I'm fortunate to live within about an hour of two race-tracks, so when I first started attending track days the idea of sleeping at the track never crossed my mind. What I didn't' realize is I was missing out on the best part of the track: the community.
So should you tent camp at the race track?
In this article, I'll share what I view as the pros and cons are to sleeping at the track, along with some of the things you'll need if you choose to snuggle up next to your track bike.
Note: I'll be writing this from the perspective of tent camping. I've yet to enjoy the comforts and stresses of bringing a toy hauler to the track. (hopefully, I can write about it in the future!)
First, let's talk about why it's awesome to sleep at a race track
Before I decided to camp at the race track I was attending single track-days: waking up at 5 am, driving to and setting up. Then hastily breaking everything down, driving home and unloading that same night. It was exhausting!
- You'll tend to get more sleep, (see below for a con) though if done right you can grab a couple more hours of sleep,
- More time to set up your paddock, a.k.a. less stress. Gates typically open up at 7 am. Given you about an hour to register, get through the gate, and set up before the riders meeting,
- Enjoy the down-time after an awesome day at the track with fellow riders over food and drinks. The smell of grills firing up as the sun is setting is a beautiful thing, with no pressure to hurry up and tear down your setup,
- You get to enjoy and support track culture. 🌟 This is a big one. The more time you spend at the track the more people you'll meet, share stories, and knowledge. You'll begin to feel the bond this tight niche' community provides no matter your background. There are not that many humans on earth that ride motorcycles over 100mph dragging their knee on the tarmac, so it's fun to spend more time with those that do, looking out for each other. 😜
Okay, let's talk about some of the not so great things about sleeping at the race track
Depending on the track, your experience will greatly differ. Some tracks have electricity, some have showers, some are a beautiful landscape, some are simply a parking lot.
So while sleeping at the track could give you more sleep, there are a few things below which will be detrimental to your shut-eye.
- Bring earplugs, or get used to sleeping to the sound of humming generators. The more quiet inverter generators are a nice sound-machine like melody, though occasionally you'll get an 80db+ noise machine you'll have to bear though,
- You're exposed to the weather, while most nights are beautiful be prepared for sitting in a still-aired tent with high humidity + 80-degree temps, and or hunkering down as summer thunderstorms roll through.
- Your food and drink options are limited to what you can bring with you and how long it will last in a portable cooler. On warmer weekends I found myself having to hunt down the ice for the 2nd day, and or typically just opted for dry food/snacks that didn't require refrigeration.
- You have to bring more stuff! On top of the items you're already bringing to enjoy the track day, you also need to pack things to camp: grill, extra clothes, sleeping bag, tent, pillow, shower gear, extra food & drinks.
If you do choose to tent camp at the track ⛺️
There are a few necessities I enjoyed having with me while camping overnight at the race track.
- A tent you can stand up in. This helps for getting changed in and out of track gear. Especially if it's raining out,
- Typical sleeping gear: Sleeping bag, Pillow, cot & or ground pad. Remember sometimes you're sleeping in a parking lot or patch of grass with rocks,
- Small battery-powered fan to help move some air on those humid nights,
- 25-50ft extension chords + power pad. You should have this already, but just in case there is the power you can reach your tent + recharge phone/laptops/fans,
- Flashlight + LED Lantern. Sounds silly, but it's nice to set up an omnidirectional light inside the tent at night,
- Shower gear + shower shoes!
- Earplugs - It took some getting used to sleeping with them, but it really helped me personally sleeping the first night in a new environment.
- Utensils, plates, and or things to help you enjoy your dinner. I've done it twice now where I've remembered everything else except plates and forks. :(
Have you camped at the race track? If so what has been your experience?