Indianapolis is a town that loves you.

We never get a large group here, but very frequently people who come to Indy cite it as the best event ever. This year was no exception. Perfect weather really helped; but what always strikes us is the sheer friendliness of the people, the superb organisation of the circuit, and the relaxed atmosphere throughout.

Sadly the event never seems to draw a big crowd; which is a real shame in a venue designed to hold 300,000+ spectators.  Of course this means that it feels like a real luxury event for those that make it!

VIPs get full paddock access, and because there are relatively few people; meeting riders is trivially easy - making this the best event (possibly along with Qatar) to get autographs, photos, etc.

In the city, the hotels are amazingly accommodating, there are tons of great bars and restaurants (I always put on a kilo or 2 here!) and they really roll out the red carpet for bikers (in sharp contrast to the other American event). Friday and Saturday nights a good chunk of downtown is blocked to all but two-wheeled traffic; there are free concerts and all sorts of evening activities both at the track and in town.

Our weekend started Thursday night at the bar of the Capital Grill of the Conrad hotel. This is not only one of the top hotels we use all year, but is consistently in the Conde Nast top 100 hotels in America. Easy to see why. As usual we ran up a silly bar bill and then retired to the restaurant where we over-indulged in some of the best steaks ever...

Friday a group of us went up to the track. This is one of the few events where the VIP is open Friday, which tips the scales making this THE best VIP Village in MotoGP. This weekend we were honoured to sponsor American Moto2 wildcard Jake Gagne riding with team GPtech. Jake was the 2010 Red Bull Rookies champion, a very talented young rider. Incidentally, sharing the pit with the Aeroport Castello team was another Red Bull champion - from 2008 - American JD Beach. Both were riding GP Moto2 bikes for the first time.

We were also very pleased to see our sponsored Red Bull rookie rider - South African Brad Binder - take a replacement ride in the 125cc class.  HIS first time on a GP bike as well! He is replacing the injured Luis Salom (also a Red Bull rookies alumni) in the RW Racing - big shoes to fill! Friday morning was his first ever ride on the bike:  “It’s so much faster!!” Brad tells us.  He’s loving it!

Friday evening we all got together at Champps restaurant for a great meal. Our guest speaker was the only American in the junior classes, Moto2 rider Kenny Noyes. Kenny was a great conversationalist, talking about his experiences; troubles with the Indy circuit (all riders were complaining about the slippery new surface). We really enjoyed his company and had a brilliant evening.

Saturday we hit the track early as we do -- the schedule at Indy is packed from morning to night! On track action brought relatively few surprises in the qualifiers; Terol, Marquez and Stoner taking pole positions in the 125, Moto2 and MotoGP classes. Sadly our sponsored 125 rider Danny Webb injured his hand after an accident on turn 1 caused by the engine seizing. This can cause some of the worst crashes as they are totally unexpected. Ultimately on Sunday morning he will pull in after just one lap into the warm up and not race. He is having his share of bad luck this year, especially frustrating as last year he was routinely beating Johan Zarco - the talented French rider who is one of the few who has a slight chance of catching Terol.  Danny’s season will come.

We also were on the pit row to commemorate the racing legend Gary Nixon, who passed away the previous week. Steve Parrish rode his bike around the circuit, in the opposite direction, as a tribute.

The first race of the weekend was Saturday.  This was the Vance & Hines XR 1200 race. I have to say, we had been chuckling about the ‘racing Harleys’ all weekend, with their unfaired straight-out handlebars making them look & sound like angry geese with sore throats. However the racing was superb - with some top riders we recognised such as Jason di Salvo (whom we sponsored as a Moto2 wildcard in Indy LAST year, where he took an amazing 9th) and Jeremy McWilliams, the veteran from Northern Ireland. The dramatic race came down to the wire, with Jeremy unfortunately crashing out in the last lap (but rejoining and taking 10th), and Californian Tyler O’Hara taking his maiden victory on a white-knuckle last lap. We love all two wheeled racing, and top marks to the AMA for bringing us this nice morsel!

Saturday night we had originally planned to go to the iconic Indy Mile flat track race. Alas owing to the tragedy a few weeks earlier where part of the grandstand at the fairground collapsed, killing several people, the event was canceled. Instead we took advantage of the free entertainment and walked Meridian to check out the bikes, and then joined James Toseland and Crash! for a free concert downtown. Guzzling Buds watching a SBK world champion play & sing while surrounded by a few ten thousand bikes isn’t the worst way to spend a Saturday evening!  We do however recommend against the ‘jelly shots’ irrespective of whether she is wearing a real top or just paint... :-)

Sunday we got down to business. Morning traffic was non-existent, so we were in with the crows; the track being a mere 15-20 minutes drive from our downtown hotels. Being forced to hang around the paddock chatting with Colin, Cal, and some of our riders such as Jakub Kornfeil was hardly considered a hardship! (And proved to be a wonderful time for shopping at the well-endowed vendor areas). Following the 125cc warmup session, we dragged Brad Binder up to the suite, where he had a chance to tell us what it felt like coming to America for the first time and jumping right on a GP bike. One has to admire him and his dad Trevor, flying in from South Africa only a couple of days earlier, and THEN only a day or two after he was offered the ride.  Full marks to Dutch team RW Racing for their excellent taste in young talent! :-)

We warned customers to hang around the suite for the start of the 125cc race; and shortly after it got underway, our friend and supported MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow came up to share his thoughts.  Cal, as always, was brilliant; answering a barrage of questions with candid humour and warmth. For those of us who know him it was like having coffee with an old friend.  The others (especially the Americans)  were charmed by his honesty and instant connection he always makes with his fans. He gained many new supporters! Cal says he will have a difficult job with tires this weekend, and also predicts a late race fade from Lorenzo, but that Spies should hang on for a strong finish.  He turns out to be exactly correct!

The 125cc race itself was dominated by Terol; but there was a thrilling battle for the remaining podium positions. Sadly another of our supported riders, British rookie Harry Stafford, pulled out of the race early with bike problems.  A pretty lousy weekend for him, not his fault. Another one of our sponsored riders Jakub Kornfeil scored another top 10 at 10th; just beating out Simone Grotzkyj.  Best of all was a stunning result from Brad Binder, starting 27th on the grid and ultimately taking 17th. Remember, he is passing racers who have nearly a whole season of experience behind them on their bikes; Brad had seen his for the first time Thursday! You done us proud!

For the Moto2 race, our eyes were on the Americans Kenny Noyes and Jake Gagne (and JD Beach). Alas not a good weekend for Kenny... He trashed his bike Saturday leading to a terrible grid position.  Overnight they virtually built a new bike for him, but he just didn’t have the time to come to grips with it, and ultimately crashed out a few laps in. We caught up with him shortly after the race - of course he was disappointed but still his positive self. Better luck in Misano.  Jake Gagne finished a notch up from where he started, 31st. He wasn’t happy with the result; but when we went down to look at the bike after the race we were amazed he finished at all -- it was completely cooked, and poor Jake must have been running the last laps on top of an open furnace!

The race itself was a tour de force from Mark Marquez -- easily the Moto2 rookie of the year, and possibly the world champion (making a stunning back-to-back world championship a la Rossi) having chipped away at Stefan Bradl’s lead.  We were delighted to see Pol Espargaro finally on the podium.

Although as it turns out, not the most exciting race of the day, the climax was the MotoGP. Much to the delight of our Aussie clients, Casey Stoner continued his domination of the weekend - no one was going to ever challenge him after a brief early skirmish with Dani Pedrosa, Dani settled for second and the crowd-pleasing result was Ben Spies taking the third spot on the podium. Ride of the race in our opinion was a happy Alvaro Bautista at 6th, proving that he is back on form as well as as the Suzukis. Suzuki boss Paul Denning showed rare satisfaction with the result.

Nicely, the day was not over with the MotoGP; as we were treated to another thrilling round of flying geese... The rumble of the XR1200s produced a race-long duel which led to a paint-swapping final lap leaving Chris Fillmore the victor over Steve Rapp.

We ended a perfect day and a perfect weekend with dinner at my favourite micro-brewery, Rock Bottom Brewery where we had a chance to show off photos, merchandise, autographs and stories. Angus Borland, the supporter and owner of the FTR Moto2 bikes of Kenny Noyes and Jake Gagne joined us. A bit of an expensive weekend for him :-) but we really want to thank him for supporting the sport and great spirited riders such as these!

The future of the event at Indianapolis is in grave doubt. We expect one more year, but even this isn’t certain. As one of the easiest and friendliest events of the year, customers are ALWAYS delighted.  Show your support by making the trip in 2012 (assuming it is on) and letting Dorna know we would like to keep the event!

Indianapolis is hosting the American Superbowl in 2012. All I can say is that visitors to this city will not be disappointed. Thank you Indy!

For more about the XR1200 series, check out their video

See all our Indianapolis MotoGP offerings.


Indianapolis Grand Prix 26-28 August 2011

NEWS 4/Sep/11: indy to remain until 2014!