In past editions of Here's How we've explained how to get a road race licence, the paperwork to get on the track and how to prepare the bike for the encounters to come. Now we shall put that into practice with a day at the track with our Phoenix Racer, Roland Potter.
Assuming that all the preparation has been done and the bikes ready for loading let's just list the things which would be essential on race day.
Tool kit, food, cooking equipment, petrol, oil, brake fluid, grease, spare inner tubes and oversuits. If you are staying overnight even more is needed. Either tent and sleeping equipment or on the floor of the van and sleeping bags. Don't forget to include helmet and riding gear. ID disc, paddock passes, racing licence or somebody won't be riding!
Long before race day you must decide whether or not you want to stay the night. A long drive before a race meeting can be quite tiring and you may not be at your most alert, so if the track is more than 50 miles away it may be more beneficial to go the night before and stay overnight.
When you've decided which is best to get there early - more room. When you arrive show your passes. Once there you'll find you'll soon be joined by others doing the same as you. They'll be either racers or officials or even fans, oops, I mean spectators. Anyway get your stall. Set it how you like ie everything handy and readily available if you need them quick. On race day check over the bike and wait to be called up for scrutineering (them checking your bike). When you are called or your class (they usually have set classes at certain times eg 125 to 250, 350, 500, 1000, production and sidecars) Don't forget to take your helmet, leathers, ID disc, licence and of course your bike complete with racing numbers to scrutineering bay. Here someone will look at your bike, sometimes quite vigorously to check it's safe to race. After he passes it you get a sticker or he signs a card or something (depending on the club) to say it's passed. Then you wait for practice session to commence. When you receive regs for races they usually have the time when races and practice commence so keep an eye on the time. If you are not sure when to practice ask the paddock marshal who will soon tell you. But if you miss practice no racing so be warned.
When your class has been called up for practice, assemble in the warm-up area and wait. You'll be told when to rev up. So just warm the engine and be patient. No need to get nervous yet either. Eventually you receive the signal and away you go. Now you must remember it is only a practice, not a race so just go round gently and find out where the bends are. It is best to go round them slow at first and build up your speed as you find out your limit. Don't worry if people are rushing past you - and don't try to keep up until you know where you are going - for obvious reasons.
At the end of practice you'll be flagged off at the paddock entrance. Sometimes you get a second practice or even a third - that depends on the club. Now when practice is over check the bike over for things coming loose and petrol, oil etc. Then when you are happy with it leave it on its stand and have something to eat or look round the other bikes.
You will be in plenty of time for your race but with all the noise of the paddock it is hard to follow so keep a look out. Usually they call up say race 2 at the start of race 1.
When you are called up don't panic!! if the grid is decided by ballot you will find out as you go into the warm-up area. Warm the engine up. No need for nerves yet either. You'll be signalled when to go onto the grid and when you do get there, wait. A stop all engines signal will be given. It is then time to watch the starter. Make sure that the petrol and ignition is on and then clip your visor. The starter usually displays the flag when you should come under starter's order. Concentrate on him and as the flag is dropped away you go. Don't try too much on the first lap as the tyres are not fully warmed up yet - I found that out the hard way. Now it's up to you.
Just a word of warning. If someone falls off in front of you don't watch him, watch where you are going - I didn't and I nearly joined him!
And that's all there is to it. If you are interested in having a go and you are in doubt, have a word with any of our Phoenix Racers who'll be glad to help.