By a guy with a lot of experience (not me for track days):
You do not need to own a truck or a trailer to get your bike to the track. Uhaul rents trailers for as little as $15/day that you can tow behind a Honda Civic. You would be able to fit everything on this list in a small vehicle with a trailer.
-THE KEY – Make sure you have the key to your bike. It sucks getting to the track without your key. I keep a spare in my truck just in case.
-Tires – Must have “at least 85% tread life” is what most organizers ask for. Race tires are not needed or required, especially if you are riding in the novice group. If this is your first track day you should be concentrating on learning proper track etiquette and technique, going fast enough to really push the limits of your street tires will come later. Once you start doing more track days you’ll know when it is time to switch to race rubber. If you have the money then by all means you can run race tires but they’re really not needed.
-Remove or tape over the mirrors – Check with the organizer to see if they require the mirrors completely removed.
-Tape over all lights/reflectors – Also disconnect and/or remove the headlight bulbs so they don’t melt the adhesive on the tape and make it harder to remove. Use painters masking tape to do this, as it will not leave behind a sticky residue when you remove it. Ensure that there is enough tape over the taillight that no light can be seen when the brakes are applied, it’s a good idea to do the same to the signals so you don’t distract other riders if you accidentally bump the signal switch.
-Oil – Fresh oil and a new filter is cheap insurance for your motor. Your bike is going to run a lot harder on the track than it is on a street ride.
-Chain Adjustment – Make sure the chain is properly adjusted. If it is too tight it will impede the suspension and if it’s too loose it can skip and will pre-maturely wear out your sprockets. Either way if it’s out of adjustment, and the tech inspector notices, they will make you fix it before you can pass tech.
-Bleed the Brakes – Also change the fluid if it’s more than a year old.
-Safety Wire – Check with the organizer to see what, if anything, is required to be wired for your skill level. Although not required for novice/intermediate skill levels by most organizers you should at least wire the oil drain plug and oil fill cap. You don’t want to be the guy whose drain plug comes out and causes the track to be shut down for a half hour (or much more) while they clean up the mess.
-Replace coolant with straight water – Check with the organizer to see what, if anything, is required to be wired for your skill level. Also not usually required for novice/intermediate skill levels but it’s still a good idea. Anti-freeze is very slippery stuff and if it gets on the racing surface it will take a while to clean up, during which no one will be able to ride. Some tracks (i.e. VIR) require this.
-Wash Your Bike – Especially if there is any grease or oil on the engine from any recent maintenance, it will make tech inspection go smoother. Oil and other fluid leaks will also show up better on a clean engine. If the tech inspector sees a nice clean machine they will know that you stay on top of your maintenance.
-Tape over the speedometer – You don’t need to know how fast you’re going, it will only distract you.
-Remove the license plate and kickstand – May or may not be required. Again, check with the organizer.
-Steering Damper – I’ve heard that some organizers require them, I have yet to encounter one but check to be on the safe side.
RIDER GEAR – Get the best you can afford. Your safety is NOT the place to be cheap.
-Helmet – Duh. A full face, un-damaged, SNELL approved helmet. Check with organizer and see how new it needs to be. Helmets have a build year on the inside. As far as I know most organizers require 5-7 years or newer.
-Leathers – A full suit or at least a separate jacket and pants made of LEATHER. If you have a 2-piece suit most organizers require it to have a full circumference zipper at the waist, again check to be sure.
-Back Protector – Not required by all but it should be.
-Chest Protector – Not required by any organizer i know of. I wear one anyway, they are starting to get a bit more popular and it could save you some body damage in a tumble.
-Gloves – Leather with a gauntlet that covers your wrist.
-Boots – Motorcycle boots that come at least midway up your shin.
-Under Suit – Something to wear under your leathers is a must. It should be long sleeve and long legged. Your suit will be a lot more comfortable if you don’t stick to the inside of it.
-Ear Plugs – Personal preference. I like wearing them.
-Mouth Guard – I know people that swear by them. I don’t wear one but I probably should. Once again, up to you.
-Shade – Some tracks have garages available to use for track days, some don’t. Even if they are available they will fill up fast and you are not guaranteed to get one. Bring a canopy for shade just in case. There is nothing worse than getting off the bike and sitting in the hot sun between sessions.
-Sun Block – Hopefully it will be nice and sunny. Make sure to apply some sunblock to the back of your neck and face, you WILL sunburn through a tinted or mirrored face shield.
-Chair(s) – Bring some type of folding chair to chill out between sessions.
-Tools – At least a socket set, common sized wrenches, screwdrivers and whatever else you think you might need for your bike.
-Air Pressure Gauge – You will run lower air pressure on the track than you would on the street, even if you’re using street tires. A good starting point for most tires is 32 front/30 rear. Check with the tire manufacturer or your local shop for their recommended setting. Set the pressure when the tires are cold.
-Brake Fluid/Bleeder – If you go out the first session and your brakes aren’t working how you’d like them to it’s good to have the stuff to fix them.
-A Friend – It’s a good idea to have someone come with you, whether they are riding too or not. If for some reason you get injured they can drive you home You can also send them to remote corners of the track to take pictures while you’re riding.
-Camera – See above.
-Cash – There probably won’t be an ATM at the track. I try to have at least $250 on me for unplanned expenses.
-Cooler/Food/Water – Some tracks have food available, some don’t. Even if they have it it’s usually expensive and not very good. Make sure you have plenty of water and/or sports drinks and make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. I pick everything up at a gas station close to the track the morning of the track day.
-Fuel – Show up with a full tank of gas and a spare 5 gallon can full of fuel. Fuel may be available at the track but it will likely be expensive race fuel that you do not need for a stock motor.
-Oil – It’s a good idea to bring an extra quart, especially if you just changed it.
-Fire Extinguisher – Some tracks require one in every pit area. Check with the organizer.
-Pit Bike/Bicycle – Not required but they sure are nice to have. Most tracks have pretty large pit areas and walking around in your leathers sucks.
-Bike Stands – Also not required but they are nice to have, especially if you are using race tires. Tires, especially race tires, can develop flat spots if the weight of the bike sits in one position when they are hot.
-Spares – If you have any spare levers, pegs, clip-ons, bodywork, nuts/bolts, etc. brings them with you. You never know what you might need to repair crash damage or help someone else out.
-Rags/Paper Towels – Easy to forget and a very useful.
When you decide everything you need, make a checklist to be sure you don’t forget everything! I keep a list of every item I need to bring stored on my laptop and the night before a race or track day I open it up to make sure I have brought everything I need. My friend forgot his helmet before leaving for a race this summer, dropping $400 on a helmet at the track sucks. Double check that you have everything you need before you pull out of your driveway.
Once you get to the track, talk to people. No matter how serious some people might look everyone there is super friendly and more than willing to help out beginners. You will be able to pick up tons of good information from the people around you.
-Sean LRRS/CCS #683 Expert WERA #683 Expert