How to get started in Bucket Racing
Bucket racing (F4 and F5 Miniature Road Racing and Sidecars) is a great introduction to road racing. It is also a complete sport in itself.
There is a race meeting almost every month in Auckland, there are monthly practice days, an 8-round Auckland championship series, and two annual events - the two-hour two-man endurance race and the Dominic Howe Memorial Trophy race. There is also a national GP title, currently raced at the Tokoroa kart track in March or April. There are opportunities to travel to other centres to race, such as Taumaranui, Wellington and Tokoroa. There are even bucket race meetings in the South Island for those keen to travel.
Although directly descended from airfield bucket racing, almost all events are currently run on outdoor kart tracks.
The Auckland Motorcycle Club runs bucket meetings at the KartSport Mt Wellington kart track on dates published in advance. The bucket calendar is released with the kart club calendar which runs from January to December, while the bucket racing season is July to June, so the new year dates are usually announced in October. Bucket racing has a summer recess so as not to clash with holidays and the national road race season.
It isn’t unusual for bucket race bikes to end up in the back of someone’s garage not being used. If you have a bucket that you are not racing or you know of a bucket that is not being raced, please do your best to ensure that it gets back on the track where it belongs. There is free advertising available in the club newsletter.
The AMCC Bucket Committee sends out sporadic emails to remind bucket racers about what events are coming up and any other items of interest. If you would like to be added to this mailing list, email email@example.com
If you want to know what bucket racing looks like, there are some sample of photos in the bucket racing gallery here. Also there are loads of great photos of recent bucket racing events, and other AMCC "big bike" events, on Chris Cain's Flickr page here. Huge thanks to Chris and Simon Cain for their many great photos.
Bucket racing rules
The rules that govern what types of bikes can be used for bucket racing and how bucket race meetings must be run are set out by MNZ (Motorcycling New Zealand) among the rules that govern all motorcycle racing in New Zealand. These rules can be found on the MNZ website. Below is some general information and some useful links to the rules that relate to bucket racing.
To be eligible for bucket racing, a motorcycle must have an engine that is derived from a road-legal motorcycle. Engines from motocross bikes, enduro bikes, road-race bikes and pitbikes are not eligible. The F4 class is a popular entry-level class (even though the engines are bigger than in F5) because the bikes are readily available and we run B-Grade and C-Grade classes for F4 riders of different levels. Currently, a Suzuki FXR150 is a popular choice for riders taking up bucket racing, though any old Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha or Kawasaki 125 lying unused in the back of someone's garage is likely to be perfectly suitable. Essentially, a bucket race bike must have an engine that fits within the following capacity limits:
- F4 and Sidecar
- 2-strokes (water-cooled): 55cc to 100cc
- 2-strokes (air-cooled): 55cc to 125cc
- 4-strokes: 55cc to 150cc
- 2-strokes: 0cc to 50cc
- 4-strokes: 0cc to 100cc
The detailed rules about bucket race bike engine capacities can be found in the MNZ rules that cover championship racing classes, including bucket race classes. These rules are covered here. Look for "Miniature Road Racing" near the bottom of the article (MNZ rules Appendix A will download as a PDF file).
A collection of rules that relate specifically to bucket racing and bucket race bikes as distinct from other types of motorcycle racing can be found here. (MNZ rules Chapter 16 will download as a PDF file)
The general technical requirements of all racing motorcycles, including bucket race bikes, are covered here. (MNZ rules Chapter 10 will download as a PDF file)
We recommend that at some point you have a look at the MNZ rules regarding the conduct of motorcycle race meetings in New Zealand. This information is covered in Chapters 1 to 9 of the MNZ rules. The full collection of MNZ rules as they relate to road racing can be found on the MNZ website here.
VERY IMPORTANT — track protection
In addition, it is very important to protect the tracks that we use from damage. This should be done by bolting pieces of nylon to the bike at any points where steel parts are likely to touch the track in the event of a fall. Typically this includes handlebar ends, footpeg ends, outer muffler edges, kick start edges and axle nuts. Well-placed pieces of nylon can also save your bike from damage so they are an excellent investment in the future of your bike, as well as in the future of bucket racing. A bike with insufficient protective nylon may be excluded from racing at the discretion of the officials.
What to expect at a Bucket Meeting
On each Saturday prior to a bucket race meeting we have a practice day. This is open to all bucket racers, but also to bikes that are not eligible to race within the bucket classes on Sunday. Pocketbikes, pitbikes, scooters and even motards are more than welcome. Riders of all ages can practice on Saturdays and we are happy to arrange separate sessions for novice riders.
As far as riding gear is concerned, we can be a little flexible on Saturdays for riders who are just "having a go" for one practice day to get a feel for the sport. Synthetic riding gear (as opposed to leathers) and even motocross gear (with suitable knee and elbow protection) have been used by novice riders on practice day Saturdays. Other than those who are just "having a go", we prefer that all riders wear proper road racing gear, including racing leathers. On race day Sunday, an approved full-face helmet, full leathers, full-height motorcycle boots, leather gloves and a back protector are required.
On race days, as well as having the standard F4, F5 and Sidecar classes, we also have B-Grade and C-Grade classes for those riders who would be safer and get more enjoyment out of their racing if they were not having to contend with the fastest F4 riders (some of whom are also top-level national motorcycle racers).
This is a cheap weekend of racing, with fees as follows:
- On Saturday, a full day of practice is $10 for AMCC members or $20 for non-Members
- On Sunday, a day of racing is $30 for senior riders or $20 for junior riders
- It's $10 to hire a transponder which are only used on Sunday race days
- It's $40 for a one-day licence if you don't have the appropriate MNZ and club licences
So, what are you waiting for?
If you think you might be keen enough to have a go, give us a call or email us (see the contact details below) and we can answer any questions you might have. Or come to a practice day (or meeting) and bring your bike and riding gear.
Try out rides can be arranged. The club has a bike (a Suzuki FXR150) that may be used, by arrangement with organisers, on practice days. Racing licences are required for competition but you can try out on practice days without one. On race day, one-day licences are available at the discretion of the steward on the day subject to MNZ rules.
Bucket racing is low key and fun. It's very competitive on the track, but co-operative in the paddock. Most people will help where they can and the people who run the meetings are bucket racers themselves.
So, if you’ve been thinking about racing for ages but couldn't figure out how to get into it ... this is the way! Bucket racing is cheap, accessible, fun, safe and an excellent training ground for those young (and not-so-young) riders who want to improve their riding skill and race-craft.
North Island Series
Since 2011, there has been a North Island bucket racing championship series with rounds at various tracks across the North Island including Auckland, Wellington, Tokoroa, Te Puke, Taumarunui and Hastings (though not every track has been included in every season). We encourage riders to participate in this series even though a bit of travel is involved. It's an excellent and very sociable series, with camping often available at the tracks. This series will only survive if it is supported by the riders. So keep any eye on the Events Calendar for event details.