Getting involved in motorcycle racing is easier than you think. “How can I go racing?” and “How can I get my picture on InsideRACING?” are probably the two most common questions you ask yourself. Well, getting your action shot or name on these pages is possible as anybody can go racing. All you need is your bike. This is a series of articles previously published in IR based on our research and observation that we hope can guide a few more Filipinos who do not necessarily ride but want to be part of the exciting world and achieve success. Here are some inexpensive race disciplines you can get into during your weekends.
LEGAL DRAG RACING The original grassroots racing is drag racing. It is the easiest and cheapest way to go racing. The competition is simple and easy to understand: you line up against another bike, wait for the start signal and then race down the quarter-mile strip. The first rider to cross the line wins. Sadly however, because of its simplicity, drag racing is also the most popular form of illegal racing that result in accidents or even death. Be aware that it is not the act of racing that makes this activity dangerous, but the participants who do not observe safety. Racing on open public roads without using safety gears is not racing at all. In fact, it is suicidal! So if you want to enjoy racing and live longer, you need to join organized legal drag racing. All you need to have is your bike in good and safe running condition, plus a minimum of safety gears that include a certified helmet, body armor and adequate hands and feet protection. Naturally, the faster your bike or class, the higher level of safety gears you need to wear.
There are plenty of “invitationals” or special events around the country. Also, class rules vary from place to place so make sure you know them before you join. Drag racing is enjoyable and even addictive; participate only in organized events and you’ll love it.
CIRCUIT RACING If you like the idea of riding around a track at high speeds with 10 or so other riders then circuit racing is for you. This is the fastest growing form of non off- road racing for underbones today. Circuit racing gives the excitement of wheel-to-wheel competition. Races are usually held on permanent tracks like the Carmona Race Track, Clark International Speedway, Batangas Racing Circuit and temporary road courses. Riders divided into classes depending on their motorcycle type and skill level line up for start and run together anywhere between 5 to 40 laps. There are marshals all around the track to monitor safety and the riders are scored when they cross the start/finish line. The rider who crosses the line first after the prescribed number of laps wins.
You will need to have a lot of practice and coaching before you can go circuit racing. Even by yourself, it takes so much effort and skill to lap around on your motorcycle in a safe, fast and consistent pace. Besides the proper training, you’ll also need more safety gears like boots and leather suit, back protector, etc. Your machine will also require more preparation like rear sets, race tires and safety wiring. Also, crashing during a race is almost a given and will require repairs to damaged parts. Circuit racing can be very fun and rewarding, but it can also cost more. There are many race series right now and all of them have Beginner classes on stock motorcycles. Read the rule book, understand the race flags and talk with other riders before joining or buying equipment. This will help you avoid problems later on and hasten your learning curve.
GYMKHANA If going fast in a straight line bores you and you want to hone your turning skills there is another cheap way to go racing. Gymkhana is a low-speed, one-bike-at-a-time event that is often held in a parking lot. A track is marked out with orange traffic pylons and the object of the event is to see who can navigate through the course fastest. A typical course will take between 1 minute to 2 minutes to complete and competitors generally get three to four runs per event. The person with the lowest time wins. Gymkhana may sound easy, but it is not. For every cone that you hit, a time penalty of usually 2 seconds is added to your time (which is very substantial!). Speeds rarely exceed 100 kph and the emphasis here is placed more on riding skills than horsepower. Because of the low competition speeds, safety is high while wear and tear on the bikes and rider is low. As long as your bike is not leaking any fluids and has working brakes you are permitted to join, provided that you wear the proper safety gears like helmet and padding. Unfortunately, there is no regular Gymkhana event to go compete in. So far, only a few special events are organized but if ever a series is established, this is one way to get into competition that involves turning the bike.
POCKET BIKE RACING Some may consider this kid stuff but in Europe, Japan and USA, pocketbike racing has now become a common way for riders to begin their racing careers at a very young age. Pocket bike competitions have become a starting point for Grand Prix racers like Valentino Rossi and Marco Melandri. Locally, the sport has bought us racing stars like Dashi Watanabe, John Emerson Inguito, McKinley Kyle Paz and Gian Carlo Mauricio. For competition and excitement, pocket bikes are hard to beat. The small size of the pocket bike heightens its responsiveness, raising the level of excitement to that of full-sized bikes. A larger motorcycle can appear to be in slow motion compared to a pocket bike. This is part of the reason why racers who move from pocket bikes to full-scale underbones or motorcycles perform so well. If you become skilled at riding a pocket bike, you will be a force to be reckoned with on any motorcycle. It is not only kids who can enjoy this sport as most series also have an adult class. Naturally, the expense of racing involved is smaller as you can purchase a pocket bike for even less money than an underbone.
This was published in InsideRACING Magazine’s Volume 14 Number 7 issue
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