I don’t ride a motorcycle. I probably never will. I don’t think I’m the type. I never been too cool. I’m certainly not the daredevil type. But I have become more than a casual MotoGP fan.
I started watching the sport when the Speedway announced a race was coming to Indy. Before then, I had never heard of Valentino Rossi. I couldn’t have told you if MotoGP was motorcycle or motorboat racing.
Last year, I had the opportunity to go to Laguna Seca for MotoGP qualifying . That was my first experience with the sport up close. I really liked it. I was captivated by the speed on two wheels, combined with the riders leaning over and scraping the ground in the turns with no chassis to protect you. Now I record all the races and keep up with the sport. I like that they are only one hour long.
I also like the riders. Most are very personable characters, with equals parts talent and guts. The first time I interviewed American rider Colin Edwards, I asked him what it took to be a good MotoGP rider. The colorful Texan told me you needed really large gonads. I asked him if his had grown over the years since he had been in the sport so long. He chuckled, impressed by my quick witted follow up question. I never got an answer.
The MotoGP competition is good, too. Valentino Rossi is well on his way to a 7th championship at the sport’s top level. But he has only won 5 of 11 races this season. Passing (overtaking as they say in Europe) is not uncommon in the course of the race. And while I would never want to fall off one these bikes (one reason I don’t ride a motorcycle), when a rider goes down, he usually slides away with only minor bumps and bruises. Side-by-side motorcycle racing with elbows and knees bumping is just as exciting as any duel between quarterpanels.
So I’m looking forward to see what these riders can do on a nice day in Indianapolis. The fact that the MotoGP riders stayed on the track as long as they did last year in the remants of Hurricane Ike showed their bravery, but not all their talent. Running in the rain can make the races more interesting. But it’s not the best atmosphere for spectators at your inaugural event.
Maybe I just like hearing all these foreign riders speak English. It cracks me up. But I must admit. Rossi’s English is much better than my Italian.
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