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MotoGP at Indy: Sunday morning

This is one of a series; read the previous installment here.

Sunday morning I woke up to the alarm blaring at 5:30am, having had a night full of dreams of 2-stroke motorcycles revving and throttling past. Wonder why?

As we got up and got moving, I again made a breakfast run downstairs and again, no protein to be had with the continental breakfast, just biscuits and gravy. So I grabbed the same things I did on Saturday – a few biscuits for me, doughnuts for Dys, and came back upstairs to eat while we watched for the weather forecast.

Notably, there was a gal from the local news station who was clearly reading off of cue cards as she encouraged folks to come out to the race. How clearly was she reading?

Well, not only was she.

Looking down and to the.

Right of the camera, but.

She also had to take a.

Pause every few seconds while they.

Changed cards for her.

Yeesh, she sucked. But it was really encouraging to see how the city’s media came out in support of the event, considering exactly how different it was than the open-wheel and NASCAR racing normally held at IMS. But we were mainly focused on the forecast, which Was. Not. Good. The remnants of Hurricane Ike were due to pass directly over the Indianapolis area right around 3pm. Coincidentally, the main event MotoGP race was to start at 3pm.

Nice. NOT.

Anyway, although it looked like a gorgeous morning, the afternoon looked to be horrific. We were not enthused, but damn it, we were here, and we were going to that goddamned race, come hell, high water, or hurricane.

We left early enough to be marveling at the gorgeous red-orange sky to the east before the sunrise. I observed to Dys the old maritime adage of “Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.” (Can you believe she claimed not to have heard it?) We arrived at the track soon after the gates opened at 7am, expecting a big crowd, only to find that the crowd wasn’t there yet. We parked in the same area we had since Friday, only a little off to the left. Awesome. And we stupidly walked right into the track without taking a photo from a bit farther back of the orange clouds over the stands. Duh, sometimes we’re dense.

As we walked up to the track, we promised the fellow at the gate that we had no glass in our little portable cooler (bought specifically for this trip, as Indy regulations say coolers have to be no bigger than 14x14x14″ to fit under the seats. Of course, regulations say the same for backpacks, and we never heard a peep about our slightly-larger packs. Oh well.) He also asked us if we wanted to keep our tickets together instead of tearing them apart, to put in a scrapbook. Confused, Dys and I looked at each other. Sure, our tickets each came in a little booklet – one ticket for each day, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but we’d already torn them apart and used them singly in our lanyards. We didn’t understand, so we nodded and said “Sure” and he let us walk on in.

The first thing we did was cross back under the track and head back to the infield for one last time. There were several things we’d wanted to get pictures of that we hadn’t yet, and the early morning on Sunday appeared to be our best bet. So we went in and put the digital to work.

First, we wanted to get our picture taken together, so we found some of the (very nice, every day, every interaction we had with ‘em) guest services folks and asked them if they’d do so. They obligingly did take two (quite mediocre) photos of us with the Learjet Pagoda in the background. Then I took the opportunity to get Dys to get a shot of me kissing the famous Indy bricks. (Yeah, it’s not actually on the racetrack surface, but it’ll do. And don’t mind the sunburn too much – I’m naturally a little red-faced.)

As we turned around, we saw something that we’d noticed several times over the weekend but had yet to photograph: the paddock pass guide used by the nice IMS security folks to know if the pass you have means you get to walk by, or if they should nicely bash your face in. (Just kidding – personally, I never saw a single security problem or “encounter” the entire weekend.) But seriously, that is one hell of a lot of different passes to try to distinguish, so it’s a good thing they had a chart! Personally, I say gimme one of the ones in the upper right-hand corner.

We then reluctantly bid the infield a final goodbye and headed back through Tunnel 6 toward our seats.

As we walked by, Dys noticed that one of the stands across the street from the track was (very intelligently, I might add) selling national flags for Italy, Spain, England, and Australia in addition to various rider gear. “I want to check that out before we go up,” she said, so I agreed. We started heading for the gate, at which point the nice fellow stopped us and said there was no exit/re-entry for the day…then he stopped, looked at our tickets, and said, “How’d you even get in here?!?”

We were puzzled, but it turned out that he meant that the bottom section of our ticket should have been torn off by the fellow who let us in. NOW all that “wanting to keep our tickets whole” made sense – but nobody had torn a part off of our tickets all weekend! Anyway, the guy didn’t tear our tickets or anything, and we just shrugged and stayed inside. So I guess we both have three days’ worth of tickets that look perfectly unused, even though we were absolutely on-track all three days. Interesting.

After we huffed and puffed our way up the three double-flights of stairs (Dys took a photo of them, so I can count – we just don’t have the Flickr room to post everything right now!) to the top of Penthouse B – with me carrying a backpack and a cooler, I might add – we were thrilled to see that not only did we have separate bathrooms at the top (we’d availed ourselves of those earlier), but for race day they actually had a concession stand open at the top, too! We wouldn’t have to go up and down the stairs for bathrooms or food. Excellent.

When we got to the top, we just stood there at the very top of the section for a while, enjoying the breeze and the sunlight. Well, we’d have enjoyed the sunlight more if we weren’t already sunburned. So we also took the moment to spray on some sunscreen like we should have done the day before. It seemed somewhat ridiculous considering that we knew we’d be dumped on with rain by the end of the day, but we did it anyway. At Dys’s suggestion, I also took a video from the top of Stand B that showed a 360-degree view of the track, the street outside, and the parking lot behind the track. The stands are nearly empty, but it WAS before 8:30am. The folks sitting behind the coolers were selling drinks, the actual concession stand with the food was across from them. (Dys cleverly ducked out of the shot.) You can hear the 125cc bikes revving up in the background. That’s the sound we heard all weekend that had Dys making the jokes about getting a job as a professional throttle-revver. And yes, notice the bright beautiful sun. Sigh.

We then moved down to our seats as the 125cc bikes started their morning warm-up practice, and took many photos just for the sake of the blog. This was the best one of the lot (that didn’t show my face – sorry, y’all).

Finally the MotoGP riders came out for their own morning warm-up. Amusingly, it was dry, and I think everybody in the place knew that this was probably the last time this year anybody would ride with the track dry. Several of the riders waved as they came out. Dys, however, saved her shots for when it counted…when Valentino Rossi did his habitual/superstitious de-wedgie-fying of his leathers.

Somebody on a motorcycle forum I used to visit had a photo of Rossi pulling his leathers out of his butt as an avatar. The quote underneath his avatar? “Surely I have a win in here someplace…”

If you follow MotoGP, you’re laughing your ass off right now.

Moving right along, the stands were gradually beginning to fill as the GP practice went on. We still had plenty of room to move around, though, and knowing that it was going to rain later, we tried to take all the pics we could, because unlike Friday, this time the wind was blowing more or less in our direction. Unless that changed, we were going to get wet in the afternoon.

Hayden during the warm-up: notice the stars and stripes on his front number plate!

At the end of the session, Rossi and Hayden both did wheelies for the fans in the stands near the exit of Turn 4.  (Too bad we don’t have a telephoto lens!)

In the twenty minutes between the end of GP practice and the start of the Red Bull Rookies Cup race, it started to rain just a bit. Dys and I whipped out our ponchos and put them on, trying to figure out the best way to sit on them/hold onto them to keep them from whipping around in the wind.

The Rookies Cup race was actually fairly cool. The “local” kid from Owensboro, Kentucky, Hayden Gillam (a cousin of GP racer Nicky Hayden), took the lead after a few laps and opened up quite a wide gap – but apparently he took a risk in his tire choice. As the rain paused and the track dried out a bit, his tires wore out quickly and he fell back to third place, much to the consternation of the Owensboro crowd sitting behind us. When the rain started to fall again, he re-caught the leaders, but crashed out of the race in an attempt to retake second place. All in all, though, the race was exciting to watch and the local kid put on a great show for the fans.

The rain stopped again for a while, and the stunt riders from Thursday night, Christian Pfeiffer and Aaron Colton, came back out after the Rookies Cup race and put on a show for the fans. (Everyone should watch this video of Pfeiffer – especially right around the 1:45-2:30 mark. WOW.) They moved up and down the front straightaway, gradually moving down the track for half an hour or so until finally they had to clear out to make way for the next race.

At about this time, the jumbotron first threw up the following message:


Hoo boy. Here we go. We buckled down and ate our lunch as we waited for the 125cc race to start.

Sunday afternoon’s activities to come! I hear there’ll be some bad weather.


4 Responses

  1. I’m really enjoying reading this and seeing the pics! What speeds would the winds have had to get to for the racing to be stopped? 125’s must be hard to ride in heavy weather!

    We’ll get to that on Sunday afternoon’s post, but the answer is apparently something like 40-50mph. The wind didn’t really pick up until toward the end of the 125 race, and they red-flagged it.

    As an aside, I wanted to promise you guys that the GP posts are almost done – Sunday afternoon and the index/wrap-up are already written, I’m just parceling them out one per day. But they’ll be done by the end of the week, and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled mundane blogging!

  2. Wind, rain, bad announcers! You guys had it all!!

    Your cameo appearances cracked me up!

    Hmm? Whatcha mean, all the outside factors? They definitely made it a one-of-a-kind experience.

  3. […] October 2, 2008 MotoGP at Indy: Sunday afternoon is RACE TIME! Posted by Taoist Biker under Life and other states of existence, Motorcycle Racing, Motorcycling, motorcycles   This is part of a series of many parts. Obviously I’m going to have to create an index post for these things! Read the previous entry here. […]

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