Will told me of his passion for motorcycle racing the day I met him. With what I now know as his “serious face,” he shared how he got into motorcycles and what he loved about racing. I sensed some hesitation when he told me about it. I think he was unsure what I would think. In the moment, I didn’t understand what this passion really meant or what it entailed, but I loved seeing this guy I had just met was so dedicated and passionate about a sport that was so very different from his 9 to 5 job.
Fast forward to last weekend. I finally went with Will to a motorsports park to cheer for him and his teammate as they competed in a 4 hour endurance race. While I’ve heard a lot about motorcycle racing and everything that encompasses it in the past couple years (thanks to Will!), I was excited to see all the action in person.
For those of you scratching your head, thinking, “um.. what is she talking about?” I’ll give you an overview of what this motorcycle racing thing entails. The people who race in these events usually buy parts to build their bike just how they like it. Then from April to October racing events are hosted at motorsports parks around the country which you can enter. There are different classes for the races based on the type of bike you have and how heavy it is. First, second and third place also get prize money (whoop whoop!).
It is quite similar to Nascar, except the motorsports tracks are not a true circle (though I have been known to poke fun at Will for riding around in a “circle” all day :-D!). There are various levels of competitiveness. Some people do it purely for fun and stick to tracks near their home, while others have multiple sponsorships and travel tens of thousands of miles to go to several races each year.
To me, motorcyle racing is a lot like the day long swim events or the regattas I attended when I competitively rowed crew in high school. There is a similar, lengthy time commitment and travel involved that is usually not an element of other sports. Last weekend at the motorsports park, I remembered just how long my regattas were (6am-6pm easily) and traveling to other states to race. There’s also a similar “camping out that takes place” in between your races.
What Surprised Me…
There is a sense of comraderie I felt soon after I arrived at the motorsports park. It kind of felt like you were instantly in a club the minute you passed through the gate. Everyone was so friendly and willing to help out others, even if they could be considered competition. There was also a lot of humor and a lightheartedness that made me feel at ease despite a constant hubub of activity going on around us during the day.
The other surprising factor at the race track was how little people’s lives outside the track were discussed. People could tell you what bike so-and-so raced, how long he’s been racing but not what that person did for a living. Especially coming from the D.C. area, where the first question someone asks you is, “What do you do?” it was refreshing to escape that career-focused mentality and have fun.
Since going to the motorsports park and seeing Will in action, I’m even more impressed by his dedication with this sport. He and his teammate got 3rd place after the bike stalled and Will had to push it back to the starting line (I’m pretty sure I would have just called it a day after that ordeal!).
I also have a better understanding of his love for it. I’m pretty much the opposite in terms of my “need for speed.” I get nervous when I’m going “too fast” on water skis and I’m quite comfortable snowboarding on the novice slopes, averaging about 5mph! While I don’t have the desire to do what Will does and I do worry about his safety when he races, I loved seeing him doing something he loves and being able to give him my support in person.
Do you have a loved one who plays a sport you initially knew nothing about? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your impression of motorcycle racing. Let me know if you have any questions, too.