News & Resources

Track Day: How & Where to Legally Race Motorcycles and Cars

June 13, 19
8 mins
Man working on his laptop casually in modern coworking space

Are you looking for a track day to race your car or bike? Looking for the best race tracks that offer track days? If you’ve got the need for speed, you might question whether its legal to track your vehicle in Canada and where.

You might also want to know about how insurance covers track days for racing motorcycles and cars. And, where you can find track day insurance so you can race your vehicle.

This article explores:

  • What is a Track Day?
  • Are Track Days Legal in Canada?
  • How Insurers View Track Days, Competitions and Practices: What They Will and Won't Cover, How to Find Track Day Insurance and Off-Road Insurance
  • Where Can You Legally Race and Find Track Days? Organisers, Track Locations, Bike Schools and Racing, Track Days Overseas
  • Tips on Making Upgrades, Getting on the Track and Purchasing Track Day Insurance
  • The Best Vehicles for Track Days
  • Tips on Making Upgrades, Getting on the Track and Purchasing Insurance

What is a Track Day?

Someone once said, "If you can turn, you're not going fast enough." Hence, track days are important to help you learn how to handle your bike or car. To “track” a vehicle refers to knowing the limits of the vehicle by testing it at high speeds. It can also mean to track like with a GPS where you monitor its whereabouts. That’s a separate definition and not applicable here.

A good track event can help you master how to handle your vehicle so you're more confident with it. Track days can take place on a race track against a clock or another vehicle of a similar type. While track days are common for anyone that likes to race motorcycles, dirt bikes or cars.

Are Track Days Legal in Canada?

Yes and no. It’s not legal to race on public roads where you can endanger someone. But, it is legal to race your bike or car in Canada at a race track. Included are a few racetracks below if you're interested in signing up for a track day.

Event organisers in Canada see all types of drivers that include new drivers. Some race tracks offer driving schools to help you brush up on your turning, steering and braking techniques. You'll also find that track days can be quite exhilarating as you're around other drivers and can compete with them.

How Insurers View Track Days, Competitions and Practices

You’ve probably gone to a race and seen someone crash. When they do, if they have special insurance, they’re likely covered for the damage to their vehicle. That’s because the person likely had a special rider in their insurance policy. With the right type of insurance for your vehicle, it will cover you for damages, collisions and repairs. But let’s start with your typical policy.

What the Average Insurance Policy WON’T Cover

Insurance policy coverage can vary from one provider to the next. Read your policy carefully to find out what's covered. You can always call and request a rider for your vehicle to cover it for track days.

Here are a few items that your average street insurance policy won't cover:

Racing on public roads

Also referred to as “rubbin” the road and it’s been often said, “Rubbin is racing.” However, racing on public roads is illegal and not covered by insurance. Not only that, it is dangerous, and stupid. Keep your need for speed to the track.

Competitions against the clock or other drivers

Depending on your insurance, it might also stipulate that racing your vehicle for a competition is also not covered. That includes track days where you’re racing against a clock or another vehicle.

If you’re in an accident at a race track, your insurer might ask if:

  • You were being timed.
  • You had an instructor with you.
  • The event was listed as a race.
  • You’ve made modifications to your vehicle like a full roll-cage or full-slicks.

You might be okay with a roll bar, light suspension changes and DOT-R tires. But, let’s be honest. Race seats and a harness will raise a red flag with your insurer and your claim might be denied. Hence, you should request a special rider for your vehicle.

Courses designed for competition

Insurers have been changing the language in their policies so it’s important to ensure what your’s covers. You’ll also want to check your policy when it renews for any changes or language explicitly tied to “courses for competitions”.

Practice races

Your insurance likely won’t cover practicing for a race either. As the insurance company might see it, it’s the same as racing and you could lose your policy and have your claim denied.

A case occurred a while back where a racer on a course was trying to qualify for a racing license. He totalled a Viper and the insurance company denied the claim as it was “practice racing”. It’s not that the insurance won’t cover an accident. They will in some cases cover students that are in accidents when they receive driver instructions. But, in this case, the driver was in “practice for racing” which they prohibited in the policy.

While you might assume your insurance won’t cover track days or racetrack training, your insurer can cover your vehicle when you’re on a race course. But, there are a few things to keep in mind.

What the Average Insurance Policy WILL Cover

There are some events an insurer might cover which includes accidents during driver instructions. You might also want to reach out to an insurance provider that includes coverage on racecourses.

Here are a few items that your average street insurance policy might cover:

Race track instructions that aren’t timed

These might be covered because they can fall under the classification of “driver education”. But, keep in mind, the insurer may send an adjuster to the track organizer’s location and ask about the incident. They need to confirm if you were competing (not covered). Or, were you there as a student to improve your driving techniques and taking instructions (might be covered).

Courses designed for competitions

Some insurers have covered accidents that took place on race tracks. These include Geico, AAA, Pemco and Progressive. You may have to check with them to see if they still offer this coverage. To stay safe on the roads and race tracks, read your current policy and then call your insurer. Ask them if they cover track days or if you should get a special rider for your vehicle.

How to Find Track Day Insurance and Off-Road Insurance

Your regular auto insurance policy will cover you off the track. But, to protect you and your vehicle on the track, look for track day insurance. This might fall under specialist sports equipment coverage. It will cover you and your vehicle if you cause injuries or damage to other drivers and their vehicles.

Where to find track day insurance:

  • Check online for track day insurance in your province or territory.
  • Check with other racers about their coverage.
  • Ask your motorcycle or racing car shop about insurers they know.
  • Contact your provider and ask if they will cover your vehicle with a rider (extra coverage).
  • Check for coverage types if you only want insurance on a race date or for a specific event. If you only ride a few months, get insurance for that time frame, not a full year.
  • Compare policies from insurers. This saves time in searching for insurance and it puts more money back in your wallet.

Where Can You Legally Race and Find Track Days?

Someone once said, “Racing is life. Anything before or after is waiting.” If you live in Canada, you’ll find there are several race tracks, practice tracks and competition events. Check online for tracks near you or ask at your local motorcycle or sports car dealership.

Here are a few track day locations and organisers to check out:

Organisers

  • Atlantic Road Racing
  • Champion Cycle
  • DOCC
  • GP Bikes
  • KW Sports Riding
  • Ottawa Safety Council
  • Pro6 Cycle
  • Riders Choice
  • SMP Track Days
  • Toronto Motorsports Park

Track locations

  • Calabogie
  • CTMP Mosport
  • Grand Bend Motorplex
  • GTA
  • Mt. Tremblant
  • Shannonville
  • SMP
  • St. Croix
  • North Bay
  • Toronto Motorsports Park

Bike school and racing

  • Atlantic Road Racing
  • CSBK
  • FAST School
  • RACE
  • SOAR
  • VRRA

Track Days Overseas

Racing is all about the curves and if you're heading overseas to race, you need to be protected both on and off the road. If you have any accidents or spills that require medical attention, emergency room costs are much higher in the states. Think about a travel insurance policy to cover your trip (flight cancellations, medical emergencies).

Looking for track days in the US? Here are a few suggestions:

Where to race cars in the U.S.

  • Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas
  • Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California
  • Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut
  • Virginia International Raceway in Alton, VA
  • Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA
  • Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia
  • Watkins Glen in Watkins Glen, New York
  • Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio
  • Palmer Motorsport Park in Ware, Massachusetts
  • Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Where to race motorcycles and bikes in the U.S.

  • Utah Motorsports Ranch, Utah
  • Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama
  • Willow Springs Raceway, California
  • NCM Motorsports Park, Kentucky
  • Sonoma Raceway, California
  • Road America, Wisconsin
  • Virginia International Raceway, Virginia
  • Thunder Hill Raceway Park, California
  • Circuit of the Americas, Texas
  • Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California

The Best Vehicles for Track Days

Want to race bikes or race cars? Looking for a motorcycle or car that's best for track days? Whether you shop for an older vehicle or a newer one, ensure it's fit for track days (so you'll spend less on upgrades).

Here are a few suggestions:

Great Motorcycles for Track Days

  • Kawasaki ZX-6R
  • Indian FTR 1200
  • Harley Davidson Iron 1200
  • Yamaha YZF R3
  • Honda CB300R
  • GSX-R 600
  • BMW S1000RR

Good Cars for Track Days

  • Honda CRX
  • Nissan 350Z
  • Corvette C5
  • Honda S2000
  • Chevrolet Cobalt SS
  • Porsche 944 or Boxter 986
  • Nissan 240SX

Tips on Making Upgrades, Getting on the Track and Purchasing Track Day Insurance

When it comes to investing time in your vehicle and getting out for track days, there are a few tips that can help. You'll also want to find the best insurance coverage and confirm it protects you on race courses.

Making Upgrades

If you're interested in buying a bike specifically for track days, look for an ex-race bike that's track-prepped. It will likely already have the minimum specs for racing. Hence, you'll pay less for upgrades. Look for safety-wired bolts all along the bike and an upgraded suspension for racing. You can buy a street bike and convert it but it's more expensive and time-consuming.

Getting on the Track

Always take a practice lap to warm up the engine and your transmission. Know your limits and stay in your comfort zone meaning, raise your lean angle or corner speed where you're comfortable. Don't go too far out or you might overcompensate, grab the brakes and cause an accident.

You'll also want to find out if you should change from engine coolant to deionized water. Some courses require it because coolant is slippery on track surfaces. You might also want to check out Water Wetter which can lower your engine temperature and keep the pump seal lubricated. But, confirm this is okay. Some organisers won't allow it to be used.

Tips About Insurance

While not every insurer will cover you on race courses or for competitions, shop around for track day insurance. Use a comparison tool site to compare insurance packages. You can find the cheapest rates and ask about special riders for your particular vehicle. Don't forget to contact your insurer to add your bike or vehicle's trailer to your insurance. That way if you have any mishaps en route to an event, you're covered.

Ready to Find the Best Auto Insurance Rates?

Track days are an enjoyable way to help you learn to master your vehicle. And, whether you race other drivers or the clock, limit your speeding to race courses. Contact your insurance provider about coverage for your bike or car. And take out a rider to protect your investment or look for insurers that specifically offer track day insurance. If you need help with your insurance or for insurance-related questions, contact Rates.ca.

With Rates.ca, you can compare quotes from the leading auto insurance providers (and then get in high gear!). Shop for a quote today!

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