Motorcycle racing or “moto racing” is the sport of racing motorbikes. This includes road racing and off road racing. Other categories include hill climbs, drag racing and land speed record trials.
Motorbike racing was first “played” in 1895, many of the tracks were built of wood and banked to enable riders to go faster.
The Hendee Manufacturing company introduced the 1.75 horsepower single cylinder Indian in 1901. Harley-Davidsons soon followed in 1903. Then inevitably racing ensued.
The races were spectacular, the bikes were designed to go fast, and that was about it. They had to be towed behind other motorbikes to get them started and they had no brakes. Crashes were frequent, horrific and often fatal.
By the mid 1929s the sport began to lose it’s appeal, as the carnage was appalling. The newspapers began to refer to it as murderous and some local governments began to close many of the tracks.
In 1949 the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme) was formed, establishing the format for road racing. The first race held under the new FIM rules took place on the Isle of Man in 1949.
Then around 1960 Honda entered the races, and in 1961 Honda was declared the double World Champion, claiming first place in both the 125 cc and 250cc classes.
In north America the formation of the Federation of American Motorcyclists that later evolved into the still active American Motorcycle Association, gave new life to the sport and since 1937 the Daytona200- mile (320- kilometre) race has been the leading US race. It is held on the same road circuit used for the 24 hour Daytona auto race Grand Prix racing.
The motorcycle road racing world championships were established in 1949, in these races, machines are divided into several classes based on engine displacement from 50 cubic cm, up through 125, 250, 350, 500 and 750 cubic cm. Local clubs and organizations all over the world have their own international road-racing meeting throughout the year.
Getting started in motorbike racing is relatively easy, exciting, accessible and affordable. Every weekend at AMA racing events across America, thousands of racers of all ages and skill levels ranging from beginners to experts, face off in a number of disciplines on both modern and non-current, or vintage, motorcycles.
Of course you will need safety equipment similar to what you wear in regular bicycle racing – an approved helmet and visor is compulsory. Approved motorcycle helmets are marked with the ACU gold stamp. The helmet must fit well and be properly fastened.
Visors should have the latest and highest BSI kitemark stamp. It is best to purchase these new.
You must also wear a one piece leather suit. Two-piece suits are not allowed in motorbike racing.
Your gloves should be of good quality leather, look for a pair that fits well and offers a good feel. After all you are driving a race bike and loose flapping gloves that are too thick will not help you with control.
Now for the boots, buy good quality leather or boots made from approved substitute material. The boots must be at least 200mm high. When in use there must be no exposed skin between the top of the boot, and the bottom of the suit leg. As safety is important it is recommended you buy the best equipment you can afford.
A good idea for a beginner would be to download a copy of the AMA, Amateur Competition rule book.
Here you will learn what classes you’re eligible to enter, and how to make your bike legal for competition. You can also go on line for events taking place in your area, and keep abreast of any safety or rule changes.