stolen from (Racers Corner Forum) this site: http://www.io.com/%7Eduke/newrrfaq.htm
What do I Need To Go Racing?
Less than you think. You need a race-prepared motorcycle and protective gear (race leathers, helmet, gloves, and boots). You need a racing license. You need a way to get the bike to the track (pickup, trailer, or van).
The gear is vital. New race leathers are somewhere close to $1000, and worth every penny. They've got serious weight leather, foam padding, and hard plastic body armour. Racing gloves cost up to $100, and boots cost up to $300. Helmets are the same as street helmets; $150-$500, depending on paint scheme :->
Don't try to cheap out on any of this stuff. Used is okay (except for helmets, of course), but if you buy crummy leathers, you'll pay for the difference in ambulance fees and pain.
As far as getting the race-bike to the track, the cheapest thing to do is borrow your uncle's pickup. Failing that, you can get a hitch-and-trailer for your Big American Car or Yuppie Sport Utility Vehicle for between $500 and $1000, depending on quality, new or used, weight rating, etc.
Personally, I think a van is the best solution, because it keeps the bike out of the rain, is easier to drive than a car & trailer, holds a lot of tools and spares, and you can sleep in it. I initially bought a hitch-and-trailer, 'cause it was cheaper, and then I upgraded to a van.
Don't ride your bike to the track, because then when you wad it up in turn 6, you won't be able to get it home.
Where Do I Get Leathers and Such?
Some gear companies commonly used by racers:
AGV. Frederick, MD 21701, 800-950-9006. They have a sponsorship program for anyone with a license, and inexpensive leathers. Cool boots and gloves, too. And the Max Biaggi Replica Helmet...Yum. Max is cool. http://www.agv.com
Vanson Leathers, 617-344-5444, 213 Turnpike St Stoughton, MA. http://www.vansonleathers.com
NewEnough.com, 888-530-7351. Quality used leathers, cheap. http://www.newenough.com/
Syed Leathers, 11349 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL. (800) 486-6635, (407) 857-SYED, fax (407) 857-9233.
Z Custom Leathers, Huntington Beach, CA (714) 890-5721. http://www.zcustom.com
Dinar Leathers, Lebanon, NJ (908) 236-0512, fax (908) 236-0513
Dainese. No direct contact info (they're Italian), but you can get them at lots of shops. You might try MOTORACE, P.O. Box 861, Wilbraham, MA 01095. Tel: 800-628-4040, Fax: 413-731-8999, E.Mail: [email protected]
Alpinstars. Boots .
Held. Gloves .
How Much Money Am I Going to Spend?
You can do the first year for $5000 - $6000, including buying a used bike and protective gear, spares, and a trailer set-up. After that, it should be cheaper, until you need a new bike, or start messing with your engine. If you buy a bike in need of a lot of repair, you may wind up spending more than that.
A weekend at the races typically runs a little less than $300, including gas, oil, entrance fees, food, etc. You can do it cheaper, you can do it more expensive. If you have a big bike, you'll need to replace tires a lot (maybe every weekend), but on little ones, you can get a number weekends out of them.
Am I Going To Wind Up Maimed or Dead?
Well, all the championship level racers are maimed to a certain extent. Doug Polen has no toes on one foot, Mick Doohan's right ankle doesn't bend, and Wayne Rainey is paralysed from the waist down. On the other hand, I've met a lot of expert club racers who seem pretty much okay.
You are going to crash, and you are going to break bones. Your collarbones are goners. Fingers, handbones, wristbones, footbones, and anklebones are also likely to get broken.
However, serious injury and death are not very common. Most crashes involve sliding to a stop, getting up, and running to hit your kill switch. Racers like to claim the track is safer than the street, because there are no Volvos to turn left in front of you. And when you do crash, there's an ambulance a few minutes away, with the engine running.
But there's just no getting around the fact that this is a dangerous sport. If that bothers you a lot, maybe you should take the advice of a friend, who suggested chess instead. Remember: "It ain't a sport if it can't kill you."
What's a Typical Race Day Like?
At six am, you're awakened by the guy in the pit to your left, working on the jetting of his 2 stroke (WWWINNNNNGG). You didn't get to sleep until 1am, because Otis The Wonder Dog (staying in the pit to your right) was barking at the TV plugged into the Honda generator. You try to wake up your pit crew, stumble to registration and give away money, eat a bagel as you push your bike through technical inspection, and then miss your first practice because you forgot to safety wire your oil drain bolt after you changed the oil at 3am on Thursday night.
Finally, you get out in practice, immediately find the limit of traction, spend two hours and $100 at the on-track vendors getting your handlebars fixed, and then blow the start of your Supersport race. But it's all worthwhile when you stuff that guy on the new ZX-6R who's fast down the straights but can't keep in front of you in the carousel.
That's a little embellished, (could you tell?) but it covers a lot of what goes on. Many racers camp at the track (cheaper than motels, less packing and unpacking, less distance to travel in the morning). Race days start early, with a line for the showers forming by 7.
Whenever you go racing, you should always bring along somebody (your "crew") to help out. His main job is driving the truck home if you break your ankle, but he can also take lap times and help fix broken stuff.
You have to register for each race, and there's a fee for each (NE CCS is $50 a race, for instance). Before you can get on the track (and after crashes) you have to go through technical inspection. There are generally several practices each day, divided up by speed, experience, and/or class of bike.
If you crash, you and your crew haul the bike back to the pit, fix it (there are usually vendors at the track, eager to sell brake levers and to mount tires), go through tech. again, and get back out.
And the best feeling in the world is watching someone pull away on the straight, and then reeling him back in in the twisty stuff.
I'm Still Not Sure I Want to Do This, How Can I Find Out?
One way to try to decide whether or not roadracing is for you is to try out one of the many track classes, like Reg Pridmore's CLASS, dp Safety School, Keith Code's California Superbike School, FastTrack Riders, the Team Hammer Endurance Advanced Riding School, Ed Bargy's Real Race School, or the MARRC, Penguin, or WERA Roadracing Schools. Each of these organizations offer track time at minimal expense (you can use your street bike, or sometimes rent a race bike) and teach riding techniques valid for all speeds and all types of riding. See 4.1 for more info on these.
There are a number of on-line racers who blame their current obsessions on attending CLASS (805-933-9936).
Another excellent idea is to go to the races a couple of times and hang out in the pits. If you can find a racer who might need crew, volunteer to go along and help. This is the best way to learn the routine. This sounds self evident, but there are many people who want to start racing without having ever been into the pits; they've just seen it on TV or from the grandstand.
Lastly, you should volunteer to be a corner-worker at your local track. Corner Workers are the rodeo clowns of Road Racing. They hang out near the crash points on corners, and when someone goes down, they run out to get the racer and his bike out of harm's way, and out of the way of the rest of the race. They're also in charge of the signalling flags that get waved when something goes wrong, and on getting the oil off the track. Without them, we'd all be sitting home wishing we could go racing.
If you go to the track and say "I'd like to corner work" they'll be delighted to have you, trust me. You get to see the racing up close (only the racers get better seats), meet racers, learn the track and rules, etc. Sometimes you even get paid for working, or maybe get free lunch.
Cornerworking is also a good suggestion for people who are concerned about the possibility of injury. There is nothing like spending a day watching people get back on their bikes after crashing.
A couple of good cornerwork organizations are the US Marshalls, which runs the safety crew at Loudon, and MARRC, which does the hard work at Summit Point.
What About Medical Insurance?
Some medical polices cover you for track injuries, and some don't. Call your insurance company and find out. If you're not covered, you'll need to get a special policy. The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) has a policy called ARMOR that covers you in AMA sanctioned events. Call the AMA to see if your series is sanctioned. AHRMA, LRRS (the Northeast CCS region) and the Great Lakes Road Racing Associated (GLRRA) are sanctioned.
Don't race without medical insurance. If you think an aftermarket shock is expensive, wait till you price those external fixators for broken bones, and you can guess the hourly rate for an orthopedic surgeon. Seriously, a big racing injury can easily bankrupt you.
Motorcycles & Race Classes
What Bike Should I Use to Go Racing? The conventional wisdom is that you should start on small bikes, and learn to ride before you get enough horsepower to really hurt yourself. In the US, the most popular starter racing bikes are the Suzuki SV650, Kawasaki EX-500, the Yamaha FZR 400, and Your Current Street Bike.
This bike has dethroned the FZR-400 as the best lightweight production racer. It's light and fast, and there are plenty of aftermarket parts and support. It's also a twin, which is good for class egilibility. If I were gonna start racing next season, I'd get one of these.There's a website, too: http://www.sv650.org/
and an e-zine: http://www.svrider.com/
Made from 1987-2001, this is a 500cc parallel twin with a cradle frame. You can find race prepped specimens for under $2000. It's not the best handling of these bikes, but it's cheap and fine for starters. As a little twin, it's legal for lots of classes.
Yamaha FZR 400
Imported to the US from 1988-1990, this is a 400cc inline four, with an aluminum "Deltabox" twin-spar frame. The 1990 model had 4pot front brake calipers and a Deltabox swingarm. Race ready versions are usually close to $3000. There's a mailing list for this bike also: see http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/FZR400/
. Also, there's a Yamaha FZR 400 Web Page (http://www.activebike.com/400page/
) you can scope out.
Your Current Street Bike
This bike has one obvious advantage: it's nearly free (you do have to spend some money race prepping it). A lot of people start on their 600 Sportbikes; Amateur 600cc grids are often completely packed. The disadvantage of this bike is that when you wreck it, you've got no street bike. An even worse problem would be wrecking it on the street and having no race bike! In addition, it's a royal pain to rip all the street stuff (lights, signals, etc) off every weekend, and when your suspension is set up correctly for the track, it's unrideable on the street. A final warning: some organizations don't let novices on anything bigger than a 750.
A good way to pick a bike is to go to your local track, hang out in the pits, talk to people your own age who are smiling, find out what they are riding and why. Look at how many bikes are in each class, and how the racing is going. Some classes are just for nut cases (I would never say that about any particular class, like, oh, say, the Amateur 600's). Other classes have an air of respect for their fellow riders.
Some people start in vintage racing; it's not just for retired roadracers. A good starter bike is a CB350 Honda. They are cheap, and in the USCRA there are two classes for them, one for stock motors and one for modifed motors. The USCRA also has a class for the RD 350 Yamaha. One of the main advantages of vintage roadracing is that it is a fixed target. Once you sort out a machine you can race it year after year; there are no new Vintage bikes coming out. Most clubs rules are very stable and do not allow new technology to creep into the classes. Michael Moore runs a Vintage Roadracing list: send mail to [email protected]
with the following command in the body of your email message: 'subscribe vintage-roadrace [email protected]
' Also, the WERA Vintage series has a web page: http://www.weravintage.com/
No matter what bike you race, it's simplier if you buy a bike that's already being raced in the class you're going to join--that way all the grunt work of race-prepping has been done. And stay as close to stock as you can; you need to spend the first season learning to race, not working on your porting.
How Do I Find This Race-Ready Bike?
The best ways are
hang around the pits at your local racetrack and look for "For Sale" signs,
check the classifieds in Cycle News (http://www.cyclenews.com
) or Roadracing World
check around the newsgroup and mailing list
What Class Should I Race In?
Most organizations have different racing classes divided up by engine displacement, engine type (2-stroke vs 4-stroke), number of cylinders, and how much magic has been performed on the bike. Take CCS, for instance (see 3.2). It has a number of "Lightweight" classes for production-based street bikes. These classes allow 4 stroke bikes with 4 cylinders up to 400cc or 4 stroke twins up to 650cc. "Lightweight SportBike" is for mildly altered bikes (new pipes, jetting and suspensions) on DOT tires. "Lightweight Superbike" is for bikes with titanium con-rods and such, running on slicks. (The details of what's legal and what's not are more complicated, but that's the general idea.) The grids for these classes are filled with the three bikes mentioned in 2.1
You're usually allowed to "race up a class," which means you can ride a 600cc bike in the 750cc class. On some tight, twisty tracks, you might not even be at much of a disadvantage. At the AMA national at Loudon, for instance, there's usually a 600 in the top ten of the 750 Supersport races. And in the beginner classes, slow bikes with fast riders beat fast bikes with slow riders all the time.
It's a good idea to start in relatively slow, lightweight classes. If you take your CBR900RR to the track to learn on, odds are you're going to get lapped an awful lot, fall down all the time, and might even be a danger to the more experienced racers. In fact, some organizations don't let novices on anything bigger than a 750.
What's this YSR stuff I Hear About?
Another Bike/Class option is to race YSRs. The Yamaha YSR is a 50cc or 80cc two stroke that looks like a sport bike. They are raced in parking lots, on go cart tracks, and on regular race tracks.
YSR racing isn't as high speed as full size racing, but it is a fantastic alternative for people who can't ante up the entrance fee for big-time racing, or are not prepared (due to family, etc) to risk life and limb for the pursuit of adrenaline.
YSR's also provide a semi-safe place to hone up racing skills (most of them are directly transferrable) before stepping up to lightweights. Crashes are not usually serious, so racers can get used to falling off.
There are mini-racing (as it's also called) groups around North America--check the Team Calamari YSR50 Racing Page for more details; they've got addresses and numbers for groups around the continent. You can also check Craig Faison's Page on YSR's (http://www.magpage.com/~cfaison/ysr.htm)
. Koping Hu's Home Page (http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/4200/
) Also has YSR info.
What's This "Mini-Moto" Stuff I Hear About?
Mini-Motos are little miniature motorcycles--like 8 inches high, 3 feet long, and 50lbs. They've got little 2-stroke engines, no suspension, tire compounds that feel like real race tires, and cost $1500. People race them in parking lots and sometimes on go-kart tracks. Supposedly, they'll do 60mph, given a long enough run. It's something to see.
What is "Race-Prepping"?
"Race-prepping" is getting your bike ready to race. If you've bought a bike that's already been racing, race-prepping is all the grunt work you don't have to do. It means stripping off all the street stuff (lights, signals, kickstands, etc), replacing the radiator coolent with water, safety-wiring anything you wouldn't want to come loose at speed, putting on number plates, adding a steering damper, etc.
The Mid-Atlantic Roadracing Club (MARRC) has a very cool on-line guide to how to race-prep at http://marrc.nova.org/html_docs/rrs.bikeprep.html
. You should check it out.
Safety-wiring is drilling little holes through the heads of bolts that hold on important stuff, running wire through those holes, and then attaching the wire to some fixed point, or to another bolt. This makes it impossible for the bolt to turn, no matter how much it vibrates and bounces. Obvious targets for safety wiring are oil drain plugs, fork oil drains, the remote shock reservoir (mine fell off once) and brake caliper bolts.
It is really helpful to have someone show you how and what to safety wire; the race rulebooks are not very clear or complete. When you go to the track to hang around before becoming a racer, you can check this out, perhaps asking someone for hints and help. Most racers are very helpful about this kind of thing, and love to talk about their bikes. (Just don't catch them 10 minutes before their next race.)
Every organization has its own specific rules about race-prepping. You'll find them in the rulebooks (see 6.1 and 3.2).
Do You Insure Race Bikes?
That's a little extreme, but not much. Some people do get special theft insurance if the bike is really valuable (like a Ducati 996 or Honda RC45). There's no such thing as liabilty insurance on the racetrack. If somebody hits you, you can yell at him all you like, but he's not going to pay to fix your bike, or pay for your ambulance ride. And for God's sake, don't get a lawyer and sue him--that will be the end of amateur racing. There's no such thing as collision insurance either. If you slide your bike into the wall, you buy the new front end yourself. Racers have a phrase to describe these unpleasant incidents: "That's Racing."