Track day fun, circa 1992
Twenty-two years ago I heard that the local motorcycle dealership was offering access to the local race track. They were actually going to rent a world class racing facility, the kind that people fly in from all over the world to race on, and let us amateurs ride on it all day.
Sounded like a good idea at the time.
The rules were simple. Standard protective gear was required. Leather from head to toe was mandatory. I'm pretty sure the organizers looked at each motorcycle carefully to make sure it was safe. At least if they did they must have done so without my knowledge.
It was a pretty popular idea. I'd never heard of anything like this before and judging by the huge crowds of riders lined up in pit row early that morning, neither had they.
It wasnt my first time on the track, that had been a month earlier on a tiny kart track for an actual race school. As a result I had at least the tiniest idea of what to do on a race track. This knowledge saved my shiny newb ass for a few hours at least.
About 5 minutes after we'd been released onto the track I knew I was in trouble. The overwhelming number of bikes on the track was, by itself, a recipe for disaster. Add to this the fact that 99% of these riders had no concept of how to ride safely in these conditions guaranteed carnage.
And carnage is what we got.
The so-called Control Riders, otherwise known as sales and service staff from the dealership, all crashed out before lunch. What little 'control' they provided vanished with them. By lunchtime probably half the riders we saw lined up that morning had either crashed out or left in disgust. Or fear. As a result, congestion in the afternoon sessions was surprisingly light.
Fortunately this was an ideal environment to practise the lessons I learned at the recent racer school. The track was brilliant and traffic dropped significantly. I had almost no idea what I was doing but I was having an enormous amount of fun doing it.
And thats the problem. This track riding malarkey instantly became an addiction. The concept of riding on a closed course appealed in a way I never expected. The first experience doing so was fantastic. I was taking those turns faster than I had ever gone before. I felt like a hero, right up to the point of impact.
A brief trip to the emergency room that only lasted 7 hours and I came away with a new accessory to aid my fractured wrist. I spent the next six weeks slowly diagnosing and fixing my previously pristine motorcycle, eagerly awaiting the day I could remove the cast and get back on the track.
I already knew I needed a track-only bike and a racing license.
The rest is history.