Sep 20, 2008

Goooood Evening Motocrossia!!!!!

Wasn't that a great movie and some great acting by Robin Williams, "Good Morning Vietnam" I mean. Well lots of my young MX buddies would have most probably not seen that flick yet but I tell you MX A, B and C class boys, one day, you outta get it from Netflix or Blockbusters (thank you Mister Buffet).

Well, it's late at night children and most of you shouldn't be up by now, although I believe that mighty XBox 360 is keeping a few of you awake on MX vs. ATV Untamed or Call of Duty 4 (JUST A FEW MONTH BEFORE Call of Duty World at War, pheew!)) :-)
At this time of night, on a TGIF evening, an adult like me usually has 1 Foster, 3 Bud Lights and 2 glasses of Cabernet-Sauvignon (if you can call wine from California wine itself... I admit that I do, and many are very good... Damn, my French blood must be boiling. LOL) in his veins and somehow his comments and opinion can definitely be questionned. Although, if you look at all the great Russian authors, from Tolstoy to Dostoevsky via Chekhov, Pasternak, Maxim Gorky, Nabokov or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, there is little doubt that Vodka played a big role in their inspiration.
I won't talk politics because I don't think that it's a balanced discussion and most importantly, it has nothing to do with travel, bikes, motocross, racing or discovery.

Let's get back to real things...... says the AGV/Dainese employee.

In 1909, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, Edwin "Cannonbal" Baker made history. He was the first winner of the first race ever held at the IMS, and it was a motorcycle race. August 13th and 14th, 1909 saw the birth of road racing motorcycle in the USA. What a date. Can you imagine what it must have been racing those Harley-Davidson, Indian, Merkel.... What a time. I truly wish I was there. I truly wish I was racing on that day of August 1909.
Listen to this about Baker: he "moved to Indianapolis at age-12. Learned the machinist trade and labored in a foundry. Worked out in a gymnasium faithfully gaining a reputation as a strong and agile athlete. He earned a job with a acrobatic team traveling the vaudeville circuit. Erwin was into the popular bicycle racing craze at the turn of the Century which led to him riding the first motorized bicycles.

In 1908, Baker purchased an Indian motorcycle entering and winning local races. His most famous victory came in 1909 at the first race ever held at the newly built Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He began his endurance runs setting early city-to-city records and racing passenger trains from town to town before the days of well-maintained roads. Baker often encountered deep mud, sand washes, flooded river crossings and snowed-in mountain passes during his long-distance attempts."
He was a true cross-country rider, a pioneer of off-road riding, A motocross rider before motocross existed. I believe that it must have been an incredible time. Look at the photos from this first race and Cannoball Baker and imagine. Think. Reflect.

Now come back in time. 3.2 million bricks came and went, the IMS remained the most famous racing track in America. Countless records and victories were scored on 4 wheels. I recommend that you visit the museum at the IMS because it is worth the trip. Here are some of the gems.

But this leads me to today. Or rather, last weekend . The inaugural Indianapolis MotoGP: the fastest motorcycle riders in the world came to the IMS, came to that place where the track used to be made of bricks, that place made famous by drivers who drink milk when they win, the home of the Indy 500 welcomed Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Loris Capirossi and the rest of the MotoGP circus.

Well, I don't know if you can really picture what the race must have been on those bikes in 1909, but I can tell you that those MotoGP riders are going really really really fast. Rain or shine, dry or wet tracks, Casey, Vale and Jorge were wide open and thank you Bridgestone and Michelin to keep them on two wheels: it was mind-boggling.
On Saturday, on the dry, the Ducati boys reached speeds of 195 and 197 miles per hour.... miles per friggin hour. I tried to imagine what it would feel like on my drive back from Indy, late at night, when the highway is empty and I was peaking at 90 mph.
197 mph!!! Can you picture that? I can't. I guess, I'd try that, on the Bonneville Salt. Not along the mighty walls of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Nuts. Crazy.

It was a busy weekend for me. We had a few meetings on Saturday, I also spent some time with one of my client/friend in the Ducati VIP area, then went and learned a bit from the AGV/Dainese support-rider team, especially the guys working on the airbag. It was very interesting to see their data recording from practice that showed max speeds, g-forces, acceleration, etc...
Saturday night we went to the Indy Mile. I think that it was the 1st time in 20 years that a flat-track race was held at the Indiana Fair Ground. My first flat-track race and I have to admit that it was impressive. The speed, again, was pretty surprisinfg. Of course, the race enjoyed the heavy MotoGP fan presence and 15,000 spectators filled up the grand stands. Nicky Hayden and a few other MotoGP guys were spotted in the arena. what a show though. Next time I need to be in the infield with D.C. :-)

After a great Saturday, with some good speeds and lots of excitement during qualifiers (with Vale and Lorenzo ending up on top of the grid with their Yamaha's along with Stoner), Sundahy brought bad mojo and heavy, big, mother-of-all, storms. Ike has set its eyes on the IMS.
It was bad. No, I mean real bad.
After the Red Bull Cup (don't you think some of those kids are too young? isn't 13 a bit to immature for the kind of speeds those kids are reaching?) and the FIM 125cc race, heavy rain doomed the IMS. We waited and waited, not really know ing what would happen. Would they cancel the race, would they race on Monday?! It came down heavy and dense and suddenly things got better and the crew pulled out the heavy machinery, dried out the track and got it ready for racing. We had a MotoGP at Indy!
Well, I guess that most moto fan watched the race on TV but despite the red flag coming out 7 laps before the end, it was a good race with some good battles. Of course the alien that is Valentino Rossi won after getting 5th or 6th out of the gate, passed Stoner, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden to take the lead and the win. He is frigging unbelievable. These guys race at unhuman speeds on a wet, very very wet track. It was not funny, to the contrary, it was extremely humbling.

It was cool being there.
I believe that the Indy MotoGP is going to become, im a year or two, the biggest moto event in America. The track is special, the city is great for this kind of events (hello! see you in February for Dealer Expo and in March for the SX) and the people are very cool.

Well, I had to work Sunday night, of course. After a very sophisticated (LMAO!) dinner at Applebees (my friend DV's favorite restaurant) I ended up having a sales meeting with one of our clients. A few hours later and I was back on the road for Chicago. Of course I got stuck due to the floods in NW Indiana but was lucky to make it through.

What a weekend. I love racing and this was really good racing and a great fan experience. I really recommend all of you (yeah, you too MX guys and girls) to make it next year. This is big. Come on Grant Langston woudl not have been there if it wasn't. LOL!!!

Happy weekend!!

Edwin "Cannonbal" Baker.... don't forget the past!