36 years old - first race????

OK TTers,

I'm considering entering a local race next week. It'll be my first race ever. My YZF is the first bike I've had in 20 years and I am having a blast.

Other than the fact that I must be insane, any tips from other newbies or seasoned pros? I see classes like 250 beginner but also see age classes like 30+ novice, etc. Should I stick to the age class only? Any and all advice is appreciated...


Steve T

[ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: skthom2320 ]

[ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: skthom2320 ]

Go with the age group class, it should be safer. I'd say 30+ Beg, unless you're pretty fast, than try 30+ Nov. This weekend, I raced 30+ Nov, and some of the guys I raced with also raced 250 Nov, they said the 250 Nov was easier! I guess the old guys have a little more skill, but take less chances, so are safer. Whatever you decide to do, remember that you're there to have fun, and the race will be a success. Good luck!

I'm 27 years old so I'm not eligible for the masters division yet, but I've had a similar experience. I went to the Oregon state arenacross finals back in October and saw my first up close arenacross race. I was petrified when I left. I couldn't believe how fast those guys looked. Then, about a week later, I went to a practice session. I practiced in the age/skill group that I would be racing in and found that my confidence was boosted a lot. There were sections of the track where I was definitely slower, but there were plenty of sections where I was able to keep pace. If you can, definitely plan on making the practice session(s) before the race (especially if you've never been to the track before).

Also, on race day, spend some time watching the faster divisions ride. I found that I was picking lines that made a corner or one spot on the track easier, but didn't set me up well for the next jump or the straight. Sometimes taking a different line can make a big difference in momentum through the entire course.

Lastly, unless you're in great shape, try to pace yourself the first few laps. Being totally spent with several laps to go is not fun on a big thumper. You might find if you do this that others have petered out and you can make some last minute passes.

Good luck!!

Defintaly stay in your age divison. Mainly, you want to be racing with guys that have to get up monday morning to work. Some of these kids have no fear and will jump anything and everything even if your inthe way.

Be careful and enjoy yourself.

OTHG 38 novice

Oldtimers Expert

I would stick with the age and skill level applicable to you, i.e. 30 beginner (if there is such a class). You'll find that 30 something riders are much safer and enjoyable to race with. It must be a "wisdom" thing.


Starts are very important but, not the MOST important part of the race. Here's my ritual:

1. Pick any gate, at our level it really doesn't matter.

2. Prep the launch area, if it's concrete have something to sweep the dirt off, if it's dirt try to fill in the groove and stomp it firm.

3. DON'T let your bike idle for more than 3 minutes while waiting for your moto to start. It will over heat and puke slippery coolant exactly in front of your rear tire.

4. Do a MINOR burn out (only 2 or 3 revolutions of the rear tire to remove the dirt/dust from the tire if on a concrete starting pad). You don't need to do a smokey burn out, it'll only wear out your tire and you'll gain NOTHING in launch benefit.

5. When the 30 second board goes up, climb up on the seat as far as comfortably possible, put the bike in 2nd gear and rev your motor only high enough that when you launch you won't spin the rear wheel or loop it (you'll be surprised at how little you need to rev for launch).

6. Here's my big secret, DON'T WATCH THE GATE!! Look toward the start house 2 or 3 gates over from you and look at the "pin" that holds the gate up. WATCH THE PIN, as soon as it flinches you launch!! Don't worry about getting hung in the gate cause you've just timed your launch near perfection and your already half a bike length ahead of everyone.

7. If you've miscalculated and find yourself in a wheelie use the clutch to bring the front end down again. Now that you're down ROLL THE GAS SMOOTHLY and all the way to the stops! Concentrate on keeping the bike straight and avoid fishtailing at all costs.

8. DO NOT ROLL OFF THE GAS, power shift (keep the gas full throttle and use a simultaneous clutch/shift to 3rd. By now you're about a bike length ahead of the pack. Stay on the gas till you absolutely have to brake and you should have the holeshot or at a minimum top 3 by the first turn.

Now pace yourself and yell "wooooooohoooooooo" everytime you pass or get passed, it'll insure that you're having the time of your life! ENJOY!!!

Where I race, the over 30 class is one of the fastest races of the day. I started in 250 beginner at 37 years old, and moved into the vet class a year later. The 250 beg class can be more dangerous, but you will probably not be able to compete in the vet class if you are new to racing. On my first race, I stayed at the gate until everyone had left, then reeled in as many as I could. I would go to the track and time laps, then go to a practice day and time your own laps to see where you belong...

Thanks for the tips guys!


Steve T

You aren't craxy, but I remember feeling that way too before my first race. I was 39 and racing a 2 1/2 hr HS. What was an old guy like me doing lining up against all these young kids? I had only been riding a year, plus two years riding when I was 15-16. I did come from a competitive background (bicycle racing, etc). I figured I was low on talent but I might do well in a long race where endurance mattered.

I finished midpack in the sportmens class (basically open beginner), and I was elated. I kept at it that year and placed 3rd in a race by years end. The next year I moved up to senior class (40+) and ended up 3rd in the series. So if a no talent guy with a multi second reaction time can do it, so can you.

So this year I decided to try MX and enduros. Enduros are a piece of cake, everyones first race should be an enduro. No pressure at all. You may not ever even see your competition, where you will be dicing it up with them at a HS. I even won the senior C at one race and didnt even know it until weeks later.

MX was different. They are so short and the start is so important. Passing RIGHT NOW is also important, unlike HS. I went to practice and found that I was probably one of the top three fastest in practice. Then came the race. I was 33rd through the first corner and passed 18 guys in 10 minutes. But 15th was not what I was expecting. Take the above advice on starts and practice them all the time.

Good Luck! In 4 years of racing I have not any major injuries to speak of. Ironically, I am now laid up with a dislocated shoulder from backcountry skiing. It pays to be careful, but its not as dangerous as non racers say.

I have to agree with most of the above posts - race in the age classes.

I run the 30+ Nervous Novice class, and the other "older" guys I race against don't brake check you, no block passes, just usually clean racing. If your race promoter has a 30+ Beggin` Beginner class I would suggest that, although if there aren't enough entries you may have to race with another class which will be faster (which happens all the time at Star West MX Park in SoCal).

No matter what class you ride just try to finish and have fun. Also have your wife/kid/friend/partner - whoever - take pictures or video tape it. Trust me, in five years you'll die laughing at yourself. (Reminds me of a time in college I took a then-girl friend to a race for her to watch/tape me run the 250 B class. I came in dead-ass LAST. Priceless memories)

Good luck and don't sweat it.

In my opinion it is better to stay with your age groupe class just for the simple reason that the riders tend to ride with thier head instead of their physical abilities (like someone that is 17 just wanting to get that trophy). The more seasoned riders will give you more "appretiation" than those of a younger class. Congrats to you bud, rip and snort. Let us know how you finish. Have fun!!!!!!

I run the 30+ Nervous Novice class, and the other "older" guys I race against don't brake check you, no block passes, just usually clean racing

I wish I could say the same. Although you're not going to be punted into the cheap seats, there are definately block passes. The guys I race with are pretty competitive - Rubbin' is racin'!

Race your first race in the 30+ Beg class and have fun. Be prepared because it is addictive. Race once, and you'll be hooked! :)

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