Track Day Observations

While attending a track day recently, I was able to observe a few interesting characters.

WORDS: Rob Cimeno

PHOTOS: George Roberts

While attending a track day recently, I was able to observe a few interesting characters. Much like the way a bird watcher observes birds in their natural habitat, I too, like to people watch. On my very first track day, I went alone, naturally apprehensive of who I might meet. As you get older, don't you find it harder to open up to people and make friends? Usually with the knowledge that they too often disappoint or fail to meet expectations. "This guys got mental issues, that one will eventually hit me up for a loan, no, I don't want to see your Wife's tattoo down there." You know what I mean. Its an investment in time you need to make. Too often it ends badly is all Im saying. Its a long process, acquiring new friends, but I was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie and genuine goodwill I felt on that first day. Actually, going alone turned out to be a good thing, because I had many conversations with people that otherwise never would have occurred while attending with friends, and sticking close to the confines of our little group.

[But back to the people watching, after I had several events under my belt and all nervous apprehension was abated, I noticed that many attendees appeared to strangely be cast in the same mold. One incident was very memorable. Astride his bright yellow Suzuki SV650S and outfitted in matching yellow leathers and yellow Arai helmet, you couldn't not notice. He was a flashing neon look-at-me, walking public service announcement against abusing color coordinates. But the overly obsessive love for yellow wasn't what stood out most amongst this guys attendance that day. And did I mention the leathers were a snug fit?

Well, the memorable characteristic he shared that I've run across before was during classroom or track briefings he would not shut up. Sure there's common questions we've all heard asked before but that wasn't the problem. This guy asked obscure hypothetical questions, I surmise he thought he could stump the instructors for additional bonus points.

Naturally at the end of a track briefing its customary for an Instructor to ask "Does anybody have any last questions before we go out onto the track?"

But we all collectively gasped in unison when Big Bird would raise his hand. Eye rolls and slumping bodies could be seen across the room, this ought to be another five minutes of our lives wasted. Everything from suggestions to better corner worker placement, interesting lines and imaginary apexes interspersed with track temperature theories. All the while Im thinking " If I only had a stun gun, I could just knock him unconscious, not hurt him." Yellow Dude droned on, and on. Boy these leathers get hot just sitting around.

[One Instructor had a funny retort "Dude, your not contesting for the Moto GP Championship." Laughs went around the room, relieved that our instructors are now wise to his incessant questioning.

On the way out, I was walking alongside a veteran track day enthusiast who offered up this bit of seasoned info "There's one in every class, Mr know-it-all... who's always the first guy to crash." This was my first day, it was hard to imagine being able to pick an accident waiting to happen. I just thought the guy liked to hear himself talk. But there was an arrogance about Yellow Guy. He thought he had all the answers already, he wasn't really asking questions but showing off his own knowledge of the obscure. Definitely not on my list of how to make friends and win over people.

I could already imagine having a few drinks with the guy only to discover he forgot to bring his wallet. Or " Mind If I stay at your place for a few days while I get this dispute settled with my landlord?" Nope, scratch him off the potential friends list. Then remember to keep clear of the flying yellow nuthatch on the racetrack, at least his plumage helped identify him in a crowd.

Later that day the red flag came out, I suspected it was one of the 250's running in the expert class. To my surprise, a pick-up pulled alongside the pit garage with the yellow SV650S. Upon closer inspection, the brand new bike was only mildly damaged, bent forks and scraped cases. Mr Know-it-all had crashed as predicted. The Veteran called it exactly. Around two hours later, Yellow Guy appeared with his wrist bandaged up and walked with a bit of a limp. Several of the guys walked over who were curious as to what had occurred. The were quickly rebuffed, Yellow Guy was in too big a hurry to go home and call his lawyer or something ridiculous like that.

Muttering under his breath he blamed the tires and another rider. A track worker was nice enough to bring over his helmet, the yellow Arai.
She placed it on the seat, no thanks for a kind deed would be heard. Mr Know-it-all tried to push his bike towards the trailer but was unable to move it due to the sore wrist and bent front disks. A couple of the guys offered help but were ignored. We heard the bike start up. No, was he going to try and ride that lump?

In keeping with the days events, the answer was yes. What a tool, I thought, Yellow Guy threw a leg over the bike, but in haste, forgot the helmet was sitting on the seat. His leg kicked the new unscathed helmet over onto the parking lot. Everybody watching rolled their eyes and went about their business. Lots of track time still left in the day, they were anxious to take advantage now that Yellow Guy was done for the day. Still unable to take my eyes off that stubborn oaf and what might happen next in this unfolding track day saga, I watched him smoke the clutch as he road the protesting bike towards his trailer dragging the unmoving front wheel.

Damn, he spoiled everything we where all enjoying so much. His bike was wrecked, the leathers scuffed up and the helmet was still over on its side in the parking lot, what a shame. I looked over into the garage and noticed everybody else had left to go riding. They've seen that story before.

Little did I know, just how many times. "There's one in every class"
I thought to myself, as I tapped my shift lever into first and flipped down my helmet visor.

True story.