MotoAmerica is the official FIM/AMA sanctioned roadracing series in North America. In March, 2016, I attended MotoAmerica’s preseason test days at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The MotoAmerica management team was in the paddock area and freely approachable, the teams open to being photographed, and COTA permitted fans to roam the paddock and main grandstands (with the supervision of numerous but fan-friendly security staff). One of the most photography-friendly events I’ve ever attended.
Early on the first day of testing the Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing team check the status of their riders, Toni Elias and Roger Hayden, on the live-timing screen in their pit garage
The agenda for a preseason test can be overwhelming: testing machines and engines to meet new technical regulations, new tires, and in many cases new riders and crew members. Team Rabid Transit make changes to multiple settings on a new Yamaha YZF-R1 so newly-signed South African rider Sheridan Morais can test as many variations as possible in each 50-minute test session.
Test days begin with technical inspection at 7:00 a.m. and wrap up in early evening - a 12-hour day in most cases. While the goal is to make bike and rider the fastest combination possible, the rider will get just four 50-minute sessions on track. For the balance (nine hours or so) the bike will be tweaked, taken apart, checked, put back together, and stared at, in search of more quickness.
Access to areas directly above the team garages provided some nice perspectives to capture candid moments. 2015 Superstock 1000 champion Jake Gagne autographs a helmet for a fan who has been happily collecting rider signatures up and down the paddock all day.
Testing is an unnatural, lonely state for racers accustomed to close quarters, nose-to-tail combat.
Racing at the national level requires a lot of stuff. Semis full of stuff.
2015 MotoAmerica Superbike champion, Cameron Beaubier pulls in to hand off his MonsterEnergy/Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 for the next round of set-up changes. The lower deck of the COTA grandstands is cantilevered over the pit lane putting fans and photographers literally on top of the action.
The official introduction of the Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing team, their Suzuki GSX-R1000 bikes in 2016 race livery, and riders Roger Hayden (left) and Tony Elias (right). Jonathan Green asks the tough questions for Speed City Broadcast.
It was a pleasant surprise to see new top-level riders from outside the Americas coming to race in MotoAmerica. They included Italian Claudio Corti, a past European Superstock 600 Champion and a former rider in both Moto2 and MotoGP. Corti explained in this interview that he looked forward to racing in America where racing and rider talent still rises above the complex organizational and corporate priorities that dominate many international racing series. Other riders at the test included Tony Elias (Spain), inaugural Moto2 World Champion, and South African Sheridan Morais, successful veteran of multiple world-level championship series.
Texas-size jumbo screens (note seating for size comparison) line both sides of the start-finish straightaway announcing MotoGP races taking place at COTA three weeks after the preseason test. The combined MotoGP and MotoAmerica event would include four days of practice and racing.