Keigwins@theTrack Experience at Thunderhill Raceway
We ride with one of Northern California's finest trackday providers
When it comes time to perform racetrack testing on high-performance sportbikes, we often struggle to decide which track to go to. For example, during our European literbike shootout we really wanted to stretch the legs of all three contenders. Unfortunately, most of our local Southern California tracks are tight or ill-maintained and don’t allow us the freedom to hold a throttle wide open for more than a few seconds.
Not only that, but as one of our biggest tests of the year, we wanted to go big. So we looked north, rang up Keigwins@theTrack, one of Northern California’s leading trackday providers, and joined them for a day at the fantastic Thunderhill Raceway. What we experienced was truly impressive.
From the outside, running a trackday organization seems simple. This is why so many have come and gone. The key to longevity, however, is offering a service beyond just riding motorcycles around a track. This is what Lance and Linda Keigwin provide.
The husband and wife team established Keigwins@theTrack in 1998 after giving up street riding to focus on the track. “We rode in the Santa Cruz mountains with too much enthusiasm and too little smarts,” Lance says. “We gave up the street after seeing too many friends get hurt.”
It started out by Lance doing the legwork to arrange track time for his group of friends. Then those friends invited other friends. Eventually, events started to sell out and there came demand to ride at different tracks. In 2001, Lance and Linda retired from their engineering careers in Silicon Valley to pursue the trackday business full-time.
“We wanted our events to stand out, to be better in every way,” Lance says. “They needed to be extremely organized, with plenty of capable help. With the influx of new track riders it was clear we needed to offer instruction too.”
With this in mind, Lance and Linda had the idea to create schools focused on specific skill levels; novice-only, intermediate-only, and racing schools. “I liked the idea of having students at roughly the same skill level so we wouldn't need to water down lessons to a common, low denominator,” Lance says.
Of course, schools need teachers, and the Keigwins are proud of their teacher lineup. Today Lance and Linda have more than 30 full-time instructors, each of whom spent an entire year in training before getting the hiring call. “They are great riders and racers but they were hired for their enthusiasm, work ethic, and their love for teaching,” says Lance. “And more than 20 work each school. Really.”
That last line is very important. We’ve seen trackday companies whose entire staff is less than 20. To have that many instructors at each school means the one-on-one time students get is very high. This ability to effectively instruct hasn’t gone unnoticed, as the AFM (American Federation of Motorcyclists), one of the oldest club racing organizations in the country, asks Keigwins@theTrack to conduct their New Racer School.
Lance acknowledges “Schools are important, but affordable track time is what many riders want.” To do this, K@tT offers 40-50 events a year at some of the finest tracks on the west coast: Laguna Seca, Infineon, Buttonwillow, Thunderhill and Miller Motorsports Park.
Riding groups are split between three levels: A (advanced), B+ (faster intermediate riders) and B- (slower intermediate riders), each getting 20 minutes of track time during each hour. Placement in each group is based on a self-assessment. While not mandatory, novices are encouraged to enroll in a Keigwins novice school first before enrolling for a standard trackday.
Lance tries his best to book highly desirable dates, offer competitive prices (ranging from $150 for trackdays to $590 for two-day schools), limit rules (you don’t need to tape over headlights, for example) and keep his events extremely well managed.
Ultimately, Lance feels the key to his success is serving his customers well. “Nothing matters more,” he says. “Whether it’s solving their problems, offering free assistance, or arranging service providers to make their days even better (tire vendors, photographers, food service, etc.), all are available at every event.”
After a day on track with Lance and his crew of skilled, approachable control riders, it’s easy to see why the Keigwins have endured in the trackday business. Our day went off without a hitch, allowing us to enjoy as much track time as we could possibly handle. “I brag that we've never had an unhappy customer, and more than 10,000 riders have attended our events over 15 years,” Lance says, claiming 90% of business comes from repeat customers.
Keigwins@theTrack runs events from March through November each year. For more information on these events, including instructions on signing up and guidelines on bike prep, visit http://www.keigwins.com/.
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