"...i saw your post on the "show your bike" thread. and that you race flat track. How did you get into that? i love watching it and i'd love to race, but i just dont even know where to begin, and if theres like a series for vintage flat track thatd be even sicker. thanks man. "
Gene Romero - Sideways!
My exposure to flat track racing began four years ago with Hugh Mackie, the owner of the British motorcycle shop "Sixth St. Specials" located in NYC. Hugh had been flat track racing for several years and asked me to come give him a hand one Sunday when he was going racing alone. Well, I was pretty much hooked after watching the first few practice laps. I spent the entire ride home asking Hugh a million questions. The first of which was "How do I start?"
Sixth St. Special's very own Hugh Mackie on his Trackmaster Triumph 750
PART 1: AMERICAN SUPERCAMP
Flat track racing is INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS. The bikes are flying full speed within millimeters of each other with no front brake and very little rear brake. There is a huge amount of trust between the riders as there is very little margin of error. Learning correctly is an absolute must to keep you and everyone else on the track safe.
Danny Walker's dirt track school "American Supercamp" should be everyone's first stop on the road to going sideways. The school provides their own bikes and covers all the essential skills such as form and throttle control. Besides, where else can you get hands on training with expert racers like seven-time AMA Grand National Dirt Track Champion, Chris Carr?
Another benefit of taking the Supercamp class is this skill will make you much more confident in emergency situations on the road. The sliding that flat track racers do when cornering is pretty much an exaggerated emergency stop on the street.
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-11-2009 at 12:51 AM.
PART 2: GEARING UP
You cannot skimp on protection...PERIOD. Here's a look inside my gear bag to give you an idea of everything you'll need.
I use Six Six One's competition Suit. The breatheable mesh suit features spine, chest, forearm, and elbow protection.
Should you wipe out, the race collar prevents your helmet from smashing your collar bone. I CANNOT stress enough the value of this little gem. I use the one above by EVS
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-09-2009 at 8:12 PM.
If I may add this....
One of my favorite videos. Alot of talent with a couple crashes thrown in.
Last edited by oildevil13; 09-09-2009 at 11:53 PM.
I use the above goggles by Smith Optics. Shell out for a few packs of tear offs also. Besides keeping your visibility up, they'll prevent the lenses from being scratched.
Some racers use a street style full face helmet with a visor. I prefer the above.
Protective Motocross Clothing
I actually order two jerseys. The reason being that some of the tracks are rough pea gravel which can shred your jersey to bits. (The pants tend to be a bit more robust and take alot more abuse.) Most motocross companies also like to change their designs throughout the year making finding a replacement jersey that matches your pants a real nightmare.
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-09-2009 at 7:52 PM.
You're not going to go far in dirt track racing without a steel shoe. Also called a "hot shoe" because they really do get red hot from the friction. A good hot shoe is coated on the bottom with a hardening material. Without it, you'll burn through the shoe after a few races.
I highly recccomend the legend in Hot Shoes - George
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-09-2009 at 8:12 PM.
flat track is crazy! I'd love to have a XR750 just like ol' Mert.
Thanks for this post! very interesting stuff
PART 3 - GO FAST & TURN LEFT
Bikes (the reason we're here)
#703 Hugh Mackie
#23 Fumihisa Matsueda
#278 Greaser Mike
I compete in the vintage classes but there are many race classes to suit whatever engine size and style you're into.
My first flat tracker was a Yamaha SR 500 with a stock frame and all the non-race items (lights, turn signals etc) stripped off. A race exhaust was fitted as was a fiberglass tail and dunlop flat track tires.
The number plates are from Tuff Plates
The entire bike cost me about $1000 bucks! That's pretty cheap compared to other types of motorcycle racing. Spending as little as possible is ideal when it's a bike you (as an amature) are going to dump quite a few times.
My second race bike was this Yamaha SR 500 wheelie machine. The engine sits in a Starracer (the company started after Trackmaster closed shop) dirt track frame. Other tasty bits are the Bultaco Fork with Excell Quick change Wheels, Jemco Exhaust, racing carburetor, high compression motor with megacycle race cam.
Before even considering what is in the motor, the dramatic weight loss from the stock frame and wheels is enormous. Also, with the quick change wheels I bought a bunch of front and rear sprockets. Every track is different and there is a serious advantage to being able to switch out gears in only a few minutes.
My Champion Framed Triumph 500 flat tracker. This is the bike I currently race. The bike has an ARD puck magneto, Megacycle cams, high compression pistons, black diamond valves, balanced and lightened crank, Marzochi fork with Ron Wood trees, etc etc etc . The Champion frame is so light and the bike handles incredibly in the corners.
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-14-2009 at 12:45 PM.
thanks so much for answering a ton of my questions mike. i'm for sure gonna check out the supercamp site for training sessions. and i just found out they've got one up in fortcollins about an hour from me!!
whats the regulations as far as bikes go to race the vintage class??
thanks again mike
Last edited by justin666; 09-09-2009 at 8:24 PM.
looks like a lot of fun... i hope to see alot more of this stuff coming from the vintage cycle world *thumbs up*
This is an instant classic. Thanks for the how-to, Mike. I'm moving your dirt tracking thread to the greatest hits page this evening... I'll leave a forwarding address.
"do they ever air flattrack racing on tv?"
Speed channel shows the Grand National Circuit races from time to time.
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-10-2009 at 12:08 AM.
Thank you for the positive feedback.
One of the first things that struck me when I began racing was how so many pro racers would come over and offer up advice on how I could improve. Whether it was in how my bike was set up, how I approached a corner or my form, the other riders were always helping out. To someone new to a sport this seemed odd because this was the competition. Helping another rider fix their bike, for example, might lessen an oportunity to win a race. The sport is not about winning trophies or collecting points and there's very little oportunity to make any kind of serious money.
Having riders like Jay Ashcroft, Dave Aldana, and Kenny Coolbeth take time to walk over and genuinely care about how I was riding has been a humbling experience. There is a true comradery amongst the racers and honestly very little ego in the sport, let alone tolerated. Like I said, there needs to be a huge amount of trust between the riders because of the sheer potential of injury.
Whether you're a novice or a Grand National champion, you know that helping others along is just another way of keeping the sport going. If one person on Chop Cult reads this and decides to get into racing flat track, well...I've just helped keep the tracks open a bit longer and I have something to look forward to all week.
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-10-2009 at 12:40 AM.
Wow, great reading for sure. This really bridges the gap between the "how do I get started" pages on flattrack.com and actually getting off the couch! Thanks for making it make some sense. How about a continuing series, like associations, rules, class distinctions? I'm staying tuned...
PART 5 - COMING CORRECT
- You've been to dirt track school [CHECK]
- bought the protective gear [CHECK]
- picked up a decent bike [CHECK]]
You're going to need a tool kit and supplemental supplies. I know most people are going to read this and say "Dur, that goes without saying." Well, you'd be suprised at how ill prepared people can be. It looks incredibly unprofessional when you show up to the track without your own tools. Its also frustrating to spend the day running around and borrowing from those that have taken the time to come correct.
Here's a checklist of what you should have on hand:
- Basic toolkit with good set of wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, vice grips etc..
- Tire gauge with a bleed button - tire pressure is a make it or brake it in any kind of racing. I check my tire pressure every time I come off the track and made adjustments as needed.
- Air bottle
- Safety wire and pliers.. A lifesaver!!!!
- Assorted bolts and screws
- Spare cables (clutch, throttle)
- Spare tube and tire irons
- Fuel and oil.
- Plenty of water / gatorade / etc... Like any sport you need to keep hydrated. Yes, they sell this at the tracks but they mark up the price.
- Food. I don't know about you, but I'd rather bring my own. A greasy sausage and pepper sandwich from the concession stand certainly won't make you any faster on the track.
I also bring an extra set of dirt track handlebars. A racer can be completely unhurt in a crash but their day is over because their bars are bent. A five minute swap of a set of bars and you're back in business.
More tips from captain obvious:
It's a really good idea to check your bike out before you load up and head for the track. I've seen people wait until they've driven over a hundred miles to find out their bike is a piece of crap in a need of a tune up. You should be able to register, unload the bike, suit up and get ready to make your first practice. When you spend the morning wrenching you won't really be able to concentrate on performing well. Sure, shit happens and you'll need to fix things as they happen, but that's far better than spending all that money getting to the track and not being able to race.
Last edited by GreaserMike; 09-10-2009 at 10:08 AM.
This is great, seen it at work today got home and it has been moved to where it belongs.
one the best posts yet. good job. Makes me wanna get out and race.
cool post ...I have been checkin out the local flat track races and always wonder what it takes to get into it very informative post
Definitely deserving of the "Greatest Hits" title. Thanks for posting.