This past weekend, the skies above Circuit of The Americas were dark and foreboding. Over three miles of world class track loomed before me. Off in the distance, motorcycles buzzed like a mob of angry bees. The air was full of adrenaline soaked tension.
The brand new race track on the outskirts of Austin was host to MotoGP, a Grand Prix motorcycle race I was lucky enough to attend, courtesy of the folks at GoPro cameras. As a newbie to the sport and venue, here’s what I learned:
- Circuit of the Americas is HUGE. The complex sits on 890 acres, features a 3.5 mile track and seats 120,000 people. So if you plan on attending an event, wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking everywhere.
- Wear sunscreen. Lots of it. Unless you’re sitting in the covered grandstand, you will leave COTA feeling like a baked potato.
- Bring cash. Parking at the venue is cash only and ran $20 for the MotoGP event. Off-site parking is cheaper, but you have to take a shuttle into the venue.
- You can watch the races from the tower below. It’s an extra fee, but the view is worth it…so I hear. I couldn’t get up the nerve.
- MotoGP is broken up into three divisions: Moto 2, Moto3 and MotoGP. Much like F1, divisions are based on how powerful the engine of the bike is. Don’t fret, race fans. They’re all still loud, fast and very impressive.
- The races at COTA are 21 laps and take about 45 minutes to complete. Quite nice if you need to grab a drink, some shade or take frequent bathroom breaks.
- Superbikes are ridiculously expensive. It’s impossible to determine how much each costs, but my host estimated each bike is worth well over a million dollars. According to him, the tires alone can cost more than your car.
- And where does this money go? At the end of a racing season, each bike is returned to the manufacturer where it is completely destroyed. The tech is so advanced that the makers refuse to allow any information to leak to consumers and opposing teams.
- A top class superbike can easily hit 190 mph. While that’s a touch slower than both NASCAR and F1, those vehicles have four wheels. Superbikes get their speed on two. And yes, when they take turns, they lean so far over that the rider’s knees touch the ground. But don’t worry. They wear plastic “knee sliders” to keep their skin from flying off. Ouch.
- Surprisingly, rain isn’t an issue. The race can be run in most types of wet weather. If it’s rainy, the bikes can be outfitted with special “wet tires.” In fact, some riders actually prefer a wet track.
Congrats! You are officially in the know! So, next time MotoGP rolls into Austin, be sure to check it out. You’re in for a fun filled day of excitement, energy and fast paced thrills.
Circuit of the Americas is located at 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd. For events, directions and all other info, visit circuitoftheamericas.com. For more information on MotoGP, visit motogp.com.
All photos were taken at the event by the author with a GoPro Hero 4 camera, courtesy of GoPro.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Have you been to a race at COTA before?
I never used to be a motorsports fan…until I attended F1 and MotoGP. Everybody should head out to COTA to try a race of some kind at least once. If you can in some way actually get out on the track, that brings a whole ‘nother level to the experience. Running the track by doing the Formula 1 5K is a great experience. If you’re super lucky, ride it on a bike (yep, there are a few bicycle events out at COTA), motorcycle, or car. I got lucky enough to ride on the back of a two-seater motorcycle driven by a pro rider. You can see that video here: http://leahruns100.com/2015/04/09/tbt-ill-try-any-workout-and-that-includes-motogp/
Is motorcycle parking free?