This past weekend I was down in Alabama for another track day. This time it was at Barber Motorsports Park, down in Birmingham, Alabama. The track is a 55 million dollar facility, that recently opened in 2003. It is an incredibly beautiful track, and a top-notch facility.
Some facts about Barber Motorsports Park (Taken from their website):
- 2.38 Miles Long
- 45′ Wide
- 16 Turns
- 80′ of Elevation Change
- 4 Levels of Paved Paddock
- Car Track Record: 1:20.613
- Motorcycle Track Record: 1:25.047
I had registered for this at the same time as I registered for Mid-Ohio. Again, I was bringing my 2006 Yamaha R6 to run at the track. My R6 has been modified significantly to support this growing habit of track days as well as some cosmetic enhancements to turn those heads!
The track day again was through Sportbike Track Time, however the format was a little different than my first one. The first day we had regular classroom instruction for novice class and some of the first few sessions we ran slower, following the instructor. After those first few sessions they started letting us pass and pick up the speeds. On the second day, we had no classroom time, and it was pretty much open track for the novice group as well.
This track is every thing they claim it to be and more! I was a little apprehensive about the track at first because it was claimed to be much more technical than Mid-Ohio. At this point, I had only two track days under my belt, so my confidence in track riding was not there 100% yet. After the first few sessions, I had my lines down and I started to pick up the pace. I used the first day, more or less, to learn the track, learn good lines, and build the memory of the track. By the second day, I was knee down through most of the turns and I was able to concentrate on body positioning, weight transfer, and looking ahead.
Personally, I think I was riding the best that I have ever ridden before. I just felt much more stable, more comfortable, and most importantly, smoother. This all dictated to faster lap times, and whilst I didn’t have a lap timer on board, I paced another guy running 1:57’s. I felt pretty accomplished with those numbers and had a great time getting more experience out on the track.
The tires I used were Michelin Pilot Power 2CT’s. They are a dual compound with super soft sides and a slightly harder compound in the center. Overall these tires performed extremely well and I never had a feeling where I thought the tire was going to give out. Granted I’m on a 600 versus being on a liter bike, so traction coming out of turns wasn’t as big of an issue, but these tires sure can stick.
The pictures above were taken after the second day. As you can see, I was pushing these tires pretty hard! It looks like the front got warm enough to pick up rubber coming back into the paddock!. After four track days, they still have a ton of life in them, and I hope to get like 2000 miles of street driving and another 4 track days out of them. I would definitely recommend these tires to anyone who wants to do track days, still rides on the street, and isn’t ready to move up to DOT-R tire.
In addition to putting some wear on my tires, I started ridingÂ aggressiveÂ enough to put my knee down on most of the turns on the track. To me, I felt that was a great progression in becoming a better rider.
My Acropovic slip-on exhaust was silver at one time also. If you look at my youtube videos you can see a very early video of my bike with just the slip-on exhaust, and it’s pretty much all silver. Being that it is titanium it had started to color here and there, but because we wrapped the header and mid-pipe with heat wrap over this past winter, much more heat was exiting the pipe. I guess that proves that the heat-wrap helped significantly. As you can see in the picture below, the pipe has changed to all kinds of blues and purples. I think it really sets the bike apart and looks great!
Overall, I would definitely recommend trying a track day, even for a slightly more novice rider. It is a great way to hone your riding skills as well as learn some new ones. It will help your concentration and reaction time and make you a better and safer riding on the street. I know there are more track days in my future, so keep checking back for updates on here!