As you get more and more experience under your belt doing track days and you find your pace coming on nicely, it isn’t uncommon to start thinking about dipping a toe into racing.
I’ve spoken in the past about the apprehension that people face when considering a move up to a faster group, but I’d say that those feeling are often multiplied by a factor of 10 when a rider thinks about going racing.
The thought is that unless you’re setting a blistering pace and blasting past everything in sight, you wouldn’t even make it at the back of any club race grid.
In actual fact, a club race grid has a lot in common with any given group on a track day.
Granted, there will be some racing series that have super competitive fields, but in terms of the overall disparity between riders, you’ll find that many of the newcomer club race series’ have a wide array of different abilities (and machinery).
I’ve been at club races in the past and witnessed guys that would struggle to make it in the fast group on any given track day.
I’ve also shared the track with different guys who I know race in various championships (and aren’t last) who I have been able to comfortably hang with, and I personally wasn’t the fastest in the group that day.
The notion that you need to be knocking on the door of domestic stock championship times in order to go racing is just silly, much like thinking that you need to comfortably be the fastest guy in a track day group before you can move up.
If racing is something that interests you, then deciding on your goal will help set the expectations to a more achievable level.
Most of the guys I know only race for the thrill and adrenaline rush it gives them, not with the expectation of being a consistent front runner and winning the championship.
Whether you’re racing someone for 1st or 21st, it’s still racing at the end of the day, and while the outcome might not be as important, you still experience the same thrills.
If you’re kicking on in the fast group and you’ve wondered when you’ll be ready to go racing (and you don’t expect to win races), you’re already there.
Just as all the track day groups overlap in terms of rider ability, many club race championships will overlap the fast group (or even inters, in some cases!) meaning you wouldn’t be out of place.
Everyone who goes racing will tell you that it brings your riding on no end and gives you a much better idea of what you’re really capable of.
At the end of the day the desire to beat the guy in front of you is greater, and you’ll find yourself stretching your abilities more than you would at any track day to fulfil that desire.
You also get the exact same effect as you do when moving up to a faster track day group.
The guys going faster pull you along and give you the confidence to brake later, go in faster, lean a little bit more and accelerate that bit harder.
Especially when you’re riding equal machinery.
Then there’s the fact that the average pace is going to be much quicker, so you’ll spend zero time navigating slower moving traffic and upsetting your rhythm.
In terms of progression, when you may feel like you’re reaching your limits on a track day, a day’s racing really will give you one massive boot up the progression scale.
I suppose the biggest and most glaringly obvious is cost.
If you’re just talking about notes per lap, you’ll get more for your money at a track day than you would at most race meets.
Once you factor in all entry fees and multiple costs to go racing for a weekend, on paper you probably would question whether it’s worth it.
A better way to look at it though is on a notes per smiles basis.
On a caveman like thrills level, racing will give you something that you just cannot get from a track day.
Many would argue that while you are getting fewer laps for your money, the experience and pleasure generated during those laps is greater that just riding round with a lot less to aim for.
Another potential downside is the addictive nature of racing. I’ve known many a rider that have gone into it with the intention of just “giving it a go” only to find that during that or the following seasons, they’ve completely jumped in with both feet.
Your wallet/purse may not thank you for it.
One last caveat is the increased risk that comes with close racing and pushing past limits. This increased risks means a greater chance of you parting company with your bike. Something that may put people off from jumping in altogether.
If you have zero interest in racing and you’re quite happy to just hit the track a few times a year to get your fix of fast riding, I completely understand that.
However, for many riders that work to improve their riding the way you no doubt have, racing is something that should definitely be considered.
It offers so much from both a pleasure and progression standpoint which can be tough to get from any track day.
It makes you realise that what you once thought was your 100% wasn’t your 100% at all, and it offers a multitude of opportunities to learn something about yourself and your own riding.
Something that can only ultimately benefit you from a riding progression point of view.
Coupled with that is the extreme camaraderie you’ll find in any racing paddock, which all adds up to an extremely satisfying experience for any rider of the track.
Racing really can be something else. If it’s an idea you’ve had thoughts of, don’t wait until you’re ‘absolutely ready’ because you may just be missing out on a chance to find that time you’ve been searching for, while having an absolutely amazing experience in the process.
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