Recently, Alpinestars threw open the doors at Willow Springs Raceway for a day of motorcycle-focused fun. With the famed Big Track open to all comers – many who were experiencing a closed course environment for the first time – it was hard for the attendees not to have a good time. All of this, however, begs the question: What’s in it for Alpinestars? Yes, we were all wearing gear made by the apparel company (and if we didn’t have any, it was loaned to us), but this wasn’t an introduction where we were to experience a new piece of protective riding gear. The point was, it seems, to simply have fun riding motorcycles with friends. Oh, and hopefully create some new fans of track riding. You see, some of the first time track riders were name-brand Alpinestars-sponsored athletes in other disciplines. You know, influencers who have the means to preach the racetrack riding gospel and hopefully get more people interested in riding motorcycles.
So, who attended the event? There were these two guys you may have heard about a few years ago: two-time MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner (who celebrated his 34th birthday at the event) and World Superbike Champion Ben Spies. Current MotoAmerica racers Josh Herrin and Toni Elias showed up to ride. Popular former American roadracers Eric Bostrom and Jake Zemke were also on hand. Or perhaps you follow IndyCars, and getting the chance to take a hot lap with J. R. Hildebrand in a McLaren will get your blood pumping. Then there was Aaron Colton’s stunt exhibition at lunch to impress you with superhuman bike handling skills. Or stunt pilot Anthony Oshinuga flying down the front straight to join Colton in his show. Then there was freestyle dirt rider Nate Adams finding out how cool – and grippy – pavement can be. Other dirt riders included Justin Barcia, Robbie Madison, Jarryd McNeil, Jolene Van Vugt, among others. Then there were dealers and lucky customers who were also in attendance. Oh, Trizzle, Sean Matic, and I carried the MO flag.
A great event isn’t possible without tons of help. While Alpinestars did most of the heavy lifting – the team even swept out the pit area – other motorcycle brands and organizations also did their part. Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, Indian (with people turning laps on FTR1200s), Suzuki, and Yamaha had bikes on hand for test rides. Kramer had a sample of its Kramer HKR EVO2 S race bike for a few folks to ride. To help all of the riders who’d never attended a track day negotiate their first time on a closed course, Nick Ienatsch and the Yamaha Champions Riding School were on hand to offer complimentary instruction to participants. And the machinery seen on the fast 2.5-mile course ranged from supermotos, battling the wind blast, to stock street bikes to one-off Pikes Peak race bikes – and everything in between.
At the end of the day, I caught up with Heath Cofran, the Communications Specialist at Alpinestars. Still in his leathers after he and his staff and all the other folks from the manufacturers that had supported the event had spent the final hour of the day riding the track, he was brimming with enthusiasm over the success of this event. When I asked him what he thought about the day, he effervesced:
We had IndyCar drivers, rally car drivers, a two-time MotoGP champion, a World Superbike champion, freestyle, incredible world record athletes, supercross stars and champions, all having a fun day of riding together. Today wasn’t about “look at this suit with this stretch-paneling and ergonomic fit.” Today wasn’t about that. Today was about: Let’s have fun together. Let’s enjoy what this world of motorsports is all about. It’s about family. It’s about spending time together. It’s about laughing and enjoying new experiences. So, it’s having those experiences, and at the same time, why not wear the best gear possible? It’s something that we really wanted to do and have it be a special day. This is what we do. This is who we are as a brand. We’re here to protect, and we’re here to spend time with our family. I’d love to replicate this all over the world.