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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2005, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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The Value of Trackdays Before Racing

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.
http://www.teampromotion.com/tpm.php?page_id=ms_081705

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
[email protected]

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.

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Last edited by ONEDWN5UP; 08-18-2005 at 06:57 PM.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2005, 06:50 PM
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yeah man, that's a great article! spread the word!




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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2005, 08:50 PM
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Shhhh, don't tell everyone. I plan on one more season of trackdays before getting my race license. I figure by then I should have the experience to do well at least at the amateur level.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2005, 09:17 PM
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Nice article. Can't wait to get down to Jennings next month for our trackday and my first.

04' 600rr function over fashion at this point.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2005, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Don't confuse the term "amateur" with beginner, slow or intoductory class. Unless you're the nextjohn hopkins don't expect to just go out there and clean up. Many of the mediocre people in the AM class will still be your fastest trackday club riders. And the comfort zone that you had while doing your best at a track day will pretty much dissapear.

I have to say that the one nice thing about the Loudon Road Race Series is the fact that they have a Novice class. It goes Novice, AM, EX. This way you get to be out there with a bunch of other people that are racing for the first time as well as those that are not blazing insane laps. I am possibly going to race at Summit Point, WV next weekend and there is no separation between the experienced AM's and the beginners. So it's kinda spooky in the way that you'll have the faster people out there running between 1:19-1:24 a lap then you have someone out there going 1:45-1:50. But these are generally the people that have never stepped foot on the track before and thats kinda the freaky part. The other thing that kinda erks me is that the unexperienced person may not be as versed with holding a line or not abruptly changing lines mid corner as I am passing them since they will become lap traffic by about lap 5.

Go out there and just do the best you can and don't expect anything, then be pleasantly surprised when you find out where you come out in the mix. And if you're on top, well then you know you did something right and all those track days paid off

~you should go to summit point next friday for an LPUSA sportrider track day. Get a lap timer (or find someone that will let you borrow one for an afternoon session) and hang around for the CCS races the following day and compare your time to those that are out there racing. Thats a pretty good indicator of where you'd roughly be. After each race there are lap times posted. You might as well take the licensing clinic while you're there and who knows, may be you'll decide to race the following day. http://www.formulausa.com/shows/pdf/...0SCHEDULE.pdf/
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolley
Shhhh, don't tell everyone. I plan on one more season of trackdays before getting my race license. I figure by then I should have the experience to do well at least at the amateur level.

NE/Mid-Atlantic CCS/ASRA #973
2006 NE CCS/LRRS Amateur Champion
MW SuperSport, MW Superbike, MW Grand Prix, HW SuperSport, HW Superbike, UNL SuperSport, UNL Superbike


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2005, 11:44 PM
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Very nice and well written makes the blood pump just reading about it. How many trackdays did you do before you were in your first race. Sorry if it was up there but I only skimmed the article.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 04:29 AM
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Great article. I agree on all points.

Out here in the AFM, for better or worse, there is no seperation of novices and experts. We all share the same grid in each race class. Unfortunately this also means that some classes (600 Production and 600 Superbike come to mind) can be downright huge. Grids of 60+ are not uncommon. At my very first race (last Sunday), I was gridded dead last, and all I could see was a sea of helmets -- couldn't even see the first row. When the green flag flies, the leaders take off, while everyone behind get bottlenecked by turn one, trying to sort themselves out. What this means is that the occurrence of leaders lapping backmarkers -- in a 6-8 lap SPRINT race, mind you!! -- is practically guaranteed. At Infineon Raceway, AFM 600 class leaders are easily doing 1:40, while backmarkers are doing 2:00+. (And it's not so much that 2:00s are a snails pace -- that's a solid B-group time at most trackdays out here, after all -- as much as the fact that our top leaders are pretty f-ing FAST; all of them regularly qualify for AMA nationals.) Eight-lap sprint race. Do the math, and you can see that lapping is going to start happening sometime around lap 6. The leaders are counting on backmarkers to be competent riders, and hold their lines even in the wake of close passing. How is Johnny Racersquid, fresh out of race school with barely a couple trackdays under his belt, going to react to that inside pass? Will he stand the bike up and plow into another rider? Freak out and hit the brakes? This is where the experience of doing many trackdays fosters maturity and confidence on the track.

In some other organizations, some might call it cherrypicking -- i.e., doing a large number of trackdays to "figure out" the track, and then racing with an advantage among other racers who ostensibly do not have as much experience. And I guess that case could be made among organizations that have seperate novice classes. Yet, even if I were in that type of situation, I would much rather race with (and lose to) a so-called "cherrypicker" who was safe and confident, than with a bunch of squids fresh off the street. Riding on two wheels at triple digit speeds around a 2-3 mile course with unending technical challenges is hazardous enough. The last thing I need is a rider who doesn't know how to hold a line.

Oh. and it's not like I'm one of the fast guys either -- in fact, I'm one of those bottom 25% that the leaders are lapping around lap 6!
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 08:16 AM
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I saw that over on TPM's web site. Great write up, A++++!!!!!!

I hoping to start racing in the next year or two, and this is with 4 years of track days under my belt.

Alot of people have told me the 600 classes are huge. What would be a better/smaller class to run in, 650 twins, 1000cc twins or liter bikes?

Kevin
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 08:33 AM
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very good stuff man!

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 10:10 AM
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I like this part.
"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. "

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blade-Runner
Alot of people have told me the 600 classes are huge. What would be a better/smaller class to run in, 650 twins, 1000cc twins or liter bikes?
Check with your local racing organization to get an idea what the 600 grid sizes are like; they might be huge, or they might not. They're huge out here in the AFM primarily due to the combining of novices and experts (although that may change in the next year or two).

Regardless of grid size, though, personally I would love to race in a class like 650 Twins (mostly SV650s). Not only are the grid sizes smaller (if you can call 40 "small"), but the overall skill level of riders tends to be better -- you look at the best laptimes in the last race, and the backmarkers in 650T are faster than the backmarkers in 600 Production, despite having a 30+ horsepower disadvantage. SVs also are cheaper to race: a set of tires on an SV will go 3-4 race weekends, as opposed to replacing them every race weekend on a 600; and crash damage tends to less severe.

I already have an SV650 that has substantial modifications and is one set of bodywork away from being race-ready -- I'm just hesitant to race it because it's my blingy street bike and would hate to dump it. (Yes, I'm almost embarrassed to say it here, but the SV gets more attention than my RR.)
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ONEDWN5UP
Don't confuse the term "amateur" with beginner, slow or intoductory class. Unless you're the nextjohn hopkins don't expect to just go out there and clean up. Many of the mediocre people in the AM class will still be your fastest trackday club riders. And the comfort zone that you had while doing your best at a track day will pretty much dissapear.

~you should go to summit point next friday for an LPUSA sportrider track day. Get a lap timer (or find someone that will let you borrow one for an afternoon session) and hang around for the CCS races the following day and compare your time to those that are out there racing. Thats a pretty good indicator of where you'd roughly be. After each race there are lap times posted. You might as well take the licensing clinic while you're there and who knows, may be you'll decide to race the following day. http://www.formulausa.com/shows/pdf/...0SCHEDULE.pdf/
I didn't plan on winning just not being last. Unfortunately, I'm getting a little older and more responsible. Still would like to give it a try, if for no other reason than to say I did
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the compiment.

As far as what to race...its whatever you are comfortable with. The SV is great as mentioned above for reasons that they are cheaper to run and are easier on tires but it all really becomes relative at a point.

600's & SV's have the most versatility and can be run in the most classes. you can always run smaller machinery in heavier weight classes but not the other way around. With a 1000cc twin you are going to be limited to what you can do if its liquid cooled versus aircooled. And a 1000cc air cooled bike means a Ducati or a Buell. Neither are cheap to maintain though buells aren't that bad. I would say stick with the 600 or pick up an SV. I got the 600 since my RC51 is not as competitive as it was several years ago and its a bigger heavier bike in comparison to the 600's and Loudon is a tight technical track. I personally enjoy the 600 much more than the liter bikes I have ridden. The new R1 can be downright scary and you can get yourself way over your head in a heartbeat or flick of the wrist.

The size of the grid seems to vary at loudon from low 20's to bout 40. I have heard Summit can get a bit busier. But starts are key nd you have to show no fear. One of the things that I had to get over was passing people in tight areas and making the passes stick. If you show someone the wheel and they know they've been had they'll back off but it takes a lot of confidence (not to mention balls) to do it at speed. But it all comes with experience.

I have done maybe a dozen or so track days over 2 years before going racing. Not a lot but I have been racing moto-x and off road for years and have also been agressively riding streetbikes for 10. I was just finally smart enough to get it to the track where I really found out what I could do if I worked at it. But it all started as fun and still is for that matter.

OK....I am leaving now to go race at Loudon for the weekend, hopefully not in the rain.....Wish me luck. Gonna get there late but I'm stopping in CT on the way for some nookie from a cutie so it'll be worth it. Every little bit helps with the confidence on race day! LOL :hump:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Blade-Runner
I saw that over on TPM's web site. Great write up, A++++!!!!!!

I hoping to start racing in the next year or two, and this is with 4 years of track days under my belt.

Alot of people have told me the 600 classes are huge. What would be a better/smaller class to run in, 650 twins, 1000cc twins or liter bikes?

Kevin

NE/Mid-Atlantic CCS/ASRA #973
2006 NE CCS/LRRS Amateur Champion
MW SuperSport, MW Superbike, MW Grand Prix, HW SuperSport, HW Superbike, UNL SuperSport, UNL Superbike


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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ONEDWN5UP
Gonna get there late but I'm stopping in CT on the way for some nookie from a cutie so it'll be worth it. Every little bit helps with the confidence on race day! LOL :hump:
Now I know where Gecko is tonight. But I really wouldn't call him "a cutie"

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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LOL....You're a . If you weren't home for a valid reason I'd say you were hand washing your panties.

Stopped at my office to fax my registration in and send you the garage $ for the weekend. Thanks. I appreciate it.

(I had to double take that for a moment..Gecko is actually one of the fastest women I have ever seen on a sportbike and she races CCS and is occasionally out there with TPM. She has a profile up on ccsracing.com -no pic though)

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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 08:58 PM
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Let us know the results
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Will hopefully have some good stuff to report. On the handheld doin 80 typin w 1 hand gettin high on the vp fumes eminating from my gas tank. Bout 2 hrs to go till I get there....its fry now n will hopefully stay that way...woohooo...85 changin lanes with the knee.

Ima professional...don't try this at home...

I love the smell of vp fuel....where's my cigarettes????

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-20-2005, 12:52 AM
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Be safe travelling TO and FROM the track.
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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-20-2005, 04:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ONEDWN5UP
Will hopefully have some good stuff to report. On the handheld doin 80 typin w 1 hand gettin high on the vp fumes eminating from my gas tank. Bout 2 hrs to go till I get there....its fry now n will hopefully stay that way...woohooo...85 changin lanes with the knee.

Ima professional...don't try this at home...

I love the smell of vp fuel....where's my cigarettes????

Tell me about it, I love the smell of VP race fuel. Ever since the first time I smelled it...it will always reminds me of the track and the machines

Last edited by predikt; 08-20-2005 at 04:06 AM.
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-20-2005, 08:17 AM
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Two good things about VP race gas.
1.) The smell keeps non motorcycle enthuses out of the garage.
2.) The exhaust smell will give most people a headache behind you.

Hope you made it ok in your one handed knee driving attempts.

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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-20-2005, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ONEDWN5UP
LOL....You're a . If you weren't home for a valid reason I'd say you were hand washing your panties.

Stopped at my office to fax my registration in and send you the garage $ for the weekend. Thanks. I appreciate it.

(I had to double take that for a moment..Gecko is actually one of the fastest women I have ever seen on a sportbike and she races CCS and is occasionally out there with TPM. She has a profile up on ccsracing.com -no pic though)
It's okay honey . . . you don't have to hide your feelings for me anymore.

Don't let them poke fun at us . . . they're just jelous.

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