I’ve been riding motorcycles for 23+ years. My first bike was a Yamaha RT100 dirt bike when I was 10. I love the freedom, the sound, the feeling of leaning a bike through a curve, all of it. I’m lucky enough to live less than an hour and a half from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (formerly NHIS), which allows me to do track days. You can read some previous posts about my track days here and here and here and here
I did my first track day of the 2013 season last Monday and wanted to do a quick write-up of what you should bring to a track day.
First of all, each track day organizer/school will have slightly different rules, requirements, schedules, and will provide different things, so read all the info from your track day provider you can.
Here is my list:
- Trailer + tie downs
- Painters tape, zip ties, basic tools, oil
- Helmet (less than 5 years old, full face, DOT and ANSI certified)
- Full Leather Armored Race Suit (or if you don’t have one :
- Leather Armored Jacket (which ZIPS INTO..)
- Leather Armored Pants
- Gloves (leather, over wrist gauntlet style is recommended, as is armor)
- Boots (armored riding boots are best. Leather over ankle boots will work in a pinch)
- Under layer (highly recommend getting some thin cooling/wicking under layer top and bottom to go under your leathers)
- Socks (riding boots are pretty tall, so you’ll often want extra long socks and cooling/wicking is good too)
- Hat (for when you’re walking around in the sun)
- Tire Warmers (you don’t need them when you’re just starting out, but when you start to really dial up the speed you’ll want them!!!)
- Bike stands (if you’re using tire warmed you need these)
- Bike trickle charger (if your bike was cold on the trailer all night it may be hesitant to start)
- Jump box (You’ll be AMAZED at how many people’s bikes wont start, especially early in the season. Bring a Jump Box and you’ll make a lot of new friends!)
- Extension cord to plug in your tire warmers and charger
- Helmet Fan (you can get a cheap small rotating like this fan which you’ll turn facing upward and put your helmet on it with the visor open when you get off the track. Otherwise your helmet will be sweaty and wet and gross all day)
- Energy drinks/Gatorade/etc… (you need to be REALLY on top of dehydration as it happens quickly when you’re in the sun in full leathers and it impacts your judgement and reaction times first)
- Power bars
- Gasoline!!! (bring a 5 gallon can of nice fresh gas)
- Folding Camp Chair
A note about hydration – some track day schools will provide water, some wont. Bring your own just in case. I also like drinks with electrolytes, etc… like Vitamin Waters, Gatorade, etc.. I generally will do a small amount of caffeine (as track days start early) but not a ton (no redbull here). Most track days will have you spending 15-20 minutes on the track every hour, with the remainder spend un-gearing, learning things in the classroom, and re-gearing up. My plan is to consume 12-16 oz of fluids during every ~40 minutes that I’m not on the bike. Also to urinate about once every break as well. If you’re smaller, you may need less fluids, but if you get to lunch time and you haven’t hit the bathroom more than once since you arrived at 8 AM, then you need to be drinking more. I also like to eat a small bag of salty chips (not something I usually eat) in order to help retain more water during the day. Also chips are tasty:)
A note about trailers and tie downs. You can rent a trailer from U-Haul for about $20/day. You can even rent a pickup to tow it with for cheap too. You don’t need to buy a $3,000 trailer for your first track day. U-Haul even has motorcycle specific trailers with a chock for the front wheel built into the trailer. You will need 3-4 tie down straps for the bike. Do NOT get the ones with the built-in ratchets for tightening the straps. They SEEM like a good idea, but they make it way too easy to over compress your suspension and damage your shocks. Get the simple ones where you pull to tighten. You’ll want to two in the front, one on each handle bar, and 1 or 2 in the back to hold the rear of the bike from bouncing all over. I highly recommend getting a handlebar harness or something similar. If you load the bike up the night before, leave the ties loose, and tighten them up, with a little bit of suspension compression, before you hit the road. You’ll worry about the bike the whole ride up, but I’ve NEVER had a bike fall or get damaged in 20+ trailerings.
If you’re just getting into track days, stay calm and go slow. Don’t worry about how far you’re going, or who’s passing you. I always forget, but just focus on your line, your body position, being consistent, learning your braking and turn in points, etc… Do that, and you’ll end up being fast. If you push yourself to be fast first, you’ll end up slow or crashed or both. Slow and smooth. And have fun!
You can download a printable packing checklist here: Track Day Checklist