We’ve got a number of racers on staff here at AAB who can tell you all about the stuff that takes place on the winding tarmac. I’m not one of them. I am just a guy who loves motorcycles and has been going to races for a couple of decades.
There are a multitude of great races to attend in all regions of this fine country. So after attending years of races, here is a fan’s perspective on getting the most out of a race weekend.
Picking a Ticket Package
You typically have a plethora of choices when doing your pre-race ticket shopping. First, you need to decide if you will spring for the full weekend of racing, or focus your viewing efforts on just the final day. To some extent, this is a matter of distance. If the race happens to be semi-local for you, maybe you’ll just focus on the main race day. However, if you are traveling to a distant race venue, you might as well extend your viewing to the whole weekend.
You also need to think about the cost and feature level of the ticket package. Typically, you have the option of general admission, reserved seating, or a premium race package. I have opted for each of these choices. For something like an AMA Dirt Track event, I typically choose a general admission ticket. For a race like this, I like to do a lot of wandering since they are typically not as densely attended as many road races. I also choose this option for motocross if I know I can get near a jump or woops section.
For a race like a National level road race, I usually like to insure a good view with reserved seating from an elevated vantage point. If the reserved seating is elevated, you can typically get a good view of most of the track.
I am usually a penny pincher; however, I often splurge on the premium ticket packages at the biggest races like MotoGP. These packages can run several hundred dollars for the weekend. For that cash outlay, you get covered and elevated seating at a prime spot (like turn 3 at Laguna Seca). You also get closed circuit TV, so you can keep track of the full race. Another huge bonus is that the premium packages typically include food and drinks in the price. Really, when you add it all up, this can be a really good deal.
No matter what package you pick, you should seriously consider getting a pit pass. For me, walking through the pits is always a highlight. Also, don’t forget to purchase a parking pass.
If you are traveling long distances to the races, you need to think of a place to stay. Here again you have some choices. Many tracks offer camping of both the tent and RV variety. This can be a great option for getting the whole race experience.
My buddies and I usually opt for hotel lodging. We usually ride to the races (often over a thousand miles), so packing for camping is not convenient. However, finding lodging at a big event takes early planning. Hotel prices skyrocket during an event like a MotoGP race and available lodging fills up early. Start your search months before a big event, and make your reservations early.
Where to Watch
Where to plant yourself on race day varies greatly depending on personal preference and the type of racing. Here are my personal preferences.
For motocross, I like the big jumps. So does everybody else, so get there early. For flat track, the turns are where it’s at. My personal preference is a vantage point at the entry of the corner. I like watching the riders’ corner preparation.
Road racing affords the biggest spectrum of choices. If you love triple-digit speeds, find your way to the big straight (usually the start / finish straight). If you are a fan of the turns, get yourself to the track’s version of the chicanes. I love all of the perspectives at a road race, but I most often gravitate to the high speed sweepers. This is where you see spectacular passing.
There are many great spots from which to view a race, so don’t grow roots in one spot.
Here are some tips to help you get the best experience on race day.
- Most of the freebies (tee shirts, key chains, caps, etc.) are given away early. So get yourself to the vender and manufacturer area early in the day.
- Take an early pit walk. Pre-race activity by the race teams is fun to watch. This is also a time when you may get an autograph or two from a racer.
- Take sunscreen and drink a lot of water.
- Take earplugs. For example, MotoGP bikes register over 130 db.
- Make your way to where the post-race interviews take place after the finish. They are often very entertaining.
Yes, it is probably true that you may get the most complete race perspective watching on TV. However, the sights, smells, and sounds - the total experience of a live race is unbeatable. Plan well and enjoy the races!