Motorcycle racing is one of the most accessible motorsports in the world. If you’ve ever wanted to try your handed at any form of motorcycle racing, there is no better time than now.
Also, there’s a good chance that one of the bikes in your garage already qualifies for one of the types of racing sanctioned by the AMA.
Here’s a quick look at several types of AMA competition. If we’ve spurred your interest, more information on how to get started can be found starting with the Racing tab on the AMA homepage at www.americanmotorcyclist.com. More information on each type of racing, along with an up-to-the-minute list of events in your area, can be found on the AMA website. A good starting point is www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Racing/Get-Started-In-Racing.
You can also and find events in the calendar section of American Motorcyclist magazine.
Road Racing: A race with a set number of laps around a paved, designated race track. Courses vary between those featuring high-speed banking to go-kart tracks. Most classes feature converted sportbikes, set-up for racing with lights removed, fasteners safety-wired and catch cans for fluids. It’s great because: Where else can you go as fast as you want on your sportbike, and see the same, predictable corners over and over again?
Vintage Racing: The “vintage” in vintage racing refers to the machinery, which can range from ancient to relatively modern, depending on the class and discipline. As much about hanging out and having a good time, vintage racing is about as low-pressure as it gets. It's available in nearly every type of motorcycle racing, from trials to road racing to motocross. It's great because the costs, and the pressure you can put on yourself, are among the lowest in all types of motorsport competition.
Off-road Racing: Off-road ranges from flat-out speed contests on a closed woods course (hare scrambles and cross-country racing) to events where you pace yourself against the clock through multiple checkpoints on an extended open course (enduros) or a combination of the two (hare & hounds). Most open-course events use roads for transfer sections and require street-legal motorcycles. It's great because it's family-friendly, often with youth classes available, and you can make it as competitive as you want, from a quick ride through the woods to an all-out charge.
Land Speed Record Trials: Land-speed trials are all about going faster than anyone has gone before, typically on miles-long courses over perfectly even terrain such as Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. Classes encompass everything from small-displacement scooters to high-powered, custom-built streamliners made for the sole purpose of topping 300 mph. It's great because the otherworldy landscape of the Bonneville Salt Flats is amazing at sunrise, and nothing beats holding the throttle wide open seemingly forever.
Ice Racing: Ice racing looks like a dirt-track race, except it's run on ice. Racers modify a variety of machines to run on frozen lakes and ponds using off-road tires, often studded with hundreds of sheet-metal screws. Unlike dirt-track, however, the studs prevent riders from sliding, and they rail the corners at incredible lean angles. It's great because while other motorcyclists are inside trying to keep warm, ice-racers are out riding!
Motocross: A race made up of a set number of laps around a designated course of jumps, bumps, turns and hills. There will be a practice session and, usually, two motos. The combined score of the two motos determines the winner. It's great because it's easy to get started: You can buy a bike off the showroom floor on Saturday and race it on Sunday.
Observed Trials: Competitors negotiate several “sections” of extremely difficult terrain without putting their feet down. Penalty points are assessed for mistakes, and the rider with the lowest overall score at the end of the day wins. Trials riders compete on purpose-built motorcycles designed with low seats, light weight, torquey motors and fat tires. It's great because with trials, it's all about finesse, balance and fine control over a motorcycle, not brute force, and it will totally re-define your idea of what's possible on two wheels.
Dirt Track: A uniquely American form of racing, dirt track includes races on oval short-track, half-mile and mile tracks, and TT courses, which feature at least one right turn and a jump. Machinery includes both framers, purpose-built dirt-trackers using aftermarket frames, and DTX bikes, which are stock-framed motocross bikes with modified suspension and dirt-track wheels. It’s great because the first time you see a racer pitch a bike sideways at speed, you'll be hooked.
Hillclimb: The fastest guy to the top of the hill wins. If no one makes it up, the guy who made it the farthest wins. While local events will feature several mostly stock bikes, setup is a huge factor, with some classes showcasing special-built hillclimbers that run extended swingarms, highly modified motors and, when permitted, purpose-cut knobbies. It's great because hillclimb is perhaps the oldest existing type of motorcycle racing, and for many, it's as much about the fun of the event as it is the competition.