How to prep for your first track day

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By Tim Scarrott

Pacific Track Time offers up their weekly tip this week with a guide on how to prepare for your track day. This guide will help you know what to expect, what to bring and what you need to do to your motorcycle to make sure you have a safe, fun and memorable track day experience.

For this tasty tip we are going to discuss how to prepare for a track day event. Track days continue to be one of the most popular activities for sport bike riding enthusiasts across the United States so if you haven’t been to one, please come join us. This is especially true where riders have access to a racetrack within a day’s drive. Some locations such as central and northern California feature four different racetracks within a day’s drive of each other and these are the stomping grounds of Motorcycle Superstore’s preferred track day provider, Pacific Track Time. PTT track day events are held about twice a month and provide plenty of opportunity to ride in a safer and controlled learning environment.

You’ve probably been thinking about your first track day for quite some time and finally made the leap and signed up to come ride. This guide will make sure your track day goes smooth from start to finish. While motorcycle maintenance is something we should perform constantly, you should inspect your motorcycle as soon as you know you are going to attend a track day event. You will be traveling at speeds higher than normal and you want to make sure your motorcycle is in top shape when you arrive at the track. PTT recommends that you start by washing your motorcycle thoroughly to eliminate road grime and to be able to actually see what you are inspecting. In a previous article we discussed How To Prep and Inspect Your Motorcycle. Now we will focus on the two most important components of your motorcycle when it comes to a track day event: Brakes and Tires.

Traveling at greater speeds requires greater stopping power and that is a proven fact. Performance braking products will help make this task easier but your OEM braking system is more than adequate as long as it is functioning properly. Make sure that your front and rear brake levers smoothly build pressure when you apply the brakes and check that your brake fluid is clear and at the proper level. Check your brake pads and make sure you have enough brake pad material to last a day at the track. We recommend at least 50% of pad life on your brake pads or else they should be replaced. If you are going to replace your brake pads with a performance upgrade, choose the appropriate brake pad for your application. Combined street and track type pads are an excellent choice for most track day riders while full racing pads are designed for track use only.

Next, let’s talk about tires. Tires are probably one of the most discussed subjects in regard to performance motorcycle riding and racing than any other product. There is a difference between tires designed for street riding and tires designed for track riding or racing. Street or commuting type tires provide more longevity but lack the grip and traction along the edge of racing tires. Racing tires provide maximum grip but they will wear out quickly if they are used on the street. We see riders with race tires that are flat down the crown because they spend so much time droning on the daily commute. At a minimum your tires should be in good condition, pliable, free of cracks or damage and should not be misshaped from a few thousand miles of street commuting. Tires are an investment in your performance and safety and a good set of new tires will give you more confidence and allow you to ride faster in most cases, than your old OEM tires.

Being prepared physically and mentally will help make your first track day experience the best it can be. Once you know what track you are going to attend, you’ll want to try to become familiar with the circuit before your trip. Most tracks have track maps that display the course layout and turn numbers and if possible, try to obtain track map notes. You can find examples of track maps for several Central and Northern California racetracks at www.scarrottracing.com/trackmaps. YouTube is also a good source of videos of people riding on the racetrack you are going to attend thanks to the onset of GoPro video cameras and other personal video equipment that allows folks to share their on track riding experiences. Knowing the layout of the track will help reduce apprehension and increase your confidence before you even arrive. Being aware of any parts of the track that are more technical or sections that might include blind or challenging turns will help increase your safety.

Being physically prepared means eating a good meal, staying hydrated and having the will power to stop if you start getting worn down. Your body needs water to operate and hydration is critical for brain function and attention span. We know that lack of focus is the leading cause of motorcycle crashes so increase your safety and performance by making sure you are hydrated before you arrive at the event. Drink plenty of water several days before and during the track day event. This is especially important if temperatures are warm or hot. You’ll be wearing a leather suit, boots, gloves and helmet all designed to protect you from harm but it will also reduce your body’s ability to cool itself. You’ll be working hard both on and off the track, all of which can dehydrate even the most athletic of people. Eating properly balanced meals in the days leading to the event will provide you with the energy you’ll need and help your body be prepared for the day. Make sure you are well rested and try to sleep early before the track day and save your celebration for the end of your first track day!

About Pacific Track Time: For over 10 years, Pacific Track Time has hosted hundreds of motorcycle track day events, schools and riding courses for thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts all over the world. Pacific Track Time conducts its track day events at premium facilities such as Buttonwillow Raceway, Laguna Seca, Sonoma Raceway and Thunderhill Raceway Park. In addition to quality track time, Pacific Track Time is also heavily involved in the community providing riding schools, race-licensing courses, organized street rides and training seminars at local dealerships. Pacific Track Time has a fully qualified staff that in AFM/AMA for 2013 took 35 top three finishes in overall championship points and racked up a total of 193 podium finishes. These same staff and instructors are available for on and off track help at every PTT event. For more information, visit pacifictracktime.com

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