The 2009 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a little more than a week away. MotoUSA will be there, will you?
The countdown begins. We’re T-minus 11 days away from the start of the 2009 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix motorcycle race held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. And there’s plenty to be excited about for the fifth installment of this combined MotoGP World Championship and AMA Pro Road Racing weekend.
Once again, Motorcycle-USA.com and MotoUSA Magazine will be in attendance and stationed inside Ducati Island (between Turn 2 and 3 within the infield). There we will be handing out our latest issue which features wild man Jesse James on the cover. So make sure to grab one!
Although the races don’t begin until Independence Day, there is plenty to see as activities at the racetrack begin as early as Thursday, July 2. That afternoon, past and present motorcycle Grand Prix racing champions Kenny Roberts Sr., Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainy and reigning MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi will go wheel-to-wheel in an exhibition SuperKarts race, which pits these aces against each other from behind the wheel of a TZ250-powered go kart that puts 100 horsepower to the rear wheels and weighs less than 300 pounds! These things are no joke and will lap faster than the MotoGP “eight-hun-skis” (as Ducati’s Nicky Hayden calls it) around Laguna’s 11-turn road course.
Following this, nearby Morgan Hill, California-based Specialized Bicycles is bringing in some of its road bicycle machinery and allowing racers to spin a few laps around the 2.23-mile track in the saddle from a slightly less hurried vantage point.
Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden won the USGP twice in 2005 and 2006. Can he do it again this year on his newly revamped Ducati?
Yet another option on Thursday is the Day of Stars event which benefits the Riders for Health international charity. For a $500 donation per person (tax deductable) you’ll be able to kick it with past and present MotoGP racers all day long. The day begins with breakfast at the racetrack followed by a motorcycle adventure through Carmel Valley’s wine country. The day concludes back at the racetrack where you’ll be able to ride parade laps out on track. After there will be a live MotoGP memorabilia auction with all proceeds going to the Riders for Health charity.
On Friday, you’ll have the opportunity to be literally the first motorcycle on track if you’ve purchased a Yamaha Grand Prix Special, which not only covers your entry for the duration of the weekend but allows you to pilot your Yamaha motorcycle around the track with American Superbike Yamaha YZF-R1 riders Ben Bostrom and Josh Hayes.
Practice officially begins that afternoon with the AMA SuperSport class, followed by the MotoGP big boys, then Daytona Sportbikes and American Superbike. At the end of the day Laguna will host a fan party presented by Vitamin Water inside the Parts Unlimited hospitality area within Turn Five. At the same time, Ducati will be hosting a track walk in which factory Ducati pilot Larry Pegram will provide you a racer’s perspective around the track.
There will be plenty to do at the Laguna this year. Activities at the track begin on Thursday, July 2.
Inside Yamaha’s marketplace there will be a Boz Brothers custom bike show. Also, if you’re feeling the itch to ride, Yamaha will also be offering demo rides aboard its line of TT-R off-road motorcycles and play bikes, which will be open throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, practice and qualifying sessions get underway, which set the grid for Sunday’s MotoGP race, followed by qualifying for the 23-lap AMA Daytona SportBike and American Superbike races. The only race of the day on Saturday will be an 18-lap American SuperSport race featuring up-and-coming road racers between the ages of 16 and 21 in the AMA’s newest class for 2009.
Just like last year, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland along with his band, Crash, will host a free concert inside the Yamaha marketplace Saturday evening. Also be sure to check out the all-new motorcycle Ducati will be unveiling inside Ducati Island. Will it be a cruiser, a sport-tourer, or another hardcore sportbike? Find out Saturday.
On Sunday, Yamaha’s Bill Dixton will put on a stunt show between the Turn 4 and Turn 11 grandstands. Watch as he performs impossible looking tricks aboard his new Yamaha sportbike. Then at 2:00 p.m. racing gets underway, first with the MotoGP class (I’ve got my money on No. 46) followed by Daytona SportBike and American Superbike to cap off the action-packed weekend in the dry lakebed.
As always, Laguna offers a wide range of spectator packages in an equally diverse price range that enables even the most frugal motorsports enthusiast to experience live racing action. Be sure to check out its website where you can purchase a variety of different passes including: 1, 2, and 3-day credentials, parking passes, paddock access passes and even full-on catered hospitality passes. Camping passes are also available for those who wish to experience Laguna’s park-like atmosphere.
If you’ve never been to Laguna, there has never been a better time to come up and see MotoGP firsthand, and if you’re a seasoned veteran like me, as always there’s more than enough to keep you amply entertained. See ya there!