Part 1 - A track day sounds fun, but I've never done that so I'm not sure if that's something I could do....
So you've taken the plunge and bought a righteous R3. Been riding it a while and diggin' it and you keep hearing about this track-day stuff. The good news is that the R3 in stock trim** is a great track-day bike.
How much experience do I need?
Really, not much. I took my 15 y.o. to the track a few years ago. His experience consisted of some parking lot riding and completion of the MSF course. No street experience AT ALL. I rode with him for the first couple of sessions, then turned him loose - by the end of the day, he was doing quite well for someone with virtually no previous experience.
No matter what your experience, first time at the track enroll in the beginner group. Beginner group generally gets sighting laps, more attention from the control riders and more personal instruction. Speeds are slower, allowing new riders to "come up to speed" on track layout and technique. When I go to a new track, I will sometimes go with beginner group first session just to learn the track before moving up to a faster group.
I dunno - sounds kinda scary.
First time out - maybe a bit scary, but in a good way. Riding at speed on a track is safer than riding on the street - at least that's my opinion. At the track, everyone is focused and going in the same direction on a closed course - no opposing traffic (pulling lefts in front of you), no text or cell phones.
But my bike is stock - won't I have to do a bunch of mods?
No. That's the beauty of a track day - you can run what you brung. Rules for bike prep vary with track-day organizations, but in general they do not allow antifreeze in the bike. Why? Because if your engine gets hot and antifreeze gets on the track it makes it slippery and potentially unsafe for other riders. So you'll need to drain the antifreeze and replace it with plain water. Other than that, you'll need some painter's tape and a zip-tie or two. Headlight, tail light, signals and mirrors will need to be covered with the tape. Kickstand may or may not need to be zip-tied in up position. Just go over all the fasteners you can get to and make sure they are tight - you should be good to go!
What kind of protective gear do I need?
Helmet, over-the-cuff gloves, leathers, and over-the-ankle boots. Most organizations require either one-piece or two-piece zip-together leathers. Don't have them? Check with the track-day organizer - sometimes they have leathers to borrow or rent - or bum a set off someone you know. Actual MC boots are nice, but work boots will suffice.
How much does it cost?
It varies with track, but in the neighborhood of about $200/day. Renting a track is expensive for the organizer, plus you have EMT and safety staff on site. Most organizations provide control riders - talk to these guys early in the day and get them to ride with you a few laps - they will then help you to figure out what you're doing right and what you could improve on - that's how to maximize value.
Ok, I'm in - where to go?
There is probably a facility offering track days within a few hours of where you live. Roadracing World maintains a pretty comprehensive track-day directory:
** after your first couple of track days, you will inevitably fall victim to "the affliction" - then your bike will not stay in stock trim for much longer....
So bottom line here is that if you are thinking about your first track-day, then I'd encourage you to DO IT!! Your bike skills (braking and cornering) will improve dramatically - even if you've been riding a number of years. Plus it is a butt-load of fun!! Take a friend or two - makes for even mo' better fun. Post up your experiences.