Article By: Joe Mielke
Originally Published In The July 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
On April 6th my wife Michelle and I hit the road headed for a long weekend in Austin Texas. Our plans were to attend the Handbuilt Show, Lone Star Round Up, RSD Super Hooligan races, AMA Flat Track races and Moto GP at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). I had been looking forward to all the new experiences expected from the weekend but for me, my anticipation was very high for Moto GP. With all of the things that we had going on in Austin we decided that Sunday would be our day at COTA. Friday and Saturday were practice and qualifying race days. With all the buzz about Moto GP in Austin it was hard to not find someone who had been or was going to be at COTA. Everyone that asked me if I had ever been told me that Moto GP would not disappoint. My wife and I were just going to purchase a pair of general admission tickets on Race Day but as it would turn out we were afforded luxury VIP tickets for Sunday. The tickets included a nearly all access pass to the track and to the paddock VIP suite trackside on the starting grid. Needless to say I was very excited.
Sunday morning started early with the drive out to COTA and the adventure into general admission parking. Because we had never been to COTA we just started walking to find our way to the paddock so we could head up to the suite and have some breakfast. There is just something about the sounds of a race track in the morning; from the sounds in the pits to motorcycles doing practice laps on the track and the sounds coming from the paddock were no different. Everything was getting warmed up. At COTA, on the starting grid, one side of the track is lined with the Main Grandstand and the other side is pit row and the paddock building. So the entire starting grid is in a bit of a tunnel and the sounds become amplified. As we were sitting in the lounge having breakfast I heard the first motorcycle rip down the main straight screaming obscenities from its exhaust the entire way. In an effort to clear my plate I guarantee you my fork started moving faster leaving me no excuse not to be outside looking over the track. I know for a fact that my wife felt rushed a bit by my impatience to get outside to start watching the action. We got outside and found a seat overlooking the grid maybe 6 rows down from the starting line.
The first race of the day was the Moto 3 race. Man, I tell you what, a full grid of 250cc four stroke thumpers bumping off the rev limiter waiting for a green flag will definitely wake you up in the morning. It’s just an amazing sound. We watched maybe the first 4 laps of the race from the paddock view and decided to walk around the track to see the remainder of the race and the Moto 2 race from different parts of the track. We also took in the Fan Zone with the vendors and the Red Bull stunt show with Aaron Colton and Geoff Aaron. Our only “scheduled” plan for the afternoon was to be back in the VIP lounge for a late lunch and to be on the grid for the start of the Moto GP race. We underestimated the distance we had walked and got back just in time for a quick bite and to witness the start of the 1000cc race from the best seats in the house. I’m struggling for words to describe the sound. I can however remember looking down at my arms and seeing the goosebumps. The feeling the sound gives is much like the sound of a motorcycle running through the timed mile at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Unfortunately, words can’t describe it. It just has to be experienced. If you dig that sort of thing.
Like the earlier race we watched the first few laps from the grid and then moved to watch from other parts of the track. We had tickets to view the track from the infield observation tower. We managed to make our way around the track a bit and up the 25 story tower to watch the last couple laps from this vantage point. Needless to say it’s a hell of a view. Simply put, for our trip to Austin- our day at the track was the icing on the cake. I’m looking forward to our next visit to the Circuit of the Americas. Thank you ATX!