Many riders who have considered roadracing have been put off by the expense and logistics. Acquiring a bike, tires, fuel and all the other paraphernalia a race weekend requires costs thousands. Then there’s transportation to the event, setting up your pit area and navigating the gauntlet of unfamiliar procedures. Just getting to the starting line is a major challenge, never mind the race itself!
With Feel Like a Pro (www.feellikea pro.com), riders can show up at the track with just their gear and checkbook and race. For a flat fee of $275 per day—less than the cost of one set of race tires for a 600cc sportbike—FLP provides a Kawasaki Ninja 250R and all the trimmings that accompany a professional race effort. That includes fuel, tires, technical advice and a well-appointed pit area. Onboard video footage, tire-warmers and data-acquisition services are also available. FLP doesn’t just rent racebikes; they rent an entire race team!
FLP owner Brian Bartlow (29) has won more than 20 class championships abroad Ninja 250s. H
Veteran club racer Brian Bartlow founded FLP in 2010. Shortly after introducing his program to club racers in California, his fleet of a dozen 2009 Ninja 250s was booked for the season. Riders of all skill levels flocked to his program because it’s an incredible value, a ton of fun and makes race meets less stressful and more enjoyable.
As an FLP participant, the hassles of bike prep, tech inspection and registration are taken care of, allowing you to kick back and savor the racing experience. And flogging the Ninja 250 is a blast! At the American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM) event I attended at Infineon Raceway (nee Sears Point) in Sonoma, California, the grids for the 250cc classes were 25 bikes deep. I found myself charging into turns three-wide and trading positions a half-dozen times per lap! It was some of the most exhilarating racing I’ve experienced, and because it wasn’t happening at light-speed, I actually had the presence of mind to enjoy it.
Many FLP participants are first-timers, but a fair number are experienced racers looking for a more affordable way to get their fix. Todd Grice and his brother Nick hold AMA Pro licenses, yet are FLP regulars. “I’d only ever raced a 600, and running in the AMA, I was up against a lot of guys who came up racing smaller bikes and had the corner speed to show for it,” says Todd. “I’m riding the 250 to reverse-engineer my riding style, and learn the skills that only a small bike can teach.”
Feel Like a Pro customers are treated like MotoGP stars, kicking back while the crew tends
And the little Ninjette has a lot to teach. Unlike on bigger bikes where you can use the throttle to make up for mistakes, on an underpowered machine like the 250 every error incurs huge penalties. Maintaining momentum is critical, and requires flawless lines. I utilized the data-acquisition service offered by Kamal Amer of Kinelogix (www.kinelogix.com) to help me get up to speed. Progressing through the pack requires precision and strategy—two skills the 250 is exceptionally good at fostering.
Interested in competitive roadracing but concerned with the initial investment? Give it a go on a Ninja 250 at any 2012 AFM or WERA West event. License, practice and race fees aren’t included in the $275 rental price, but riding one of FLP’s rent-a-racers is still the most economical way to get your feet wet. Not ready for the starting grid? FLP also offers their services at a number of California track days.