Besides the sheer entertainment of watching top club, national, and world racing, there are other benefits. Namely, it can yield you personal benefits in your own riding, guidance, and hardware.
To be honest, for the last 15+ years the majority of the racing for me was viewing MotoGP. Much like national politics, being familiar can give you a common speaking ground with others who follow it and because it’s large-scale, it is popular and relatable, however, and this is debatable, it may not actually impact your daily life or be as relevant as we might think. In my lifetime, the direct impacts of different national leaders has had little bearing on my life and as much as I’d like to think that at some point I might ride like Lorenzo, Rossi, [insert name here], it’s unlikely to happen.
Since I’ve been focusing on my own track riding and limited racing, I’ve begun to follow national and club racing much more closely. Initially, it was to see what the best MotoAmerica racers do on tracks that I ride as well as top-notch club racers at my other tracks. As it turns out, in the last several years I’ve actually been able to meet a lot of these racers and get a little more sense of what makes them tick, what they do to train and prepare. These things have caused me to adjust my riding and my personal psychology in ways that have, and this is no understatement, improved my life beyond riding around in circles on a motorcycle. My wife and kids have noticed it, I’ve noticed it in my own outlook on life, I feel it in my body (exercise, stretching, mindfulness, diet). I see it in the way I drive the kids to school (every turn has a slow point, use the right controls at the right time, exit turns v entrance turns, look for your exit, situational awareness, etc.). I feel like the quality of my life has improved dramatically.
You may want to consider some introspection yourself. Are you receptive to criticism from a trusted source? Are you flexible? Can you find something to appreciate in everyone? Is your general outlook on life positive or do you tend to be critical? Do you give shout-outs to people who have excelled or you admire? Are you willing to put yourself out there? That last one is not in my nature–I’m generally a guarded and private individual and always have been. By stepping outside of my comfort zone, and doing it genuinely, I feel like it’s opened the door to so many other things. I’m doing this outside of my motorcycle life now too.
Then, as you spend time in the paddocks on a race weekend (as a racer or spectator) or a track day, work with a rider coach, network, and make friends, you’ll find that you have exposure and camaraderie that goes way beyond riding that motorcycle in circles. You’ll find that you get special attention when you have questions, you’ll find things that you bring to the table that help others, you’ll be able to get to work with tuners and mechanics who work with national-level teams. I’ve made friends with other riders/racers that are as good or better than those friendships we all had in grade school. I’m able to call or text and find answers to virtually anything in a matter of minutes. When building my Ninja 400, I asked my riding coach about something and he hooked me up with the guys in charge at a winning race team/vendor. My suspension guy is the same who works on winning MotoAmerica team bikes. I often feel the ‘I’m not worthy‘ tinge every now and then so I try to offer up what I can to the industry and sport. At the current moment, that is mostly motorcycle technology and data analysis and I try to do what I can. This works well for me because it’s parallel to my day job and isn’t a huge leap for me to get my head around it. Recently I had a very frank discussion with a vendor/manufacturer about strategies for running his business because he is struggling with several aspects of it that have been accelerating his burn-out. Having worked in large organizations and having been formally trained in this, I was able to offer some tangible tactics and a long-term strategy. I hope he acts on this but I offered to help him with some of these goals as well. I don’t expect to profit from this in any way other than I hope that his business grows and he prospers.
So, in sum, if you’re serious about this (or anything really), step outside your comfort zone, get to know as many aspects as possible, make relationships and friendships, offer your experience and assistance, and keep focusing on building your own skills and knowledge and supporting those around you.