I wasn't even aware this was published until Jaybird180 brought it to my attention. Good lookin' man.
This is an article I wrote and was published on the Team ProMotion website that says how strongly I feel about belonging to a trackday organization if you ever intend to race. Or in the least progress your skills to any decent level. Racing is a different, risky and dangerous place to be..But man, the feeling of victory and accomplishment are oh so sweet.
To view the article directly on the TPM site, here is the link.
But here is the article also in its entirity...It's a little long-winded....like me. Hope you enjoy it.
"How Long have you been racing for?"
"Umm…this is my third weekend out here." I said with a shy half grin.
"Get out of here. Really?"
"Yeah. Really. This is my first season competing."
"So have you done a lot of trackdays before? You must have."
"For the past two seasons I have been doing trackdays. That's actually how I got started."
"It seems as though anyone that comes out here and is competitive right off the bat has a background in doing trackdays."
"You mean people come out here that have never been on a track before? I can't see how anyone can just start racing and not have some sort of real on-track experience. It just doesn't make sense to me."
This was the conversation I was having with a fellow CCS racer just as I got finished accepting my fourth first place trophy during the Loudon Classic Race Weekend in Loudon, NH this past June 17th & 18th. I had an exceptional weekend even surprising myself and all of a sudden people were asking me how long I have been racing for and what experience I had. Every time I said that this was only my third race weekend ever, but I quickly followed it up with, "BUT, I have been doing trackdays for the past couple of seasons." And it was like I got the long, extended head nod of understanding like, "Ah, that's where the experience comes from."
After the trophy presentation conversation I was feeling kind of puzzled since I was like, "Who comes out here with no track experience at all and gets on the track and decides they feel like risking life and limb to go race for the first time?" I started looking for answers to my own question and it turns out, there are actually a pretty significant number of people that do that and I personally think they are more nuts than anyone else out here on the track.
Over the course of the next couple weekends I observed rookie novices come out of the race school and just pummel themselves and their equipment into the pavement as I watched on in complete disbelief and bewilderment. It's like they just got done watching Two Wheel Tuesday one evening or MotoGP on a Sunday afternoon and were like, "Hey, I'm gonna go do that next weekend. The heck with experience. I'm just going to get out there and do it."
This theory might work well in some areas like finger painting or basket weaving, but as far as racing motorcycles is concerned, it's a theory I'm not subscribing to. There is simply no replacement for experience in this sport. As much as we don't like to admit it or visit the thought, bad decisions come with heavy consequences- both to the wallet and mortality; the latter of the two being most important. And nearly every mistake I witnessed was something that an experienced trackday rider would not have done.
The experience I gain through doing trackdays is immense and I contribute a huge portion of my current success to them. There is no way I could have brought myself to a competitive racing level without being part of a trackday organization. Of course there are other ingredients such as drive, ambition and a desire to continually learn and develop skills, but trackdays and their environment foster and provide the foundation for this. I think if you talk to any successful racer, at the core of their experience you will find trackdays as well as their continual pursuit of racing knowledge and skills development.
Most recently I was happy to have a friend that I turned on to trackdays last year come out with me to race. I guess the phone calls from the track with the race reports finally got to him enough to come out him self. He attended the resident track race school and when he came back to me during the first break with wide, rolling eyes, he was like, "I can't believe that some of these people are going to be out there on the track. It sure seems as though a lot of them have absolutely no experience."
Well, needless to say, he put his trackday experience to use and proceeded to go out and smoke everyone in the rookie race then walk away with the open class GT race for a win his first time out. And this was someone that never stepped foot on the race track until last season. But he got hooked doing trackdays and he did a lot of them, spending that time getting comfortable with the track environment, his bike and just being out there having a good time. He's a prime example of how trackdays allow you to develop skills and the techniques to go out there and be competitive without being freaked out about what you are engaging yourself in. So a big congratulations to my friend and fellow TPM member Rob Sova for going out there and earning a Win his first time out, further demonstrating the value of trackday time.
Racing is a completely different ballgame. The heart rate goes up, the nerves are tense and the adrenaline is pumping. When that flag drops it's you and 30 or 40 something other people charging towards that first turn and it can be a scary thing if you don't know what you're in for. I have personally seen the fear of God in one guy's eyes during the start of one of my first races and he looked like he was ready to jump straight out of his leathers as we all funneled into the first turn. I will never forget that look and I just remember thinking, "How can someone be out here if they are that scared and fearful of what's going on and actually have fun?" Since after all, that's what this is supposed to be, fun. I bet that guy had little to no trackday experience under his belt before he just put himself out there.
If I am to continue this construction project that I call my amateur roadracing career one thing will never change and that will be that my foundation is built on trackdays. It is where it all started for me and what has allowed me to keep building upwards. And I will continue to seek advice and ask people that are smarter, faster and have more experience than me questions in an attempt to keep furthering myself.
Trackdays are truly the best thing to happen to motorcyclists since the invention of the wheel. They have allowed me to develop skills, techniques and speed that have made me competitive and I couldn't imagine being able to be where I am without them.
Competition truly starts with trackdays and there is no replacement for the amazing amount of experience that they provide. They have been the best classroom for racing that I have ever attended and they have also been one of the most fun places I have ever had the opportunity to work on my skills. Trackdays are the building blocks for confidence, technique, skill and safety which are much needed in the fast-paced racing environment. I have gained all of these though my track time, not to mention some really great friends along the way.
So far, this season has been a phenomenal experience and it only gets better with each time I get out there. With that I would like to extend a big thanks to Glen and everyone else that makes our TPM trackdays possible. The work required to get us out there is huge, but for racers and members like myself, the payoff has been huge.
On behalf of myself and everyone else who has benefited from the experience that TPM provides, thanks for the opportunity to get out there on the track while always being there with answers to our questions and a helpful safety-conscious staff.
If you've been doing trackdays and you're thinking of competing you should be glad to know that you already have a jump on the competition. Being the Fastest I Can Be,
Eric Sampson has been a Team ProMotion member since 2003 and is currently working on making his way to Daytona Beach for the Race of Champions Oct 20-23.