I want to light all my money on fire; How to get into club racing?
I've been doing track days for a few years now, and loving the shit out of it. I've done about 30, and am running what's probably a mid-slow "I" pace, on a modified SV650. I want to keep doing track days and I figure once I'm running a solid "A" level pace, then I could look into some amateur racing?
How would I get into basic entry-level track racing? Are there amateur leagues that aren't crazy-hyper competitive and financial arms races, where someone can get used to riding in a pack and honing skills before moving to something more aggressive? I'm 28 and have only been riding since I was 24, I didn't grow up riding dirt bikes or anything. I'm quite sure that I don't have the skills to ever seriously compete at the semi-professional level, but I'd like to just go out and have competitive fun.
I'm in the Chicago area, if that makes a difference.
Glad you have the itch to race - it's fun!
To point you in a good direction try these links for more information:
Roadracing world is a great resource
First you will need to qualify for a race license at a certified school - most track day organisations will hold a 'get your
race license track days'
I would suggest CCS Midwest region - others will suggest WERA - CCS is my preference because it's what I know.
Don't kid yourself about the cost of racing - on an SV in say 'Lightweight Superbike' you will spend easily $600 per weekend and probably much more. It cost me 12k to run 4 classes per weekend for 7 rounds.
Make sure you have really good health insurance and don't skimp on tires.....
^^^^^^^^^ Good advice up there. ^^^^^^^^^^^
Double check the fine print on your health and disability insurance policy. Most wont cover if you are competing in a "Professional" sporting event or class. That's why I run the Sportsman classes.
Racing is expensive.
To minimize this as much as possible consider running in a "production" class. Lots of people are having a barrel of fun racing Ninja250s all over the country. These little bikes are relatively inexpensive to purchase and maintain and the allowable modifications are few. Tires are a little less costly and they don't go through them quite as quickly.
Grids (at least on the West Coast) are reasonably full in these small-bore production classes providing lots of opportunities to "race" no matter how deep in the pack you're running.
Be realistic about your goals.
Remember that you're racing for a $5 plastic trophy...
Develop a budget then double it. (That should get you close and if you're lucky you may have a little left over)
Consider the points above about your health insurance. Study your coverage carefully.
Most organizations won't let you on track with out insurance so make sure yours is actually going to cover you.
Get Helicopter insurance!!!
Out here it's ~$25/ year and that covers 100% of an "air-ambulance" ride.
Many personal medical insurances don't cover this and if you're unconscious at the track, chances are you're taking a ride...
You don't necessarily need to be running an "A group" pace to go racing, but you do need to be really comfortable with riding close and aggressive.
You can race an SV for a season on two sets of tires. You can use pump gas. Racing doesn't get expensive until you start going fast. That will take about 3 seasons and probably more. Buy a well equipped SV race bike of the round tube vintage, and you'll be good for a long time.
Forget the big bikes. Even a slug expert goes through 2 sets of tires in a weekend. That's almost $900 in tires alone if you race Dunlop Euro spec.
Per Weekend Estimate
Figure 8 rounds with 4 races each - $260 in entry fees
Gas - 10 gallons + $50
Consumables over a season - $125/weekend
2 sets of tires over 8 rounds - $75/weekend
Lodging - $85
Water - $10
Junk food - $20
Beer - $12
Annual motor rebuild $2000/8 race weekends = $250/weekend
$887 per race weekend for an SV in your amateur seasons. Not bad. But once you get fast your tire bill changes everything because the cost per weekend goes parabolic.
Thanks for all the replies, everyone! I appreciate the links, especially to CCS. It seems they run a lot at Blackhawk Farms, which is my favorite local track.
I would like to think that I am fully aware of how much racing is going to cost; I'm figuring at least $10k per season, and I won't be around for some of it. I spend about that much on trackdays anyway; I do at least 12-15 per year, and usually with Michelin Power One Street tires which last me about four days.
Looking over the rules, it seems I'll have to get a dedicated race bike. My SV650 has a GSX-R front end, which I think would disqualify it from the supersport classes. I'm not sure if there's much in the way of Ninja 250 racing in the midwest, the little bikes don't seem to be as popular in this area as they are where you actually have twisty roads. I'm quite sure that if I do get into racing, it's going to be in 650 Twins; I have no interest in moving up to 600cc 4-cyls or literbikes.
My goals vary depending on what time frame I'm talking about, but for now, I just want to develop my skills and have some fun. I'm not fast or predictable enough to get in a pack, it's going to take another couple seasons of trackdays I think before I get up there. I have no illusions that I'll ever be competitive with some guy who's been riding dirt since he was 5 years old. I'm quite sure I'll never race in anything that actually has cumulative points or standings, I'm more looking for . . . well basically, I want a trackday, but racing. Everyone shows up in the morning, we ride around all day, have some greasy BBQ and then all go home. What I'm quite worried about is getting into situations where it's just an arms race, where you have to spend $30,000 on the bike just to stay in mid pack. I like the $3-$4k machines that I see for sale frequently on SVRider and the like, that's the sort of thing I want to stick to! Stock engine, moderatly upgraded suspension, some basic race plastics and spend the rest on tires.
In the future, if it seems I have a knack for it, then maybe I'll think about moving up to something more aggressively competitive, but right now that's not in the field of view. Ten or twenty years in the future, if I have developed the skill . . . I would like to run in the TT. But I try not to think about that too much :) (OK that's a lie, I think about it all the time. I watch laps from onboard cams when I'm running on the treadmill, trying to learn the track)
Lots of good advice already. If you've been doing track days for a while, you have all of the gear that you need to get started. Whatever your current speed, it's fast enough. Whatever bike you have, it's fast enough. Just go and have fun - there will always be someone on the track to race with, no matter what position you might be in. Racing for not last can be as much fun as racing for the lead.
The west coast has tons of built sv650's, but they are ticking time bombs till they explode. So keep it stock.Mine is stock and has around 30k miles. About 10k are track miles.
Another huge cost is getting to the track. Gas and a trailer or truck.
I was on a super budget and stayed in a tent at the track.
Since you already have a gsxr front, if you race wera. (seems like ccs is big out there, but not sure of their clases), you would need to race Superbike LWT, Formula 2 (racing against 125cc 2 strokes), and some people run up a class in HWT Superbike.
Also not sure what size rear tire you have, but look to getting a rear rim that can hold a 180 rear tire. So much better selection that what I was stuck with for 160/165 rear tire.
There has been some good advice in this thread.
This was my first year club racing. I'm 50 years old and had never been on a road race track..I rode a drag bike for a couple of years. I did some research and went out to a track on a race weekend and walked around in the pits..talking to racers. I tried to start out on a limited budget..I bought a pair of race ready vintage bikes (a Honda CB-1 and a Yamaha SRX 6..combined cost of $3000). The Yamaha was ready to race and the Honda only needed a set of tires.
I had race stands and leathers..in addition to a truck and trailer. I was fortunate that I have friends where two of the tracks are located..so I stayed at their homes to avoid paying for motels. These tracks were 5 hours from my house..so gas was the largest expense next to the entry fees. I brought a cooler to the track and ate sandwiches I made myself. I did buy a set of tire warmers and a few odds and ends....I probably spent 700.00 for these items. I paid for some private lessons to see if I had the right stuff to try this sport. I decided to go for it. I completed the licensing school and ran part of the season in a class for older bikes and the over 40 age group. I would always line up at the back of the grid..and almost always finished in last or second to last. I still had fun.
My problems started when I decided I wanted to ride a Harley XR 1200. I sold the vintage bikes for what I paid for them..then basically started over..I had to race prep the Harley (which cost what I paid for the two vintage bikes)..buy a new front and rear stand, race tires etc. I still ran in the class for older bikes and the over 40 group. The second to the last race of the year I went down. I was running practice before the race and was on the track with a group of experts...I made a mistake and went out with the wrong group. Some over aggressive Valentino Rossi want to be youngster decided he needed to occupy the space I was in and clipped my front wheel...and I went down. My bike suffered around 800.00 damage..the big problem was I got hurt. I had a concussion and a broken right hand..I'm probably going to have surgey on the hand next month.
I had good health insurance..but I'm still out of pocket some money and I'm going to miss some work...my employer isn't pleased. I'm trying to decide if I want to race next year. I'm concerned about possibly getting hurt again and creating a career ending situation (the risk factor wasn't brought up in the responses).
My advice..stick with a bike which isn't going to be a drain on your finances with maintenance and tires..crashes well and has a lot of parts availability. Have some good health insurance and understand there is a risk of getting hurt. Additionally, some of the gear and items you need can be purchased for less by looking on Craigslist, Ebay Motors, and some of the classifieds of the various racing organizations. There's always someone getting out of racing and selling their stuff cheap.
No question it is expensive putting together a paddock set-up. But people leave the sport all the time and sell off their entire kit cheap. These are generally expert racers that have finally decided to walk away and do something more useful with their time and money. You can find some great deals that way. My #1 son and his friends ended up with a camper trailer they stored at Loudon for the years they were road racing. $700...They eventually gave it away when they were done.
They went from a F150 to an F150 plus a small box trailer to a F350 deisel pulling a 28 foot box trailer. Then they started going the other way, eventually using a Ford extended cab van. Now they race KTM's in the desert out west. A lot of equipment was bought and sold over those years. Seems it is always easier to buy than sell it. There lies your opportunity.
Sounds like you have plenty of good advice here. I'll just add my quick comments, ignore what's already been covered...
What are your goals for getting into racing? Fun? Great, keep it simple and cheap and don't think you have to have the latest modifications and don't worry about what place you finish in. Your comment about getting to the "A" level before racing makes me think you would expect to be fast and run towards the front perhaps. I think most people get a rude awakening when they first get onto the track in a race. I know I did. If you allow yourself to get serious about it, better open up the bank account, it's gonna cost.
I started out in the "fun racer" category. Bought an old Yamaha SRX600 and basically raced it stock the first year, and had a huge grin on my face. I was just playing and didn't care how fast I went or what place I was in. But, slowly the fangs came out, I got more serious, the money started flowing into that old bike (which DID get faster, to the point it overwhelmed it's suspension and handling) and I collected a few trophies. That made me even more serious, and the first of two Honda RS125's came along. To make a long story short, it spiraled out of control, and I quit after 6 years. Too much money, and too many late late Sunday night drives back home and up to work on Monday morning with 3 hours of sleep. The fun started dissapearing and it became more like work.
But - I would not trade the experience for anything. I'm sure I'll remember the days of racing when I'm an old(er) man, and a smile will creep across my face. :deal
But one thing is everlasting, motorcycle racing is an exclusive universe. To become a motorcycle racer will live in you the rest of your life. And to good effect.
With all those track days, I would have a fairly high expectation pretty quickly for the OP. The real eye opener for him will be bumping up to the experts. But no matter, he should go out there and get his share of it. I'd say he's ready.
CCS is a great forum to do it too. His area has produced a lot of great racers. Grids are strong. It's all good for him.
You've gotten a lot of good advice. I'm local and spent 3 seasons racing an SV in lightweight classes, Mid West CCS, mostly at Blackhawk Farms. It sounds like you are ready to race if you are inclined to. If you are running 1:25 or better you'll be mid pack in the Novice classes. Also if you're into a mellower experience AHRMA is a great option, there are 2 midwest rounds, the pace is slower, and there are spectators, which really adds to the experience. Don't worry too much about prep, I've seen so many guys spend a fortune prepping for CCS, including myself, but in hindsight I feel that you don't need much to be competitive. I'll never forget riding on slicks for the first time, I was really pushing it, and I got passed by a guy in a Learning Curves (that means its his 1st race) riding an SV with street tires and turn signals.
I hope you have fun! I had a blast. I've been off the grid for three years, racing AHRMA at Road America and Barber this year. I can't wait.
Yup. If you're just going to piddle around in the back of the field and do laps, don't bother racing. Stick with track days. If you're hungry for winning, then go racing. Be honest with yourself. Track days are MUCH cheaper and you get more track time.
But then I was a grumpy fuck when I finished second. :lol3
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