If you’ve ever read about one of those ride-and-slide dirtbike schools but wished it involved pavement, Danny Walker’s new RoadRace Factory school is what you’re after. RoadRace Factory is a national program that was designed to push riders beyond their limits in a safe asphalt environment. Walker doesn’t go as far as to encourage crashing, but he is willing to sacrifice some levers and axle sliders for the sake of your moto education.
The purpose of the school is to hone the aggressive riding techniques needed to be a competitive roadracer, so most of the attendees I joined at Infineon Raceway’s kart track were licensed racers with the thrashed leathers to show for it. Walker’s fleet of testbikes consists of capable but unintimidating Yamaha WR250Fs outfitted with Leo Vince exhausts, crash sliders and semi-sticky 17-inch street rubber. Walker admits that the tires aren’t the best, but that’s all part of his plan to take students to the ragged edge of traction and make them comfortable there.
Two-on-one teaching: Instructor Jake Gagne shows a student the proper line while another s
After a couple of slow sessions of follow the leader, RoadRace Factory’s instructors—in my case AMA SuperSport rider Tomy Puerta and AMA Daytona SportBike rider Jake Gagne—sped up to demonstrate the limits of traction. Learning from Gagne and Puerta was immediately helpful, as was the aid from Danny Walker as he stood trackside, barking out fundamentals. Body position was my first folly; moving my head too much and my hips too little, but with some quick coaching I was feeling positive results.
As the students gained speed and confidence, the instructors sprinkled in drills for corner entry, braking, and smooth control inputs. Each drill is designed to better your technique and yield a faster lap. The RoadRace Factory team uses a wide array of methods to teach students about their own riding, my personal favorite being the radar speed display on the exit of a corner to motivate us to get on the throttle early.
Danny Walker discusses proper braking technique while AMA Pro Tomy Puerta demonstrates why
The RoadRace Factory staff encourages pushing the envelope. For example, one braking drill consisted of decelerating for a hairpin turn as hard as you dare from the top of 4th gear. Tentative riding is greeted with encouragement, but overcooking the corner and getting kicked out of the seat is met with applause and excitement from the staff; they know that being out of the comfort zone means students are learning something new. Speeds are pretty tame on the WRs, so crashes rarely result in injury to rider or bike.
Once turned loose on the full circuit one-on-one lessons are the norm. I spent the most time with young Tomy Puerta, who demoralized me on the track with sublime bike control, but always followed up with articulate guidance.
Efficient breaks were taken for the included lunch as well as a brief stint spent hovering around a flat-screen TV studying professional roadracers who demonstrated the very techniques we were working on throughout the day. Overall my odometer showed a little over 100 miles at the end of the day, far enough to have learned a lot, blistered my hands, and had a nearly illegal amount of fun.
At $600 the RoadRace Factory school is not cheap, but if you race motorcycles as a hobby it probably fits the budget. Plus the fee includes crash damage to the bike if you push a little too hard. How sweet is that? If your mouth is watering thinking about sliding around all day, check out the RoadRace Factory Facebook page or go to www.roadracefactory.com for more information and to sign up.