So you are new to the club or haven’t been racing lately. Here’s a good primer to the race weekend. I hate to rush or feel unnecessary pressure. So if you are lucky, you can load the day before. If not, I highly recommend a check list. I recently saw my best friends 30 year old clip board and check list he has used religiously since the time he loaded two left MX boots (one of mine) before a Loretta Lynn Qualifier back in 1978.
So what do you need to bring: First, the bike in race ready condition. You can leave small details like chain lube, fuel and tire pressure until you arrive at the track, but have the major issues like electronics and leaks repaired. I like to make sure the bike starts before I load it, but that is not possible if you have to load in the morning. Then, I pack my gear: Helmet, goggles, gloves, long sleeve jersey, pants, pads (as much as you can handle and above ankle boots. I always bring an extra jersey and gloves in case. A good assortment of tools and spares are important, but our pit is so friendly you can borrow almost anything on race days. I have a milk crate full of essential oils and lubes. As a matter of fact, my race prep is all boxed or bagged for convenience. I bring a pump, can of fuel and bike stand. Some folding chairs and an “Easy Up or Quick Shade,” makes the day more comfortable. The last thing I do is pack lunch and water/fluids. Bob, the hot dog man is always there, but it is smart to bring some mellow, healthy snacks to have during the day and treat yourself to a chili dog when all is done. You can not drink too much water or fluids during the day. That’s why the rest room is right next to the starting line. And try the shower one day too, its very refreshing.
The gates open on race day at 6:30 AM. Give yourself plenty of time and route options in case of traffic incidents or construction. I always start at the same Quik Trip on the way to the races (I am a little superstitious) and usually run into another racers there, but never see any on the highway. The entry fee is 10 bucks a head, so try to have right change and a smile for the person collecting the funds at the gate. It is best to bring a friend or family member with you for race day in case of accidents, but we are a real tight community and someone always steps up when needed. Find the right spot to pit, you know all that stuff about Feng Shui. You need enough space and egress, because you never know if you need to leave early. Choose a neighbor with a similar style motorcycle, better to ask questions and keep track of the time so you don’t miss your moto.
Proceed to sign-up. Get the pain over with and give the girls as much time as possible to organize the races. White forms for Vintage and yellow for Post Vintage.
I recommend you sign up for two classes, displacement and age bracket. It makes the day go by faster and really is not too taxing. Bring your membership card, cash or check book. I leave all my membership cards in the glovebox of the truck, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting. Our club does not require AMA or ARHMA membership and that’s a big money saver, but I like the magazines and race the National every year, so I need both. Don’t bug the girls about the race order because you are at Dave’s mercy. The first race is the 250/Open Vintage and the last is modern support. Dave tries to mix the races up so back to back gates are limited to those chasing the “Ironman” trophy, the rider getting the most points in one season.
After sign up, its time for fun and serious bench racing. If there is a bond fire, stand by it and join the banter. Enjoy a cup of coffee from Dave’s giant brewer and maybe a treat from the snack/candy bowl. When you feel focused, unload your bike and prepare your pit. Always drive a few stakes into the Easy-Up because wind changes quickly at Speedworld. I like to change before I walk the track, so I don’t have my travel shoes and pants covered in mud. The track has been disked and watered so expect a workout. It is a good warm up and you need to know the track. Start at the gate and walk the whole track, looking for the race line (find the quickest route for flooding water) and safe places to pass. Stop at difficult cambers or turns to talk to other walkers and bench racers.
Rider’s meeting is at 8:45 and only lasts 15 minutes. Listen to the safety lecture and learn the race order. Check the sign-up sheets to ensure you are registered in the proper classes. Practice starts immediately after the rider’s meeting so be prepared to go. The first practice is the modern support, then post vintage, then vintage and last premier, women and mini’s. Ride the first lap on the pegs, second lap on the outside line, third lap on the inside line and then you can look for your race line. This is practice and you should practice passing, but give the other rider a wide berth. Find a similar bike and follow that rider around to observe their lines. Try not to be left in the gap, you need to practice being in the action.
Racing starts right after practice around 10 Am. So get ready, go over the bike and yourself. Fluids are the most important element of the day. Remember your gas tank and always hydrate. Your muscles will appreciate you. Then, watch the first start to get a sense of timing and where the holeshots are coming from. We practice what I call a casual starting procedure. Line up where you want, according to how early you want to get to the gate. Pick a spot you feel comfortable at and do some “Gardening” to clear rocks and debris from your path. Make sure your engine is warmed up and the gas is on. The starter checks your number against the role, gets the ready nod from all the rider’s and drops the gate. No pomp or circumstance Ride your best. The harder you try, the luckier you get. But do onto other’s like you would want them to do to you. Give a comfortable buffer to those getting passed and ride a predictable race line if someone is trying to pass you. No radical swerves.
After the race, check the scoring to make sure it appears right. Chat with your competition and be sure to keep track of the moto’s. You want plenty of time to get to the line before your moto. Review your bike again and address its needs. Fuel your body and watch the track for better lines to avoid the rougher spots. When you are finished for the day, organize your pit area, watch the rest of the races and always stay for the trophy presentation. Bring a chair because almost everyone gets a trophy and their name called. Clap, cheer and heckle your fellow racers. Everything is done before 3pm and you are on your way home with a big smile on your face.