Going to a Track Day? 12 Common Rookie mistakes and how to avoid them.- Whether you're doing a Mission Wcss track day or one of Nancy's Siren Racing days this will help you out. 1. LACK OF PREPARATION: Be familiar with the rules and procedures of a specific track day, school or organization. Most have a website or even a handout sheet as you come in the gates but you should have a pretty good understanding about the day before you get there. You can also read posts on forums (BCSPORTBIKES or WMRC.ca) and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask or even call. 2. FORGETTING SOMETHING: Make a list and check it.I'll post up a sample one in a following post (Here:http://www.westwoodracing.com/forums/showthread.php?p=27892#post27892 ). Have you ever noticed that people in high risk jobs are big on Check lists. Check lists help overlooking things and make sure you do the same thing every time no matter what else is going on. When I took my pilot license I had a pre-flight, taxi/ pre take off and landing list. In a moment of emergency or some sort of excitement things would always be done the same way. I use lists for track days now as well. Ask how many racers have got to the track without gloves, fuel or even a bike key. You’ll find you’ll be adding things to your list until you get it just right for you. 3. SCRAMBLING AROUND TO PREPARE YOUR MOTORCYCLE THE MORNING BEFORE THE EVENT: Prepare you bike in advance unless you are riding to the track. Make sure you know what the tech requirements are and follow them. I f you skip ANYTHING, don’t expect to pass tech inspection. Doing this in advance will allow you to focus on the event and other tasks. Always remember- Tech says no….you don’t go. 4. PRE TRACK DAY PARTYING: Get a good meal and a good nights’ sleep. Your track day experience will be physically and mentally demanding. Avoid alcohol the night before as it will not only affect your sleep but rob you of water (hydration) you’ll need for the next day. 5. LATE ARRIVAL: Simple…..get there early. Not only will you get a better pit spot but you’ll feel more relaxed knowing you have extra time. When a day starts off hectic and rushed, odds are it will never recover. You will be faced with many new experiences upon arrival and you will not know the routine, so it will take you longer for each procedure than a rider who’s done this many times. DO NOT BE EMARRASSED to actually say “This is my first time doing this, can you help me?” We all had a first time and 99% of track day riders and staff will actually go out of their way to help you. However, they won’t know to do so if you don’t tell them or ask for help. 6. FAILURE TO PAY ATTENTION DURING THE RIDERS’ MEETING: Arrive at the riders’ meeting early. You will want to see and hear everything the event organizer or track marshal does. This is important to your safety and the safety of others. Many of us know what to do when we see a red flag or a waving yellow flag …..do you? Pay particular attention to the entry and exit track procedures. If you have a question, put up your hand and ask. Chances are someone has the exact same question and is also afraid to ask. Second guessing a procedure at 220km/hr can get you in trouble fast. 7. I DON’T NEED ANY INSTRUCTION: Never ever pass up an opportunity to learn. If the opportunity arises to take a course, school or a one on one with an instructor or racer…..Take it and invest in yourself. Ask plenty of questions and leave your ego at home. If you’re not asking questions, you’re not taking full advantage of your learning experience. 8. TALKING TRASH: Trash talkers are usually the riders who jump in over their heads and crash. Again, leave the ego at home. No matter how fast you think you are there is always going to be a rider out there that will blow your doors off. Resist the temptation to boast and get competition from your friends. Nothing good can come of it and it only distracts you from your primary goal. 9. TRYING TO GO TOO FAST TOO SOON: Read this- NO ONE HAS EVER FINISHED A TRACK DAY ON THE PODIUM. The only way to win at a track day is to leave at the end of the day, tired as hell, with your bike and gear in good shape and a ton of good memories. Don’t feel pressure to go fast. PERIOD! Take it easy and ease into the on-track sessions. You have all day and it is more physically demanding than you will anticipate. Learn the lines, pay attention to where you should be braking and increase your speed incrementally. No one is going to be impressed if you try to go fast, ride poor and crash your brains out. No one will criticize you for riding within your limits, learn something and have a great track experience. Most will tell you that the riders who learn to do things slowly and correctly enjoy this sport the most- and save money on damaging equipment. 10. OBSESSION WITH DRAGGING A KNEE: Dragging a knee is something that in and of itself is NOT a goal. If you obsess over it, you’ll probably end up doing many things incorrectly just to get the knee down. It is the result of doing several parts of the cornering process right. Some very fast riders barely drag a knee at all and some do it more frequently and almost drag elbows. Dragging a knee will just happen- along with the stupid grin on your face- when you nail your corner entry, apex and body position. Don’t force it. 11. WORRYING HOW YOU MEASURE UP: Don’t worry about anyone other than yourself. This is not a race! The goal of a track day is to improve your skills and enjoy the experience. 12. FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE: Share your experience with instructors during the day. If you don’t understand something in a session ask question before your next session so you can work on them while things are fresh in your mind. Also, let them know at the end of the day how things were and how they are doing. This feedback is important. In the long run both you and the organizations will get better. Now, get out there and ENJOY!