USGP Indy How-To

Motorcycle history at the Brickyard is heading to Indianapolis for a long September weekend of two-wheeled adrenaline boosting, sensory overload, kick-out-the-jams, first-ever thrills, and we’re inviting you along. This is your instruction manual for a great time in a city built for speed, an hour-by-hour guide to three or four days of pure motorcycle bliss. Here’s the official MotoGP release.

We’re Rolling into Town on Thursday, September 11

There is the Kick Start Celebration on Tuesday the 9th from 11 am to 1 pm at Monument Circle, and on Wednesday there is nothing official scheduled anywhere, so our coverage will begin on Thursday. The track opens at 9 am for ticketholders who want to stumble around and gawk, with live music, Q&A with the riders, and a Pit Walkabout at 2 pm. There’s track time most of the day until 5 pm at Putnam Park out in Greencastle, which usually devolves into flat-out racing. Sign a waiver.

In the evening, we’ll head over to Broad Ripple for some freestyle motocross at 8 pm. They’re closing Broad Ripple Avenue between College and Guilford for a freestyle exhibition. Plan to arrive early, because it will be jammed. There will be plenty to do in The Ripple and downtown, in Fountain Square and the Arts District. Note to self: Leave by midnight in order to go to motel and sleep. There will be more fun tomorrow.

Restaurant Links: Bars, Clubs and Diversions:

Gates Open Friday the 12th at 7 am.

We’re planning to get to the track around 7:30 and get parked, seated and situated. They’re running all three MotoGP classes plus the rookies, so there’s lots of noise. The Speedway is good at this stuff, plenty of vendors and music, lots to see, buy and do. The day’s official schedule at IMS looks like this:

MotoGP Practice #1

10-11 a.m.

250cc Practice #1

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

125cc Qualifying #1

1:05-1:35 p.m

MotoGP Practice #2

1:50-2:50 p.m.

250cc Qualifying #1

3:05-3:50 p.m.

MotoGP Practice #3

4:15-5:15 p.m.

Red Bull Riders Cup Practice

5:30-6 p.m.

Red Bull Riders Cup Qualifying #1

6:30-7 p.m.

We’re planning to leave early for an Indian summer road trip, and maybe return later to watch some practice and quals. The leaves won’t be changing color yet, but the fields are ready to be harvested, and it’s a beautiful time of year for a ride in the country. On our way out of town, we’re stopping at the one-and-only Mug ‘n’ Bun on West 10th street for burgers, shakes and onion rings.

Friday Evening We Is Downtown

We’ll check out the XDL Sportbike Freestyle Championship at the War Memorial on North Street between Pennsylvania and Meridian, from 7 until 11. These guys don’t like to be called trick riders, and they insist it’s a competition, not an exhibition, not a rodeo. Whatever. It qualifies as a sport to us, since you can surely get totaled doing it. And it’s Motorcycles Only on Meridian Street, south of Maryland to South Street after 7 pm. Parking is available. We’re heading to the Noodle for live blues and drinks after.

Saturday it Starts Getting Serious

The big bikes start qualifications at 1:55 pm, not “2 or 3” or “like, somewhere around 2, dude,” and they only last an hour. 1:55—that’s how they roll in MotoGP. This is where we start getting juiced, because the layout at the Motor Speedway features a 5/8-mile main straight (where the Ducatis will have a distinct advantage) and the fans won’t be able to breathe watching these guys sit up and lean into the first turn from 200 mph. (Wait. This is just quals. Save it for tomorrow.) At 5:20 on Saturday, we’re in the Ride with the Champions on the IMS oval itself. Awesome, and it goes to an amazing charity.

Saturday Night: Cruisers at the Fairgrounds, then Downtown

After the Ride with the Champions, we’re heading back up to the north side, to the Indiana State Fairgrounds, for the AMA Flat Track on the one-mile dirt oval. These are the heavy metal – GNC Twins. Stuff starts going on around 4, and the finals are at 9:30. This is where we’ll see how well the sports bike guys and the cruiser guys can coexist, and we know it will go just fine. After all, NASCAR and Indy Car fans get along, don’t they?

After the race, we expect to be part of some kind of Motorcycles on Parade, heading down Fall Creek Parkway around 11:30 pm for a half lap around Monument Circle. The south side of the Circle will be closed on Friday and Saturday nights, so the route from the fairgrounds goes like this: South on Fall Creek, turn left on N. College Avenue, head south to an easy right turn on Massachusetts Avenue, take Mass down to a left on N. Delaware St. Turn right on Market Street and follow it around the north side of the circle. From there you can continue west Market, go north on Illinois Street or south on Capitol. Again, it’s bikes-only on Meridian south of the Circle. We will let the crowds lead us to a late supper, then we’re going back to the motel. Sunday, you see, is Race Day.

Sunday: Race Day

We’re not messing around. We are up early, packed, paid, stoked, coffeed, ready to go at the crack of dawn, so to speak. We’re going to Cracker Barrel for a big sunrise breakfast, then we’re going to the track. All the big names — Rossi, Stoner, Hayden and the rest—running the 800s in anger at the IMS. It doesn’t get any better than this. Here’s the official Sunday schedule:

125cc Warm-up

8:40-9 a.m.

250cc Warm-up

9:10-9:30 a.m.

MotoGP Warm-up

9:40-10:05 a.m.

Red Bull Riders Cup Race (16 laps)

10:25-10:55 a.m.

Track Entertainment,
 song and dance, whatever

11:05-11:30 a.m.

125cc Race (23 laps)


250cc Race (26 laps)

1:15 p.m.

Grid Presentation, Anthem, Flyover,
Command to Start Engines

2:15-2:40 p.m.

Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP Race
(28 laps)

3 p.m.

When the clock strikes five (seventeen for you Euros) we are off like a prom dress. It’s been an unbelievable Grand Prix weekend, the first of many. As we ride home, we remind our brothers and sisters that Indiana does not require you to wear a helmet, which is fine. But if you choose to ride in Indiana without a helmet, we would sure like you to fill out this organ donor form we’ve got right here, won’t take just a second… 

We plan to return again next year, when there aren’t 60,000 Kenny Chesney fans pouring out of the Luke at 11:30, and when Monument Circle is open. All of us will learn from this initial effort, and the event promises to get bigger and better in the years to come.

The Indy 500 is the biggest single-day event in car racing. The Indianapolis Grand Prix promises to become the biggest single-day event in motorcycle racing. And we were at the very first one in 2008. This stuff makes for great stories when we get old.!

Related Reading:
Indy MotoGP Primer
World Superbikes Return to U.S.!
MO's Trip To USGP 2007
2008 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca
Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown

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