Many people have asked what they need on their first track day. Let’s go over everything you should consider bringing to make sure you have the best experience possible. If you want to skip the details, you can just go grab the PDF version here.
Please note that some track organizers may have different requirements, so make sure to double check their rules before taking this list as gospel.
Suit – Preferably a 1-piece leather suit, but a 2-piece suit that zips together with a 3/4 zipper will also work. A lot of motorcycle jackets already have the zipper on them, so you hopefully just need to get the pants to go with. While some organizers allow textiles, you should strongly consider going with leather for the added protection.
Boots – Should cover your ankles and ideally have a hardened outer shell. You have a lot of great options to choose from. I’m partial to Alpinestars SMX Plus boots, because they work for both the street and track.
Gloves – Just like the boots, you have a lot of options. Gauntlet style gloves are preferred, but you can get away with just wrist-length gloves. Gloves must be full-fingered.
Helmet – DOT (and preferably SNELL) certified. Helmets must not be already crashed in because the protective liner could be compromised. Keep in mind helmets “expire” after 5 years since the EPS foam can lose it’s shape over time.
Rain Gear – Track riding in the rain is a great way to learn to be smooth, just don’t expect to be dragging your knee through every corner (or even at all!). A good rain jacket or rain layer that fits over your suit will work just fine. You can use something like an oversized Columbia Rain Jacket to go over your leathers, or spring for one of the fancy Alpinestars Racing Rain Jackets, but honestly the latter just makes you feel like you’re wearing a diaper.
Ear Plugs – we covered this already in the Additional Safety Equipment article. Just go ahead and buy yourself a big box of disposable ones. The reusable ones aren’t worth the trouble and don’t seal as good. Pro tip: when you’re not using them you can usually tuck them behind your ears like you would a pencil.
Back Protector – I would strongly recommend getting a back protector. I don’t like the ones that integrate into the suit because they might slide around during a crash, but that’s still better than nothing.
Base Layer – Super important for making it easy to get your suit on/off while you’re sweaty. A lot of racers swear by the MOTO-D Undersuit, but I prefer wearing separate top/bottom pieces for the bathroom convenience. Consider a thermal layer if the forecast says rain.
Socks – I usually bring a few pairs of socks just in case I get too sweaty during the day. Whenever I’m off the bike I trade my boots and socks for sandals so that my socks can dry out. Wool socks are a LIFE SAVER when it is rainy and cold.
Sunglasses/Hat – On a nice day it gets super bright in the pits. I would recommend not bringing either of these items in the color red, since a lot of track organizers won’t let you go near the hot pits because they don’t want riders mistaking it for a red flag on track.
Towel – You will be sweaty.
Shorts – I like wearing basketball shorts over my base layer in between sessions. It’s nice to have something that easily slips on and off on hot days where it’s not practical to wear your leathers between sessions.
Warm Jacket – Some track day mornings are super cold. It’s best to be prepared and have a warm jacket or hoodie that you can wear while standing around during the riders meeting.
Mittens/Gloves – Super important for cold days to keep your hands warm and able to operate your bike controls. In a pinch the nitrile/latex shop gloves work pretty well.
Ratchets & Extensions – Most of my tool kit is 3/8″ but I do have a 1/2″ ratchet for the axle bolts.
Sockets – Think about the sockets you commonly use when working on your bike. For Japanese bikes that usually means 8, 10, 12, 14, 17 & 19mm. If you intend to pull your wheels at the track make sure to bring sockets for the axles too. If you don’t have the right size axle sockets usually the tire vendor will pull them off your bike for an extra fee.
Air Pump – Setting the right pressure in your tires is super important at the track. You don’t need a fancy electric one, a simple bike pump will do the trick. Don’t bother getting one with a gauge, because it’s not accurate enough to be useful.
Pressure Gauge – We need a dedicated tire pressure gauge. The more accurate the better. If you don’t know how accurate yours is, ask the tire vendor if they will compare it to their expensive gauge. I’ve been rocking a Joe’s Racing Gauge for the last 5 years and it has treated me very well.
Screwdriver, Pliers, Wire Cutters, Allen Tool – basic stuff to do anything on a motorcycle.
Painters Tape – you will be required to put tape over any lights or mirrors on your bike. This is to prevent them from distracting you or other riders on track.
Brake/Contact Cleaner – super handy to clean calipers/rotors between sessions
Shop Towels – A 10-pack of blue towel rolls is less than $20 at Costco. They also can be used as napkins.
Chain Cleaner/Lube – You should always clean your chain before you go to the track, but it’s nice to bring with if you need it.
Leather Work Gloves – Something to make loading/unloading your bike easier when dealing with ratchet straps and the like. Keeps your hands from getting dirty too.
Nitrile Gloves – Makes working on the bike a lot less dirty. Plus it’ll keep off that ‘rona going around these days.
Windex – You are going to hit a lot of bugs. Keep your helmet visor and wind screen clean so you can see the next turn without obstruction. Get in the habit of spraying off your lid between every session. If you’re running a camera don’t forget to clean the lens as well. It sucks to think you have great footage only to get home and realize there are bug guts all over the lens.
Make sure to bring carb-heavy snacks and to hydrate aggressively during the day. Even if you don’t have visible perspiration on your skin you will be losing a lot of water as the day goes on. The first signs of dehydration are a lack of focus and poor vision. Be mindful of this so you can notice when it’s happening and adjust.
My favorite track foods include bananas, juice (Naked), trail mix, Clif/RX bars, carrots, frozen grapes, coconut water, chicken wraps, and an extra coffee thermos for the ride home just in case I feel like I might fall asleep after a long day of riding.
Gas Can – You will probably go through more than a single tank of gas during the day, especially if you’re on a 600 or a 1000cc bike. An extra 5 gallons is usually enough for the day.
I also always bring extra toilet paper, a battery powered phone charger, sun screen and wet wipes.
Things to coordinate with your pit-mates
These items you can share with your friends. Popup tents and tables can get bulky so hopefully somebody has a truck or trailer with some extra space.
Pop-Up Tent – Having some protection from the sun and rain is absolutely critical. A 10×10′ tent is perfect, but if you don’t have the space in your car you could get away with smaller. I don’t like the tents that extend beyond the poles because they are harder to tie together when you have multiple of them. I’ve been using this Eurmax Heavy Duty Tent for the last 4 years and it’s held up pretty well. You can squeeze two bikes, two chairs and a table under a single 10×10′ tent. If you have more than two people you should look into a 10×20′ tent or just having each of your buddies get their own 10×10′ tent that you can tie together depending on how many of you show up.
Folding/Camping Tables – At least make sure you have enough space to put your helmet and gloves down. Costco has some good options of various size folding tables. Get the biggest table you can fit in your vehicle.
Camping Chairs – At least 1 per butt. I like bringing a few extras for when friends stop by or if someone forgot. I’ve also made some good friends over the years after seeing someone show up without any gear and having a chair for them to join us for the day.
Cooler – I actually got away with an insulated lunch box until last year. Having a cooler makes things a lot easier if you have the space. Fill that shit with ice and tuck a beer in the bottom for when the day is over.
Garbage Bags – Most tracks have garbage cans, but sometimes people hoard them and it gets hard to find one. Having your own garbage bag you can tie to a canopy post solves this problem.
The Day Before
Strive to get as much preparation for your track day done ahead of time so you don’t feel rushed when you get there. Feeling rushed in the pits before your first session puts you in an unhealthy mindset that you don’t want to be in when on the track.
Groceries & Food Prep – Do all of your food prep the night before. Make your sandwiches, pack your lunchbox or cooler, get your snacks put together. Put all the refrigerated things in one place in your fridge so it’s easier to remember everything. I usually just throw everything in my lunch box, and then throw that in the fridge.
Prep Bike – Go over your track day bike requirements and do all of the prep ahead of time. This means taping the headlights, tail lights and mirrors. As an extra precaution you can also unplug the headlight so as to not melt the housing when the tape is over it. You also need to tape your mirrors – if possible it’s best to just remove them.
Gas Up – You can do this in the morning if you give yourself enough time, but doing it the night before is easier. Fill up your vehicle, bike and spare gas can. If you’re new to filling spare gas cans, just make sure you set it on the ground before filling to prevent sparks or static charge. You already ride a motorcycle so I shouldn’t have to tell you about how to make those stupid spill-proof nozzles work.
Plan Commute – Work backwards to figure out when you need to wake up. You want to arrive with at least an hour before the riders meeting to get yourself registered and set up. How long does it take you to get to the track from your house? Do you need to stop for gas? Will there be traffic during that time of day? When do you need to leave the house? How long will it take you to get ready in the morning before you can leave?
Load Bike – Loading the bike the night before is a lot less stressful and lets you take your time.
Start Hydrating – Drink a lot of water. Start the day before or earlier.
Get Some Sleep – Go to bed early. Make sure you have enough time to get your full nights sleep when taking into account your early wake up. Sleeping can be hard before a track day because you’re so excited and anxious, so reducing caffeine intake and/or taking melatonin before bed can help.
The Morning Of
When you wake up the day of your track day it’s going to feel like Christmas but you will also probably not be awake yet because it’s so early. It is easy to forget stuff in this sleepy, giddy state of mind. I always go through my checklist one more time in the morning before I leave just to be safe.
Coffee & Water – Make coffee if that’s your thing, and then fill up your water bottles. I leave them out on the counter the night before.
Start Hydrating – You lose a lot of water when you sleep. Make sure you recover some of that right away.
Grab Food – Don’t forget your food if you left it in the fridge overnight. I have done that before and it really sucks when lunch time comes and you realize your perfect sandwich is sitting at home.
Did I miss something super important that you wouldn’t go to a track day without? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or yell at me on Reddit via /u/Joel_OpenSrcRacing and I’m happy to update this list.