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11/25 Talladega Track Day


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Just signed up for a track day at the end of November.  It might be cold.  It will end early (ok since I have to be at work at 6 am the next morning).  Looking forward to my first track day in over 9 years and my first with this bike.  Already have a tire change scheduled.  Need to swap out coolant.
If I have as much fun as on my old Ninja, I want to get back out in the early spring again.
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@1moreroad - Enjoy the track day with the FJ, and let us know how it goes. I haven’t had my FJ at the track (I have a dedicated 636 trackbike) but feel like it would be an entertaining ride.
True story: I went to race a WERA National event at Talladega in the mid-90’s, not realizing there are actually two Talladega tracks. There’s the huge, gorgeous super-speedway you see on TV for the NASCAR races, and then there’s the little bullring roadcourse of Little Talladega. Standing in ankle-deep mud in the middle of some farmer’s field, I remember thinking ‘man, this isn’t at all what it looks like on television...’ :)
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  • 4 weeks later...
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Good day on the track. Sportbike track time seems to be a good organization. Very encouraging to novices.
Talking to my wife, I realized it was my first track day in just over 10 years (not counting the times I took my dual sport on the local MX course). I signed up for the novice group, and I got put into the "done a track day, but never ridden Talladega before" group. It ended up being a good group, since three out of 5 of us were close in pace.
The bike did great. I rode B mode with traction control on and never felt any issues. B mode was fine. A mode would have been better, but I never felt like I was missing anything. I was very progressive on the throttle since I was getting close to redline at the end of the straights anyway. I'm sure traction control helped, because I lifted the front wheel once coming out of turn 3 (tight switchback) which surprised me.
For this track, the suspension was adequate. It never limited me. The bike always went where I pointed it. The track is smooth and grippy with almost no elevation change. Nothing like the Streets of Willow Springs where I did my first track days. There is only 1 patch on the whole track and it has almost no transition to the asphalt around it (very smooth). It was nice to have a little longer travel to run wide and soak up the corner bumps on the small chicane in turn 7 since I never got my timing down and always seem to turn in to 7 late.
Gas mileage was surprisingly good. My Ninja 600 usually got low to mid 20s on the track. The FJ got 32. It's not a high speed track, but I didn't expect to use less than half a tank of gas. This actually mattered since I only had a little small red 2 gallon tank of 93 extra, and I would have had to drive the truck to go get more gas (and pits are in the infield so they're closed most of the time).
Running heated grips for the 1st half of the 1st session was nice. smiley.png
Setup was easy. Pulled fuses, taped lights and wheel weights, new tire on the back (would have needed one in a few hundred miles for sure anyway), Engine Ice, pulled hand guards and wind screen.
The track is good, not great. It's a fantastic value. $99 including free photos. Compare that to Barber or the National Corvette Museum at $250 daily. 6 left turns and one right hand switchback. The surface is excellent. Bathrooms and a basic classroom, but no other facilities really.
Got all positive feedback from my control rider Ryan. I do everything well, just not very fast. smiley.png I was impressed that he could tell when I got nervous.
Session 1 was all in 2nd gear follow the leader with a string a 5 of us behind a control rider at his pace watching us.
Session 2 started in 2nd gear, but I shifted to 3rd after I got near redline in 2nd. The control rider released most of us about halfway through the 2nd session, and I ground my peg feelers on the very next turn and repeatedly if I wasn't hanging off far enough.
Session 3 was my fastest (most distance covered in the same time).
Session 4 I went the fastest top speed (redline in 3rd), but got stuck in slower traffic for a good chunk of the session. I am a very cautious passer, and I wasn't driving hard enough out of the turns. No excuse for a 900, but oh well.
I only rode half of Session 5 because I was getting tired. There's a LOT going on at work, and I wasn't well rested for this track day at all. I had to be back at work about 9 hours after I arrived home.
I used a GPS based fitness tracker to track pace.  My average riding time only improved by 3/4 sec from the Session 2 to 4, but my lap to lap variation dropped by 40%.  My slowest laps were getting faster.
This was, I think, my most laid back track day ever. I was surprisingly mellow. Maybe it was just everything going on at work to worry about instead. It was a GREAT break from work.
At the control riders' recommendation, I stayed in 3rd gear starting in session 2. I could have had a little better drive on some of the tighter corners if I had dropped it to 2nd and probably could have ridden 4th on the back straight, but I didn't.
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Nice write-up, 1moreroad.   It will surely encourage others to try a track day.
$100 for 2.5 hours of track time no speed limits no deer and no cars is great.  Instruction is there if you want it for free.  The free photos were special for this past weekend only and icing on the cake.  For the novice group the only requirements are tires with > 50% mileage left, taped wheel weights and lights, and a 1 piece or full zip together 2 piece suit.  Aerostich is ok for the novice group, but I rode in my old, reliable 2 piece leathers.
We even had Jason diSalvo and a few control riders do an exhibition race for 15 minutes at lunch.  Nothing like seeing a guy come out of a corner on one wheel sliding the rear tire and crossed up to set up for the next turn.
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Great report @1moreroad
Your comment about ‘six lefts’ and ‘pits in the infield’ really baffled me, so I went searching for a track map. Not only have they altered the layout since I last raced there, they’ve changed the direction of travel... looks like a great reason to haul the FJ over there and check out the new layout.
I’m glad you enjoyed your time. A well-run trackday program is a great way to spend a day riding.
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