Getting into track days and possibly WERA racing

Discussion in 'Information For New Racers' started by William Schneider, May 7, 2021.

  1. William Schneider

    William Schneider Well-Known Member

    Hello All,

    I am new to these forums and looking for some advice/help/suggestions.

    Background:
    I am 23 years old, have over 20K miles of street experience on a 2016 ninja 650, 2015 ninja 1000, and 2007 CBR1000RR. I have done a few long trips around the east coast, hitting Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, The Snake, Tail of the Dragon, and all through the wonderful mountains of WV. I am currently living in Northern Alabama, working as a rocket engineer.

    Plan/Thoughts:
    I am going to start doing track days this summer, starting with the STT weekend at Barber for the last weekend of June. I am going to try and do 6-10 track days this year if I end up enjoying the first couple (which I believe I will). Then if that all goes well, I would want to start racing in the WERA Southeast Sportsman series (since most of those racing are near me) next year, 2022.

    Questions:
    I understand that it is generally better to start on track with a smaller bike (RC390, Ninja 400, SV650...) to get acquainted better with the acceleration and braking techniques that differ from road to track. Would it be hindering my ability to improve as a track rider starting on the CBR1000RR?


    The CBR is a mostly stock motorcycle (steel-braided brake lines, aftermarket exhaust, stock footpegs, raised clip-ons). If I were to start racing it seems as though using the CBR would not be the best idea and instead buy a smaller motorcycle (CBR600rr, Zx-6r, SV650...) already set up for racing would be smarter. The reasons would be that:

    - The 2007 CBR is down on power compared to the current cream of the crop 1000cc bikes so it could be harder for me to be competitive in that class
    - I would have to research (probably a lot because I am not so educated in racing) and buy a fair amount of parts to get the CBR set up for racing
    - The points above about the big bike being too powerful for me
    - Tire cost (not as big of a deal, but still a thought)
    - The smaller classes are not increasing in power as quickly as the 1000cc class, so the bike would be competitive longer

    So what are your guys' thoughts on that?


    What would be a good estimate for the yearly cost of racing in WERA? Race fees, tires, motorcycle maintenance. I understand it can differ significantly, but roughly $2500, $5000, $10000, $15000?


    Should you make it to all of the race weekends or is it normal to miss a few?


    I am also 6'5", 215 lbs, so quite big. Any suggestions on being that and racing motorcycles? Bike setup and such.


    Lastly, do you think it is too ambitious to start track riding this year and racing next year?
     
  2. Kurlon

    Kurlon Well-Known Member

    Can you start on a CBR 1000, absolutely. Is it going to hinder your learning? It's not an absolute, the theory is on the smaller, lower HP machines tend to be more forgiving of mistakes, and aren't as quick to surprise you with raw HP antics so they provide a wider comfort zone to push yourself in. As you progress, to get fast on a low HP machine you have to learn to make the most of what it has rather than relying on HP, so your corner speed goes up, your lines become more precise, your braking becomes stronger and later, etc. These are all things that translate to faster times on big bikes as well but aren't quite as exposed when your focus is on not spinning up the rear everywhere at first.

    Racing the CBR? Yup, on paper it's outdated and outgunned, but you're not racing paper print outs you're racing other riders. As a novice, it's WAY more about rider skill than it is bike performance. If you opt to race the CBR, do so until it's actually the bike holding you back and not your skill level.

    Also, as you brought it up, don't let your size worry you, we've got larger gentlemen beating people up on R3s up here in LRRS land. :D
     
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  3. mpusch

    mpusch Well-Known Member

    Cool!

    Probably learn more, quicker on a smaller bike, but you certainly wouldn't be the first to start racing on a 1000.

    Most of that doesn't matter. As mentioned, it's MUCH more about skill than machinery. I did probably 25 track days and a fair number of races on stock rear sets.

    Unreal differences in how people do things. I run a pretty small operation on a 600. I can use a set of tires all weekend no problem, 6x12 trailer, 10x10 tent, etc. It normally costs me $1,000-$1,500 for a normal weekend. Gas to get to the track can often be one of the largest expenses. Some people probably spend 5x what I do.

    Whatever you want or can do. I typically just do a couple a year that are at tracks I like.

    No. You could go racing this year if you wanted to.
     
  4. dave3593

    dave3593 What I know about opera I learned from Bugs Bunny

    Most people will agree racing is safer than track days. Go to a couple track days (or just one) to get your feet under you. Then go to a WERA event and take the one day course to get a license. Next you are ready to race WERA as long as you can follow directions and hold lines so you are not a danger. If the 1000 is all you got that is OK but you will be over 150 on the straights right from the get go. That is not the best situation for a beginning track rider but probably ok if the bike is safe and you are not squirrelly.

    Other than just prepping the bike go over it for safety. Check wheel bearings, steering head bearings, swing arm bearings, etc. for no play and no excess heat after a ride. Check main bolts, fuel lines, fuel seals, brake line and seals etc.

    I highly recommend an SV650 for starters. I started on a bike that is hard to ride and it was a mistake.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  5. TurboBlew

    TurboBlew Registers Abusers

    I would not recommend a leader bike to start... Can it be done? Um sure... but you dont start out reading Tolstoy in 1st grade? So why would you start with a bike making over 80 ft lbs of torque when you barely have throttle control mastered??

    Since you probably have a solid report card from a prominent university... Id get a smaller bike (ninja 300 or 400 or clapped out SV650) take a Ken Hill instructed school, do some trackdays that have a racer license school, then get your license/comp # from WERA and attend an event close to home.
    Can you jump into racing without all that? Sure... but then you'll have folks tell you to "Just follow" someone in practice...lol. From an idiot that thought "fast guys" can teach... they cant. Better to take a school where the "fundamentals" are explained and you get material to study. Because the best racers out there have solid fundamentals.

    Also your time at the Dragon or how many miles on the street does not qualify you for any special treatment...lol. Leave the ego at the gate... open your mind and only focus on riding skill.
    Makes the sport much more enjoyable. A lesson I learned way later in life...
     
  6. Shenanigans

    Shenanigans in Mr.Rogers neighborhood

    Buy a sv650 and race at Barber on 4th of July. Who needs track days?
     
  7. Mongo

    Mongo Administrator

    What if you read the Hobbit in first grade? :crackup:
     
  8. mdhokie

    mdhokie Well-Known Member

    I've done 4 years of track days on a 1000cc bike, and I just got my provisional novice to go racing with WERA this year for the first time. As a sample size of 1, I don't have a control to tell me whether I would have been faster if I started on a small bike, but I was able to learn the same things on my big bike about bike placement, lines, and vision, and perhaps even more about being smooth on the controls. I'd say my only perceived disadvantage from starting on a big bike is my cowardice in opening the throttle coming out of a turn while still at lean angle, since I know my bike is just waiting to high side my brains out if I get too throttle-happy.

    Why? Track days have passing rules for the novice/intermediate class that (mostly) help prevent people doing awkward passes that end up in crashes, and the rule is be polite. For the most part, I've had no issues with the safety of the other riders around me. Pitting out onto the track is an easy rolling start with clear instructions on not swerving into the racing line, without the danger of somebody plowing into the back of you from a failed race launch. At a track day, you can focus on your fundamentals instead of lap time to start with, and get your first experience braking from 150mph to 30mph for turn 1 without the pressure of everyone trying to brake as deep as possible to avoid giving up a position. The experience of the other riders starts low in novice group, but the same situation applies if you encourage people to go racing first without any track experience. The only thing I can think you might mean is the disparity between 1000cc and 300cc bikes on the track at the same time, but in general even if I am blowing by a 300cc bike on the main straight at 50+mph differential, it's not like I can't see them ahead and I can easily move over to give them plenty of room.
     
  9. William Schneider

    William Schneider Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for the responses! I am definitely going to use your advice in my decision-making. I want to learn as much as I can and not come in here with an ego at all. I know I don't have much experience on the street and obviously none on the track. I guess I should have not included my street experience as it is irrelevant here.

    A forum member messaged me in response to this thread about buying his buddy's SV650. I am seriously considering it, but with already having 3 bikes, and 1 bike in a restoration process, my parents and friends convinced me to wait until after my first couple of track days to make sure I like it, I can finish the work on the restoration project, and more importantly that I am committed to doing track days/races in the future. So I will start on the CBR1000RR but quickly move to a smaller bike (SV650 most likely). Unfortunately/fortunately all of my bikes are gifts from my dad and uncle, so I can't really sell them to get a new bike.

    I was planning to do the California Superbike School this year with my family at VIR, but we waited too long and they were sold out. I am now planning to do that next year. I will take a look at Ken Hill and see if there are any other good riding schools with availability in the southeastern area here.

    I really did not know much about racing vs. track days, so all of your input is very helpful for me to make a plan moving forward. I was thinking you may need to be one of the most advanced riders at a track day to go racing, but perhaps you do not need to be THAT good.
     
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  10. RRP

    RRP Kinda Superbikey

    If we did, most of us wouldn't be racing Will. :crackup:
     
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  11. Wheel Bearing

    Wheel Bearing Professional low sider

    My 2 cents: Kurlon's post is spot on.

    Additional: I think doing your first few track days on a bike that YOU are familiar with and know well is probably better than trying to learn a new to you track bike in an all new environment for you (track days). I say KISS...keep it simple stupid. Tape up your lights on the bike you know and like, and do a couple of track days.

    Assess from there once you have more of an idea what you wanna do.
     
  12. stangmx13

    stangmx13 Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't spend any money on preparing solely for racing until you have some trackdays under your belt. No one has any idea what kind of rider you are. You may feel great your first trackday and just need some seat time to get comfortable and get faster. You may need years of trackdays and coaching before you have enough skill and comfort to go racing. No one knows at this point because you haven't tried it. Your street experience is barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to track riding, and it's hardly applicable to actually going fast on track.

    There's nothing wrong with starting on a 1000cc bike. You will learn slower and you will get your butt kicked for far longer. But its far more important to spend your $$ on track time, tires, and instruction than buying another bike. Instruction is probably the most important part of learning quickly. Little bikes are better for teaching yourself how to ride. Paying someone else to teach you gets around that and is better in every way. The racer on a 1000 that pays for even 1 day of private instruction will likely be better off than the racer on a 300 that tries to teach themselves.

    If there's a shop around you that knows how to setup the bike, racing that Ninja 650 might not be a bad choice. There's a Kawi guy on this forum that knows more if you are up for it.

    A good weekend of club racing is $1000-1500 - a Saturday track, Sunday race entries, 2-3 tires, gas, food, and maybe a cheap hotel. For a bad weekend, add another $1000 for crash damage and gear replacement. That cost does not include bike prep and gear which will vary a lot. At a minimum, Id buy race fairings and race-quality brake pads, which will set you back ~$700. The rest of the stuff like suspension, clipons, rearsets, gearing, tire warmers, extra wheels, etc are not entirely necessary for your first weekend. Of course, you'll absolutely want all those things by your 2nd year of racing. For gear, buy top of the line stuff. A >$1000 suit will survive a lot more crashes than a cheap suit, making it less expensive in the end.
     
    William Schneider likes this.
  13. Mechdziner714

    Mechdziner714 More Gas Less Brakes

    Its a lot more fun to go fast on a slow bike than it is to go slow on a fast bike.
     
  14. mpusch

    mpusch Well-Known Member

    Going fast (to me) on a fast bike is pretty dope though.
     
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  15. Shenanigans

    Shenanigans in Mr.Rogers neighborhood

    Shit how about going slow on a slow bike? That's what I did last year
     
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  16. Suzuka_joe

    Suzuka_joe Well-Known Member

    my .02 - sign up for both days at Barber, work with the instructors and decide if you're commited to tds and potentially racing. IMO there is nothing wrong with starting on a 1000 but you'll be at a disadvantage by having more power available by developing poor techniques like lines, throttle use and braking. You should be able to blow every apex at barber and run a 1:50 on a 1000 without any trouble, smaller bikes lose lots of time when you mess up a corner however this is why people suggest a smaller bike because you can push a bit harder with less "recourse." i personally would never get rid of my R6 but my husky FS450 is so much more fun at my kart track and smaller tracks because i can ham fist it and its not likely going to throw me to the moon. \

    in short - go do some track days, get some material for the gram and enjoy. then choose if you want to spend the big money on club racing
     
  17. William Schneider

    William Schneider Well-Known Member

    Again thank you for all of the information and help. All of these replies are really getting me thinking about my options and what is best for me as a rider, financially, and with time commitment.

    stangmx13's post got me thinking that without buying another bike, there are still a few options for me. I have my Ninja 1000 down here that has less power than the CBR and has the ability to electronically restrict power to ~75%. Another option would be to grab my old Ninja 650 from my dad up in NY (which I was already thinking about because the Ninja 1000 has more power than you need on the street). I put on most of my miles on these bikes, so I know them the best. The main issue with these two options is that they are set up for more street/touring use. Especially with the Ninja 650, the handlebars are uncomfortably high for me, even on the street. So perhaps I would want to invest in apex clip-ons, which allow for a few inches of adjustment, to go between the street and track? What modifications do I NEED to make to a street bike for my first couple TDs? And which SHOULD I make?

    Thoughts on these ideas?
     
  18. TLR67

    TLR67 Well-Known Member

    Do both...Both are great.... And take advantage of Trackdays prior to race weekends on Thursdays and Fridays too...
     
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  19. SuddenBraking

    SuddenBraking The Iron Price

    Blue painters tape on any lights, remove mirrors and license plate.

    Ride the bike like that for a day or two before you do anything.
     
  20. mpusch

    mpusch Well-Known Member

    +1 again. Keep it simple. Pull the fuse on the lights though :D
     

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