Track Day Experiences & Suggestions circa 2010
Try to get yourself a copy of Roadracing World's Track Day Directory. They do one a year. You may be able to access online. I keep them all, as each year has something new in it. Lots of tips.
Get yourself a copy of Keith Code's Twist of The Wrist 2 DVD, and the book with the very same title. The DVD is excellent. The book is too, but a bit tedious at times, however the book reinforces and expands upon the DVD and is filled with excellent info and you'll be missing out if you don't get the book too. You can not watch/read them too many times.
All of my Track Days have been at Calgary Race City, with the events run by BGPR.
I've logged about 1,000 miles on the track between last season and this season.
I started as a rank beginner Novice, and was moved into Intermediate after one school and 3 events. It is very well run, the clock is well adhered to. There are 5 minute warnings for every session. There are corner marshalls and a manned ambulance. There is also at least one “bike recovery” vehicle.
A Track Day is $ 200.
A Track Night is $ 140.
What a deal for what you get and what you get to do !
There are 3 classes:
This is where the fast roadracers go, aside from the Novice class racers.
This is also where the fast track day specialists go, guys and gals who would easily be expert or fast amateur roadracers if they wanted to race.
No passing restrictions.
This is always the largest group, by far.
Non Novice Track Day types go here.
So do slow amateur racers and novice racers.
It's mostly street bikes, but there is always a significant presence of prepped race bikes and dedicated track day bikes here.
Very few naked uprights, but this is where you will see most, if not all, of them.
At least 3/4s of the incidents will happen in this group.
Passing is allowed anywhere, but only on the outside. This is a problem, as some will pass on the inside, while others hog the outside to block, and others never do the same line twice. Once in an intermediate group and in with a pack near the back, you really have to be careful about following too closely or trying to pass.
This is not the place for racers, because it's not for racers.
First timers go here, as do first time track visitors - regardless of experience level.
Regular novices as well. Any out of town experienced visitors will start here and be moved out quickly if skill level says so.
First timers and first time track visitors get pulled aside after the Riders Meeting. They have two sessions paced by an instructor. Those still needing some on track guidance after that, will find themselves paired or up to a limit of 4 riders per instructor, at no charge.
Passing is only allowed on the outside of the two straights, and because the one straight is so short, it effectively means only passing on the main straight.
Required Bike & Rider Prep
Folded back taped mirrors, or mirrors removed. (Your local organizer may require mirror removal.)
Lean stand on is OK. ( I have heard other places require they be removed, and if so, make sure your lean stand switch is closed otherwise you will not be able to start you bike ! )
Street Coolant is OK (I have heard other places require you only have water, no glycol, but WaterWetter or Purple Ice is OK as an additive to the water)
No safety wiring is required (I have heard other places may require some, perhaps just the oil drain bolt.)
No lower chain run protector needed, as in a so called shark fin mounted on the bottom of the swingarm. (Maybe other places require that)
Full finger gloves.
Full leathers, but proper abrasion resistant ballistic nylon is allowed.
Two piece outfits must be upper / lower zipp together type.
Boots are required, bonafide boot, no ankle exposed, need at least some suit bottom/ boot overlap.
Armour is not required, but is recommended.
Get advice. As a general comment, cold 32 front and 35 rear will give you a tire that feels normal to those used to riding on street tires on the street. You’ll have more than enough grip for your first time. If you find yourself gumming up the tires after a few sessions, talk to someone at your track who is in the know, and get some revised pressure suggestions based on you as a rider and the tires you are running. If someone suggests starting with something like cold 30/30 and you happen to be on Michelin 2CTs or something like that, you’ll be fine but may get a bit spooked by the mushier tire carcass feel that you will notice. Run and hide if anyone suggests cold 36 front and 42 rear.
Do it at home, not at the track.
Even if all you do is check and write down your Free and Rider Sag numbers, as well as your adjuster screw turns or click counts.
Past that needs a book.
But make sure you have enough tools with you to be able to make basic changes, even if you don’t make any ! Rear shock collar tool, a wrench or socket for the front ride height adjuster, and screwdrivers that will actually fit your adjuster screws.
Asking for Help, Tips or Guidance
There are always people to ask.
Novices will get resources pointed out to them.
BGPR actually has their lead guy walk around and talk to people between sessions, focusing on the Novices in particular.
I’m sure many Track Day organizers have similar approaches and structure.
Like everything else, you’ll see people who look approachable and seem to have it together, and usually they are safe bet to try.
My experience has been as soon as I make it clear I need help, and am looking for it, I get helped or get steered to someone who can help me.