Since I have 30 minutes to spare I'll see if I can make some sense out of a few thoughts I have.
Mostly this is in response to people doing track days because they're cheaper, how to get people racing, etc. But what I want to do is share my story to see if anyone has a similar experience, or may be able to use it in conversation with people sitting on the fence. As usual, I will be writing way too much here. Deal with it...
How I got to the track...
My first run on the track EVER was at a track day sponsored by Loudon Motorsports I think. It was in 99 and at Summit. I had a shiny new 99 CBR600F4.
The day was freaking fantastic. I had more fun than I could have imagined. It was there, that I met a racer who was spending the day practicing. I talked to him about what racing cost, etc. He had a small setup. Older bike, etc. It still seemed to be a huge expense.
Shortly thereafter, I moved to from WV (I lived like 3 miles from Summit Pt) to IA. I went from Shenandoah mountains to flat-straight-corn. It sucked. I wanted to find a track that I could run a few track days at, and in the process, ran into Bill Hitchcock and Brian Weber who ran CCS. I started running scenarios around racing and figured that if I bought an older bike for $2k, I could run a few races each year pretty cheap. Heck, with practice time, and running GT races I could get a LOT of track time for not much more than a track day cost. Plus, I was doing it on a dedicated race bike and not my street bike.
In all this, I the midst of this all, I ended up wadding up my F4 and that became my racebike.
When I first started racing, the BIG people actually had covered trailers, a generator and TIRE WARMERS!!! Imagine that, you were BIG TIME if you had warmers. Not 3-4 sets with digital controls, we're talking 1 set of half melted Tyr Sox.
People came in vans, in open trucks, packed lunches, drank beer. Nobody had "team shirts", nobody owned decking to make the paddock pavement pretty. But we raced... We had fun...
Somewhere along the line, we all seemed to get sucked in to the bigger/better/faster/more. And I'm not necessarily talking about bikes. While the $20k bike was a part of it (I've had a few of them), it also came in the form of suit dryers, custom canopies, team-wear, spare bikes, tire machines, 38' trailers, 40' RV's.
In my last few years, I traveled to the track with nearly a $200k setup. TWO-HUNDRED-THOUSAND DOLLARS... Many people don't have houses that cost that! I slept in the air conditioned comfort of an RV that cost me $9,000 more than the previous house I owned. I had new bikes. They were built professionally. I had the decking, I had the canopy, I had everything... I did greatly improve over the years, and I can justify every dime I spent (not that I need to), but in the end, how much of it was for the show?
As I look back on totals approaching half a million dollars spent over my racing career between myself, my sponsors and everyone else helping, I reflect on a fantastic journey and one which I will never forget. It was an incredible journey, complete with pictures, scars and friends all over the world; and a journey I will never regret one second of.
Yet I still go back to those simple and humble beginnings... Sleeping in a tent. Sleeping in a van. Sleeping in a GMC Jimmy. With a wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs all piled on top of each other. Freezing our ASSES off at Gateway when it was 15 degrees at night. Sweating to death at MAM when it was 8 million degrees with no shade. Running used tires. Running pump gas. Rubbing paint with guys like Bill Hitchcock, Brian Weber, Mike Chachare, Billy Casper, David Vaughn, K3, Rob Borowicz, on and on and on... Most all of us on bikes that we hoped would hold together, tires which had far too much wear and were only as warm as the ambient temperature of the day, pump gas, and leathers held together with duct tape.
We were cheap. We helped each other. None of us were setting the world on fire, but all of us had fun... And we did it on shoestring budgets.
The bullshit of not enough money is ridiculous. The sport costs as much as you put into it.
The bullshit of it's too dangerous is stupid. Life is calculated risk. Understand what you're dealing with before you make arbitrary decisions.
The bullshit of "I'm not fast enough" is just plain bullshit. I don't care how many track days you go through. Nothing can prepare you for a race except for a race. And your trackday laps won't mean crap when that green flag drops.
I got my race license because I wanted track time. I kept it because I became a racer...