The Austin, Texas MotoGP races cover three days--Friday and Saturday are for practice sessions and qualifying, and Sunday is when the final races are held for each of the three classes.
The weather progressed from "pretty awful" on Friday to "pretty good" by Sunday. There was some fear that the final races would be done in the rain, but the expected rain danced around the Austin area, but avoided the track.
It's a beautiful facility. The first year I was here (and the first time for the event) the grassy hills were filled with general-admission ticket holders. This time, those same hills were mostly empty and the viewing stands were more filled--and not all the stands that were there for that first event were here for this one.
Considering the wet weather--and the worse forecast--there were quite a few people here. And, compared to the turnout for a typical AMA road race event, this International event has an enormous turnout.
A note: my camera is the perfect choice for standing in the middle of Main Street and snapping a picture. But, it's entirely the wrong choice for taking action shots of the track while sitting in the stands.
As part of the numerous Austin events scheduled along with the races was the Hand Built Motorcycle show. I dropped by after Friday's practice sessions.
The Wall of Death? I wouldn't have thought this would have been around since perhaps before the war. But, it fits perfectly with the theme of the show.
I've somehow missed an entire sub-culture of motorcycling.
The larger culture of the outlaw biker with its associated image has been around for a long time--the standards (what to wear, what to ride, how to behave) are well known. If you can at least give off the vibe of Lee Marvin in "The Wild Ones", you'll be on the right track. If you're not on a Harley-Davidson, at least ride something that might be confused for a Harley-Davidson.
But, this event isn't about that, at all. It's vintage taken to a modern level. If somehow the 1930s could have progressed to 2015 without any disruptions, then you'd have it. It's black and it's leather, but without all the adornment of those other guys. If I were to pick the icon for the style of the event, it would be Bill Lomas.
What is interesting is that these two photographs were taken within two years of each other. I wonder if the two types of motorcycle enthusiasts of 1955 had any more to do with each other than they do today?
One notable difference: The riders who follow the culture of the outlaw bikers (the Lee Marvin look-a-likes) would not be expected to be at a MotoGP racing event (and they were not), but this crew (the Bill Lomas look-a-likes) are here. I hesitate to use the word "Hipsters", but it's been done already...
Moto Guzzi was one of the show sponsors. It's a good fit for the direction Guzzi seems to be heading (or the crowd they'd like to attract).
There's but a single chopper in the photographs (below), and it did seem out of place. For the most part, a vintage bike should look its age (rust is fine), and a modern custom should look as if it shares a heritage going back to the 1930s even if some details are very modern (and don't try to hide those details).
Back to the races...
As you'd expect, the crowds were much larger on Saturday, and even larger, yet, on Sunday.
Manufacturer's row. Most everybody was here (Kawasaki and Triumph notable for not being here).
Vendor's row. I didn't see such great deals as I remember from my first time here, but perhaps I didn't look hard enough.
Food. You'll find plenty of food, but don't look for healthy eating and don't expect not to spend much. A cup of coffee will cost you five dollars...
Ducati had the largest display of any manufacturer and they had the central locations (you had to walk to get to the primary manufacturer's row).
Three classes (Moto2, Moto3, MotoGP) and all the races were good and (best I could tell) they were all safe.
The skill level is jaw-dropping. At some level, I think I could drive a Nascar entry around an oval track at a decent speed; but, this? No way; and the top level of riders are at a level beyond even the best of the rest.