i hear kyalami is a sweet track. the bike can be preped dirt cheap for the racing school. you'll want to start with some good tires, race compound tires arent required for school. good brakes and everything should be tight. swing arm should have no or very minimal play. steering head should have the same as well as no leaky fork seals. no oil should be comming from your bike anywhere. there is some safety wiring you have to do. you'll need a drill, lots of drill bits (tiny ones) a spool of stainless wire, and a 20 dollar twister. take off the headlight and all of the turnsignals. you'll need some kind of number plates. real ones are cheap and available.
now for the expensive part.
you'll need some decent leathers. they should be onepiece or 2 piece zip together. all of the way around your waist. no flesh should be exposed. they should have some good armor. i buy the best. i have a 2 piece vanson custom suit with all of the armor and a seperate carbon/kevlar back protector. aaron uses the same but a one piece. you'll need some gloves and a snell 95 helmet or newer i think still. also some boots that cover your ankles at least. you can get used suits from vanson for just a few hundred bucks (if you can find your size) or spend the big buck and have one custom made. 1000 and up. aaron, jeremy and anyone else here who has hit the track hard will tell you you need the best gear you can buy. ive seen guys race with 50 year old ww2 leather bomber suits. (a really really dumb idea)
the school i think if you have all of the gear and dont need to rent anything, they'll rent you a bike boots gloves leathers etc.., is about 200 bucks. and it gets you a free race against the other students in the class the next morning. (if you do the penguin school) check out http://www.penguinracing.com
for school details.
also check out the uscra at www.race-uscra.com
there is an online rule book that outlines everything you need to have safety wired for racing. i thnk the penguin site has a bike prep page too.
the racing school was one of the high lites of racing for me. it was such a blast to finally get on the track and have sooo much fun. you should go to the local track and check it out a few times before going to the school on it. thatd be louden for you.
there is also a guy in the club who runs a school in june just for vintage racers. probably worth doing. getting buzzed by some guy on a gixxer 1000 or busa @ 175 mph is kinda fun but not all day long! i used my 350/2 for the school and during the follow the leader sessions (everyone gets to be the leader for a lap then rotates to the rear of the pack) i was getting left behind so badly the following class was passing me! after you survive the school, you'll have a license to race with any club in the country. most of the time its just a matter of paying for the club membership then paying entry fees. uscra fees are generally about 80 bucks for the 1st race then about 30 for each additional. we all usually camp at the track.
health insurance is HIGHLY recommended. the uscra will not let you race unless you have it. i think you can take the school without it though. i have racing specific insurance through the ama and it basically provides a box to put me in if i get hurt racing. in 4 years i have never needed it or been to the hospital from crashing at the track although some of us have better luck than others, right jd?
thats not to say i havent crashed though. we all have i think, its definitely going to happen. unless you go really slow the chances are pretty good.
an rd400 is a good bike to start on for you. the uscra has an rd only class. just run it rich. if youre good with 2strokes, you shouldnt have any problems. i highly recommend a 4 stroke cb 350/360 twin or a 350/4 the 350gp class is 90% box stock 350/2 hondas. thats not to say we havent done some really great work to our bikes though. they are worked pretty well. the only real stock part is the motor. the nice thing about the honda 350/2 is that it has alot of potential. there are guys getting almost 50hp out of them for the next class up the ladder. thats a hp jump of about 40%! but thats big money. im running a 350/2 with a set of 550 trees, 750ss tubes, a 450 drum brake on the front. i have a modified dyna ignition. total loss system. alum rims custom racing brakes 520 chain with alum sprockets clip ons racing clutch custom pipes etc etc etc...but i started out on basically a rat bike with drag pipes. (some people still hate parts of my bike!)
dont worry about being a fat guy on an underpowered bike. thats what the majority of vintage racing is!!! we're the few sknny guys and even im pretty much a fat bastard. 5'10-170 every year i have to diet around april 1 to fit back into my leathers. (hey, hip expanders, now theres an idea!!!) the real idea is to get out there, ride fast have fun and maybe beat a bunch of guys. hell, if youre lucky and pick a class with only like 3 bikes, you might even win a championship like aaron did!! (when you can do it with a grid with like 25 bikes regularly i'll have more respect for you aaron, and john!....just kidding) get out there and have some fun with us. now is the time to start planning. if you need help or direction, this is a great place to start. we have an absolute blast. unless someones knocking aarons bike over, then the whole weekend is spoiled for all of us.
I really couldnt have expected a better reply. I think the first thing is to do what you said and go to louden. Maybe I could tag along with somebody? What is everybodies idea of me using an rd 400 that I have? Is the rd class too competitive for a beginner? Wsh it was spring now.
Whens the wheel starts awhoblin start thinking about stopin.
i dont know if decamps is cheaper or not since ive never taken it and it seems like its impossible to get any info about it, but he runs a vintage only school, which would be nice for a slower less performing bike. i know fast rick randall has taken it. the rd class has all sorts of people in it i think. its as competitive as 350gp because its the 350gp 2 stroke version. there are fast and slow guys. i think in f-rd they run the 350's with the 400's. i dont know much about it though really. youd have to look and see what the bump classes are too. that might be period III middle weight supervintage which is up to 500cc 4 strokes i think. then i dont know what the other bump is. and im pretty sure you basically have to run a stock motor.
the bottom line is for racing, if you ride a generic enough bike, like the rds or cb's you'll find a person to race with. there are enough people on the grid that there is always someone fast enough to catch you. thats a nice way of saying slow enough to catch. id say if youre interested, get to louden early in the spring. check out the road course. get there early, or stay late and take a walk around the track and see it all. either that or corner work for a day at one of the lrrs races. but definitely check out the track before you race on it. you'll have a blast. once you lay out the initial dough, you can slowly build up a really nice looking bike. the actual racing is fairly cheap.
Those big bore kits are for the 500/550 and are brand new they pretty much come with everything, barrels, pistons, and gaskets and they bring the compression up from 9:1 to 10:1 and a displacement of 594cc
If you want one let me know I can get you one and ship it to you UPS
How is your racer for next year comming? Are you racing next year?
I also have a cb 350/360 up for grabs I was saving the for a customer to start racing but hasnt come to get them so oh well. Those could be a good starter bike to get into racing ask Joe C he dose well on his and it wont BLOW UP fast like an Rd, the Hondas never break down unless we throw them down and even then they still run great.
Im tempted, but that puts me back to square on with the RD that I have. Im pretty confident that with my limited skills I could get the Rd running. My skill with four strokes (lack of) puts me at a disavantage. Have you had any luck finding a 4into1 for an CB550? When do you want these rolling CB400F chassis's.? Does JD have any pics here showing amatuer race bikes?
decamps school is about 200 also. i just got an email from fast ricky telling me. probably alot more fun. the lines youd learn would probably be more usable than the ones youd learn at the penguin school. they teach you a line that a bike with 150 hp uses. quite a bit different than a line a bike with 35 uses.
theres a pic of my bike in the race pics pages at caferacer.net you can also see alot of pics of all of us at http://users.rcn.com.logojoe there are also pics of aaron and mike o on his bsa. there alot of 350/2 honda pics there.
I added peter boucher's frontierland pics to the racing pics page. you can get a good idea of what the average bikes look like. and even a couple ridiculously expensive ones. http://www.caferacer.net/racing2.html
joe, nice work on the racer write-up. that reminds me, a long time ago I think we were going to write something up about what it takes to get into racing. maybe you'd like to expand that a bit and I'll put it on the site. sort of a racer FAQ
Ahh, So I see ape hangers are allowed ay. Maybe one of you guys would let me ride on back just to get a feel for it. What kind of bikes Could I race against with the RD400? Any four strokes? Just to put it out there that next week I am supposed to have a running CB400f bike. I let everyone 'know what shapes it in when I get it. This guy broke his back on it last week and I got it for towing fees.
i remember seeing some grafitti sprayed on the side of a building in southie and it said "fahq" funny. id contribute to the page from my point of view. obviously we all have different ones. someday we'll all have bikes as nice as what aaron and johnson can put together. id also realy dig a rider bio page. you know, just the guys who actually race. pics of them, the bike maybe a short info bit on what who when etc...like the guys who do the cb160 page. an end of season wrap up could be cool to. so people can keep track of who did what when. anyway, its alot to demand from someone who cant even write basic code with any success.
if you race in formula rd, its all rd's on your grid. its very possible that they will grid another class with you guys in another wave that starts a few seconds behind or ahead of you. usually something far enough from f-rd that its not your bump up class. sometimes it is though. so for example, you might be running formula rd, then they might run heavyweight super vintage with you. or maybe period 4 or 200 gp. so you could be racing with 4 strokes, just not for position. its kinda like watching lemans. there can be 2 different classes of bikes on the track simultaniously. usually only 2. if you were to bump up to middle weight supervintage, period III, youd be running against both 2 and 4 strokes. there are guys who win class championships on bikes that are bump up bikes. for example, chris marshall won 500sportsman on the 350 honda at daytona. or zach courts gets 2nd in the 500gp championship in the uscra on a 350honda gp bike. or phil turkington wins the 350 class championship on his 250 bultaco. if you really want to go get a good idea of the speed and terror, go for one of the sidecar rides they give in august.