I’m biting the bullet, sucking up my fear, and signed up for my first ever track day on my new-to-me 2008 GSX-R750. Please tell me what the worst possible thing I can do to screw it up is, so I won’t do that thing. I’m so excited and nervous, One thing is all I think I can handle.
Not That Guy
Funny you should ask. A stupid thing I did at MO’s most recent track day was to not make it out until the third session of the day, in the fast group. That wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t not ridden Auto Club Speedway in like a decade, and misremembered the wide-open kink that leads onto the long backstraight for the slow-down a lot chicane that ends it. Quite a few people zipped past me, close, at elevated speed. My bad for not going out in the slow group for my first session, but you know better than to go out in the fast group on your first track day. Most track day providers will even insist you go out with an instructor on your first day, which makes all kinds of sense.
One stupid thing for which the selfless individuals who organize track days have no defense, though, is what happened on day two of our track outing and harshed everybody’s buzz for a large part of the day. According to Don McClary the Fastrack Riders Guy, it’s a thing that happens all too frequently. Really it’s not even a stupid thing, it’s more a mistake that lots of people make when they change their oil, more specifically, their oil filter. Sometimes when you remove the old filter, the old gasket or O-ring stays attached to your engine. If it’s a bit dark when you’re doing this and you’re on your second beer, it’s even more likely.
If you then go ahead and stick on the new oil filter along with its new gasket, you now have an oil filter gasket sandwich that’s just waiting to blow apart when your oil pressure goes up, like it does at high rpm on a racetrack.
It took the guy it happened to at Auto Club all the way from 50 yards before Turn 5 to Turn 8A to figure out he was oiling down the track (by crashing), and a few more bikes got rashed up before it was all over. Everybody else had to take it easy for most of the rest of the day as the oil-dry stuff they use to soak it up did its job but left a tricky trail of residue on the racing line. Crossing that kitty-litter stuff with any kind of lean angle is sketchy in the extreme, and those are the leaniest, funnest parts of the track.
Real race bikes have fairing lowers designed to keep the dreaded oil-down from happening. Not many track day riders’ daily drivers do, though, and the tech inspectors don’t have time to take everybody’s’ oil filters off to check for extra gaskets. Or that their drain plugs are tight. Or quite a few other things. Professional mechanics agree that’s why you should always stick your finger in and run it around to make sure the gasket mating surface is smooth and doesn’t have an old gasket, or part of one, still attached, every time you change an oil filter.
So in answer to your question, One Thing: Make sure you’ve only got one oil filter gasket in there. Then relax, take it easy and have fun. The first session of the day is always the hardest; by four o’clock you won’t wanna stop.
Send your moto-related questions to AskMOAnything@motorcycle.com. If we can’t answer them, well, ahhh, hey, nobody’s perfect.