Photos by BJH
Friday, April 19, 2013
Practice Day 1... We left the motel in time to get to Circuit of the Americas to see the MotoGP's premier class warm-up. They ushered us (on the bikes) through tunnel 2 to a parking lot inside the track area. From there, we walked to the turn 16 bridge. The most obvious landmark was the observation tower. On the turn 16 pedestrian bridge, I got my first pictures of the MotoGP riders. The first pictures were towards turn 16 and the others were of the riders going through turn 14. Then we actually crossed the turn 3 pedestrian bridge and from there you got a great view of turns 16-18 as well as bikes coming towards you from turns 1-2. On the hill, you got a great view (from behind) of the riders going through turns 3-5. After buying a few souvenirs, we walked back across bridge 3 and then bridge 16 and arrived at the base of the observation tower. For a fee, you could ride up to the top of the tower and as we got closer, you could see people up there. The red decorative roof of the tower dipped down on the opposite side to create a cover for the Austin 360 Amphitheater. Just past the amphitheater, there was an open area where vendors were selling food and the major motorcycle companies were showing off their bikes. Nicky Hayden's 2012 Ducati was on display as well as the 2013 line of Star and Bolt motorcycles (Yamaha). Yamaha also had Jorge Lorenzo's 2012 championship bike as well as a "cutaway" R1. By cutting off the R1, you could see the inside guts of the bike, how systems were positioned, and so on. That was pretty interesting. After having someone take my picture with Lorenzo's bike, I headed off for the Honda display. Besides all their new bikes, they had a selection of championship dirt bikes on display. I managed to find Ed again (everyone disappeared into the large crowd) and we went and sat on the hill by turn 19. From there, you had a view of riders coming out of turn 18 and in the background, a decent view of turn 1 (and turn 1 stands). The picture of turn 1 shows how absolutely wicked the upward slope is on that turn. Of course you also had a fabulous view (right in front of you) of riders taking turn 19 then 20 onto the front straightaway. After watching from the hill for awhile, Ed and I decided to look for Don and Roy. Along the way we saw the Geico Military Tribute Bike which had been built by Paul (Teutul) Jr. Designs. That was some bike... the exhaust, the wheel rims, the words integrated into the frame and other parts of the bike... just a gorgeous bike! Ed and I went up to our seats at Turn 15 to see if we could find Don and Roy. We couldn't. But the views from up there were great. We realized that we were going to be able to see the long straight, and turns 12-16 with awesome clarity. In the distance, you could even see turns 9-10 because the bikes had to climb during that section of the track. You could also see the parking lot where we had parked that morning... a sea of bikes! We walked down the entire Turn 15 section of seats to see where the "best seats in the house" might be. I now know where *I* would want to sit NEXT time!!! We still couldn't find the others so Ed and I decided to leave the track and take a ride. I had already entered a route or two into my GPS so I led Ed through Austin to Bee Cave (Bee Cave Road), Ranch Road 620 (where the Mansfield Dam is), Bullock Hollow Road, and Lime Creek Road before heading back for the motel. We only stopped twice along the way, once for me to get my directions correct (that's where I took the two pictures here - off RR620) and to check for tires for Ed's Dodge Monaco. Nice ride!!