I want to get to the track as soon as it's possible for me. I've got so many things to consider. Transportation, a whole set of cheaper track fairings, tools, gear, a one piece leather...my wife's approval. Haha! I have to be able to justify spending hundreds of dollars on myself to her. See, I have many hobbies. The hobbies I'm into take mucho dinero. Track days, again, seem like they will take my pockets for a ride as well. How much on average does it cost you fellas? Guess I'll save up a C-note every paycheck and put it in the track jar. Maybe take my wife out for a romantic dinner right before I tell her that, "Hey love, by the way, I'm going to be spending $1000 on extra gear and $500 admission on saturday to ride really fast in circles. Lol
So here's how things break down for me. COTA is $485/day. The pluses are it's one of the top F1 tracks on the planet. The surface is pristine and smooth and grippy as can be. It's like sex for your motorcycle. You can have total confidence that you're on the best surface possible and can focus on riding vs. tar snakes, patches, bumps, etc. From a safety perspective, it's hard to do better than COTA. It's also only 30 minutes from my house so getting to and from track days is simple.
My other options are 4-ish hours away. They cost about $150/day but now I have to drive 4 hours, get a hotel, and then drive home. The track is cheaper but now I have added gas and hotel and food costs. In the end a track day at a different track comes in at about $300 for the day.
The other tracks are also not anywhere near as safe, and the pavement tends to be patchy, bumpy, and in some instances crumbly. At one track I was at during the track walk we were told that "in this corner it's totally safe to run off track ... for about 50 feet when you get to the ditch
", or "don't worry about running off here. You'll only be conscience for a millisecond or two before hitting the tire wall.
" Those tracks were nowhere near as awesome as COTA but they were still amazingly fun.
To help get the cost down for some of the trackdays, with the trackday school I go to if you volunteer to corner work, they'll give you a free trackday (not COTA.) I know guys that will work one day and ride the next. Or work the weekend and ride the next. I'm planning on corner working for the school to bank a few free days to help defray the cost. Plus, I seriously want to blue and black flag riders who desperately need it.
You can rent leathers at our school if you don't have them. Level 1, novice, allows two piece leather or textile as long as it zips all the way around. You'd have to check your organizations rules to see what they allow. Boots and full gauntlet gloves are a must.
Gear costs, You can get really good gear for low prices if you're willing to wait and shop around. Top end one piece leathers will come in from around the $800-$3000 range. Ebay it and you can probably find them cheaper. Believe it or not, you can get a custom fit suit for about the same price as an off the shelf A-star or Speedi. Hazardous Racing can make you a custom suit for somewhere near the $1500 range (+/- depending on features.) You can even get it in Roo! Even my A-star Race Replica isn't Roo. So yeah, custom is a decent option if an off the shelf isn't fitting properly.
My gear costs specifically:
Helmet - Sheoi RF-1200 ($450)
Boots - I forget which model but they were $399
Gloves - Alpinestars GP Plus full gauntlets. ($160)
Suit - Alpinestars Race Replica ($1600) (Option 2 on the track suit was a Speedi Track Wind Pro.)
If I wasn't going to ride the track I would have still bought the same helmet, boots, and gloves, but probably two piece leathers instead. I've spent enough of my life as a patient in hospitals that I wanted to minimize my risks when I ride so I decided not to skimp on gear.
And, like another member of this forum, I'm a bit of a gear whore and I want a custom one piece leather suit and Shoei X-14 helmet. Not that there's anything wrong with my gear, I just want MOAR!!!!
Hopefully that somewhat, perhaps, to a degree, answers your question.