Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dreams Coming Full Circle At The Brickyard

During the weekend of September 12th to the 14th, I covered the inaugural return of MotoGP and motorcycle racing to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. Like many others, both professional and fans alike, I was excited. The last time I attended a race meeting at the IMS, (aside from testing in late July this year) I was with my wife Emily. In 2001 we attended the inaugural return to the US of Formula 1 and again in 2003 and 2004. It was at the same of the year, the level enthusiasm was the same and I was just a fan, sitting and looking on from the other side of the fence and barriers with a video camera, instead of Valentino Rossi being the man to watch, we had Michael Schumacher. In 2004, with my wife Emily and I pressed firmly against the crowd fence during the pit walk, Renault factory driver Fernando Alonso approached us. I turned and looked towards a photographer taking pictures of the fans from inside the barriers and said in passing to Emily, "you know, wouldn't it be wonderful to have a job like that?" Almost 4 years later to the day, here I am, in that same spot the photographer was working covering an event with as much gravitas as Formula 1 in a place with history oozing out of every piece of concrete and steel and for a moment, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the fact that I had been granted the ability to cover this event, sadly not being able to share this with my wife Emily a she had to stay home. Over the rest of the weekend, meeting folks back at my hotel, around the race track and even in the parking lot, many of which had *never* watched a motorcycle race in their life, I sensed a similar level of enthusiasm and enjoyment, regardless of the weather. Seeing people having this much fun at a time when there really isn't much to smile about, with big grins on their faces, with little kids and grown adults wide eyed as Rossi, Stoner, Hayden and others aboard their uber powerful hi-tech machines showing off their magnificent skills and hearing the oohs and aahs from behind me as I worked made the weekend something special.I hope some of the 174,000 people who attended this wonderful weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway can realize their dreams, no matter how small just as I did. Odldy, I didn't manage to grab myself a smoked turkey leg. There's always next year, and fingers crossed, let's hope the rain stays away!

Last round of the AMA Superbike Series (maybe forever?) from Laguna Seca in Monterey, then we go to the land of Rolf Harris, kangaroos and Fosters "beeyah". One last thing before I go, I'd like to mentioned a solid "well done" to Ben Spies on his performance at this event.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Saying Goodbye - Where Was Everyone? - Rd Atlanta

One could say, the Championship is/was (and now has been won by Ben Spies) and that's why the crowds just didn't materialise at Road Atlanta. Typically, Friday's are easy to move around, Saturday and Sunday are really difficult. This weekend was so different. Less people camped out, the vendor area was full of people trying to sell their goods and services but to whom?
I think that there were possibly more people at an early season test at Infineon than there were at Road Atlanta. Shame. Could it be the DMG vs the OEM's is finally coming to a head? Maybe folks are upset that perhaps they perceive DMG are going after Mladin, being that he has been extremely candid on their plans for the AMA Superbike series. I'm not gong to get into it here, but for whatever reason, people were not there in their masses. Which saddens me. Humidity and heat aside, I like Road Atlanta and i like going to the South. I couldn't live there, but for four days I enjoy the hospitality, the weird clay and even weirder bugs.

On the ground and in the paddock with the teams and riders there was an air of reflection. This was the first race weekend since Toriano Wilson had died at VIR. There was a feeling reverence around the Red Bull Rookies bivouac. Outside of the entrance to the "garage" there stood a portrait of the young man aboard his KTM125 and a above it a lovely portrait of Toriano (taken on the stairs to the media centre at Barber). You could say it was more of a shrine. But an interactive one, whereby people were encourage to say a few words, whatever around his image. A nice touch. The epitaphs were extremely moving written my riders, fellow rookies, whoever felt moved to say a few words in passing.

Moving on, this week you'll find me going back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to follow up the the test I covered back in July. This time, it's the whole MotoGP circus. 125's, 250's and the GP bikes. I am thrilled to be able to cover this event, even though my knees are finally giving up the ghost. Hopefully they'll last until I'm done with the season, my last race being the MotoGP at Valencia. With that in mind, I'll sign off, and we'll see you there.

Friday, September 05, 2008

18 Years Ago Today - Ben Spies On The Cover

I'll have my site updated with images from Road Atlanta this weekend. This is a small update to celebrate my 18 anniversary of my immigration to the United States. I arrived here late afternoon on September 5, 1990 loaded with only four suitcases and a $20 bill my Mum gave me so I would have some money to buy a coffee when I got here. 18 years I have been here with the most beautiful girl in my world. I love you.

On another note, I should mention that I also have the cover of the current (new) issue for Sept/Oct 2008 of RoadRacerX. Woohoo! You should check out this issue though, lots of good stuff within! More updates later...