Coaches are available for trackside debriefing during afternoon sessions, so riders can as
When Nick Amelio isn’t directing the Midwest division of Sportbike Track Time (STT), he works as a crime-scene investigator for the city of Joliet, Illinois. One day, as he was investigating a fatal motorcycle accident, an idea took root.
“It was a typical collision,” Amelio recalls. “A car pulled out in front of a motorcyclist. As I photographed the accident scene—noting the skid marks, and the wide chicken strips on the bike’s tires—I realized this guy probably could have avoided the collision if he had a little skill.”
Amelio knew from personal experience that riding at the racetrack was a great way to build fundamental riding skills. How could STT reach out to reluctant street riders and get them on the racetrack? What if STT offered newbie track riders free track time, lending them leathers if necessary, to knock down the usual barriers that keep wary street riders away from track days?
That’s the thinking behind STT’s newly created Ride Right program; free track days specifically for riders who have never ridden on a racetrack before. All an interested participant needs is a bike, helmet, boots and gloves. STT takes care of the rest. The only stipulation is that Ride Right riders must ride with STT's novice group, which—unlike most track day providers—is highly controlled and incorporates plenty of classroom lessons on cornering, braking, visual awareness, body position and more.
“Safety is a priority for us, and we really wanted to do something to educate people about riding motorcycles properly,” says Sportbike Track Time owner Richard Harris. “Free track time is a great tool to bring more riders to the track. Once they get here, most learn more with us in a day than in two years riding alone on the street.”
Novice riders regroup in the classroom after each morning track session, where coaches off
The racetrack can be an intimidating place, Harris acknowledges, so Ride Right is designed to make the experience as non-threatening as possible. “Our instructors are really friendly and approachable,” Harris says. “There’s lots of one-on-one interaction, so no one gets left behind.” The event we observed at Wisconsin’s Road America was crowded with riding coaches in bright red STT shirts, and Harris says the coach-to-rider ratio never exceeds one-to-five.
Ride Right participant Will Hampson, who has been riding his R6 on the streets of Chicago for almost 5 years, always wanted to try track riding, but could never get there himself. “Bike, leathers, money—it always looked like a mountain of barriers to overcome,” Hampson says. “Ride Right was the tipping point for me—it removed a bunch of those barriers and finally made it possible for me.”
STT will offer two Ride Right spots at each track day it hosts next season, announcing and awarding the opportunities with a lottery system at www.sportbiketracktime.com. That’s as many as 160 free track days, worth a total cash value of nearly $28,000. STT hopes the hook will set and at least some Ride Right participants will become regular customers, but Amelio and Harris both insist that’s not what this is about.
“If we save one rider from an accident, the program is a success” Amelio says. “If I get an email a few years later that says ‘Without the skills I learned at the track, I would have been hurt,’ that’s enough for me.”