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Luke Gaisfords 2013 TRX450R

Source: 4Style riders WA

Going Racing - Hitting the Motocross track

Going MX Racing

ATV racing is a growing sport in Australia but to keep it growing we need to get new racers involved. Getting set up for any kind of racing can be a daunting process for a new-comer to the sport but we've put together this guide to show the budding racer the way.

The Machinery

Just about any sport model quad can be taken out on the race track provided it has the right safety equipment attached. The minimum requirements for racing are to have a tether type kill switch that will stop your quads engine in the event of a crash, Nerf bars fitted to stop quads from being able to lock wheels with each other on the track and your handlebar ends need to be plugged.

For senior riders there is a wide range of competitive sport quads available ranging from 350 to 700cc but by far the most popular are the 450cc models which are the weapon of choice for most racers across the country. The current 450's are generally pretty friendly in standard trim and will allow the potential for easy modification as your ability increases. There are always plenty of second hand sport quads for sale (particularly towards the end of the race season) in various states of tune but you could likely pick up an early Yamaha YFZ450 or Honda TRX450R that have nerf bars and a kill switch already installed for around the 6 thousand dollar mark. A used Honda TRX400EX, Suzuki LTZ400 or Polaris Predator 500 may only set you back $4 -5 K as a lower budget option. If your budget can stretch further than that then either be on the look out for an ex race team quad from the last season as they may be cheaper than the general asking price for thar model.

Modifications
Once you've chosen your quad and got it race legal there are of course plenty of modifications that can be made to give you a competitive edge.

The biggest benefit to be had when you're starting out comes from fitting a good set of MX tyres. Giving you a lower centre of gravity and less tyre roll in corners these tyres are a lower profile than the standard kit on most Japanese quads (the new Suzuki LT-R450 being the exception) but most of the US and European MX models will come with MX spec tyres already fitted. A full set will usually set you back around $500-$550 and in most cases will last a whole race season.

The next step is to get your self comfortable behind the bars. The standard steel bars on most (once again Japanese) sport quads are OK for social riding but are no substitute for a good alloy set. Most racers favour a high bend of bars such as the Pro Taper Pastrana bend or Renthal Jimmy Button bend as they give a comfortable height close to the originals but with much less sweep back. Bends like these make it easier on your wrists and give you more control when cornering not to mention being far less likely to be damaged in the event of a crash.

Where you go with modifying your quad after these first few steps will really depends on your ability and the level you want to race at but once your spending time with other racers you will get a good idea as to what will work for you and your riding style. You can also find plenty of info in the race quad features on this website and from any of the ATV accessories dealers around the country.If you are lucky enough to have got hold of a Can AM DS450XMX or KTM 450SX then you may not even feel the need to do any ods as both these quads are very capable straight out of the box and come with the nessecary saftey gear already on them.

Practise Makes Perfect

Before you go charging off to your first race meeting you'll need to get some practise in on a decent track to make sure you know you can handle the type of terrain you'll be riding on and that you can deal with the obstacles appropriately. Try going to a few club practise days or to get onto a private practise track to hone your skills. It will benefit you in the long run to be able to ride well at a slower pace and to increase your speed slowly rather than go out blazing and hurt yourself or your quad doing something your not yet capable of. For instance, find a small jump that you can safely play on to get a feel for how your quad moves in the air and slowly building up from there. Same goes for cornering, find a corner or set of corners that you are comfortable with and practice riding through them slowly building up corner speed over time. It also pays to practise doing some starts to get a feel for how you quad will behave when you launch from the start gates. Practising with some riders who know what they're doing will help get you some tips on how to ride safely (and quickly) around an MX track and you will find no end of riders willing to share their experience with you to help you ride safely.


Licensing
To race you'll need a race licence. Some clubs offer day licences for selected events but if you're going to race a whole series or compete in a state or national event you'll need a national race licence from Motorcycling Australia. To be able to get a race licence you'll need to be a member of an MA affiliated club (see side bar) and then you can get an MA licence application form from your clubs race co-ordinator or secretary. Once you've paid the licence fee you will be sent an info booklet to study and you will be contacted by a state official to sit your test over the phone.

This procedure can vary from state to state so it's best if you contact your local club for full instructions on how to go about it.

Junior riders will need to have completed at least 5hrs of coaching with an MA accredited coach to be eligible for a race licence.


A Day at the Track.
You've got your quad race-ready, organised your race licence and entered your first event - now the fun begins. You'll need to get to the track early to sign in for the day, most race days sign in will start at about 7:30am. Once you've signed in for the day your quad will need to be scrutineered by the officials where they'll check your kill switch and general condition of the quad for safety. Usually by about 9:00am there will be a riders briefing to introduce the officials for the day and explain the flag system and any particular things about the order of the day and the track that need to be announced. After briefing there will be a practise session for each class of around 3 laps so you can get acquainted with the track.

You'll probably be a bit nervous lining up at the gates for the first time (this is pretty normal for most people, even experienced racers) and as the 30 second board comes up to signal riders to be ready you will be even more so, the adrenaline will start to kick in with the 5 second board after which there is no turning back, the gates drop and everyone launches onto the start straight looking for a good run into the first corner. Until you get some race experience under your belt it pays not to try to go charging into the first corner with the front runners of the field looking for the holeshot but hang back a bit and give yourself time to get used to the way the other riders use the track.

After each moto you'll have a bit of time to rest and relax (as long as you don't have to make any repairs to your quad). Make sure you stay hydrated and have something to eat between each race to keep your energy up.

What To Take
Most importantly you'll need your quad and riding gear.

Your MA licence (or to arrange a day licence at a club event)

Fuel, a 10 litre jerry can is usually plenty for an MX meeting unless you are planning doing 2 classes.

A folding chair or something to sit on in your dirty riding gear between Moto's

Food and drink, although most clubs will run a full canteen it always pays to have something close by. Especially water so you don't get dehydrated over the course of the day.

Spare gloves and goggles are never a bad thing to have on hand. Plenty of tear-offs for your goggles won't go astray either.

Make some provision for wet weather in your riding gear, even just a plastic over coat will make the difference on a wet race day, garbage bags are alsoa good idea so you've got somewhere to put your riding gear after racing.

Some tools, spares and a stand to put your quad on if you need to work on it.

Club Contacts

Check out the clubs listed in our community menu for info on practise days, events and licencing


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SPONSORSHIP AND THE ART OF GETTING FREE STUFF......

Quad riding and racing is an expensive pastime and the facts are if you own an ATV of any type you're doing well, that said if we can get someone else to pay for it, even some of it, it could be a whole lot better.

Lets face it, getting sponsored in our relatively small sport is going to be hard - hard but not impossible. We hear about "business plans" and "proposals" but what is a business plan? What do we put in a proposal?

SPONSORSHIP IS ADVERTISING

Sports sponsorship is advertising plain and simple, just like radio, TV, print and bill boards........if you approach sponsorship as advertising in a purely business manner you can get sponsored.

Companies advertise to "inform" us of their products existence and qualities. It doesn't matter if its Elka or Holden, it's up to each company to decide what form of advertising will give them the best value for money. If a company thinks sponsoring a sports person or team represents better value for money than another form of advertising they will do it.

WHAT DO THEY WANT, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT

Forget all the fluff and hype you hear about sponsorship, if you want to get sponsored you are trying to sell advertising. You need to be a salesperson. You need to understand what they want and what you have to offer.

It's also important to understand that a sponsorship proposal is about what you will do for a sponsor NOT what you want from them. A sponsor really doesn't care what you want they are only interested in what they will get out of the deal.

IF YOU USE IT, YOU ENDORSE IT

One of the ways companies advertise products is through celebrity endorsements. Dick Johnson is a famous and successful racing car driver, if Dick Johnson says Dunlop tyres are good, they are good. If the fastest quad rider in the land rides a Honda, then Honda must be the fastest..........I know I'm oversimplifying it but you get my drift.

In short the celebrity has credibility, that credibility will sell products and that has a value.

Seeing though we all can't be the fastest quad riders in the land or a famous racing car drivers like Dick Johnson I guess we mere mortals are all stuffed......Not so; credibility is what has the value and you don't have to win to have that. Credibility is the key and it can take many forms. Eg: You may not be a winner but you do run a professional team and act in a professional manner.

THE BEST LOOKIN' BILLBOARD IN TOWN

Sponsorship doesn't have to mean "celebrity endorsement" sometimes it takes the form of a "billboard". Billboard advertising doesn't have to be a big sign on the side of the road, it can be plastered down the side of a truck, up in the air on the side of a blimp or screaming across the TV screen on the side of a racing car......or quad.

Stickers of different brands all over your quad or even one big sticker of one brand is billboard advertising and it does have a dollar value to someone even if it's very small.

The public would rather look at a truck, blimp, racing car or quad than a sign on the side of the road and advertisers know it.....BUT........If that is true the why do companies do it? Because it's cheap and a lot of people see that sign on the side of the road.

If credibility is the key to endorsement, then "audience" is the key to billboard. The audience is what give the value to your billboard. How many people will see your billboard and who are they.

THE PACKAGE

Advertisers want value for money, advertisers love a "package deal" eg: I will give you an endorsement and a billboard all for the low price of.......this is the focus of your proposal. You must package all of the reasons why someone would give you money in to one all convincing argument.

THE NUMBERS

There is no use in pulling numbers out of your bum, you need to demonstrate that what you are proposing represents good value to the advertiser. To do that you need to compare your proposal to the competition. A potential sponsor will compare your proposal to the competition. They will ask themselves "does this proposal give me the best value for my advertising dollar?"

If a company advertises in a magazine or newspaper and it costs $5k, can your proposal give that advertiser better value than that. You need to prove that $5k spent with you is better than $5k spent with any one else. All of the numbers and values are out there, you can call the newspaper and request how much yourself, some publish it on-line. The point is the facts and figures are out there - it's hard to argue against fact, use them.

THE PROPOSAL

A magazine or newspaper will present their own good case for advertisers to spend their hard earned cash eg: "we sell thousands of magazines and if you advertise with us thousands of people will see your commercial".

Your proposal needs to highlight your strengths and demonstrate your competitions weaknesses.

"Why would you spend $5k on one print advertisement, on one page, in one newspaper, on one day, in one city, when you can give $5k to me and I'll advertise your product for a whole year?".........when you put it like that a potential sponsor has to listen.

If you put it all together you can present a pretty powerful argument. There are thousands of companies out there with huge marketing budgets. It really doesn't matter what they sell or who they are, they all have to advertise somewhere.


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