “track day” with three different levels of racing instruction – for three different level drivers; beginning, intermediate and experienced. In addition to offering courses for racing, they also offer classes that provide motorcyclists with better skills for street riding. The motorcycle safety foundation (MSF) has courses throughout the US to teach riders how to ride and even some refresher courses for advanced riders which are generally free of charge. Attending a track day or a motorcycle racing school is a completely different curriculum, at a track day you get to learn how to actually ride on a race track, not in the parking lot of a local college (where many MSF courses are offered). Of course, track days will cost you some money, but a $200 investment might be worth the price and it will surely make you a better rider!
These racing schools often operate at many local tracks and the instructors are current riders, past racers and sometimes even current racers. One of the most popular and highly reputed track day organizations is Sportbiketracktime.com. , others include Learning Curves Racing and Superbike Racing in California has a great reputation for highperformance racing schools.
What to expect at a track day event:
The day begins early in the classroom (usually 7am) but riders arrive much earlier to set up their tents and canopies for the day. Beginners without gear should plan on arriving early as well, as the safety gear requirements include leather racing suits (a hefty expense for a beginner) but are often available for rent at a very reasonable price. Coolers are set up with cold beverages, tire warmers are hooked up to generators (for the more advanced riders) and final preparations are made to motorcycles to make sure they are track ready. The “classroom” starts out with a narrated track walk, to familiarize the riders with the track, the runoff areas, track etiquette, race lines and other specific track information. Once the track walk is complete, riders convene in a real classroom where they are taught the proper use of safety equipment, bike set-up, racing procedures and safety flagging. They finally get to go on the track – anywhere from two to six at a time with an instructor – and they get a feel for the race track and then get critiqued on their performances. Instructors often offer suggestions about performance, lines, style and safety. Prior to getting on the track again, the entire group takes a written test on safety, flagging and procedures before the “exhibition” race. The exhibition race includes a warm-up lap and then an actual race, different schools have different types of exhibition races, but most include various flags being displayed, mock accidents, and other (safe) surprises to help simulate a true motorcycle race.
One of the biggest benefits of attending a track day is teaching a rider what they and their motorcycle are capable of, including knowing their own limits and getting out of a dangerous situation on the street should one come up.
Schools are all about safety, if riders are not wearing the required protective gear, they will not race. Here is a general list of safety gear requirements for beginner or advance driving schools:
· A 1 piece leather race suit (some tracks allow two piece provided they zip together all the way around)
· Full Face DOT approved helmet with an unblemished face shield
· Leather gauntlet gloves that have leather protection in the palms and fingers
· Leather boots a minimum of 8 inches tall – if they have laces, they must be taped up
Not only is the rider required to wear special gear, the motorcycle must be prepped as well, no matter what size the bike (250 to 1000cc) the requirements are all the same.
Safety wire is required on the oil fill cap, the oil drain plug and the oil filter. Motorcycles with a spin-on oil filter should be wrapped with a hose clamp and then the hose clamp is safety wired. You can find safety wire at any local motorcycle dealership.
Once the bike is wired correctly, the following parts need to be removed or attended to:
· Remove the mirror
· Remove the side stand and center stand
· Remove the turn signals – if they are flush mount they must be taped over
· Remove the lights and gauges or they must be taped over as well
If riders have any oil or coolant leaks, they will not be allowed on the track – they should go to their local dealer and get the motorcycle fixed before attending a track day.
Spectators would even enjoy a day at the track day watching the motorcycle driving school participants. Since there are three levels of classes in one track day, the advanced spend more time on the track and less in the classroom than the beginners and the intermediate are on and off the track as well – so even though they all have classroom time, one group is always on the track,
A great investment if you are considering attending a motorcycle racing school, they generally cost around $200. If you buy a new Sportbike some manufacturers (like Yamaha) will pay for a track day for you – and some dealers often sponsor a track day once or twice a year, giving their customers discounts for the day and enjoying a day at the track themselves.