How To: Be Prepared For Your First Trackday

Here in Kansas City, the track day season is right around the corner. In two weeks we will, along with other local area sponsors, take in deep and stinging huffs of race gas, smoking tires, richly burning exhausts and plenty of screaming four-stroke engines thrown into corners at impossible lean angles and insurance-dropping speeds.

Ah, track days… It’s been a long winter and I personally can’t wait to step out onto the grid and catch up with our friends who have been suffering from cabin-fever as much as we have. We are long overdue for some hot tarmac, blue skies, green grasses, BBQ and a beer or two when no one is paying attention.

If you’ve never been to a track day, hopefully I can explain to you not only what it is, but what it takes to be prepared for one. To insure that we’re covering everything, local racing hero Hector St. John was kind enough to lend his services to help us get it right.

Why a Track Day?

To begin, a track day is just that: a day out at the track on your motorcycle.  It’s not a race, but more a day of learning and progression.  As motorcyclists, we are constantly thrown into situations where we learn and progress while we are out in the streets, but on the track we do not have to worry about aggro guys in minivans who switch lanes then look or high school girls who drive and text or whatever other myriad of safety concerns tend to roll alongside the roads with us.  No, at track days, it’s just you, your bike, and your skills at whatever speed you can handle.  The corners at the track are the same lap to lap and because there are not as many random variables thrown at you, you can safely work on your riding technique.

What to Wear?

Propper clothing and bike prep are very important at a track day.  In fact, if not done correctly, you may not get to ride the track at all.  Having the right gear on makes you safe and unless you’re into that whole “chicks dig scars” thing, keep your face smooth like a baby’s bottom.

If you’re going to participate, you need to have:

  • Snell or DOT approved full face motorcycle helmet with face shield and no dings or visible damage
  • Leather gloves that cover the wrist (gauntlet)
  • Boots must be sturdy and rise above the ankle.  Advanced class must wear race boots.
  • Jacket and pants made of leather or a reinforced textile material.

Bike Prep and the Tech Inspection.

I could write a book on what it takes to get your machine on track, but thanks to Hector, I won’t have to. Check out the video below for the quick run down.

If you’re not able to view the vid, the basics are:

  • Your bike will need to have sturdy controls. This includes handlebars or clip-ons, foot pegs and levers.
  • Relatively new brake pads.
  • Tires with no more than 30% wear.
  • Mirrors, blinkers, tail and head lights taped or removed.

Other essentials for a good track day are:

  • LOTS of water.  Water-starved muscles cramp.  Cramping muscles while flying around on a track at or above 100 MPH is a big no-no!  Bring and drink water, water, water!
  • A cooler.  You can put your water in there as well as cold cuts, jelly, bread or whatever lunch supplies you need.  Snacks fit in there too.
  • Depending where your track day is, shade from the sun may be hard to get.  If there aren’t garages available, a tent or EZ-UP would be a fantastic idea.
  • Water.
  • Chairs.  To sit on when you’re not sitting on your bike.
  • Tools.  Even if you don’t use them, someone else might.
  • Gasoline.  A gas can or two is WAY cheaper than buying fuel at the track.  Can you say $9/gal?
  • Water.  Seriously.  In fact, you should probably be drinking enough water to where you find yourself in the bathroom every hour for TWO days before your track day.  It’s not uncommon for folks to ride all day in the heat and not pee ONCE!  Get hydrated!

Well, that’s it.  Hope that helps.  If you’re local and are itching to learn new skills on your bike, you can purchase track day tickets for the Heartland Park Track Days at MotorcycleCloseouts.com.  You can also view the HPT rider packet here.  It contains plenty of info about the track days you’ll find useful.

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