Preparing For My First Track Day

I started looking into the possibility of doing a track day because, I wanted to take my Guzzi V11 Sport to see what it would do. Then the more I thought about it, I didn’t want to take that bike, and risk putting it in the dumpster at the end of the day.  I liked that bike far more than anything else in the shop.  So I looked for a dedicated track bike and a 250 or 650 would have been perfect, but I found a 2009 R6 on salvage for a song (an already race prepped 1st gen SV650 would have been perfect).  I snatched that R6 up and  started my research, parts were ordered, boxes arrived in the mail and on the doorstep almost every other day, and credit card debt was getting deeper.

I bought things like pair valve delete kit, ex-up delete dongle, Woodcraft clipons (which it needed, because the stock ones were damaged), Woodcraft rearsets, Penske shock, forks done by Race Tech, new Q3 tires, Galfer front and rear rotors, Galfer Double H sintered pads, Galfer front and rear brake lines, and embarrassingly enough the list goes on.  I was gonna set that track on fire and set a new track record, I was going to show everyone what it was all about, or so I thought.  Plus I’m a sucker, when it comes to trick parts.

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So was all that needed? NO! New clipons, rearsets, fork seals, and a slipon is all that was really needed to get the bike to the track.  I could have used it the way it was, I could have taken the bike naked and not worried about the fairing, but for some reason I thought I needed all this extra go-fast mojo.  I could have easily bought 2 full seasons of track days for the amount extra I had into my bike, that had trick parts that I really didn’t need.  I would have been faster for it, and further ahead.  You know how they say, “act your wage”? Well there should be another saying that says, “pack the parts for your speed”.  Meaning that if your not out-riding the stock shock, Don’t buy an aftermarket unit for the trick factor.  That shock could pay for 5 track days.  See my point?

Doing a track day can be relatively inexpensive compared to a speeding ticket, jail time, or loss of license.  Like Jon states in his introduction to track days post, “Leathers and gear can be rented, Bikes can sometimes be rented”. So, really it can be much less expensive than my multiple thousand dollar venture to try it the first time, it should only cost you the entry, the leather rental, bike rental, gas, plus the cost of a pair of used boots, and a helmet.  This would still put you in at less than $600.  For the first timer this is very affordable risk.  If you like it you can buy your gear and parts (from the precision moto shop of course) and go all in, if the first timer doesn’t like it he is only out that first initial cost.

Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others. ― Otto von Bismarck

A fool or not I’m still learning, and learning is moving forward.  I learned more with that bike in first season though that most struggle to learn in three.  It taught me about patience, wheel spin, throttle control, corner speed, braking late, and technical items like suspension setup, geometry, and just how expensive and fast the costs (in time and money) can mount up.

So far with my experience at the track has shown me what could have happened.  I seen one guy pack his gear up at the end of the day, and he explicitly said, “he wasn’t going to be back”.  I inquired further and it ends up he was scared shitless the whole time, white knuckled fear the whole time.  Nothing happened to make him scared, no one passed to close, no one made him crash, he didn’t have a close call.  It just wasn’t for him, and I guess that happens often with first timers. I see people show up one time, never to be seen again. I always think back to that conversation and question myself, “what would I do, if I didn’t like it?”  I mean, I was vested, I was all in to do something I didn’t even know if I was going to like.

After my first time though, I was hooked.

As for my R6 track bike.  I eventually put it in the dumpster after the third lap of my last track day of the 2014 season. I could list the damages but its easier to list the 10 – 12  things I sold on e-bay that were salvageable from the crash, and sold for a fraction of what I paid.  My injuries could have been worse, but I walked away with a flat wallet, a broken finger, hurt ego, and a trashed bike that I poured hours along with my heart and soul into.  I grew to really like that bike. My lesson was, these things happen, get over it, and when you show up to the track cocky, your ass will get handed back to you sooner or later. Ride at 80% or 90% of your ability, keep your head straight, identify and correct your mistake, and get back on, don’t let past failures get you down.

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I got over my R6 fairly quick and built a better bike that winter.

 

Chad

Riding motorcycles and wrenching since my preteen years, I have moved from motocross to street bikes. Being a teen back in those days it was tough to get me off of the bike. Now days even though I am very busy being a dad I still have my weekends and go to the track to race and on occasion will do a track day or two.

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