I just did my first track day this weekend at Hallett in Jennings OK and I wanted to share a few things with those that are looking to do their first track day. I spent a good amount of time reading posts/blogs/pages about preparing for your first track day. I'll try not to repeat too many basics and mainly focus on things that surprised me as a first-timer that you don't find on every webpage talking about "First Track Day". For you guys who have already done a hundred track days, try not to pick on us Newbies
Preparation: I have a Black 09 rr. I took off the undertail, rear pegs/brackets, mirrors, lubed/adjusted chain, and had a set of Dunlop Q3s (Motorcycle Superstore $189 for set after $40 rebate) thrown on. Even for a newbie, it' pretty simple to remove those three parts of the bike, and I highly recommend doing so. Everything else on the bike was completely STOCK/OEM except for putting in AMS OIL. For gear, 1 Piece SS Leather (used $300), SHOEI RF-1100 (clearance $215) w/hi-def yellow shield (STG $44), Alpine Stars SMX-4 Boots (craigslist $100), and EVS back protector (clearance $45). There are better gear options, it just depends on how much money you have.
Make sure you take everything the other websites tell you. Keys, levers, chairs, cooler, parts, tools... etc.. I'm more focused on sharing the actual experience than a checklist. If this is your first time, I highly recommend you go out and spend the money on tires. You'll see why. I'm a fairly experienced rider for being 24 and I was surprised at how important tires were throughout the weekend, even after all of the reading.
At the Track: I got to Hallett saturday morning at 0700 (gates open). Paid $10 to get in for two days in PIT, and drove up looking for a spot to roll the bike out of the back of my F 150. I lucked out and someone saw my USAF license plate and asked me if I needed help. He whipped out these $500 aluminum ramps which made my 8 foot 2x10 piece of wood look like a joke. (Wood $10 and Ramp Bracket $20 @ Lowes). If he had not done that, i probably would have asked for help unloading, especially as a first timer. The one AWESOME things about this experience... is that literally EVERYONE will be willing to help or coach you. I didn't run into a single person that was a jerk, even the more experienced guys were cool and willing to help. So, if you need help, just go ask someone for it. We got the bike out and parked it under one of the covers. Started talking about bikes, jobs, etc... Taped my headlights and turn signals (took the other things off as stated earlier). Checked my tire pressures... Luckily, there were two other guys in my area running Q3's (which was probably the most popular tire there that weekend) so I asked them what pressures they were running and followed suit. One was on an R1 and the other on an SV650. I ended up running 32 front 31 rear. They ran a bit lower than I did. Again, I'm a first timer so i took it slow.
Next we registered, it was pretty straight forward. One thing i didn't expect... they asked me if i wanted a transponder. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked. It's basically a 2x2" box that you put on your bike that records your lap times. I paid $40 for both sat and sun and threw it under my rear seat in the tail fairing. I ended up paying about $270 to get my bike on the track for two days, not counting gear, parts, prep, gas, etc.
BTW make sure you eat and drink something during this process. I know how nervous I was and it would have been much worse if I didn't stay fit and hydrated. Next was rider's meeting, pretty straight-forward, just pay attention because they do provide information that you need to know... i.e. FLAGS. Next was the HART/NOVICE meeting. Again pretty simple... flags, lines, instructors... Just listen and relax. About this time you start hearing the advanced group get on the track and you get a bit curious/excited.
After the meetings, i changed into my leathers, drank another bottle of water, and looked over my bike one more time. Oil Drain Bolt, Oil Filter, Tape Job, Tire Pressures... those should be looked over one last time as a newbie, especially if you do your own work on your bike like most do. (If you don't have a Haynes manual yet, i suggest getting one. it has saved me a lot of money and build a lot of confidence in working on my bike by myself)
On The Track: Go time! Well kinda, you have to follow the instructors around during the first session to see the lines of the track and just see the track in general. This is a bit displeasing, but it's really a good thing that they do this because most first timers have no idea what they're doing or what they're seeing and this action keeps a lot of people safe.
REAL GO-TIME! Second session an hour later... you line up in lines of two at the pit out and go. At this point, you basically govern yourself so that first session of showing you the basics of getting around the track was very useful. Now that you're by yourself, you're going much faster, but you still need to learn where to enter/exit turns and where to start your braking points. It's better to start slow and be smooth, taking your time to find these than to be an idiot and just try to go fast... you'll lose. Something to remember is that most people in the novice group have very little experience so they're going through a lot of the same things you are. The safer and smarter everyone acts, the less likely it is for people to get hurt or bikes to go down. I didn't realize how important it is and how much faster you are when you just learn the track and ride through your lines SMOOTH.
Most of my first day was spent just learning the limits of my body, the bike, and my body with the bike. I'm going to go on a limb here... but I think it's safe to say that you really don't know anything about what your bike is capable of until you get it on the track. I thought i was hot stuff flying through curves on the street, it's absolutely nothing compared to what you do on the track. ALSO, all that stuff you read about how people don't ride like idiots after they go to the track...it's true, and you'll see why. I've already slowed down on the street because it's nothing compared to the track. As you learn more about how to combine your body movements with the bike, you begin to find ways to take corners more smoothly and more quickly. It's hard to explain, you just have to listen to the instructors and spend time in the seat on the track.
I asked a lot of questions while I was under our cover in the paddock. The other guys were in the intermediate/advanced group and they started giving me a lot of pointers. They mainly fall into two categories 1) specifics about the track you're on, things to see, and how they affect choosing your line and 2) How you can merge your body with the motorcycle to make things SMOOTHER. You can spend time looking into these or you can just figure it out when you get to the track. No point in talking about it here.
I started day one around 1:50 lap times and ended the day around 1:41. (Probably a joke for you experienced guys). On Day 2 I moved to the street group for the afternoon sessions because the guys in my cover wanted to ride with me and show me their lines. I ended the weekend with a 1:38 personal best. I was told that's an achievement for a first-timer at Hallett.
So you're thinking... Did anyone go down? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. 1) I was following/leading another guy on the same bike as mine 09 Black throughout the first day. He and another guy that he was with were the only two that we're near the same pace as I was in the novice group. He came out of the bus-stop (turn 2) and didn't roll the throttle smoothly into turn three... so he spun the rear wheel and the bike came around on him in turn 3. He hurt his foot, no emergency... probably 1k to fix the bike. 2) This one was a bit worse. My last session of the day ( i was riding street/intermediate at this point) I was coming out of turn 7, into the straight-away, and i saw someone down up ahead. So... I threw my Left Hand into the air (alert people to slow down) and as soon as i did that, i completely lost the front end. Out of no-where it went completely sideways on me. There was no-doubt in my mind that i was going down and somehow, i didn't. the bike stabalized and i pulled into the pits. When i got in, another rider came up to me and told me that he couldn't believe i saved the bike. I asked him if he knew what happened. There was a Gixxer that blew his engine, and oil spilled all over the track. I hit it as soon as i threw my hand up. Lesson learned - if you see a Red Flag or a crash... pull over and slow down.
Last but not least... Get someone to help you load your bike at the end of the day. One of the guys i was riding with had a really nice 12 zx6r... not a flaw on it. He rode it up into his trailer and dropped it at the end of the day. Pretty ironic after two days on the track. Just get someone to help you. you'll probably have plenty of new friends by that time anyway.
Hopefully you got something out of this. If you're thinking about doing a track day, and you can afford it, then DO IT. You'll see why. Take your time, ride to your ability, and don't be an idiot. If you ride smoothly, you will learn more about the bike then you ever knew before. I can see how this becomes expensive and addicting.
09 Black CBR600rr
K&N Oil Filter w/AMS OIL
Hot Bodies Wind Screen