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motogp.com caught up with two of the most high profile members of the American motorcycle media to get their views on the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix
The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix is causing quite a stir in the MotoGP paddock, with riders and fans alike eager to see what the World Championship´s first appearance at the Brickyard will bring. In order to gauge the reaction stateside, motogp.com caught up with some of the big names in the U.S. motorcycle media to ask what they thought would be the impact of the race.
Providing their insight on the event were Chris Jonnum, Editor of Road Racer X, and Henny Ray Abrams, Contributing Editor for Cycle News. Between them they have seen plenty of American racing, and plenty of MotoGP action as well.
Although the precedent for MotoGP races in the U.S.A has been set by the highly successful Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, in such a vast country the Indianapolis visit is for many the first time that they will be able to attend a World Championship event. A big crowd is expected, although the demographics, differences to the Laguna Seca race and importance in history will, as the fourth estate emphasised, only be known on September 14th.
`I think that still remains to be seen, as it´s difficult to know accurately what fans think before we actually have the race and see what turnout and crowd reaction are like,´ says Jonnum.
`That said, the general vibe certainly does seem to be very positive. There´s a big population base to draw from around Indianapolis, and despite the current problems with the economy, I think many fans are planning on attending this historic event. The numbers were slightly down at Laguna, and it's likely that was partly due to people deciding to instead attend the Indy race. The track has done a great job of promoting the event, and I think we'll have a strong crowd, especially by the standards of a typical American motorcycle race.´
Who that crowd will be is also a source of interest, with Abrams noting the difference between East and West Coast attendances.
`East coast and Midwestern race tracks tend to draw bigger crowds, at least in the American Superbike series. The American Superbike races in California don´t draw big crowds, with the exception of Infineon Raceway north of San Francisco. The Midwest is the heartland of American dirt track, where Nicky Hayden spent much of his youth,´ explains the veteran of the American motorcycle press.
`This tie-in between Indianapolis and MotoGP means more to racing fans in the Midwest, which has a strong connection to racing through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the many American Superbike races that run in the eastern half of the U.S. The first year, at least, the race should attract a large contingent of casual racefans who attend all the races at the IMS.´
Whilst Jonnum does not see a huge difference between fans from different regions, he does think that the relative difference in affluence between the Bay Area and the surrounding area of Indianapolis might bring in different income demographics, pondering that `Perhaps the fans at the Indy race will be a little more representative of the average American, but I don´t know for sure. The biggest difference is that Indy has a bigger population base to draw from, since everything west of Laguna is ocean which, obviously, isn´t very highly populated!´
The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix is the latest event to bring the MotoGP World Championship to American soil, and Jonnum thinks it has the potential to be the most successful.
`I think that if any American motorcycle race is capable of doing that, it is this one. I expect that we´ll see a fairly good turnout of casual motorcycle fans and even those who are typically more interested in car racing,´ he continued.
`American fans who do like road racing tend to be extremely passionate and knowledgeable about it. Among the American racers, Nicky Hayden is the most popular, but Colin Edwards and John Hopkins are also very well-liked. As is the case all over the world, Valentino Rossi is the most popular rider of all, which is somewhat surprising considering that we Americans have a deserved reputation for ethnocentrism!´
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