Beginners Guide: Getting Started with Road Racing

How to move from the street to the track

By Debra Kuick

If riding on the street doesn't satisfy your need for speed, then you've probably thought about racing on a track. The main benefit to riding on a track is the controlled environment—everyone is riding in the same direction, the condition of the pavement is predictable, and there are no unexpected obstacles. Here's how to get started.

You'll probably need to invest some time and money to get started in the world of road racing, but if you're an adrenaline junkie who dreams of flying around a track at top speeds, the payoff will be worth it.

Familiarize Yourself With the World of Road Racing
Start by checking out the racing organizations in your area. It's a good idea to get a rule book of the organizations you're interested in racing. Read up on the different classifications of races that are available, and start getting an idea of how racing is set up. Knowing the rules is essential.

Next, go check out a race weekend. You can usually pick up the daily schedule in the main registration area. Most people are quite friendly at these events, so don't be afraid to ask questions. In the paddock, seek out the kind of motorcycles you want to race, and make a point to watch those races. Go to the race starter and ask if you can watch the start of a race from the starting line, which can be very cool and exciting. Just be sure to wear closed-toe shoes—otherwise, you won't be able to get out on hot pit lane.

Ask questions of the riders, spectators and officials. Just be sure not to interrupt if a person appears to be getting ready—as you would expect, things tend to move quickly at racing events. At this point, you may have a picture in your head of the bike you want to race, and by attending an event like this, you'll be able to get an idea of the classes that type of bike races in. You'll also get a feel for the general atmosphere and camaraderie of road racing.

Your first step should be doing an honest assessment of your abilities. By attending an open track day without the necessary skills, you risk compromising the safety (and patience) of more experienced riders.

Assess Your Skill Level
The first question you should ask yourself is, "Am I fast enough?" You might think you're fast out on the street, but you may be surprised at how much faster other riders are on a track. If you're not riding fast enough—or if you have no experience riding on a track—you risk getting in the way of the experienced, faster riders sharing the track with you. If this is the case, you'll want to learn how to ride on a track before attending an open track day.

Sign Up for a Racing School or Track Day
So where do you learn how to ride on a track? Signing up to attend a track racing school is one option. Depending on where you live, there may also be a track in your area that holds track days for beginners—or better yet, for women only. Below are a few organizations that have held women-only track days in the past. For more information on track days and track racing schools, plus a comprehensive list of tracks and schools around the US, visit our story about Track Days And Racing Schools.

Female-only track days are a great way for women sportbike riders to practice their skills without the interference of male egos.

Once you feel comfortable enough to ride with the other speed demons on the track, you're ready to delve in—invest in some good riding gear and start looking into buying your first sportbike. You'll be burning rubber before you know it.

Looking for more information about sportbikes? Return to the Sportbikes And Dirt Bikes section of the WRN Beginners Guide, or visit the WRN Sportbike Corner.

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