I received an email from someone this week who wanted to start motorbike racing so I thought I would make that the topic of this blog.
The number one thing you need to go motorbike racing is money. It is ridiculously expensive. In my first two years I have spent almost £8000 and I have yet to complete a full season. That’s a lot of money. When I write it down like that it freaks me out a bit. I could use that money for other things like becoming a landlord so that I can earn money to go motorbike racing. Also the race series I race in is really cheap. The bikes seem to be expensive to buy, overpriced in my opinion a lot of the time, but the running costs are about as low as you can get. There are three big expenses for me:- Race Entry Fees, Fuel to get to the race meetings and finally tyres. In 2016 I could get away with two pairs of tyres for the season, in 2017 it should have been three sets and this year I am planning on four sets. In DesmoDue we have a control tyre and a deal which keeps the costs down. Our tyres last really well and we are not allowed tyre warmers which helps keeps the costs down. If you are riding bigger bikes than me the guys at the front will be using a pair of tyres per meeting, possibly more. So make sure you have plenty of cash especially for tyres!
Once you have your money you need to find out what class you want to race in. Or the class you want to race in might be dictated by money (I’d love to race in BSB but I don’t have any funding for that, if anyone wants me to ride for them get in touch I promise I’ll crash less!) you will need to get a bike. Buy a race ready bike. It’s easier, cheaper, will come with some spare parts and be much less of a headache. You will also need one piece race leathers, gold approved helmet, gloves (with wrist straps), boots (with stepped sole), back protector and dog tags. Your bike and equipment will be scruitineered at each meeting so they need to be safe.
So you have your bike, your gear and you know what class you want to race in. Now you need to get a race license. Most of the clubs you race with will have a license day. I race with NGRRC their 2018 license day is on the 3rd/4th of March, two weeks before the first race meeting. You will also need to pay a membership to join that racing club. Being Scottish I have the joy of having to join a Scottish club (Melville Motor Club) so I can get a SACU license, then have to join NGRRC to race with them and because DesmoDue is ran by the Ducati Sporting Club I also have to join them. By being Scottish I have to pay an extra £20 membership but I get £25 off every race day with NGRRC so it works out ok. Once you have all your memberships sorted out, fill out the ACU License form and book yourself in for a licence day (you will need an eyesight examination for the ACU License).
What to expect at the license day? There will be a classroom session where they talk about flags and how to conduct yourself. This felt a little bite like – there will be no fun had! – but it is really for your own safety. The underlying message was don’t be a dick, no wheelies, no stoppies, when you fall off don’t try get back on, etc. There is also a short test based on what they have told you and what the different flags mean. Once you have passed the classroom part you then go and ride the circuit with someone assessing you making sure you can control the bike in a safe way. If you are lucky they will also give you some advice on how to be safer and faster. I was, my assessor was Mike Skinner, a former racer and son Rory is now in the British Talent Cup team, he was happy to give me advice on how to be a better rider. You might also get some practice starts too, that was quite helpful although it did cause a few accidents. Top tip – try to get through the license day without damaging yourself or bike!
And that is pretty much it. Other things you might need are a van (which will need to have a fire extinguisher), ramps to get the bike in and out of the van, spares, generator, tyre warmers, tools, spare wheels, gazebo, etc, etc. The list can go on. Some people rock up with a three gazebo tent, their own flooring, a team of mechanics, a dry bike, a wet bike, etc. What I would recommend is to find some likeminded people who can share the cost of travel and getting set up on the day. It makes it so much better when you have someone to talk rubbish too as there is quite a lot of down time between races.
After two years and £8000 I am so glad I took the jump to race. It’s amazing fun, has given me some great experiences and put some scars on my body but I would not change it for the world.