At best, I'm a mediocre racer. With that being said, I've been doing trackdays for more than ten years, and control riding/coaching for the last five. As trackdays grow in popularity, and the paddocks swell, a few unsavory personalities tend to show up. The next time you're setting up your pit before the rider's meeting, take a second to promise yourself that you won't be one of these guys. (photo above by Andrew Long Motography)
photo by some jackleg with an instagram account - jee710
- The Unsolicited Advice Guy
"Hey, you should really try this line. Hey, I see that you're a little slow through this turn. Try this. It's cool if you want to follow me next session. Make sure you trailbraking to the apex." The Advice Guy means well, but there's nothing to guarantee that he's any faster or better than you are, so be careful. In addition to presiding over trackdays, you'll also find him blowing up Facebook groups and forums with his insight on why your body position is the worst thing this side of the Taliban.
- The "Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong" Guy
This person asks your opinion about something, then launches into a diatribe on why your opinion is, in fact, total shit. He's probably related to the Advice Guy. Mr. LMTYWYW has incredible opinions that he has formulated in years and years of running mid-pack novice laptimes and reading internet forums. He's totally cool with you not agreeing with his choice of tire brand. . .if you're cool with being so wrong.
- The Alien
This guy shows up on a 99 R6 with mismatched bodywork and five year old tires and whips everybody's ass. He's usually a nice guy; in fact, he's usually a really cool guy, but it's hard to like him because he's so annoyingly fast. Maybe he used to race, maybe he's a control rider for another organization, or maybe he's been genetically engineered to be a MotoGP-caliber rider. Any way you look at it, this guy is the worst.
photo by Raul Jerez/Highside Photo
- The Mountain Champion
"Yeah, I'm always way ahead of my Sunday morning group when we go up to Blood Mountain/Deal's Gap/Mulholland/whatever." You get to hear about how fast he is while you're setting up, while walking to and from the rider's meeting, and then again at lunch. More often than not, he's the guy crowding other riders on the parade/sighting laps, chomping at the bit to really show everyone what's up. . .that is, until he figures out that being fast on the street and being fast on the track are often two very different things. Watch out for him tiptoeing around early in the day, then crashing his face off when a girl on a CBR250 passes him.
- Little Miss Excuses
"My bike isn't running right."
"I think my pads are glazed.."
"There are some guys riding like assholes out there, so I'm going to take it easy today."
"My suspension guy missed the setup for this track. I'm getting a refund this week."
"I pulled something at the gym this week. I don't even know why I'm riding."
"It's too hot."
There's no shame in not feeling it, or not wanting to push your limits. But, please, spare me the litany of reasons why you haven't set any lap records today.
photo by the same instagram jackleg: jee710
- The Full Metal Jacket Control Rider
My man is knowledgeable, smooth, and fast. He's probably a great communicator and coach, but should probably ease up on the Red Bull. He control rides like he's the racetrack's traffic cop. The FMJCR is really into his (weekend) job, and that's commendable. He sometimes forgets, however, that, while goal #1 is Safety, goal #1A is Fun. In his mind, his neon vest is like a silver star on his leathers, and he's happy to be the sheriff in these parts. . . and woe to the unlucky soul that passes him without prior authorization.
- Dedicated Streetbike Guy
"This is my only transportation to and from work, so I can't crash." He rode the bike to the track. While, in some small way, this is admirable in a very crazy/cool way, the inevitable result is that he wants to push his bike under your canopy (which probably already has 2 bikes underneath), use your tools, and drink your water/Gatorade. And, if he jinxes himself and DOES crash his only ride, guess who gets to transport it (and him) home?
- Bad Luck Bobby
While you're setting up your pit, he parks next to you, and wheels out a bike that looks like it was previously owned by Alvaro Bautista and Ruben Xaus. You share a joke about its condition, and then you see that what you thought was a really cool design on his leathers is actually a collection of scuffs, tire marks, and obviously homemade repairs. Look, there's nothing wrong with having a bike that looks a little worse for wear, and there's certainly nothing wrong with track riding on a budget. In fact, I admire those guys (especially when they're also The Alien), but, if it looks like they've crashed a lot, logic tells you that they'll probably crash again.
photo by some jackass with an iPhone
- The Racer
Let's go ahead and get it out there: not all racers are "The Racer" at track days. The titular club racer is the guy who turns every session into a sprint race, and doesn't have much patience for whatever "rules" the track or organization may employ. He's there to win, and you better never find yourself between him and a race-pace laptime. The Racer is usually miserable at trackdays because, at some point, he realizes that no one is racing with him, and he's riding like an asshole for no reason at all.
photo be Lee Fields/Active Shooter Photography
- The Color Commentator
This person didn't bring a bike, nor leathers, nor really anything other than an odd desire to give you a running commentary of what's going on out on the track and/or tell you how fast they would be if they were riding. "Yeah, you guys are really pussyfooting around out there. Makes me wish I'd brought my 'busa out here to show y'all what's up." "Why is everybody going so slow? Man, I'd just grab a handful of gas and ROLL." The most frustrating thing about the Color Commentator is that he's probably the guy who has to duck-walk his bike through stoplight intersections. I like to offer them my 250 for a session so they can show me how it's done, but they always decline. It's a shame; I really want to go faster on it, and I'm sure they could show me how, you know?
Full disclosure: At one time or another, I've been an example of almost all of these. We've all been trackday bad citizens at some point; this is just a small breakdown of behavior we can all easily avoid. The absolute worst guy you can be, however, is the one who isn't having fun. If you're frustrated, scared, or any combination thereof, talk to a control rider, and see if he/she can get you back in the right mindset.
See you out there,