Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The annual US MotoGP review post

Since 2001 I haven't missed Laguna Seca's July motorcycle race weekend, with four years of World Superbike followed by 4 years of MotoGP. The transition from WSBK to MotoGP in 2005 was a tough one. On the one hand we were totally excited to see those amazing bikes and to have the biggest bike racing series there is in town. On the other hand we were shocked at the mind-numbing price gouging both in Monterey and at the track. The massive crowds only added to the misery making getting in and out of the track difficult, as well as getting around once there. Nicky Hayden's debut win helped make up for much of the negatives but I couldn't shake the feeling that something had been lost

The following year promised much but delivered little. Hayden won again, but it was less exciting, whilst the brain-frying 110 degree heat, coupled with a disastrous shuttle bus system for people who came in cars made for what was basically a shitty day. We had even foregone the usual plan of going for two days and staying in Monterey, gunshy of the hotel prices.

In 2007 we skipped the shuttle bus drama by riding in, although it turned out that they'd figured out the buses by then. It was this year that it seemed like Laguna Seca had finally gotten the hang of things, and the only major disappointment was the race, which turned out to be rather tedious.

This year again promised a dull race set against a backdrop of a well-run and easy-to-attend event. Anyone who watched the race knows that we were wrong on the first assumption, and I'm happy to say we were right about the second one. For the fourth year in a row we chose a different transportation option, going with the expensive (but worth it) VIP car parking pass. Getting in and out of the track was a breeze, and we were able to offset the cost of the pass by bringing our own food and beer, which wouldn't have been possible if we'd ridden or parked offsite and taken the shuttle.

Attendance was slightly down this year. In 2005 all 54,000 tickets sold out. For '06 the total available fell to 48,000, once again sold out, a feat repeated in 2007. This year there were 1,000 tickets left on the table - not bad at all. It felt busy, but it felt nice (see pic of me enjoying a drink above turn two!) and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the day, so much so that I might consider returning to the two-day plan for 2009.

And what about that race? Valentino Rossi proved once again why he is the greatest rider of his generation and perhaps the greatest ever, and Casey Stoner showed an almost Gibernau-ish indignance after being beaten fair and square by the Italian. It was certainly popular with the crowd... check out this shot of their reaction as he crossed the finish line to take the win:


Forrest Gump said...

Cool post. looks like it was a nice event. I can you enjoyed the race view while double fisting the brews.

Nicebloke said...

If I told you one of those beers belonged to the person who took the photo, would you believe me?

I thought not...

Jimmy said...

Bah, if I thought one of those beers wasn't yours I'd be disappointed!