Sure, pretty much everyone at the track loves motorcycle racing. We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t. Some love racing more than others. But some love more than racing. Some, like me, love feeling special. I like feeling like I’m in the inner circle, not just a fan among fans. I was feeling very introspective this weekend, being at a GP without the press pass I’d grown accustomed to wearing. I had to think about where I most wanted to watch the races. Not just this weekend, but in the future. Everything has a price, or a trade off, and race spectating is no exception. Everyone at the track has a role, and is helping keep the sport alive through their passion.
Some of the roles I’ve held are:
Fan (general admission or varying levels of ticket access)
Guest (well, usually not for the entire weekend, as sponsor guest passes are really for the sponsors)
Volunteer worker (riders for health)
Roles I’d like to hold, in order of awesomeness:
Team Press Officer
Grid Girl (not just for the access but for the validation)
Racer’s wife (less of an option now as most racers are young enough to be my kids!)
Sure, I’d love to be a racer, but I discovered in my club racing days that I really didn’t have it in me. So I’m content to watch the talented ones do their thing.
The Price of Access
The price of a press pass with your name on it is coming up with really good stories about the event, stories that are compelling and insightful, that people can’t read anywhere else. Like these and these? That’s not as simple as it sounds when you’ve got a room full of experts all tapping their way through to the same goal. I still think I’d really enjoy working as a press officer, having simple content to write (just the facts, ma’am) and plenty of work to do to feel useful in the paddock. The price of being a press officer is working all weekend, not being able to just wander off and do what you want. And sometimes it even means missing the main race!
But then there’s also the role of sponsor, which is really the royalty of any race weekend. Without the sponsors, the series simply would not exist. I’ve dreamt of being a sponsor ever since I sat in that hurricane in Indianapolis, staring across the front straight at all those people dry and comfortable inside the VIP building above the garages. For a few hundred thousand dollars, that role could be mine.
Sure, I know some people in the paddock, and can occasionally get a spare sponsor pass from them, to hang out in the paddock on a Sunday afternoon as teams are packing up, and most fans are sitting in traffic. That used to be a big thrill, and feel really special. But now that feels false, like I’m an interloper disguised as a VIP. The true VIPs are the ones who paid $600+ for a spot in VIP village. And of course the sponsors whose companies are paying hundreds of thousands to market their businesses through MotoGP. I don’t want to annoy the racers, as they get enough strangers trying to get a piece of them all weekend. I also don’t want to get in the way, and don’t feel like a genuine part of the MotoGP family/circus. Like any traveling show, the people who travel together become a very tight-knit family, each team being closer and more inter-dependent than most families.
Because my paddock access was limited this race weekend, I roamed the general admission areas, usually with friends, but sometimes alone. Even wandering alone, I always saw people I knew, or who recognized me from social media. It’s so nice to connect IRL with people whose lives you’ve seen online.
Ducati People Rock
As always, I got myself and my friends into Ducati island, always a treat. I love the hospitality and camaraderie Ducati brings! Danny Carson has been running their roadshow for decades, and it is a show worth enjoying. I don’t know exactly what he’s responsible for, but I’ve always known him as the man in charge. I was honored to be one of the Ducati Revs America attendees and racer girls. Particularly when Danny’s wedding was held at the event! It was one of the greatest weekends of my life. More about my life as a Ducatista here. Although I’ve found bikes I enjoy owning more than Ducatis, and I talk no end of shit about that evil psychotic redheaded bitch in MotoGP who destroys men’s souls, I love Ducati people. All the Ducati people I know are awesome. I miss being part of La Famiglia, but I don’t miss the valve adjustments.
So yeah, it feels great to be able to get that wristband and hang with the cool kids. What’s funny is I wound up watching the GP directly above the Ducati garage, in a Red Bull VIP suite. It totally felt like I got in where I fit in, even though I knew I wasn’t fully qualified to be there. It feels even greater to have a pass with my name on it, so I’m sure a proper hard card with my name on it for the full season would feel even better. The only thing standing between me and that pass is my lack of perseverance/fear of failure. I get these brilliant ideas, then don’t follow through on them. I’ve become spoiled, having a long career in something I’m too good at- turning people’s visions into reality.
It’s time I got out of my way. Yes, a lot of what I want at a race is ego-based. The jumbotrons viewable from those general admission hillsides are bigger than the one viewable from VIP village, and certainly more pleasant to experience than just sitting in a dark room in front of a wall of monitors. While I love being outside where I can experience it live, there’s just something so special about being in that media center, working. It’s the best work environment I’ve ever experienced, and I’d love to see if it’s as fun all season as it was for the three US rounds I got to work last year.
Although, as I looked around on the GA hillside in Texas, I had to admit these people were only different from the GA people at Mugello in one way- most of us aren’t half as obsessed with the sport as those Italians are. Other than that, we’re all just ordinary working-class people who love racing and can’t afford VIP access. It’s not just being a part of the inner circle, feeling like one of them, it’s also the idea of traveling the world. I loved being surrounded by and working with people speaking different languages. I’d still love to run off and join the MotoGP circus, at least for a few years. Or start a company that could actually sponsor a Moto2 team within the next few years…