Sunday, August 26, 2012

Reflections of the 5th Annual Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP Weekend August 17-19, 2012

The 5th Annual Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP Weekend saw the first repeat winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when 2010 winner Dani Pedrosa on the #26 Repsol Honda RC213V took home the top honors on a weekend that will be remembered for the Spaniard's second win on the oldest race track in America, but also for the carnage that littered the track and paddock long after the checkered flag had fallen.

Pedrosa is seen at high speed rocketing down the long front straight at Indy during the first practice session of the weekend, where speeds of 208 MPH were recorded during the 3-day weekend in the series' first visit to Indy in the 1000cc era of MotoGP World Championship racing.

Pedrosa's team mate, Casey Stoner on the #1 Repsol Honda (and the defending MotoGP Champion and Indy winner) faired much worse then his double-winning team mate over the long weekend at The Brickyard.  After a seriously nasty highside during the qualifying round that saw the Australian suffer serious ankle injuries, Stoner at first wasn't expected to contest the weekend.  But like the tough competitor he is, the #1 machine soldiered on to a strong 4th-place finish at Indy.

Stoner however had to sit out this weekend's Brno event and is hopeful for the next round at San Marino on September 14-16.  This was Stoner's last trip to the track he loves to hate as he announced his retirement from the sport earlier this summer after the 2012 season.

Honda was one of the many manufacturers on-hand for the 5th Annual Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP Weekend, and one of theirs and all of the displays that was catching a lot of interest was the new Honda CBR1000RR.

Ben Spies' 2012 season troubles continued at Indy in spite of his 4th-place qualifying effort on the #11 Yamaha Factory YZR-M1.  Elbowz got a monster start at the drop of the green in the MotoGP main event and led a few laps before being passed by eventual-winner Dani Pedrosa.  But while giving chase, the motor expired on the long front straight and was highly reminiscent of his 2012 season in which he has suffered a series of maladies and get-offs.

On a brighter side for the 2009 World Superbike and 3-Time AMA Superbike Champion, the 2011 Petronas Factory Yamaha M1 that Spies rode at the Laguna Seca and Indy rounds last year graced the Yamaha display in the infield at IMS.  The paint job helped Yamaha celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Andreas Dovizioso continued his season of superior runs on the #4 Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha M1 with a 3rd-place finish at the 2012 version of the Red Bull MotoGP Weekend. Dovi signed between Sunday's Brno round and Indy to ride for the Ducati factory in the 2013 season alongside America's own Nicky Hayden.

You can't talk MotoGP without making a shoutout to and about 9-Time World Champion and 7-Time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi.  The Italian was the first Ducati home at Indy, bringing the #46 Marlboro Factory Ducati GP12 home in the 7th-place spot.

Rossi was also on-hand at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile on Saturday, August 18, hanging out with Tommy Hayden and Chris Carr on the stage as a special guest of Family Events Promotions and AMA Pro Flat Track.  He also went home with his own Harley-Davidson XR750 to ride on his backyard track, and it was reported that Carr helped to broker the deal for the popular MotoGP icon.

Ducati Island at The Brickyard was at the usual level of excitement that is seen amongst the 'Ducatista' fans and one of the nicest displays at the track was set up for the Ducati compatriots and other fans on-hand throughout the weekend.  The display included two street versions of two of the three Ducatis that 3-Time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss rode to his titles, and a Ben Bostrom #1 Vance & Hines Ducati from the '99 AMA Superbike Championship season.  Can you say drool...............

The #17 Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati GP12 of Karel Abraham and the #69 Marlboro Ducati Factory GP12 enter the garage area at Indianapolis after the end of the first practice session of the weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway-hosted 2012 MotoGP World Championship round.

In another case of two ends of the spectrum, Abraham brought the satellite machine home in the 8th-place spot (and just under 11 seconds behind Rossi) while The Kentucky Kid saw air/sky/ground in a brutal crash during qualifying that saw him suffer serious wrist injuries and miss his first home race in the five years that the series has visited Indy.  It was a sad weekend for fans of the popular former '06 MotoGP World Championship and former '02 AMA Superbike Champion.

Teknic Leathers had one of the coolest displays on-hand in the Gasoline Alley vendors area at IMS, which among others included a pair of Miguel Duhamel's leathers from his season of racing the Harley-Davidson VR1000 in the '94 AMA Superbike Championship and a pair of Kurtis Roberts' leathers from his days with the Erion Racing Honda team in the early '00s in the AMA Superbike Championship.  Alongside are a set of Aaron Yates' leathers from one of his years with the Yoshimura Suzuki team and John Hopkins' leathers from his days with the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP squad.

In what was a joint effort among IMS, AMA Pro Flat Track and Family Event Promotions, the promoters of the 2012 Lucas Oil Indy Mile on August 18, 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Brad Baker and Bryan Smith were on-hand Friday afternoon, August 17 to sign autographs for the fans and talk about the next night's great racing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  AMA Pro Flat Track announcer Scottie Duebler talks with the boys while Baker's #12 Dodge Brothers XR750 and Smith's #42 Crosley/Howerton/Eaken Kawasaki sit on display for the several hundred fans that showed up to talk to the two stars of the greatest racing series on wheels in the world.

For the first time ever, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted a garage at the Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP round called the Social Media Garage.  Set-up for the fans with several laptops, big screens showing the action and racing simulators, the lounge-like atmosphere was a very cool place for fans to come and hang out and chat with some invitees that were on-hand to cover the action at the track for Twitter, Facebook and their respective websites.

Stu's Shots was one of the five invited guests to this special event, thanks to Cassie Conklin with the Indianapolis Motor Speeway, along with Lance Lau, Terry Hampton, Daniel Lo and Larry Lawrence of The Rider  It was due to LL's kind mention of Stu's Shots to Ms. Conklin that we were invited and I owe a big thanks to both for allowing me to attend this special event, which included among other perks full access to any stand in the house and free premium parking and credentials that made it a breeze to enter and exit the track I have been stalking since the spring of '69 when I was just a wee junior high student still living in Iowa.

For what was started this year as an experiment with the Indy 500 and The Brickyard 400, the special event was a big hit with fans and with Stu's Shots.  I was and still am humbled by the invite and the great treatment that was given me and I appreciate the efforts of all in putting this super weekend together!

In a finishing touch to wrap-up the 5th Annual Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP Weekend review, and a shallow and self-serving mode of self-promotion, 'Stu's Shots' was advertised inside the Social Media Garage over the weekend along with the other four invitees with scrolling LED read-outs of each of our respective sites and/or Twitter feeds. 

I'm still not quite sure to know what to do with seeing my name in lights for the first time in my life, but I guarantee you I won't let it go to my head!

Again, a big thanks to the folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a great weekend of racing and for the special invite.  It was a blast and again a stellar running of another World Class event.

Bravo and thank you!

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