Track Days on the Sidelines

Part of ThrottleDad’s and my deal is that we take turns riding and watching ThrottleGirl. This goes for weekend rides, bigger riding events like multi-day rides, and track days. I had a blast at Sonoma Raceway a few weeks ago, and so this weekend it is ThrottleDad’s turn for a track day – our first with track day provider FunTrackDayz.

Prior to having ThrottleGirl, I had never gone to a track day and not ridden, and I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a little different from going to the races, but it is still a lot of fun to be a spectator at a track day.


Thunderhill West on a beautiful summer morning. Photo credit: ThrottleMama

Needless to say, bringing a baby or toddler to the track will keep you pretty busy with feedings, diapers, and naps, but there will still be time for other activities throughout the day. These are some of the benefits we’ve noticed to spending a day in the pits rather than on the track.


You Learn a Lot By Watching Other Riders

Duh. But watching riders at a track day is a little different from watching MotoGP, because track day riders are still learning, a lot, and they are probably working on some of the same things you are. They all take different lines through corners, different approaches to passing, and have different body positioning. Watching other riders can teach you about what to do, and what not to do. It’s also interesting to watch other people and see if you could spot areas of improvement for them, helping you become a better teacher (and therefore a better rider yourself).

You Learn From Observing the Track from Different Angles

Walking around the outside of the track on foot gives you a dramatically different perspective than being on-track at speed. One thing that always strikes me is how much larger elevation changes appear when you’re on foot vs. when you’re on the bike. ThrottleDad once had a spectacular crash in turn 3 at Sonoma Raceway, with his bike cartwheeling and landing on top of the tire wall. When they went out to recover his bike he drove his truck out on the track and said that the hills around turns 1,2, and 3 were so steep he had to put his truck in second gear to get up them. You lose track of this when you are on a 400lb bike with 120hp.

You Discover “Insider” Type Stuff About the Facility

Do you know where all the bathrooms are at the track? How about all of the showers? Did you know that there is a playground at Thunderhill Raceway? Do you know where all the electrical outlets in the paddock are? Have you ever actually been to the pro shop? How about the best vantage point to view each turn? You can, and will, learn all this stuff when you are walking around all day with a small child.

You Meet a Lot of Cool People

When you’re not trying to keep your bike and your head together so you can ride safely and have fun, you actually have time to talk to the people around you. We have met other parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, and family members of riders who were just there to hang out. We have met their dogs and their kids. We have met photographers and racers, both rookie and pro. ThrottleDad especially loves to chat with people, and he always comes away from track days with a new friend or two. A few months ago he and ThrottleGirl met Joy Higa and got her autograph, which is hanging on ThrottleGirl’s bedroom wall.

So there you have it. Just a few of the awesome things about being a spectator at a track day. I’m looking forward to our day at Thunderhill this weekend – we’re taking the toy hauler up the night before and camping at the track, so no 3:30am wake up call this time. Woo hoo!

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