Day 7

At the Races: Race Day!!!

I woke up early so that I could get to the track as early as possible. On my way, knowing it was my last day at the track, I needed to take Mr. Bendo's picture. After all, he was nice enough to greet me each day on the way to the track.
Each day I drove to the track on 16th Street. You know when you've finally arrived because of the checkered flags painted on this underpass JUST short of your destination.
Picture taken from the following vantage points marked on the map below.

That day there were police at EVERY intersection along 16th, starting after you crossed the river.

I headed under the track in tunnel 3 because the demo area was one of the areas I had not seen.

KTM still had demo rides set up there... did Harley/Buell. Other companies evidently had been there the other 3 days but not race day.

I took the time to ask a flagman about all the different colored flags. I knew yellow is caution. Yellow and red stripe is debris or oil on the track. Red stops the race. Green is "good to go". I'd not seen several of the other ones before.
Black = disqualified rider
Black with orange disc = tells the rider there is a problem with his bike
White = Riders are allowed to change bikes if they wish. Why? If it suddenly starts to rain, and the rider needs to change from slicks to rain tires, they may do so.
White/red = Track is wet ahead
Blue flag = The rider is about to be overtaken and must yield to the faster rider.

I went to the Yamaha tent to get my souvenir visor. I have ones from my two trips to Laguna Seca so I wanted to be sure I got one from here to add to my collection. Since they weren't giving them out yet, I checked out things I'd missed in previous days. For example: this is a Yamaha R1...

...tricked out to have Rossi's team logos. These limited edition bikes are numbered.
Speaking of Rossi bikes, this really is one. It is an M1, no facimile.
The bike has a very slim body (less weight, more speed).
All Rossi's bikes have his personal stickers on them. Note the "FAST!!!" sticker.
On his throttle, he has a "Pit" button which limits his speed on pit lane. This is to avoid a penalty for speeding. Most of us also have a starter on that hand, but his says "stop"... I imagine a kill switch??
I don't know about the serial number on YOUR vehicles, but all of them are a kazillion digits long. Since Rossi and his teammates have been the only ones to ride the M1, this bike's SN is really short... YZR-M1-B-0705. Since YZR-M1 is simply the model number, B-705 is all there is.
Although I'd seen other "dressed up" R1s in the displays, this was the first time I noticed this one.
How could I have missed it?
Now here's something interesting. This company will convert your bike into a trike...
...or create a side car for it. This is a converted BMW R1200GS.

Warmups were finally over! First race of the day was the Red Bull Rookies Cup. These are YOUNG riders, some from Europe and some from the States competing on identical KTM bikes. It's part of a program to develop young and talented riders.

I took this pictures from beside the "Ducati Island".
It was difficult to distinguish one rider from another (I wonder how the announcers did!). Besides riding almost identical looking bikes, they rode in packs for a lot of the race.
This looks like a stop action compilation of images. It's not... but it still gives a good visual indication of the line used when cornering turn two.

Results: In tricky damp to wet conditions, 16 year old Norwegian Sturla Fagerhaug won the race, 16 year old South African Mathew Scholtz placed second, and 17 year old Briton Matthew Hoyle was third.

While we waited for the first of the GP races, we were entertained by a couple of stunt riders. I caught this guy stepping over the bars... sit on them. Nothing to it!
The start of the 125cc race.
Watching the mass of motorcycles vying for a spot in the turn was unnerving.
They were wheel to wheel... almost on top of the other.
You must really have to trust your fellow riders in these races. Someone makes a mistake, a lot of riders could go down.
It was almost inevitable that someone would go off track/crash during this crazy first lap.
As the race progressed, the riders spaced out a bit...
...but the first few turns (this time #1) produced many crashes...
...this one being the most serious. To be safe, the rider was put on a stretcher and safely removed from the track... an ambulance which drove him around to the waiting medical helicopter.
Yet another spill in turn #2.
This guy slid through turn 3/4 and had to hesitate to reenter traffic.
Another turn 2 spill.
They eventually red flagged (stopped) the race. Although cut short, the results remained official.

1st - #18 Nicolas Terol from Spain on an Aprilia
2nd - #44 Pol Espargaro from Spain on a Derbi
3rd - #17 Stefan Bradl from Germany on an Aprilia

High winds (gusts up to 60 MILES per hour) and rain delayed the start of the next race which was to be the 250cc.
Like everyone else in the stands, I became wet on the outside, dry on the inside. That's one thing about touring bikers... we always have rain gear! And one thing you can't dampen... our enthusiasm for the races. Case in point, my neighbours in the stands, Lisa and Mark from Kentucky. They were lots of fun to sit beside. We found lots to chat about during the rain delays and we all loved the races. In the Moto GP, Lisa & I were cheering for Valentino. Mark for Nicky.
A patch of better weather came our way and it was decided to run the Moto GP first (TV commitments) then the 250. First they had to squeegee...
...and dry the track (in particular the first 4 turns which had proved dangerous in the previous race). This jet engine makes a heck of a "hairy corner" dryer!!
The race was about to start. You could see all the bikes on the starting grid on the jumbotron(s).
Corner #1... Casey Stoner leads.
As the group gets around turns 3-4, it's Stoner, Hayden, de Angeles, Rossi, Pedrosa, Spies, Lorenzo, Elias, Toseland
Again, all the bikes being clumped together is a bit nerveracking. (NOTE: despite the rain returning and the winds again becoming terribly strong, not one rider went down during the entire race!)
Only one lap complete and the bike order was completely different... de Angelis, Hayden, Stoner, Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Spies.
The "hometown" fans (Hayden comes from Owensboro, Kentucky which is very close to Indy) cheered wildly when Nicky overtook de Angelis for the lead. At this point, Lorenzo is third, Rossi fourth, Stoner fifth, Pedrosa sixth.
Then Rossi overtook Lorenzo for third.
Another wild cheer when Spies overtook Pedrosa. The fans did NOT like Dani. He was the only rider who was booed upon introductions.
Hayden, de Angelis, Rossi was the status quo for a couple of laps.
Rossi made a move on de Angelis...
...but it didn't stick...
...but later in that lap (far side of the track), Rossi overtook de Angelis.
Nicky & Valentino were out in front by quite a bit.
Nicky had a great race.
He was determined to stay in front of Rossi.
Rossi kept getting close in these series of turns...
...but Hayden held him off.
Hayden led for 12 of twenty laps.
However, Rossi was not to be denied.
Once he was ahead...
... Rossi stretched out his lead. There was obviously something about the Indy track that Valentino "got".
When it got so windy and wet that it was dangerous, the race was red flagged.
Just in time! Only minutes after the race was stopped, this air fence was blown over the concrete wall that it was protecting the riders against.
It took many workers and at least 5 minutes before they finally were able to get the fence partly back in place...
...and then where it was supposed to be.
Meanwhile, they were trying to decide if the remaining laps of the race should be finished. The results could have radically changed if they had. Rossi would have lost his 5+ second advantage on a restart.
As it was, Lorenzo had passed Hayden at the beginning of the 21st lap. Since race results ended up being based on the last lap completed by all racers (which was the 20th), Hayden caught a lucky break and was declared 2nd, Lorenzo 3rd.
Because officials felt that conditions were too dangerous to try to restart the race, final results were as follows:

1st #46 Valentino Rossi of Italy on a Yamaha
2nd #69 Nicky Hayden of the USA on a Honda
3rd #48 Jorge Lorenzo of Spain on a Yamaha

From where we were sitting, we couldn't see the actual podium but they televised the proceedings on the jumbotron. Not just the riders but also the bikes were raised to the podium.
Not surprising... the 250 race was cancelled. Some people booed but I say THEY should try going that fast in those conditions!!

Here I am in my raceday shirt (that I made myself), a little worse for wear after being rained on and wind blown. Goodbye, Indy, t'was fun!

Now it was time to battle the inevitable traffic.

Look at the cool bike that was parked beside me when I got back to my own.

Obviously custom, but did the owner do it on his own?
Lots of bikes to empty out of parking lot but honestly, traffic out wasn't bad at all.
This was amusing. The guy obviously lost his licence plate so he made himself a new one!
When I got back to the motel, I compared notes about the races with the "Ducati couple" from New Jersey. We'd actually talked several times over the weekend. They had trailered his Ducati from New Jersey and had met up with a friend (on another Ducati) from North Carolina to go to the races. There was a fourth friend but I'm not sure where from/how he came to the races. He DID own a Ducati as well!
        Map of Day 7 to left.

        Next: Day 8
        Send me e-mail!
        Back to main page