Getting started as an amateur motorcycle road racer isn’t as hard as it might seem. What do you need to start motorcycle road racing? Just three simple steps and an equipment check are all it takes. First, you’ll need to choose a track where you want to race. Second, you’ll need to earn your race license. Finally, you’ll need to actually grid up and do the darn thing! You could be your town’s next local racing legend. What are you waiting for? Let’s go!

The race track is calling and you must go.


Am I Too Old To Start Motorcycle Road Racing?

Watching world-class motorcycle racing always makes me wonder what “could have been” if I was given the opportunity to race at a younger age (a girl can dream, right?). The riders we see competing for championships on television all have one thing in common: they started very young. The world they live in is different from ours – no 9 to 5, no confusion when someone says the word “suspension setup” or panic when considering the risk of breaking every bone in the human body. From an outsider’s perspective, the speed, skills, knowledge, gear, and extra equipment needed to go racing seem daunting and unrealistic for the average Joe/Joanne. And yet, even for those of us older than a grade-schooler, the idea of racing for glory is enticing regardless of our lack of experience.

Anyone at any age or level of experience can start motorcycle road racing – we’re all just big kids after all.


Here is the good news: racing on a local level is much more attainable than first impressions might dictate. 

How do I know that you’re never too old to start motorcycle road racing? I’m glad you asked! After following a new racer around and helping out every step of the way in early 2018, I dove headfirst into closed course road racing on a 600cc sportbike myself at the age of 33. Did I win any races? No. Did I still lap everyone sitting at home on the couch? You bet I did! Participating as a racer for a short period of time taught me a valuable lesson: as long as your goal is to simply have fun and experience the thrill of racing, it can be done relatively easily and on a small budget. 


All setup and ready to race right out of the back of a rented U-Haul van.


How to Start Motorcycle Road Racing Step One: Find Your Local Race Track

“Local” is a loose term here. I was fortunate enough to live in a city with a small road racing track right on the edge of town. The motorcycle racing community there is made up of people from all over the state and beyond – some drive upwards of 6 hours to get to the track for a race weekend. I didn’t have to go very far to get started.

Local-level and pro-level race tracks are spread across the USA in more places than you might expect.


When doing an online search for tracks across the USA, the possibilities are endless and are only limited by the amount of travel time you are willing and able to endure. 

Here’s a great place to start your search (this map is not perfect but it is a great resource!):  

Depending on where you live, travel costs can be inhibiting, but there are ways around this hurdle. “Racepooling” with another rider is always an option, especially if you make a friend who has hauling equipment (and maybe even a place to sleep). Most people who have extra space are happy to take a buddy, especially one who is willing to split costs for fuel. The secret is to offer to help. A lot. Never take advantage of anyone willing to give you and your bike a ride to the race. These people will become your track family, so treat them with respect and you’ll never find yourself without a helping hand.


Friends and family from all over come out to spectate and even play pit crew during race weekends.


How to Start Road Racing Step Two: Join an Organization and Earn Your Race License

Now that you’ve found the physical locations where you can race, the next step is to learn about the organizations that operate at these tracks. The process of becoming a member and earning your racing license is going to be different for every organization, but the general process is usually the same. The best part is, that you don’t need ANY track experience to sign up. In fact, some people learn how to ride on the racetrack rather than in a parking lot or on the street.


Taking a licensing class is the next step to getting started in motorcycle road racing.


General, almost universal steps to earning your motorcycle road racing license with any organization:

  1. Search the online calendar for a new racer school with your chosen track organization. 
  2. Sign up for a new racer school and pay the fee (SMRI was $180 and covered the entire weekend of instruction, and track time, and even included entry fees for two races on Sunday).
  3. Follow the list of requirements for your bike and your gear to go on track. If you need help with this, ask someone who is already racing. Buy them some beer to thank them for their help.
  4. Attend the new racer school – this is usually a mixture of classroom and guided track time.
  5. Participate in the mock race and don’t crash. Pass the written test.


Race licensing school is fun and exciting, and you’re guaranteed to make a new friend or two.


And… you’re done! Race license earned. Drop the mic. Simpler than you thought, right? Cool. 


How to Start Motorcycle Road Racing Step Three: Race!

Seriously, this seems like the hardest part, but it is actually the easiest part if you don’t let it get to your head. 

  • Learn the schedule
  • Be ready to ride
  • Listen to the P.A. calls
  • Head to the staging area
  • Do a sighting lap
  • Grid up 
  • Go fast until you see a checkered flag. 

If this seems too simple, you’re thinking too hard. Consider it this way: at this point you already know all the rules and have learned the track during race school. The only difference between practice and racing is that more people are watching and there’s probably a little more adrenaline flowing through your veins. You can do this. Just relax, hang on and have fun! 


There’s no adrenaline rush like gridding up and waiting for the lights to go out.


Motorcycle Road Racing Equipment Requirements 

Here’s another secret: your level of participation is completely up to you. From the comfort of your pit setup to the modifications on your motorcycle, you decide how far to take it. Want to spend the weekend in a top-of-the-line RV Toy Hauler with a full working shower and kitchen, complete with custom shade canopies and dog pens, three highly-modified sportbikes, and two ergonomic zero-gravity lounge chairs, and one infrared grill with filet mignon and lobster tails for dinner? Bring it. If that’s not in your budget, have no fear. Some racers spend the whole weekend in the back of a truck or a rented open trailer and simply borrow shade from their pit neighbors – and they win races, too. The baller-on-a-budget path is completely acceptable, welcome, and highly recommended if you aren’t looking to spend a fortune. The choice is yours. 


No matter your budget, motorcycle road racing can be affordable if you play your cards right.

The “huge list” of necessary bike modifications needed to go on track is actually very small. You can get your street-legal bike ready for the track in about one hour. If you are unsure of what to do or how to do it, wait until the morning of your track day and ask someone for help. I guarantee you will be blown away by the level of camaraderie and the sense of community you will feel at the track. There is a ton of information online and in magazines on prepping for the track. From tire suggestions to creature comforts, if you seek it out, the information and advice will flow freely. How do you repay those who have helped you out? Pitch in where you can and pay it forward when you have the chance. You’re part of the family now!


Race family is a real thing, just ask anyone who attends track days and they’ll be happy to tell you all about it.


Motorcycle Road Racing – Is It Really For Everyone?

As the old saying goes, you’ll never know until you try. Here’s to the racer longing to do a burnout on the podium inside us all – good luck and godspeed!


All sizes of motorcycles are included in most race weekends, so there’s nothing holding you back if you are truly interested in road racing.


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