The Beginner's Guide to Ontario Track Days | GTAMotorcycle.com

The Beginner's Guide to Ontario Track Days

Shaman

Well-known member
This document is intended to be an entry-level introduction to doing track days in Ontario, Canada. More experienced riders may find some items of use to them, and feel free to make suggestions. Posted to GTAM, Facebook and others, but originated here at GTAM and this will be the most current version.

Why track days?


Track days help you learn the limits of your motorcycle; your style of riding and develop them to new levels. A good track day event approached with the right attitude and methodical approach for improvement will yield strong results on the street or track which may save your life or someone else's.

Done with passion, track days are also very enjoyable. Many riders find that the sense of family and camaraderie at the race track is second to none. The track day population is a relatively small, tight community of riders who like to push their skills and bodies to their personal limit - or grow beyond them.

Don’t be scared! Track events have lots of support for new riders. Some organisers will provide experienced riders to escort you around the track several times so that you can get comfortable with the concepts involved. Practising your skill at the track is far safer than doing it on the street, because everyone is going in the same direction and there are no distracted drivers in minivans, texting on a cell phone, on a race track.

Track days might be the most fun you can have on a motorcycle.


How to find a track day suitable for you...

1) Do some online searching for a track nearest you or ask your local motorcycle dealer. They should know. If this is your first track day, consider going to Shannonville, Grand Bend or Toronto Motorsports Park in preference to other tracks. They have clear sightlines and are generally the safest choices available to you within Ontario. Research the track's layout by visiting their web site: they all have one.

2) Contact the track, or an organiser which operates at that track. There are web sites dedicated to track days in many provinces. Motorcycle forums are also quite good for posting or relating track dates to interested parties.

http://www.motorcycletrackdays.ca/ is an excellent site, but does not list all events from all organisers.

3) Consider whether or not the track is close enough to visit directly, or if you will need lodging. A good rule of thumb is that if a track is more than three hours away, you should find lodging for the night. You need to be alert and capable of riding a motorcycle when you get there. Most track events open their registration at 7:30am to 8:30am but some are as early as 6:30am. Obviously, this decision also impacts your overall cost.

4) Consider whether what you want is a track day or a riding course. There are a number of riding courses available from different organisers, and often those schools also run regular track days. It is worth the money to take a school!


Preparation: Protective Gear...

So, you're going to do a track day, and safety is a huge concern for you. It should be! Safety should always come first on your list of considerations for track event preparations.

Here is what you need:

  • Gloves should have a full wrist gauntlet, be very thick at the knuckles, and double-stitched. The wrists should have a strap to keep the glove on in the event of a crash. No cheap, light gloves!
  • Leather pants and jacket that zip together or a one-piece race suit with built in protection at the knees, calves, elbows, forearms etc. Check with the event organiser, as many of them now require a one-piece suit. A one-piece suit is also your safest and most durable choice for protection.
  • A back protector. It can be integrated into the suit, or much better, an aftermarket one with a good consumer rating.
  • Motorcycle racing boots of good quality, with double-stitched design and with ankle rotation protection. Pick a boot with a full calf for the best protection. Some organisers require full calf-height boots and they are your best choice.
  • A full-face helmet of a current DOT/SNELL standard. Inside the helmet should be a tag which reads "Snell 2010" or something of that nature. Not all DOT helmets are properly tested, so aim for a helmet with a Snell rating, which requires testing using the Snell methods. Some organisers require a Snell rated helmet, and all racing organisations that we know of do, so judge accordingly.
  • Ear plugs. They take the frantic sound of your motorcycle and the wind away. This helps calm you and lets you concentrate on what you are doing.
Don't skimp on quality for any of this gear. It doesn't have to be top-line racer equipment but it should be sturdy, well-made gear. You can rent gear from several of the organisations (in particular, a suit) and you can also buy used gear from some of these organisations. FAST Riding School at Shannonville is an example of a group that regularly sells its used (and often slightly damaged, but serviceable), leathers at a steep discount.


Preparation: Your Motorcycle...

First of all, do you want to take your motorcycle to the track? It's a great idea and will familiarise you with your own bike, but there are rental options at many tracks and event organisers which will rent you a fully-prepared bike of several styles for an amount of money not so different from your overall expenses in tires, brake pads, oil life and fuel. Consider the route of renting a bike, especially when you are starting to do track days; see if it is right for you. Also, as mentioned before, consider a training course for your first introduction to the track.

Here is the minimum you should do to prepare your bike:


  • Tires and brake pads must have at least half their normal life left in them when you arrive.
  • Check the oil, chain, forks; anything else that may need proper maintenance.
  • The tires should be near-race compound (Z-rated HyperSport tire) or an actual racing tire choice. Tires designed for racing use have much better grip on the track. Proper tire pressure is also of utmost importance - your normal street pressure is not right for the track. Check with the tire rep, your local shop or the people running the track day as to what they recommend.
  • Remove your mirrors. If you can't remove them, fold them back and tape them liberally. Some organisations require removal.
  • Disconnect the headlight and brake light, or pull the fuses.
  • Use blue painter's tape entirely over the headlight, turn signals, and tail light. Don't use duct tape.
  • It's a very good idea to set your sag for your bike and weight, and firm up the compression damping slightly if your bike allows it. In the long term, intermediate or expert riders should be spending almost as much time and concern on these settings as you do your riding, since there is a great deal of lap time hiding in your suspension setup!
  • Find out if you need to replace your engine coolant. Coolant is slippery if it makes its way to the track surface, so most events forbid it. De-ionized water works fine, and is available from many sources, very cheaply. Also consider using a product called Water Wetter, which will lower engine temperature and helps lubricate the pump seal, but be aware that some event organisers frown on it.
  • If you can, pin your axle. It's just a good idea.
  • Check to be sure that there are no loose bolts on the bike, particularly on the fairing. Use your fingers, not a wrench, and see if they're loose.
If you are thinking of purchasing a bike for regular track days, consider buying an ex-race bike in good shape. They're relatively inexpensive and they are prepared to at least the minimum specification for racing events. This means safety-wired bolts all over the bike, and usually the suspension has been upgraded for racing purposes.


Preparation: For Your Event...

Make a checklist of things you want to bring with you, preferably one that you can print out and use for each track day.

Try to get some sleep before the event. Seven to eight hours of restful sleep will pay dividends at the end of your track day (not to mention the beginning of it). If necessary, take lodging near the track so that you will not need to complete a long drive from the wee hours of the morning to make registration.

Check with your insurance carrier discretely if this is your street bike you are taking. All carriers will exempt a racing event, but many of them will still insure your motorcycle at events designed to improve riding skill. If the track day you choose has an element of instruction as part of its curriculum, you may be covered if you find yourself crashing.

Eat a good breakfast with protein and slow-digesting carbohydrates. Don't hammer back some "Horny Horton's" doughnuts and some double-double coffee and call it a job well done. You need real food.

It is a good idea to have some meal replacement bars or actual meals with slow-digesting carbs and protein on hand to consume every two hours during the day. Keeping your focus alive and your energy levels up can make a big difference.

Pack lots of cold water to drink during the day. Pack a minimum of 10 litres of water and possibly one or two sports drinks per person. You will need them. Make a habit of drinking a bit of water each and every time you come in from the track and a bit before you go out. Remember, not only will you be working hard, be nervous and full of adrenaline, you will be at a race track with heat-reflecting asphalt and buildings everywhere. It is very easy to become dehydrated.

Take some Ibuprofen with you. You may need it during the day to ease any stiffness. Track lean angles and body positions take a toll on your muscles and you may find that pain interferes with your ability to ride the motorcycle properly. Judge whether or not it is bearable with some Ibuprofen or whether you should end your day's event a bit early carefully. You lucky ones that don't have any problems: wait until you get older!

The night before the track day, try to visualise yourself on the circuit. Play some online videos of onboard track days. Imagine that you are riding the motorcycle and working the controls for a few laps. Riders of all calibres do this regularly, and it really does help.

Fill a gas can with fuel, and fill the bike halfway as well. You will likely use all this fuel and should endeavour to keep the bike about half full for every session. Racers will aim for more like 1/3 tank for most events. The more fuel is in the tank, the higher the centre of gravity is, and the faster the bike will "flop" over in corners and resist your inputs. You rarely notice this on the street, but on a tight section of a track, it can lead to premature fatigue.

Bring tools. Basic ones are usually alright if you do not have a full complement, as many riders are happy to lend you theirs if required.

Bring a tire gauge. The better and more accurate is, the better your information will be.

Bring some folding chairs. You probably won't use them, but many people find that they need to relax between sessions.

Don't forget miscellaneous supplies. In a good "emergency box" you will find:

  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • Spare clip-ons and footpegs (if you have them)
  • Engine oil
  • Brake cleaner
  • Chain lube
  • Spare key
  • De-ionized water
  • Safety wire (if needed)
  • Spare axle clip (if needed)
  • Spare handgrips & levers (if you have them)
  • Thread lock (and maybe some silicone)
  • Spare brake fluid (fresh, unused)

Travelling to the track...

Don't ride to the track day. Not only will you be unable to return home if you damage the bike somehow, riding home when the "adrenaline crash" comes and you feel dog tired is potentially dangerous. If this is your only choice, then you really shouldn't go unless the track is very close to your home. You may be able to find someone who is going that can take you, using one of the web forums, because there are often people looking to share travel costs.

If you have to travel more than a couple of hours to the track day, and the registration is open in the morning, you should strongly consider taking lodging either at the track or near it. Track days are mentally and physically taxing, and you cannot give it your best effort if you are tired and sleepy.

Make sure you load all the gear you are going to need at least a day in advance. Check that you have the very most basic things for the event before you turn the key and start the journey: boots, helmet, gloves, suit, keys, fuel are the bare minimum that you must have and you can tough out the rest if you are forced to. You might be surprised how many times someone leaves one or more of those at home, in their excitement and rush.


When you get to the track...

You're an hour early, right? Or more? You should be. You need to do the following things right away:

  • Locate the paramedics. Consign to memory.
  • Locate the bathrooms.
  • Locate the office and/or registration booth. Pay up and get a wrist band.
  • Break out a water bottle and guzzle it. Pee later, if you can. :wink:
  • Prep the day camp. Set up the chairs, stands if you have them, and hang the gear up. Get in this habit to keep your gear drier and less difficult to put on. Put the kettle on, if you are so equipped.
  • Pull the bike out/off and set it up where you can easily enter and leave your day camp. Pick pavement whenever possible.
  • Inspect the bike thoroughly for leaks, loose parts, chain slack and check the oil.
  • Inspect and clean the visor on your helmet.
Is there a technical inspection at this track day? If there is, you will want to take your bike to the inspection booth at soon as you get camp set up. Assess the line-up and if it's long, then do the miscellaneous things like clean your visor... if it's quite short, you may wish to do this step first before setting up the rest of camp. If you are using tire warmers, you will want to do tech inspection early in any case. At tech inspection, they are going to check for loose parts, for any visible leaks and for the coolant you are using. They may also check for brake pad fitness, chain slack and leaking fork seals. You took care of all these things before you came... right?

Don't stop moving until you've achieved these things. Chat later, act now. You want some time after setting up the camp to calm your thoughts and deal with the little things.

OK, the day camp is ready and inspection is complete. You have half a hour before the rider's meeting. What now?

  • If there is a concession stand, take a quick look. Track days are diet cheat days.
  • Relax a bit and chill. Socialize with the nearby riders if you can.
  • Invite Shaman over to have a cup of coffee if you see him. Optional.
  • Always be sipping water, even in the morning. Skip on sugary pop.
  • If you have time, go look at the track. Don't walk it unless told to...
  • Think again on the lines of the track and imagine yourself riding it, before you go out.
Go to the mandatory rider's meeting and pay attention. Every organiser will have a different policy as far as flags, pit lane exit, what marshals are available, etc. Don't miss it, or you might not be allowed on the track.

Once all of that is complete, suit up. But, don't suit up until you are within 10 minutes of your session. There is no reason to get hot and sweaty, and it will tire you out prematurely if your session is the third of the day but you are fully dressed in leathers at 8am. Your leathers should be hung out and all your gear should be ready to put on if you have set up the camp properly.

Put your race-face on, soldier. Commit to the moment. It's time to go for a fast ride with your new friends.


You're on the track, now what?

Take one or two laps at a slower speed to warm your tires. If you have tire warmers, still take at least half a lap to warm the engine and transmission, every time you go out. This will also serve to scrub any detritus off the tires.

Everyone on the track has a different set of limits. Never ride outside your limits. Increase your lean angle (corner speed) at a pace you are comfortable with. If you get too far outside your limits, you’ll get scared, grab the brakes and potentially cause a spill. Almost every track accident is preventable by the rider who crashes.

Your front brake provides at least 90% of your braking power. The rear brake can be your friend, or your enemy. Approach the use of your rear brake with caution, or don't use it at all until you are familiar with how the bike reacts and have some practice modulating it.

Watch for the flag(wo)men. Attend every rider's meeting, because flags at one event may differ from flags at another - for instance, a red flag may mean return to the pits, or it may mean you should radically decrease speed and then stop at the next marshal.

Everybody eventually rides their bike off the track. Any road-course-prepared bike is ill-equipped for this. When you find yourself in the grass, go straight as you can, don’t turn quickly, use rear brake gently until your control is good enough to return to the track. As a general rule, do not touch the front brake, there is a lot of braking force on the front wheel and your street tires have no grip in the grass.

If you want to leave the track and return to the pits, raise your left hand when the bike is vertical at least a corner before and preferably two corners before. Stay on your line but do slow down somewhat (do not go to a crawling speed unless there is something causing you to). If there is a left hand corner before the pits, many riders will signal by kicking their right leg out.

Try not to race anybody. Let it go. Have fun. Stay safe.

Look far ahead of you. When you're exiting a corner, look forward to the next corner entrance. At the entrance, look for the exit. Do not watch bikes around you, keep them in your peripheral vision.

Watch riders that are better at the track than you. If possible, follow them for a lap or ask them to show you the racing line. The basic idea is to make every corner arc as wide as possible. Do not, however, follow another rider at a pace that makes you feel uncomfortable.

You will see many riders leaning off their motorcycle to get their centre of gravity lower and make the degree of lean somewhat less - this is a good idea to emulate and eventually get good at, but for beginners it just adds to the mental load and can overwhelm. Judge accordingly, but you will want to work up to this over time. A course is a good idea if you have trouble with the mechanics of this style of riding.

Fast is smooth. Your objective is to become smoother and less frantic. Eventually, your lap times and speeds will climb and yet it will feel to you that you're going slower. This is the discipline that will also make you a better street rider.

Look at your bike after each session. How do the tires and brakes look? Does anything look loose? Is the oil level good? Are there any leaks? Quickly check the chain slack and look for damaged links. If you find a problem, deal with it straight away, or ask for help if you aren't sure how to proceed.


Warnings and things not to do...

Don't go off your riding line to wave another rider past you or to look over your shoulder. Ride your ride, and if you feel pressured by a nearby rider looking to pass, simply accelerate less vigorously down the straights and/or brake a bit softer into corners. Don't dramatically lower your pace suddenly, as you may have a rider nearby behind you who does not suspect it. If these efforts seem confusing to you or mentally taxing, just ride how you normally ride and the faster rider will find a way around.

Remember, track days are great fun and highly exciting, but can be serious as a heart attack. Your first responsibility is to ride safe and be predictable (smooth) to yourself and riders around you. Being responsible means not taking risky passes, riding above your comfort level, or engaging in horseplay. If you (or the people riding near you) do not take this responsibility seriously, someone could be injured, disabled or even killed. It is a mistake to shirk your on-track responsibilities, and you should also foster it in people you ride with; just like you should when you are riding in groups on the street.

Do not forget to hydrate. People pass out or find themselves unable to summon enough strength to control their motorcycle at these events because they do not take this requirement seriously. You will be in thick, protective clothing and working hard when you are at the race track, in conditions that are naturally reflecting heat at you.
Assess your body's fitness throughout the day. Do you have a headache from dehydration? Are your muscles cramping up because of stress, fatigue, dehydration or lack of food? Are you physically spent? If you do not feel up to going out on the track because your body is failing you, then don't go out. If you find yourself in a corner or in a passing situation that requires physical or mental acuity, and you're unable to provide it because of fatigue, you (or worse, someone else) could end up hurt. Motorcycles take effort to pilot, and you need to be completely capable of providing this effort to stay safe.


Not recommended: You've Crashed.
..

Oh no. It does happen, and you have prepared for it as best you can, right?

If you are very sore or are not sure if you have broken a bone, stop right here. Your day is done. Think hard about what happened and if you could have avoided crashing. It may be expensive and painful, but crashing will teach you. Thinking of it that way is a healthy way of dealing with your crash.

Assess the motorcycle, is it possible to ride it? That is, are the footpegs there, the clip-ons present and the bike is holding fluids? If so, you might be able to salvage the rest of your day. How the fairings look doesn't matter to the organisers, as long as they're not flapping in the breeze. Bikes are not made of glass. They're tougher than most people think.

Here is a checklist of what to check and change, if the bike appears to be ridable.

  • Loosen off the top triple clamp, both sides. Turn the bars lock-to-lock and lightly press down on the forks. Re-tighten.
  • Check to see if your handlebar/clip-on angles have changed. If they're bent but usable, make that call.
  • Check to be sure that your footpegs are securely fastened. They can't be weakened or cracked.
  • Look at your frame, subframe and swingarm. If they appear to be bent beyond ridability, then don't.
  • Are there any cracks or splits in the frame, subframe or swingarm? Look carefully.
  • Check the oil and if it's fine, fire up the bike. Does the motor sound fine? Do any fluids come out?
  • Make sure that your coolant is present and properly filled.
  • Inspect the radiator and make sure that it is securely attached to the bike.
  • Check your brake lines, are they tight and undamaged? Pump the brakes, the lever should go firm.
  • Walk the bike back and forth and check to see if the rotors or wheels are warped.
  • Look at your helmet, is it damaged in any way? Did it take a good hit? It may not be safe, if so.
  • Inspect your gloves, boots and leathers. Are they torn? Are there any wear holes?
  • Check your tire pressures. You may have lost some air. If it keeps losing air... find out why.
If you have and require spare parts, you may use them to get your bike operational again. It's a pain to change out clip-ons, but it only takes a half hour if that's what you need to get the bike operational again. You may as well do it at the track - whether you ride again that day or not, it has to be done, and you have the time.

Make sure that your gear is up to the task of going out again. If there are rips in your soft gear, you may be able to get it sewed up again at some events. John Bickle and Trackside Cuts Leather and Vinyl are examples of two organisations that do leather repairs at Ontario track events.

So, you think you and the bike are still capable of going back out on the track? Ride the bike around a bit in the pits at a low speed and see if it feels fine. The bike should have no new vibrations, no strange steering issues and the brakes should work properly. If the bike works properly and you're confident that you can ride the machine, then have at it. Get right back on that horse.

You may need to go through technical inspection again. This is a great idea, because the inspector may find something you missed. If there is no inspection at your event, it's still a good idea to ask someone knowledgable even if you are a good mechanic yourself. Try not to leave your safety to chance.

A note about speed: do several laps at a slightly lower speed once you go back out. Feel for vibrations and changes - and be sure that you are not imagining them. Your mental state may not be quite what it was before a crash. However, it is possible for you to have lost enough rubber off a tire to set it off-balance, or to have bent a rotor just enough that you only feel it when at a higher speed. Accept these gracefully, if they are present, because you have just crashed a motorcycle on a race track and are not much the worse for wear. That's a good thing... right?

It has to be stressed: if you crash, you should think hard about how you can learn from this. Motorcycles do not crash themselves. Very fast riders can go years without crashing because of their experience and talent. Those are the people you should seek to emulate, should you decide to return to the track. Hopefully the experience has not been too costly. If you learn from what happened, then you have achieved part of what you came to do: get better at riding a motorcycle.


The day is over, now what?

First, your day is over whenever you say it's over. If you were too tired to ride any longer, the day is over for you. If you made it the whole day, good for you! The last sessions are usually sparsely populated, and you can often ask for some on-track help from other riders in the late afternoon.

Assuming that you trailered or trucked your bike, load all your gear, tools, canopy, chairs, etc. first, unless you have someone nearby that can help you load your bike. If there is someone available right away to help you, then you can load the bike first if you want to. There's a reason for having a helper: at the end of the day you are tired and your equilibrium is off from concentrating on track balance, and it's easy to drop a bike. Nobody wants to ride aggressively all day without a crash, and then dump their bike in a truck, damaging both.

No, really. Don't load your bike alone - it has to be stressed.

Once everything is packed up, grab a drink. A beer if you have it, most of the tracks will allow it and frankly, you could use the energy. It's tradition... :icon_smile: But seriously, nab one last drink and wander out into the pits to talk to some of the fellow riders. Take a half hour and clear your head for the trip back home.

See if anyone else obviously needs help putting their bike into a truck or trailer and help out if you can. It's just good etiquette and it never hurts to have friends at future track events.

If you have a chance, thank the organisers for the event and also any rider who may have helped you with your event, whether they were aware of it or not (this often happens when you play fox and rabbit with a more experienced rider, and they unknowingly lead you at a higher pace).


You cannot fail to enjoy yourself and learn if you consider this advice and ride the track responsibly. Be a good steward and help others learn and join the sport as well.
 
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Shaman

Well-known member
Curious as to what people would like to see next, or add to this document. I was thinking of doing a guide to various tracks within reach of the GTA, which I'd need some help with... I've ridden more U.S. tracks than Canadian ones.
 

ZX600

Well-known member
Site Supporter
A warning for when ToysAreForboys is doing a track day so we can stay the hell away from that track
 

bboySushi

Well-known member
Very thorough thread. Some of the technical aspects I'm not too familiar with though.

Would be nice if you could add cost estimates to everything all-in-all to show total cost for a track day
 

toysareforboys

Banned
Site Supporter
A warning for when ToysAreForboys is doing a track day so we can stay the hell away from that track
LOL :) Nobody crashed into me, I didn't crash into anybody or cause anyone to crash. I kept my bike on the sticky stuff all day!



Lookin for my next track day, hopefully at Calabogie, but Sept 15/16 is all booked for green group :(

-Jamie M.
 

ZX600

Well-known member
Site Supporter
LOL :) Nobody crashed into me, I didn't crash into anybody or cause anyone to crash. I kept my bike on the sticky stuff all day!



Lookin for my next track day, hopefully at Calabogie, but Sept 15/16 is all booked for green group :(

-Jamie M.
Congrats hope you had a blast
 

nearace

Well-known member
I went to watch the kids run,too many crashes for me to try,had to take a friend to the hospital for an ankle injury after he went down,broken heel bone and a smashed fairing on the bike.
 

GRAYZ

Well-known member
Curious as to what people would like to see next, or add to this document. I was thinking of doing a guide to various tracks within reach of the GTA, which I'd need some help with... I've ridden more U.S. tracks than Canadian ones.
Shaman, thanks for this. Very comprehensive and always good to look over pre-season, even for someone who has been doing these things for years! One thing I often see people asking about is what track is good for the beginner, intermediate, etc. Although every track runs beginner to advanced groups, they all differ in terms of technicality and outright speed, and someone looking to get into track might have a much better time on a "smaller" track versus ones that are bigger & faster.

Generally, beginner-friendly tracks have less corners so you can learn the track quicker, and a lower average speed that helps with learning consistent braking and turning. More demanding tracks will have varying degrees of each (faster, less corners vs. slower, more corners), as well as the types of corners (normal, decreasing or increasing radius, camber, elevation changes, etc.) For the beginner, flat is good!

It's probably the case that each person's opinion will differ, but for any given group if it is possible to rate the tracks from "easiest-to-ride" to "most challenging" (read: buy brown leathers), my list would be:

Shannonville (SMP) Nelson
RDT
TMP
SMP Fabi
SMP Pro
SMP Long
Calabogie
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP)

Note as yet I haven't ridden GB and would be interested in hearing others' views on that track as well as the ones in the list?

Time to breathe some life back into this great sticky!
 

Shaman

Well-known member
I've got to be honest, I'd place the SMP Pro before TMP or the RDT and I'd place Fabi before RDT as well. I really dislike TMP but that's probably because of the facilities and the way it was racing my car there, as I've not ridden it on a bike (seeing as how it's 6 hours' drive for a track I dislike) but it would definitely teach some skills.

Very much agree with your points, and I plan to do some follow-up work, all of which I'll post online and some of which will be published. Call it fate but I took a break from writing up a track day article and found this post.

Shannonville gets a lot of flack for being rough, but I think it may be the best learning track in the province. FAST wouldn't be there for no reason... you can't see around the tree-line on the Pro (where I may have to give you a point in that regard) but elsewhere it's pretty hard to get tangled up in someone else's troubles unless you're proximity is tight to them when it happens. On the other hand, some of the corners are highly technical and speed can be found in them that would astonish intermediate riders, once you have a chance to ride with the racers... point being that there is plenty to keep your interest there and a couple of corners that make you feel super-human.

Anyway, I've had a few requests to put together a guide for tracks. I feel halfway up to it but am unlikely to get to that with or without help anytime really soon, so if someone else wants to undertake that, there are people that would appreciate it.

EDIT: just found out that ontariotrackdays.com is no more. I have a very fleshed out calendar of events for 2013 waiting for me to find the time to finish off the web site for trackfanatics.ca TrackdayHub.com has a calendar as well with some events I haven't yet incorporated, and the TF facebook page also has the events (they're shared between the page and Facebook using the FB data API). Sorry about that... I have had a lot less time to work on the site this spring than planned, for both bad and good reasons...
 
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GRAYZ

Well-known member
Well as they say in racing, timing is everything! :lmao: Lol.

I've got to be honest, I'd place the SMP Pro before TMP or the RDT and I'd place Fabi before RDT as well. I really dislike TMP but that's probably because of the facilities and the way it was racing my car there, as I've not ridden it on a bike (seeing as how it's 6 hours' drive for a track I dislike) but it would definitely teach some skills.
Yes, I see your points... Definitely riding SMP Pro/Fabi at the same average speed as, say, TMP, would make it seem underwhelming. There are a lot of variables to consider and probably no one answer to the question. I'm coming from the perspective that cornering at any given lean angle is much more challenging at a higher speed... and probably the biggest skill to achieve for budding track-day riders...

Just my opinion: TMP has a good front stretch but the corners are pretty straightforward. There are not a lot of lines to be taken through many of them, save turn 1. RDT is a very technical layout and can put the torches on the quads, but again has few options for lines through a corner (notwithstanding the broken terrain.) Not that this detracts from these tracks - I think that makes them very good options for beginners. They benefit from absolutes, like turn HERE, apex HERE, etc. Many beginner/intemediate riders will also probably do most of the lap in the one gear. Regardless, I actually REALLY like RDT and used to always do it first in the season to brush up on my bike control. Always a lot of fun.

The chat about GB has me very interested in getting out there. From the map the lines seem similarly limited, but you never know until you know! Sure has bred quite a following in a short time. Also fosters great excitement in a race when 2 or more bikes are challenging for the same line. But that's a whole other ballgame.

Shannonville gets a lot of flack for being rough, but I think it may be the best learning track in the province. FAST wouldn't be there for no reason... you can't see around the tree-line on the Pro (where I may have to give you a point in that regard) but elsewhere it's pretty hard to get tangled up in someone else's troubles unless you're proximity is tight to them when it happens. On the other hand, some of the corners are highly technical and speed can be found in them that would astonish intermediate riders, once you have a chance to ride with the racers... point being that there is plenty to keep your interest there and a couple of corners that make you feel super-human.
I think we share similar views here. Comparing RDT/TMP to much of what SMP has to offer - increasing and decreasing radius turns, fast back straight into a hard right hander, a REAL chicane (...TMP's is like the architect sneezed when doing the drawing), and multitude of lines into many of them, which makes SMP my favorite track in Ontario. Over 5 years there and I'm still finding time to be had.

Mind you, find yourself beside someone who suddenly realizes they're not where they should have been (and now can't do anything about it), and it can get interesting! Probably why Michel Mercier has the dots leading into turn 4 (incidentally also where I had a momentous low side last year... tabernac!)

Now add elevation/camber changes like at Mosport and the laws of physics can seem arbitrary... like why the bike won't turn in turn 2, or contributing another birds nest to the trees off turn 4! Not a beginner's track (sure they can ride it slowly but will wonder what all the fuss is about!)

Anyway, enough ruminating for one night!
John.
 

Brian P

Well-known member
Moderator
Site Supporter
My opinion - having ridden on all of the tracks below - is that for someone starting out, the best to worst is:

Grand Bend (Good: Flat layout, generally moderate cornering speed. Bad: Facilities. There's no permanent structure near the road course that is big enough to be a classroom - have to use trailers and tents. On the other hand, the track owner seems motivated to make improvements.)
SMP Nelson (Good: Flat layout, moderate cornering speed except corner 1, and low maximum straightaway speed - lowest of any track here. Not too many corners to remember - good for beginners. Bad: Moderately bumpy, but this layout avoids the worst of them. Crashing on the corner coming onto the front straight could put you into the wall. With the correct line, the risk is minimal, but we are talking beginners here.)
TMP (Good: Flat layout, moderate cornering speed. Bad: Crashing coming onto the front straight has the same situation as SMP Nelson. A fair number of corners to remember, and trying to outbrake or go side-by-side with another rider through the chicane will be ugly. Unlike Shaman, I actually like this track - but there's not much in the way of facilities.)
SMP Pro (Good: Flat layout, not too many corners to remember. Bad: Pavement quality. Corner 2 and the chicane are particular problems. Same situation as Nelson with regards to coming onto the front straight.)
SMP Fabi (Good: Flat layout, not too many corners. This layout avoids the issue with coming onto the front straight. Bad: Pavement quality. Using the long track numbering, 6 is baaaad.)
SMP Long (Good: Flat layout. Bad: Pavement quality. 3, 6, and the chicane are bad spots. Same as Nelson regarding coming onto the front straight.)
Mosport / Canadian Tire (Good: Not many corners to remember - but a couple of them are tricky. Pavement quality should be very good with all the work that has been done. Bad: Going off the track WILL be bad. No track schools use this track. Very high cornering speeds - not good for learning. Poor sightlines. Very high straightaway speeds lead to large speed differences between riders and bikes.)
Calabogie (Good: Pavement quality. Bad: For beginners - too many corners to remember. Poor sightlines. In many places, going off the track WILL be bad. High cornering speeds and straightaway speeds can lead to large speed differences between riders and bikes - again, not good for starting out. No track schools that I know of use this track - the one that previously did, is not around any more.)

I have not ridden RDT, so I have no opinion on it.

With regards to why the FAST school is at Shannonville ... the reason for this is simple: they've always been there. When FAST started, there was no RDT, Calabogie, TMP, or Grand Bend, the only other choice would have been Mosport, and that is not good for running a track school.
 

Supernam

Well-known member
Preparation: Protective Gear...

So, you're going to do a track day, and safety is a huge concern for you. It should be! Safety should always come first on your list of considerations for track event preparations.

Here is what you need:
  • A full-face helmet of a current DOT/SNELL standard. Inside the helmet should be a tag which reads "Snell 2010" or something of that nature. Not all DOT helmets are properly tested, so aim for a helmet with a Snell rating, which requires testing using the Snell methods. Some organisers require a Snell rated helmet, and all racing organisations that we know of do, so judge accordingly.

I was curious about helmet requirements and googled it and found this on the SOAR website:

"What helmet requirements do you have? SNELL 10M or SNELL 2010M and/or BSI 6658 Type A or ECE 22.05 with factory manufacturer date 6 years or less approved full face helmet in good, undamaged condition. A Snell approved helmet carrying a manufacture sticker of 6 years or less is acceptable. Proof of purchase is not acceptable."

Is it safe to assume that DOT/ECE is acceptable for all trackdays also?
 

doozerdave

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Typically for track days helmets are not inspected. Visible damage would likely be noticed and disqualified. The 6 year rule is typical of helmets because of deterioration that decreases the effectiveness of the foam to save your head.
 

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