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Daytona International Speedway

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  • Daytona International Speedway


    As some of you may know, I just got to go to Daytona. My friend was going with two different R6's for doing CCS races, and wanted me to come along. He offered to bring his CBR1000RR so I could do the race school with Team Hammer (and arrive one day early). I did everything I could think of for work to let me go, and it all worked out, with lots of effort.

    Daytona Beach is an incredible place. The weird and electric vibe I got may have had something to do with the fact that it was Biketober week as well. At any rate, at night when we got there, it looked like fences and tall buildings. It didn't prepare me for the spectacle of actually entering the track, and this pic won't acurately depict it either.

    I never got a chance to get a better picture. The first thing about the track itself that I was confronted with upon entering, even at night, was the banking. It's huge. It's tall. It is steeper than I would've thought.

    We eventually wound our way to where we were camping for this adventure.

    So, the track! This is it, although I think for the chicane on the back stretch, we did the tighter set of turns that are grayed out.

    When we unloaded the bikes, we found that the CBR1000 was leaking pretty badly from the fork seal. So, I just HAD to do the first two sessions of the school using one of his two R6's. I got to use the all black full AMA spec bike with weird engine mapping that holds the rpms at 8000 when you pull the clutch in to downshift. The red-ish black one is the Superbike spec. But yeah, boo hoo. I had to ride a full out race bike.

    I took to the R6 quickly. Very quickly. It was a dream to ride. It telegraphed everything so well, and the slipper clutch while heading down the back straight at 150mph and downshifting to 2nd was breathtaking. The bike was setup with a quick shifter, and as GP shift. It is nice being able to just tap the shifter down while holding the throttle pinned and shift so easily, but doing so out of a corner still leaned over is a bit outside my comfort zone because it does kick a little bit. By the 2nd session, I was riding that bike like I had already done track days with it. I should maybe point out that it was my 3rd day ever on a real sport bike. In the 2nd session, I was on fire. I got passed by two liter bikes, but for the rest of the time, I was passing everyone I saw. I'd get past groups of 6 or 7 bikes within 2 turns. I didn't realize that I was getting too comfortable too quickly until I stood the bike up on the rear wheel coming out of the chicane with the throttle pinned in 2nd gear heading towards the banking.

    Then I started riding the CBR1000 for the rest of the day. I never quite took to it as well as the R6. I didn't have any problems with it, but that bike was heavier, and I was constantly aware that it was a liter bike. With my miniGP experiences, and spinning the rear tire out on a CRF150F leaned over on the throttle, I was a tad hesitant with the throttle on the horseshoes. But anyway, here it is.

    And here I am in the International Horseshoe! I'm the bike on the right.

    With the CBR, I truly got to experience what speed was like. In the classroom, they told us to treat the banking like straights. Just tuck down straight on top of the bike, pin the throttle and go. That worked fine for the speeds that the R6 got up to. On the CBR, well, that was entirely different. I had to just edge over a little bit and stick my knee out. Not for dragging or anything like that, but as an air brake to help the bike want to turn left. It is a crazy experience looking over my shoulder at the other side of the turn, a football field's length away, and having to steer down the banking to hold a steady line, knowing the bike is trying to climb higher towards the wall, both tires drifting out a bit, and having to fight to make the bike come down off the banking towards the inside of the turn exit at 171mph. It is a rush I will never forget. After my friend, with 5 years experience racing, took the CBR out for a practice session, he only got it up to 186. On my 3rd day on a sport bike in my life, I only missed 15mph.

    At any rate, I passed the class. I now have the credentials to get my CCS racing license next year. My friend is already trying to help me buy an R6, which I'm still not too sure of (affording it that is, I'd love to actually race).

    If I get more time and there's any interest, I could go into more detail about the track and what each of the turns are like, as well as post more pics. I'm still tired from the trip.

    Last edited by ygolohcysp; 10-21-2015, 06:42 PM.

  • #2
    I read every word slowly, picturing the images you presented so flawlessly. I very much enjoyed the read and the pics. It blows my mind.

    "A knight proves his worthiness by his deeds."


    • #3
      Sounds like a great time Dan.
      More pics would be great also.

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      • #4
        More pics. Continue the experience Dan.
        2002 750 Kat
        2013 Polaris 850 XP LE(wrecked)
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        2009 Kawasaki KX250F(SOLD)


        • #5
          Track time at Daytona has got to be like a dream come true. Thanks for your words and pictures, and would love to read and see more about your trip. Get your license. Jim.


          • #6
            "The man hunched over his motorcycle can focus only on the present. He is outside of time. He is in a state of ecstasy. He has no fear because the source of fear is in the future, and a person freed of the future has nothing to fear." - Milan Kundera - from the documentary "Road"

            In the actual race I've done, this couldn't be more true. There's something about the competition, the goal of seeing someone in front of me, even if they are racing in a different class, and just needing to get in front of them. In that race, it was consuming. I turned sharper than I thought the bike could do, and I braked later, I got on the throttle so early I'd spin the rear tire so much I wouldn't get any drive out of the turns in an all consuming need to pass the person in front of me. During this race school, I never got to that point. I knew fear.

            I'm sorry for taking so long to get back to this. I promise, it was entirely due to working way to much. But the wait has served it's purpose anyway, as professional photos of the event became available, and I purchased them! Any that aren't close-ups of me on the track are still mine though. I'll try to continue the story.

            We got there that night, and like I had said, nothing had prepared me for actually entering the track. Daytona International Speedway is a track that invokes sayings of how spectacular it is, how unique it is. Without hearing any of that before I went, seeing the banking that night after coming out of the tunnel inside the track told me the story. Then seeing the silhouette of the grandstands confirmed it. I was afraid that I wasn't going to get any sleep, but it happened. I woke up to this.

            The showers there left a lot to be desired, but worked well enough. In the classroom, they talked about body position, reference points, all kinds of things that I've read about in various books and heard in the beginners class doing a normal track day. Except for tucking. They expected us to tuck when we weren't turning, and run laps as if we were in a race. The only difference was that they didn't want us to be pressured for times. The main rule was that if you go down, you don't pass or have the option of continuing. They had us do one slow lap first, coming back into the pits, just so we could see the whole track, and see how to exit the track as well as enter. It was the most unnerving lap of the whole day. It wasn't because it was a new track, it was because of doing the banking at such a low speed. The banking was imense, and trying to go around it at such a slow speed, seeing the instructor in front of me straight up and down, on pavement that's at such an extreme angle ... it was hard to accept that I wouldn't slide down to the bottom.

            I'll put this in perspective one more time. I had miniGP race and practice experience, but the first session was the 3rd time I'd ever been on a real sport bike in my life. 2nd time since July. I had never seen this track, and had to learn the layout. I had never been on banked turns like this. I had never gotten to the speeds I went anywhere before, and had never used a quick shifter or slipper clutch. I had done 3 track days on my Katana, and my pocket bike is setup with upsidedown GP shift.

            The R6 was such an amazing machine, I was able to not only get around the track, but start enjoying it. Start getting comfortable on it. Start trusting it and forgetting to think about it being someone else's really expensive bike. Here's a pic of me standing the bike up, coming out of a turn.

            All of the banked turns on this track were lefts. The sharp turn at the end of the banking was a left. The only real rights were the two horseshoes, and then the chicane on the back straight. The legitimate race tires are ones that are harder on the left than they are on the right. I was on Pirelli SuperCorsa DOT track day tires on the R6. That means the band where you can see the tire torn up in this next pic was from cold tearing from turns like in the previous pic. It concerned me a bit, thinking about that while riding.

            Because of my miniGP racing practice, I understand racing lines pretty well. If you have the chance for optimum lines, the chance to turn how you like without interference from someone in front of you that you need to pass or someone else cutting inside from behind, it's often a case of patience making you faster. On the horseshoe turns in the infield, it paid real dividends to brake later, slow down more, make the turn from the outside of the track at the furthest part of the U so that you could also get the drive out of the turn. This picture shows someone behind me, trying to beat me to the apex with the wrong line. I was starting to stand my bike up, but he needs to keep turning sharper and sharper to keep from running off the track.

            I never really got comfortable on the bike in the next pic, the CBR1000RR. I was always aware of it being a 1000CC, and frankly, I was worried about spinning the rear tire out exiting a turn. But I'm really good on the brakes. I used to hate the idea of late braking, but with all the mini training, I've come to really enjoy the game of seeing how late I can do it and still make the turn. That's a skill that translates to the big bikes pretty well. In this pic, you can tell with my body position and lean angle that I'm carrying more speed than the other three bikes. I was there in front of them because I passed the whole group going into the turn on the brakes.

            Just to have another one, here I am on the bike I never got comfortable with.

            Well, I'm getting tired again. I'll have to pick up another time. For now, here's one last pic. I've mentioned the banking enough. Unfortunately, you can't really get a scale of it here, but it's cool anyway.
            Last edited by ygolohcysp; 11-18-2015, 10:48 PM.


            • #7
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              • #8

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                • #9
                  That's a buddy of mine on the 428 with the orange air bag vest.
                  MSgt, USMC (Retired)


                  • #10
                    All much fun! You make my mouth water.
                    I was wondering, did they show you what line to use on the banking?
                    Well of course they did, and it was probably a wide line.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by buffalobill View Post
                      All much fun! You make my mouth water.
                      I was wondering, did they show you what line to use on the banking?
                      Well of course they did, and it was probably a wide line.
                      They did, sort of. They told us the line to use to come down off the banking. The line to use while on the banking was kind of just a compromise between how fast you're going and trying to maintain a decent line. At around 150-155, I could stay 2/3's of the way up the banking easy. When I was getting up to 170, I had to actively steer left the whole time because the bike kept wanting to climb higher and higher on the banking. At about 2/3's to 3/4's of the way around the banking, you want to essentially turn left and come down to hit the inside edge of the track for hitting the apex. Two reasons for that. It makes the transition onto the not banked section easier, and while coming down to hit that apex, you get the benefit of heading downhill for more speed.

                      It was so much fun. I had not been that terrified on the track since my first track day. It was only a little bit the slow turns at the ends of some of those banked parts. I've gotten pretty good at doing hard late braking. It was the speed on the banked turns, the buffeting, knowing the bike was drifting sideways towards the wall at 170 mph, and knowing that as much as I was fighting to keep the line, I still had to steer left to come down the bank at WOT in 6th.