Fastrack Riders - Track Time - MC Garage

On Track With Fastrack

America's Oldest Track-Day Provider Isn't Slowing Down Yet
It was an epic track day at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. The weather was pleasant, I was surrounded by friends, the rat-dogs were a hit with their checkered-flag bandanas and I dropped a few seconds off my lap times with a simple gearing change. I didn't expect my day to go that well as track days can be inconsistent, but one thing was certain going into it: With Fastrack Riders organizing the event, I could count on it being a lot of fun.

Back in the late '80s, when track days were nonexistent, a local club started organizing Friday practice sessions prior to the monthly Willow Springs Motorcycle Club races. In 1992, Tom Sera bought that club, renamed it Fastrack Riders and began organizing similar track days at additional venues. Sera continued until 2002, when he sold his company to David Pyles. A lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, Pyles took a giant leap of faith, leaving a successful career in Corporate America to return to his roots. Today, Fastrack Riders (www.fastrack hosts events in California, Nevada and Utah.

In addition to their usual track-day offerings, Fastrack also hosts Saturday practice days prior to WERA West races. Racers and regulars become family to the staff, who are at every event. From the lovely ladies at registration, Dana Webb and Denise Foler, to tech inspection by John Thomas and his contagious smile, to Pyles' informative and highly entertaining riders' meetings, to lining up on the grid with Gerhard Lippert, who always gives riders the thumbs-up, there's a familial feel you typically don't get with other track-day clubs.

Asked how he found such a dedicated and professional staff, Pyles replies, "One thing we do that other organizations don't is we pay our staff. They're not just volunteers who get free track time. They do it because they want to and because we take care of them. We want this to be a fun place to work."

Unlike most other track-day clubs, Fastrack offers a Novice Riders School. For an additional $125, first-time and beginning track riders receive formal instruction in the classroom, do lead/follows with the instructors and then receive one-on-one feedback. "I believe we're one of the best clubs at helping street riders make the transition to riding on the track," Pyles claims.

On the flip side, Fastrack is also certified to teach the New Racers School that is required to receive a WERA novice license. Cost is $100. Racing is a big component in Fastrack's philosophy; not only are instructors required to have racing experience, but they have to have done well at it. "All of our instructors race, and most of them are former champions," explains Pyles. "But racing experience is only part of it. An instructor has to be someone who can slow down enough to teach someone how to be smooth to go fast, who has the ability to communicate with his students and respect what it's like to be on track for the first time." Along with instructors Jeff Dixon, Jay Tanner and Matthias Jezek, Pyles is also a current racer in the WERA West Series, riding a Ducati Supersport 1000.

Racing isn't emphasized at Fastrack track days, however. The key element is safety. Pyles pays more for ALS (Advanced Life Support) ambulances than it would cost to get BLS (Basic Life Support) because he feels the latter "compromises the well-being and safety of the riders." This philosophy is shared by Monte Lutz and Bonnie Strawser of Sportbike Track Time, with whom Fastrack recently formed a "strategic alliance." The two groups have merged to provide a network of track days with consistent philosophies and structure at venues across the nation. "It made sense to have nationwide coverage," explains Pyles. "That way, our customers will be able to ride at 90 percent of the tracks in this country and can expect the same quality experience, attention to detail and professionalism."

Sharing the same interests as other motorcyclists, Pyles frequents bike nights throughout Southern California and encourages riders to take it to the track. "Don't race on the streets and in the canyons. Go out there and do a track day," he tells them. "Get your friends out there, too. Once you do, you'll be hooked. You'll see it's so much safer than going fast on public roads."

The cost of a Fastrack Riders track day ranges from $105-$259 depending on the venue, and they offer rentals on leathers, boots, helmets, gloves and lap timers. So, if you're new to the track, not so new, a seasoned professional or want to start racing, Fastrack will accommodate you. Just don't be intimidated by Pyles' stories at the riders' meeting. The last time I checked, a Ducati wouldn't go 300 mph even if Casey Stoner was riding it.