How to Start a Road Racing Career – Learn From The Pros

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or are new to motorcycle racing, this guide will help you understand how to jumpstart a career as a professional motorcycle racer.

In the world of motorcycle racing, there is talk about starting a career, and for a good reason. Not only is motorcycle racing fun to do, but a fruitful career would immediately make you a well-paid star.

However, motorcycle racing is not easy as a career or a hobby. It’s expensive, requires a ton of dedication, and is risky.

Many people spend years building up their skills, getting sponsorship, training, and more before they can finally compete on a race track. So how can you make a start in this highly competitive and high-profile sport?

Let’s start with the basics.

The average cost of a professional-level motorcycle in the United States is approximately $10,000. This cost can quickly add up.

There are two types of riders: those who ride recreationally and those who race professionally. Recreational riders might be more inclined to join a group like the American Motorcyclist Association, which holds events across the country and is an excellent resource for information. Professional riders can join a national organization; Experienced riders can also work with sponsors to make their careers more financially feasible.

Once you are ready to make a racing career, you will need to find a race team to work with. The two most common race teams are privateer teams and factory teams. Privateer teams are often smaller, independent teams that use their equipment to race on their own time. Factory teams are more well-known and well-funded and are sponsored by a company. Both of these teams are looking for riders, and you will need to work with a team to race professionally.

This is assuming, of course, that you are interested in making a career out of motorcycle racing. 

But what if you’re just a regular Joe who owns a 400 cc and above motorcycle that you want to ride on a race track now and then? What do you need to prepare? 

Track Days

Track days are an essential part of getting ready to race. They are a great way to get to know the track, practice, and prepare for the races. They are also a great way to make friends with other riders and get a sense of the racing.

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Before you get to a track, you will need to learn how to ride correctly. You can do this by going to a track school. These schools offer classes in riding and driving.

What to prepare

Certification And License

Before you can ride on a racing track, you need to get certified. This certification will enable you to ride with a racing license. You can understand the requirements here.

Assuming you are certified and licensed, you need to prepare yourself and your motorcycle.

Motorcycle Preparation:

Your bike has to be in tip-top shape. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time at the track. They inspect your motorcycle before racing, and if it’s not regulation, they will not let you use it in the race. As such, pay attention to the tires, suspension, brakes, and drive chain. Aside from the essential maintenance, you will be required to remove certain parts of your motorcycle, like the side mirror, kickstand, license plate, luggage rack, and turn signal (if it is protruding). To ensure racetrack safety rules, you may have to replace your stock fairing with a racing one. Alternatively, suppose you do not have a racing motorcycle, but you still want to do a track day. In that case, you can rent a track-ready motorcycle.

Rider Preparation

Visiting the track to spectate is highly recommended. This will allow you to feel what you need to do, where you need to go, and the steps you need to take while at the track with your motorcycle. Joining forums and social media groups is also a terrific method to gain information and make friends who can help you start your dream motorcycle racing career.

Gear Preparation

You will be required to wear a helmet, a one-piece racing leather suit, and gloves. Having a back protector is highly recommended. If you don’t own a leather suit, you may rent from the track school. Although owning a set of riding gear is advisable, you also can rent it. 

Other essential pre-race preparations:

Safety wires

Safety wires are used to secure fasteners, making them impossible to dislodge when riding at high speed. It is used on any fastener that would jeopardize safe handling or operation if it became loose. Besides fasteners, oil drain and coolant drain plugs, caliper bolts, axle pinch bolts, and axle nuts require safety wires. This serves as a visible indicator for others to see if the fastener is in excellent working order during pre-race inspection. Check here for more details on safety wires. 

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Number plates

Although scoring is now done electronically via a transponder implanted in your motorcycle, a number plate is still required for a simple reason. If the electronic scoring system (or the transponder) fails, race officials can still identify you and register the score. They won’t allow you on the track without a number plate. There are stringent regulations around this simple attachment. For example, it must be mounted securely; and the number must be at least 6 inches and printed with contrasting colors (black on white, white on black).

Motorcycle modifications

You need to check several items and mods you need to make on your motorcycle to prepare for a track day. For example:

  • Check the suspension and ensure it is set up to your weight and ready for fast riding.
  • Because your engine will use more oil as it works harder and is pushed further than before, it is recommended that you perform maintenance before and after the race.
  • Check your chain and sprocket for wear and tear. Test the length of your chain (whether it’s loose or tight) and make sure they are in good condition and properly tensioned. It will snap if it’s too tight, and if there is slack, you will experience a delay between twisting the throttle and the bike’s forward movement. 

What to bring on track day

You must have an unrestricted license or a current ACU license. In addition, you must demonstrate to the instructor that you can keep up with the group.

  • An ACU gold stamped full-face bike helmet is required in addition to the leather suit, leather gloves, and boots that reach the bottom of your calves and go beneath (or over) the leather. Metal knee or toe sliders are not authorized, nor is textile apparel. Back protectors such as the Forcefield Evo or the Dainese Wave are highly recommended.
  • Bring the tools you’ll need for your bike. Spanners, an open wrench set, a torque wrench, a technician’s globe, and a sparkplug gap tool are all examples of essential yet necessary tools.
  • For example, because gas is pricey at the racetrack, fill up before heading there. If possible, bring an extra can in case you need it.
  • Bring a camping chair, snacks, and a water container if you’re towing your bike. Leather suits are hot, and you’ll be sweating a lot, so stay hydrated.
  • When you’re on a race track, there’s always the risk of a crash, so pack extra brakes, clutch levers, footpegs, and so on.
  • Extra tires (other than those on your motorcycle) are an excellent idea to have on hand if you need them.
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Track day Cost

A track day is a great way to test out your motorcycle and its capabilities. However, many people choose not to participate because of the costs involved. You will have to invest in your bike, the gear you will wear, and the use of the track. But if you are serious, be prepared to spend anywhere from $150.00 to over $300.00 per day.  Depending on the event you are participating in, the track day fee can include paddock passes, VIP passes, camping, and food.

Conclusion

There are many benefits to participating in a track day. For starters, you will be able to test your skills on a race track, which will help you to become a better rider. You will also be able to practice handling your motorcycle in various conditions, which will help you become a better rider.  If you plan to purchase a bike, a track day is a great way to get a feel for it and see if it is right for you. You will also be able to meet other riders and get a sense of how you and your new bike will work together.  Finally, suppose you are planning to enter the sport of motorcycling. In that case, you will practice your riding and become a better rider in the process.