Do it! It’s a buzz. But be warned, it’s addictive. Within a few years you’ll have sold your house, mortgaged your partner, bought a van, be living on the streets and hanging around bike shops even more than you do now!
Have you done some ride days or coaching days? If not do some. Coaching days are great and you’ll get an insight on getting around a track effectively, bike set up etc. Dirt bike riding is also a big help with any sort of road/race riding to hone your skills.
Your closest race track should hold what they call ‘Ride Days’. These are perfect to see what your Ducati can really do within the law and in a safe environment away from the unpredictability of the road and its users. Hearing your Ducati sing lap after lap is something you need to try at least once!
Most operators will split up groups of riders into groups based on experience and speed. This is mainly self-regulated for the first track session and they move people around based on lap times and closing speeds as the day progresses.
Your first day: You should book into the slowest group which is typically called the beginners group. Most operators will have staff on hand to help this group through the day with any questions you might have and also run theory sessions in between track sessions to help you get the most out of yourself, your bike and the day. If you find yourself too fast for this group during the day, ask to be bumped up if you haven’t been already.
Things to take to a track day:
- Your bike in good mechanical condition having been serviced recently. The organisers will check basic items only.
- A Quality Helmet – what’s your head worth?
- Full Leathers – These can either be a 1 piece suit or jacket and pants but these must zip together. As you get faster it is a good idea to invest in a back protector as well plus you will need one if you intend to go racing.
- Tyres in good condition, you will put some wear on them so ensure there is enough meat left!
- Tyre pressure gauge – Unless you are super quick straight off the get go, the advice you will typically hear from the staff is to set the cold pressure to 30psi front and rear. This is because as the tyres get warm the pressure will increase and the more that happens the less tyre is making contact with the road.
- A chair! – If you are lucky enough to trailer your bike to the track pack a chair. If you are riding there and someone is going to visit or another friend is towing their bike there, get them to bring you a chair. It’s hard work out there!
- A full tank of fuel – also, as above it can help to have some spare on hand as most tracks do not have it available.
Now that you have a taste for it, you may want to start going faster – this is where some coaching comes in.
Coaching/Schools: There is a great selection of companies that can help you take your riding to the next level. California Superbike School, MotoDNA, Top Rider and Stay Upright to name a few. These guys and girls know what they are talking about and their track insight will make you faster and safer. Not just on the track either, the skills you learn transfer to your road riding as well.
So now you have done some coaching, taken those skills to some track days, moved your way up the groups and are now contemplating getting a race bike and doing some racing? DO IT! It’s one of the most exhilarating things you will ever do, plus it will impress your mates!
Racing: So it’s time to step up to the next level. You have probably been pushing your road bike around the track a little harder than you would like plus have contemplated having to tell your significant other you damaged your shiny road bike, not to mention the expensive repair bill due to no insurance on track.
Firstly though, you need to work out what class of racing you want to be in. This is typically determined by the bike you ride and the size of its engine. Head on over to www.ozbearsracing.com and check out the class categories there and that will give you a good idea. Secondly, talk to some of the clubs racers and find out their recommendations as they probably already have an eye on you from your track day exploits. Thirdly – Ride what you love, if it stirs your soul and is a bike you have always wanted to race or already love then do it!
Time to get a race bike and there are a few ways to go about this. The simplest and typically cheapest way overall is to “buy someone else’s dream”. For a variety of reasons people move their race bikes on. If you don’t need the latest and greatest with all the power and electronics there are some real bargains to be had. If you are pretty handy on the tools you can also pick up a bike from the salvage auctions and fix it up yourself with the assistance of your favourite mechanic. Due to the NSW statutory write off laws a bike doesn’t need to be too badly damaged to be written off – be wary though as sometimes damage is hidden. The Motorcycle Sportsmen of QLD have put together this handy PDF to guide you through getting it ready to race to be used in conjunction with the manual of motorcycle sport. http://www.motorcyclesportsmen.com.au/uploads/1/4/4/6/14460068/race-prep_101_b.pdf .You are also likely to now be in the world of slicks, tyre warmers, race stands, spare wheels ect. Remember though, this sport isn’t cheap but it’s also only as expensive as you want to make it.
So for the official stuff, there are a few other things you will require to go racing. A club membership, racing licence and some ambulance cover. The good news is, your DOCNSW club membership is Motorcycling Australia affiliated so you can apply for a racing licence straight away. If you are still unsure about it all and just want to dip your toe in you can get a $90 one event licence through the organiser of the meeting you are going to enter as a full year licence is quite expensive – roughly $350. As for the ambulance cover, that is pretty self-explanatory so we’ll just leave that there.
Enter a race: Talk to some of the racers in the club over on the DOCNSW Facebook page and see if you can ‘buddy up’ with someone and share a garage at a meeting. This way they can guide you through the busy Saturday morning of signing on, scrutineering and general running of the event. From there its smooth sailing and you’re on your way to creating some life long memories, cool photos to impress your mates and have a really great time doing it.
For all the finer details of where to go to apply for a licence, a suggested race meeting to enter or any other questions about bike setup email the current racing manager at firstname.lastname@example.org