Racer 101

Roadracing Primer Page
If you've ever thought about roadracing now is the time to learn how!

This roadracing guide will give you the basic knowledge to turn your notion into reality. Roadracing is really more about confronting mental, physical, and vehicular challenges. Using great wit and even greater skills to overcome the limitations of traction and other laws of physics. All this in a quest to get to the checkered flag before the competition. There are classes of racing for everyone. From vintage to superbike racing.


Racing Organizations

Throughout the country, there are around 20 organizations that rent tracks, provide safety crews, take care of paper work and run the races. Wherever you live, no matter your skill level or what you ride, there is an organization to meet your needs. They have classes for everything from current production machines, to vintage racers, and racetrack-only Grandprix-based bikes. Some organizations run on a national level, covering the entire country with up to nine regions. Regional clubs vary in the number of venues they run. You must contact the various organizations to find out the particulars. (See: Racing Organization Page)

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What It Cost

These organizations cover operating costs by charging membership dues and race entry fees. Most one-year memberships cost between $50.00 and $100. Entry fees range from $25 - $85 for the first class you enter, and usually go down from there on a sliding scale when you sign up for additional races in the same weekend. Track entrance fees and either parking or camping fees are sometimes charged. Prices vary.

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Licensing

All clubs require a racing license. To obtain one, you must take a new rider school. These cost anywhere from $45 - $150. Most clubs give a discount on the school to riders who have successfully completed private Roadracing and safety classes. (See: Motorcycle Race & Safety Schools)

When you take the new comers Roadracing School, you must ride a bike prepared to the race organization's standards in order to take the class. If you're not quite ready to make this commitment, find a friend with a bike on which you can complete the course. Better yet some schools include bike rental in their prices.

These one-day classes usually consist of chalk talks on the club's basic racetrack rules, flagging procedures, and follow the leader track time to learn the racer's line around the course. At the end of the day you can expect a written exam to make sure you understand all that is expected of you. Most candidates will graduate; crashing is the best way to flunk out. You will have to repeat the entire class.

Some organizations offer what is known as open track days. This is an opportunity for you to get even more practice time in.

First time racers are classified as novices or amateur racers. In all organizations racers who have gained a great deal of experience, and wins are moved up to "expert" ranking, where they compete in a separate, more more-competitive class. The procedure for this varies from organization to organization. Generally, a club will move a rider up when he has accumulated a predetermined number of points in one season. The main difference between novices and experts in most clubs is experience. The highest echelon in the racing community is the pros. They are a step above the experts and all classes have some kind of cash payback for top finishers.

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Race Bike Preparation

All bikes must pass what is called Scrutineering or Technical inspection to ensure that you have complied with the organization safety requirements . If you have an ex-racebike you will not be faced with the meticulous race preparation of safety wiring your bike. Make sure you get a copy of your organizations rules and regulations which are very specific about what you need to do to have your bike race ready for the track. It's very disappointing to show up to the track ready for fun and you fail tech inspection. As a general rule you should safety anything that you do not want to come off at high speeds. Attention to detail is the key to survival at high speeds. It is quite stupid not to be safe on a racetrack, and it is also selfish. Something could fall off your bike and make you or another rider crash.

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Select Your Pit Area

This varies from track to track and is a matter of personal preference. I suggest to always pit closest to the tires and parts guys. Short commute to basic necessities.

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What to Bring

A) Fire extinguisher
B) No alcohol and drugs are allowed during the day.
C) An old rug or tarp to lay down in the pits.
D) A couple of folding chairs.
E) Fuel-You can fuel in the pits but it's every expensive.
F) All your tools if your like me. It makes you feel you can handle any job.
G) A drill, with drill bits in case you missed safety wiring a bolt.
H) Lots of water or Gatorade, and plenty of food to eat. The food at racetracks is expensive.
I) A bicycle or pit bike for getting around. The pit area at most racetracks are large.
J) Rain gear if you have any. Race's run rain or shine.
K) A friend to help and keep lap times for you. Also they can drive you home if you crash.

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Mental Preparation

Racing! I don't care what anyone says. There's nothing like it. If you're reading this section you must be thinking about racing. You've ridden your motorcycle for years, and you think you're fast. But consider this: Anyone can go fast in a straight line. It takes great skill to go fast around curves. A person must be mentally and physically prepared to roadrace. I purchased every race-related videotape, read every book, and participated in every motorcycle related race and safety class I could find before I started racing. It wasn't until a few instructors suggested I give racing a try that I did. Motorcycling racing is fast paced sport, and should not be approached lightly. There are certain things you don't want to find out first hand. Look at how the experts get around the track. You learn nothing by watching novices except how to make mistakes. These mistakes can be dangerous, even deadly at high speeds. If you decide to race, it's not a question of if you'll crash, but when. In my first year of racing everyone I met from amateur to expert had crashed at least once by the end of the season. Most had gone down multiple times. I saw ever kind of injury from broken bones to death. We all have bad days, or weekends. One weekend I went down four times. Each time you crash, it's cost you money to fix something on your bike, if not your body. Drink and Drugs are bad. Don't do them and race. There is so much to learn, take your time ask questions, and it will all fall into place.

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What You Get

Roadracing is fun but it won't make you rich. The standing joke at the racetrack is " How do you make a small fortune in racing? Start with a big one!" There are, however, rewards. Trophies and wooden plaques await the top finishers, but monetary rewards are also at stake. The "purse" is paid by the club or racing organization. Other monies and products certificates come in the form contingencies from motorcycle manufacturers, after-market companies, and local businesses when you use their products. If you're really good you can win over $1000.00 in cash and consumable products for one victory. If you race in multiple classes you can win even more.

Individual race wins are cool, but class championships are the ultimate reward for a long season's worth of hard work. Points are assessed for individual placing during each race. Points are tallied throughout the season and winners crowned when the season comes to a close. Sometimes this title garners more than bragging rights. You can win anything from 3-foot tall trophies, to custom jackets, to pickup trucks. Then come the offers from professional contracts, to complete race sponsorship.

Well that's it for my brief introduction into how to get started in roadracing.

I'll see you at the track!

Roadracing is a dangerous sport, and should not be approached lightly! This writer assumes no responsibility for anything that might occur after reading this article.

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