This season, we'll be following the exploits of club racer Nigel Baines, racing an FZR400RR with the New Era MCC and Wirral 100 clubs, to show what can happen at grassroots level.
We'll let Nigel take up the story so far as he prepares for the coming season.
"My name is Nigel Baines, I’m 27 and I have been racing for the past four seasons with the Wirral 100, Nantwich and District, and Crewe and South Cheshire Clubs. I realize that I don’t race against the likes of Rossi or Bayliss, but then again they do not race on my budget!
" After owning various road bikes, the last being a ZX6R, I thought it time that I had a go at track riding. After many hours of searching and some good advice, I bought a Yamaha FZR400RR. I've stuck with this bike over the last four years, albeit with a few modifications from the original. Three years after starting racing, 2005 proved to be my best year yet with the second place in all four championships.
Inspired to go racing? Find the right bike. Click here.
Ready to buy a bike? Click here.
Find the best safety kit for racing. Click here.
"My reward was to receive the trophy from the great ‘Rocket Ron’ Haslam at this year’s Wirral 100 awards evening. The fact that one of the greats of the sport takes time to present trophies to a room full of amateur racers is the lift we need to face the new season.
"In my case the new season started on New Year’s Day when I plucked up the courage to open the garage and face the million bike bits that needed to be put together before I get my leathers on again. As you can see, my garage is probably in the same chaotic state as all my fellow racers. The most important tip to anyone who wants to compete is: keep the wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend happy!! Why? Because you are about to spend many hours in that garage with only you and your bike bits. The new race bike becomes the other woman for a time, so beware!! I’m so lucky my girlfriend, Sophie is the team mechanic, the cook and co-driver on the long drives home.
"The amateur’s major heartache is paying for the annual engine refresh, replacement bike bits and after all that, the dreaded race fees. Undaunted by my dwindling bank balance, this year I have entered the New Era Superclub, new club and new costs. As racers climb the racing ladder they need to look for sponsorship to offset the costs associated with our sport, so the annual sponsor hunt begins. In my case, I have had some great support from an ex sidecar racer who owns a locally based motorbike parts company, so thanks again Colin at Fast Bike Bits.
"However, the biggest challenge for No 36 Bainesy for 2006 will be the switch from four years of Anglesey, Aintree and Tonfanau, to racing at Oulton Park, Cadwell, and Donnington. I had a taste of Oulton Park last year, so bring it on!! I hope that this quick look at the Bainesy racing life to date will set the scene for my 2006 season with New Era MCC F400 Superclub and Wirral 100 F400. See you all soon, Bainesy No.36."
We'll get more from Nigel following every race, so you can see how his season goes.